Ninety years after his death, Michael Collin's prayer book has been found in France.
According to the Irish Times, the leather-bound book, entitled ‘The Christian Armed Against the Seductions of the World and the Illusions of His Own Heart,’ was discovered among his belongings in Portobello Barracks, Rathmines, following his death in August 1922.
The prayer book was returned to the Collins family, then given as a gift, to a nun – Sr Aloysius at the Convent of Mercy in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, in November 1922 .
It was later inherited by an Irish woman who now lives in southern France. The Irish woman has now decided to sell it, along with a letter from a priest, Fr Ignatius of the Passionist Order, who had given the book to Collins.
The gilt-edged book contains “instructions for meditation” on 31 topics (“maxims”) such as: “Time is precious; the loss of it is irreparable”; and, “The number is small of those who are saved” .
It also includes morning and evening prayers and a “Consideration on the Passions of Jesus Christ," and has a single black-and-white illustration of Jesus carrying the cross and a quote from St Luke’s Gospel: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Sr Aloysius wrote notes in the book. She calls Michael Collins “Ireland’s idol”; “her Joan of Arc”; and “her greatest hero and leader."
The rare book auctioneers Mealy's will auction the prayer book and the priest's letter as one in Dublin next month, with a pre-sale estimate of € 1,200-€1,800, reports the Irish Times.
The priest's letter was sent to Collins’s sister after her brother’s death. In it, Fr Ignatius says that he gave the prayer book to Collins during a mission at Greystones, Co Wicklow, in 1921, which Collins had attended before departing for London to negotiate the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
The priest recalls that Collins, despite “being busy in Dublin, worked and worried almost beyond endurance”, had returned to the Grand Hotel in Greystones “one night very late and very tired on the eve of his departure to London re the pact."
“He got up the next morning as early as 5.30am, came to the church and made a glorious general Confession and received Holy Communion.
“He said to me after Confession: ‘Say the Mass for Ireland and God bless you Father!’ He crossed an hour or so later to London.”
“There is not a man in a million would have done what Michael did that he might get to Confession and Holy Communion.”