Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Nicholas Tuite MacCarthy

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 9
Nicholas Tuite MacCarthy

by Patrick A. Beecher


Called the Abbé de Lévignac, born in Dublin on 19 May, 1769; died at Annécy, Savoy, 3 May, 1833. He was the second son of Count Justin MacCarthy, by Mary Winefrid Tuite, daughter of Nicholas Tuite, Chamberlain to the King of Denmark. At the age of four he was taken by his parents to Toulouse, where, disgusted with English law as administered in Ireland, they took up their permanent abode. Later he was sent to the Collége du Plessis in Paris. At the age of fourteen he received tonsure at the seminary of St-Magloire. He had nearly completed his course of theological studies at the Sorbonne when the Revolution forced him to leave. He retired to Toulouse. His ordination to priesthood was postponed until his forty-fifth year (1814), partly owing to the Revolution, and partly to a weakness of the loins which rendered it impossible for him to stand for any considerable time. Having sufficiently recovered from this infirmity, he entered the seminary of Chambéry, in Savoy, in 1813, and was ordained to priesthood in June, 1814. Toulouse was the scene of his first missionary labours. In a short time he became a famous preacher. In 1817 he was offered the Bishopric of Montauban, which he refused. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1818, and made his simple vows two years later. He was reserved exclusively for preaching. So noted was his talent in this respect that he was appointed during his novitiate to preach the Advent Station before the Court of France. The fame of his preaching spread throughout the kingdom, and accordingly he was invited to preach in all the principal cities of the country, as well as in Switzerland. He was admitted to the solemn profession of the order in 1828. The Revolution of 1830 led him to retire to Savoy, whence he was summoned to Rome, arriving in October of the same year. While in Rome he preached every Sunday before the most distinguished personages there. After a short time, however, his health, never robust, became greatly impaired; but not even this lessened his spiritual zeal. On leaving Rome he settled in Turin, at a college of his order. At the request of the King of Sardinia—whose brother Charles Emmanuel was a novice in the Society of Jesus—the Abbé MacCarthy conducted a retreat for the Brigade of Savoy, and did much good amongst the military, his time being completely devoted to the pulpit and confessional. He preached the Lenten course of sermons at Annécy, but being soon afterwards taken ill, expired there, in the bishop's palace, and was buried in the cathedral. As a preacher, he was in eloquence inferior only to such men as Bossuet and Massillon; but whilst they spoke principally for a special class of hearers, the Abbé MacCarthy's sermons are for all countries and for all time, and are to be regarded even at the present day, for depth of thought, for piety, and for practical application, as among the best contributions to homiletic literature.

DEPLACE, Biographical Sketch prefixed to Sermons (Lyons, 1834); MAHONEY, Biographical Notice to tr. of Sermons (Dublin, 1848); Dictionary of National Biography (London, 1893).

P. A. Beecher.