Christopher Holywood

Christopher Holywood

Christopher Holywood

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Christopher Holywood (1559 – 4 September 1626) was an Irish Jesuit of the Counter Reformation. The origin of the Nag's Head Fable has been traced to him.

Roman Catholic and Irish

His family, which draws its name from Holywood, a village near Dublin, had long been distinguished both in Church and State. Christopher Holywood studied at Padua, entered the Society of Jesus at Dôle in 1579, was afterwards professor of Scripture and theology at Pont-a-Mousson, Ferrara, and Padua, and there met St Robert Bellarmine. In 1598 he was sent to Ireland, but was arrested on his way and confined in the Gatehouse Prison, the Tower of London and Wisbech Castle, and was eventually shipped to the continent after the death of Queen Elizabeth. He then resumed his interrupted journey and reached Ireland on St. Patrick's Eve, 1604. This same year he published two Latin works attacking the Church of England. One of which included the first allegation of an indecent consecration of archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker. This became known as the Nag's Head Fable and the story was not discredited in the eyes of some Roman Catholics for centuries. He was soon appointed superior of the Jesuits in Ireland, a post of great importance in the absence of all Roman Catholic bishops, for it had been impossible during the Reformation to preserve their succession.

Ireland under King James I

On the accession of King James I, there had been a reaction in favor of...
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