Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish priest who saved more than 6,500 people during World War II is being honored by the Irish State.
Monsignor O’Flaherty, originally from Kiskeam, County Cork, died 50 years ago. Ireland’s leader Enda Kenny has said it is time that O’Flaherty, and other Irish “humanitarian heroes”, were recognized by the State as well as being part of Ireland’s public consciousness.
O’Flaherty became known as the “Scarlet Pimpernel of The Vatican” because of his valiant exploits during World War II. The Cork priest is credited with saving over 6,500 Jews, Americans, and British soldiers by hiding them in safe houses around Rome.
Together with British escapee Lieutenant Sergeant Sam Derry, they set up and organization known as “The Rome Escape Line.” They provided food and supplies for those in hiding before eventually bringing them to safety.
After the war, Monsignor O'Flaherty received many decorations including Commander of the British Empire and the US Medal of Freedom.
His nephew, Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Hugh O'Flaherty, said he never spoke about the war. He said, "He was a genuinely very modest man.”
The Irish Prime Minister was speaking at event held in Killarney, County Kerry, to commemorate Monsignor O’Flaherty. Sister Agnes Hunt, of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas was honored with the Hugh O'Flaherty International Humanitarian Award at the event.
Read more: A heroic Vatican priest who saved Jews from the Nazis -- New book tells amazing story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty – VIDEO
Here’s the trailer for a movie based on his efforts, “The Scarlet and the Black” with Gregory Peck playing the role of O’Flaherty:
Three million people in the world are descended from one Irish High King