Pressure on Pope to beatify Galway priest

Fr Francis Canavan from Headford, who died in Korea in 1950.

Pope Francis is to be lobbied this week in Korea to bring the beatification of a Galway priest a step closer.

The Pope will beatify 128 martyrs killed in Korea between 1791 and 1888 but late last year a campaign was launched in Headford to have the late Fr Francis Canavan beatified.

Fr Canavan, a native of Headford, died in the infamous Death March in Korea 60 years ago as a martyr, which means the official petition has to come from the bishop of the diocese in which he was killed. That was done last December.

A former student of St Mary’s in Galway City, he died in a Communist internment camp in Korea in 1950 – he is one of 84 modern day martyrs whom the Korean Catholic Church is also promoting for beatification.

It is believed that this week’s beatification of martyrs will pave the way for further beatifications.

The Society of Columban Fathers is are promoting Fr Canavan’s beatification, along with six other priests who served in Korea.

Fr Canavan ministered as a priest in the Oughterard, Kinvara and Clarenbridge parishes between 1943 and 1948 before being posted to Korea.

Once beatified, the next stage is canonisation as a saint and as Fr Canavan died as a martyr for his Catholic religion, the miracle requirement needed to become a saint can be waived.

Fr Canavan died on December 6, 1950, as a direct result of the notorious 124-mile Death March enforced by Communist forces on which 98 people perished. Prisoners had to walk through the snow and were starved.

Read more on this story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.