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Dom Eugene Boylan: monk, scientist, writer

Irish Jesuit historian Todd Morrissey SJ has just produced his twentieth book, a biography of renowned Cistercian monk and spiritual writer, Dom Eugene Boylan. Entitled Dom Eugene Boylan: Trappist monk, scientist and writer, it recounts the remarkable story of a prize-winning student, music-lover, ladies’ man, and physicist who won a scholarship to University of Vienna, lectured at UCD, and to everyone’s surprise became a monk at Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea.

Fr Boylan later became a famous writer of spiritual books, including This tremendous lover, which was a best-seller in the USA and elsewhere. He took his title from a remarkable poem of English poet Francis Thompson, ‘The hound of heaven’, in which God is portrayed as an indefatigable pursuer of the Soul. This tremendous lover encouraged readers not to view God as a judge, recording all their faults, but as a God of compassion and love.

Fr Boylan was in great demand as a lecturer and writer. He had the ability to adapt his message to his audience and to render ‘the supernatural almost natural’.

He established the first Cistercian foundation in Australia, saved the monastery in Caldey Island (off the Welsh coast) from closure by developing perfume from the flowers on the island, lectured and gave retreats in USA, including Thomas Merton’s abbey, and, in 1962, was elected abbot of Mount St. Joseph Monastery at Roscrea.

A man of prayer who had an easy charm of manner, he became well known as a spiritual director. People flocked to Roscrea to go to confession to him. On top of everything else, he was also a lover of swimming and of fast cars. He was a powerful swimmer, but a very poor driver. He died following a road accident on a frosty night as he travelled to a funeral in Donegal. His death was mourned across Ireland and abroad. His funeral was attended by leaders of church and state, and by thousands of people from all sections of society.

Dom Eugene Boylan: Trappist monk, scientist and writer is available from Messenger Publications », Dublin.