Sunday, 16 October 2011

Archbishop Count Finbar Ryan of Port of Spain

Count Finbar Ryan - 7th Archbishop of Port of Spain

1881 (4 Mar) - Born Cork, Ireland
1905 (8 Apr) - Ordained Priest Priest of Order of Friars Preachers
1930 to 1934 - Provincial of the Irish Dominican Province
1937 (13 Apr)- Appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Port of Spain,
1937 (13 Apr)- Appointed Titular Archbishop of Gabula
1937 (29 Jun)- Ordained Bishop Titular Archbishop of Gabula
1940 (6 jun) - Succeeded Archbishop of Port of Spain
1958 to 1967 - President - Antilles Episcopal Conference
1962 to 1965 - Second Vatican Council Council Father (Sessions 1,2,3,& 4)
1966 (24 May)- Retired Archbishop of Port of Spain
1966 (24 May)- Appointed Titular Archbishop of Villamagna in Tripolitana
1975 (10 Jan)- Died Archbishop Emeritus of Port of Spain

1937 Awarded the "Freedom of Cork City"
1939 Published book - Our Lady of Fatima
1950 Appointed an assistant to the pontifical throne, a papal count and A grand officer of the supreme order of Christ.
1962 Highest religious official at the Independence Celebrations for Trinidad and Tobago.
1969 Awarded the Trinity Cross - the highest award to a Trinidadian.

According to Dr Bernard Tappin:
Finbar Ryan, O.P became Archbishop of Port of Spain in 1940. When he assumed office, Ryan already had a long and distinguished career in the church in Ireland. He was not a young archbishop, but he was destined to govern the church during 26 exciting years in the country’s and church’s history. Ryan witnessed Trinidad ’s political emergence as an independent country and he had the honour of being the first religious leader to bless the nation, minutes after the National Flag was raised on the first Independence Day 31st August 1962. The Archbishop was also present at the sessions of Vatican Council II in Rome (1963-1965).

As Archbishop of Port-of-Spain, he saw the church grow in the Caribbean. He celebrated the centenary of the Archdiocese in December 1950, with days of celebrations. In 1956, St Lucia and Grenada became separate dioceses. On 10th December 1957, the Antilles Episcopal Conference was born, one of the first in the church worldwide. The vast majority were only established in the wake of Vatican II. In December 1958, Ryan consecrated his Vicar-General, William Michael Fitzgerald O.P., as his auxiliary.

Ryan will forever be remembered as the founder of the Seminary of St. John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs. As early as 1819, Rome proposed the foundation of a seminary, but it was on 19th January 1943, that Ryan blessed the seminary building then housed within the monastic compound of Mt St Benedict. The monks assumed responsibility for the seminary. In 1961, the seminary was transferred to its present site.

Ryan also stands out for his determined advancement of Catholic education. Not only were primary schools built and renovated, Ryan was responsible for the rapid growth of Catholic secondary education in Trinidad. He invited to Trinidad the Presentation Brothers (1946) and the Holy Faith Sisters (1947) with this in mind. He encouraged the Holy Ghost Fathers to open Fatima College (1945). His own Dominican Fathers opened Holy Cross College in 1957. The parishes of St Joseph and Tunapuna had their own colleges, St. Joseph ’s College and St. Charles. The Dominican Sisters opened St. Dominic’s in Barataria. The church was the effective pioneer in the spread of secondary education in the years after World War II. Above all, Ryan sought to make his church strong and he stood ready to defend against all-comers.

In 1950, the Archdiocese celebrated it's centenary. The words expressed by Finbar Ryan of that occasion remain applicable today as it was in 1950:

To those who join us in this celebration we say: Salvete.
For our dead: Requiescant.
For the archdiocese: Vivat, crescat, floreat!

The Catholic Herald of the UK published the following article on the appointment of Finbar Ryan as Archbishop of Port of Spain on 23rd April 1937

The Holy See has appointed the Very Rev. Finbar Ryan, 0.P., of Cork, to be Coadjutor to the Archbishop of Port of Spain, Trinidad, the Most Rev. John Pius Dowling, 0.P., S.T.M. Dr. Dowling, consecrated in 1909, is now in his seventyseventh year. His diocesan territory embraces not only the whole of Trinidad, but also the islands of Tobago, Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent and St. Lucia.

The Bishop-Designate is a widely-known Irish Dominican who from 1921 until 1926, and again in 1930-4, was Provincial of the Irish Dominican Province. For many years he edited the Irish Rosary. He is a much-travelled man. Europe, the United States, the Antipodes, and the West Indies to which he now returns: all alike he has visited. Fr. Finbar is brother to Sir Andrew Ryan, K.B.E., British Minister to Albania. and Miss Mary Ryan, M.A., Professor of Romance Languages at University College, Cork.

FREEDOM OF CORK: On June 22nd, 1937 he was awarded "The freedom of Cork City" in recognition of the great honour bestowed on him by his Holiness the Pope on appointing him coadjutor Archbishop of Port-of-Spain and Archbishop of Gubula (Conferred 5th October, 1937).
The "Freedom of the City" is an award whereby persons distinguished for public service become Honorary Burgesses of the City.

