Fr Mullooly, O.P.

Fr Joseph Mullooly, O.P.


1812 - 1880


           Fr Joseph Mullooly, O.P., was born in County Longford (Ireland), on the Feast of St Joseph, 19 March 1812, a son of Gilbert Mullooly, a farmer, and his wife, Bridget Dowd. In 1840 he set out for Italy, where he entered the Dominican Order on 7 September 1841. A year later he made profession and within three more years was ordained a priest.

Assigned to San Clemente in 1846 by the Master General of the Order, he obtained the degree of Lector in Sacred Theology in 1849 at the Convent of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Rome). The following year, Fr Mullooly became superior of San Clemente and remained so for the rest of his life, two brief periods excepted.

In 1857 he began excavations under the present basilica and within ten years had brought to light a fourth-century Christian basilica and an even earlier level, one that reached back almost to the time of St Clement himself. The discovery of the Tomb of St Cyril in 1863 earned Fr Mullooly the perennial gratitude of all those who owe their Christian faith and culture to the Apostles of the Slavs, SS Cyril and Methodius.

His own confrères demonstrated their appreciation of Fr Mullooly in 1873 when the Irish Dominicans petitioned the Master General to award him the honorary degree of Master in Sacred Theology.

Fr Mullooly was also a celebrated author. In 1869 he published St Clement Pope and Martyr and his Basilica in Rome. In the same year his Brevi notizie delle antiche pitture discoperte nella basilica sotteranea di San Clemente was published in Italian, French and English while his English translation of E. Cartier’s biography of Fra Angelico, Life of Beato Angelico de Fiesole of the Order of Friars Preachers, appeared in 1865.

Weakened by malaria and pleurisy, Fr Mullooly collapsed after Mass on 20 June 1880. He died five days later in his room in San Clemente and was buried in Campo Verano. In 1912 his remains were returned to San Clemente where they now lie beneath the High Altar of the Lower Basilica.

"Pie Iesu dona ei requiem sempiternam"