FORMER PRESIDENT Éamon de Valera had a vision of Jesus Christ in 1928, two years after he founded Fianna Fáil, a new book claims.
The biography Éamon de Valera – Irish: Catholic: Visionary , by Anthony Jordan, also details how when the former president was 80, he decided he would resign from office and join the Holy Ghost community at Blackrock College in Dublin should his wife Sinéad predecease him.
In fact she died in January 1975 aged 96 and he died eight months later at 92.
The book suggests that de Valera’s conviction that he had a vocation was rebuffed because of the view at the time was that “anyone whose paternity was in any way unclear should not be accepted for the priesthood”.
The book says de Valera was born in New York in 1882 but that “when his father died prematurely, his mother felt unable to raise the boy herself and sent him back to her own mother in Knockmore”.
De Valera maintained a “close lifelong association with Blackrock College” and the book says “the most important event of his life, a vision of Jesus Christ, occurred there”. This involved a Fr Leen, with whom de Valera “had a deep spiritual affinity”.
The book quotes Fr Seán Farragher of Blackrock College.
During a private visit, “Dev was in conversation with Fr Leen . . . when for one moment, instead of Fr Leen he saw superimposed on him the figure of Our Lord. Dev added that he frequently felt that he was never as close to Christ and His Mother as in the presence of Fr Leen.”
“The other person to whom Dev spoke of this experience was his own son Éamon,” Fr Farragher said.
“Dev’s astute secretary Kathleen O’Connell also knew of it and felt that it would be wiser not to publicise the event.”