The Trench Priest


I've been reading the excellent biography of Fr. William Doyle, S.J. by Alfred O. Rallihy (available here in its entirety and in several formats). Fr. Doyle was born in Dalkey, County Dublin in 1873 -- the same year as St. Therese of Lisieux, to whom he had a great devotion even before her cause for sainthood was opened. He entered the Company of Jesus, taking his vows of religion in 1893 and receiving Holy Orders on July 28, 1907. He gave 152 missions and numerous retreats, and was known for his power to melt the most hardened hearts. He was the author of a booklet called Vocations that was a hit at the time of its first publication, and is still in print.

During World War I, Fr. Doyle served as chaplain with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 16th Irish Division and was known and loved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for his complete devotion and selflessness, his superhuman energy and perseverance, and his sheer physical courage and utter disregard for his own safety. After many close calls, he was killed by an exploding shell at Ypres on August 17, 1917. Only religious and ethnic prejudice prevented Fr. Doyle's being awarded the Victoria Cross, which many thought he amply deserved.

After his death, Fr. Doyle was found to have left a treasury of spiritual writings -- writings which were purely for his own use, which he would have destroyed had he survived, and which in fact he had left instructions to be destroyed. Fortunately, these instructions were disobeyed. They feature prominently in the Rallihy bio linked above.

I'm looking for more information about Fr. Doyle. I have found a couple of allusions on the Web to a stalled cause for canonization, and unspecified favors attributed to his intercession, but nothing concrete. Does anybody have anything solid on this subject, or any ideas as to where to go for it? A revival of popular devotion to this remarkable Jesuit seems in order, especially at this time when the Company of Jesus has fallen into such disrepute.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit