Thursday, February 21, 2008

Venerable Matt Talbot, Patron Saint of Alcoholism

Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism.

Matt was born in Dublin, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively. For 15 years—until he was 30—Matt was an active alcoholic.

One day he decided to take "the pledge" for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass. There is evidence that Matt’s first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult. Avoiding his former drinking places was hard. He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink. He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.

Most of his life Matt worked as a builder’s laborer. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and began a life of strict penance; he abstained from meat nine months a year. Matt spent hours every night avidly reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. He prayed the rosary conscientiously. Though his job did not make him rich, Matt contributed generously to the missions.

After 1923 his health failed and Matt was forced to quit work. He died on his way to church on Trinity Sunday. Fifty years later Pope Paul VI gave him the title venerable.

Born to a poor family with a history of alcoholism, he took to drink when still a child, and was considered a hopeless alcoholic by age thirteen. At age 28, he had conversion experience, and on his knees, he made a pledge of sobriety; he lived another 41 years without ever breaking that vow.

He was a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, and worked in a lumber yard on the docks of Dublin. He was always poor and never cared, yet was always generous to people in need. He lived a life of prayer, fasting, and service, never taking credit, and trying to model himself on the sixth century Irish monks.

Even as his Cause is being investigated, some consider him a modern patron of alcoholics and other adicts. There are a number of Matt Talbot houses, inns, centers, etc. around the English speaking world, working to rescue and treat them.
2 May 1856 in Dublin, Ireland
7 June 1925 in Dublin, Ireland of natural causes
3 October 1975
pending; if you have information relevant to the beatification of Venerable Matt, contact:
Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral
83 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, IRELAND

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