TRINITY CROSS: Finbar Ryan (His Excellency Count) - O.P. in the sphere of religion as he was the then Archbishop of Port of Spain. Was one of the first recipients of the Trinity Cross. The Trinity Cross was the highest National Award in the twin island Republic. On June 5, 2008 the Trinity Cross was replaced by the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinity Cross was granted to nationals and non-nationals of Trinidad and Tobago who portrayed distinguished and outstanding service to Trinidad and Tobago. It is also awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy, or for gallant conduct. The identifying colour on the Borders of Ribbons for this medal is gold.

OUR LADY OF FATIMA PUBLISHED: In 1939 the book "Our Lady of Fatima" was first published, written by Count Finbar Ryan. Several editions were published. The following extract from a book by John M Haffert speaks of "Our lady of Fatima":
In 1941, following the first success of the book, the author by John M. Haffert told the story of how it had all come about in a sequel titled From a Morning Prayer.

This second book told how a saintly Carmelite lay-brother, after what he thought was a vision, commissioned the author to make the Scapular devotion better known, and especially the practice of using the Scapular while making the Morning Offering (to emphasize the offering through the Immaculate Heart of Mary). . . carrying the offering through the day, in all our sacrifices, thoughts and deeds . . . walking always under the mantle of Mary and thus doing all, as She did on earth, for God and for the Reign of Christ in all hearts.

A few months after this second book was published Archbishop Finbar Ryan, of Trinidad, wrote a letter to the writer, congratulating him, and adding: "While I congratulate you on this book, From a Morning Prayer, I cannot help wondering why you have made no mention of OUR LADY OF FATIMA . . . since in the last apparition at Fatima Our Lady held the Brown Scapular in Her hands."

The author, like most people in the United States at that time, had heard only vague rumors about Our Lady of Fatima.

It happened that Archbishop Ryan had written the first book in the English language on the Fatima apparitions. It had just come off the press in Dublin and the copy which he then sent to the present writer opened a whole new view of Our Lady's role in the modern world.

STEEL PAN IN CHURCH: Archbishop Finbar Ryan allowed pan to be played in church and the Cathedral. Until the church accepted pan it was not considered. Martin Douglas, the leader of Brooklyn-based Crossfire Steel Orchestra speaks of his experience:
An additional impetus was that the renowned Marionettes Chorale sang with North Stars... The Marionettes went on to record the hymn Hear O Lord with the Dixeland Steel Orchestra. People began to explain "oh what a beautiful song." In this way, pan began to be somewhat accepted and was winning "hearts and minds" of the Trinidad society, who previously had it pegged as "evil".

CALL HIM COUNT: In 1950 Finbar Ryan was appointed an assistant to the pontifical throne, a papal count and A grand officer of the supreme order of Christ.

A BOOK ABOUT FINBAR RYAN: Father Allan Ventour wrote of the late Archbishop. The book was entitled:

Finbar Ryan, Archbishop of Port of Spain and
Eric Williams, Father of Trinidad and Tobago:

the struggle between a fierce ultramontanist
and a determined nationalist 1954-1966

Finbar Ryan resigned as Archbishop of Port of Spain in 1966.
He died in 1975.

Episcopal Lineage / Apostolic Succession for Count Finbar Ryan:

Archbishop Patrick Finbar Ryan, O.P. † (1937)
Archbishop Paschal Charles Robinson, O.F.M. † (1927)
Willem Marinus Cardinal van Rossum, C.SS.R. † (1918)
Pope Giacomo della Chiesa † (1907)
Pope St. Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto † (1884)
Lucido Maria Cardinal Parocchi † (1871)
Costantino Cardinal Patrizi Naro † (1828)
Father Carlo Odescalchi, S.J. † (1823)
Giulio Maria Cardinal della Somaglia † (1788)
Hyacinthe-Sigismond Cardinal Gerdil, B. † (1777)
Marcantonio Cardinal Colonna (Jr.) † (1762)
Pope Carlo della Torre Rezzonico † (1743)
Pope Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini † (1724)
Pope Pietro Francesco (Vincenzo Maria) Orsini de Gravina, O.P. † (1675)
Paluzzo Cardinal Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni † (1666)
Ulderico Cardinal Carpegna † (1630)
Luigi Cardinal Caetani † (1622)
Ludovico Cardinal Ludovisi † (1621)
Archbishop Galeazzo Sanvitale † (1604)
Girolamo Cardinal Bernerio, O.P. † (1586)
Giulio Antonio Cardinal Santorio † (1566)
Scipione Cardinal Rebiba †


  1. Hi, I am doing some family research into the Ryan Family and I wonder if you could let me know where Finbar Ryan, Archbishop of Port of Spain is buried. He died 10 January 1975.
    Thank you.
    Sean. Cork City

  2. Hello Sean Healy, God bless you on this good day. Count Finbar died in Ireland. Where I do not know. Perhaps as a former provincial of the irish dominicans he may be burried among his brothers.

  3. Dominican plot, St Joseph's Cemetery, Cork City. Rest of Ryan family in same cemetery.

  4. Count Finbar Ryan as he was called was a no nonesense man with blue piercing eyes. What he says goes and what he wants, he got. He had great influence on the Media in those days and was well respected by all not just Catholics. God rest his soul.