Christ is risen! Risen indeed!
This has been an excellent Easter Sunday for me and I thought it a good occasion for reflection on one of my favorite figures of the War for Southern Independence, Father Abram Joseph Ryan, "Poet-Priest of the Confederacy." Being a Christian, Roman Catholic, Southerner I've been particularly drawn to Father Ryan. But you don't have to be Catholic to appreciate Father Ryan's strong Christian devotion and his unshakable Southern patriotism.
Father Abram J. Ryan
(Fr. Abram J. Ryan Archives
Father Ryan Statue in Father Ryan
Park in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo
by Mike Jones)
Following the war he founded a weekly magazine, "Banner of the South." He wrote most of his poems for this magazine. He also wrote a book of poety that was very popular, and still is. Father Ryan was greatly beloved as a priest as well as a poet. He served in many church parishes throughout the South but patricularly notable was his care for the sick in a yellow fever epidemic. The Catholic Encyclopedia article characterized him, "As a pulpit orator and lecturer, he was always interesting and occasionally brilliant. As a man he had a subtle, fascinating nature, full of magnetism when he saw fit to exert it; as a priest, he was full of tenderness, gentleness, and courage. In the midst of pestilence he had no fear of death or disease. Even when he was young his feeble body gave him the appearance of age, and with all this there was the dreamy mysticism of the poet so manifest in the flesh as to impart to his personality something which marked him off from all other men."
Father Ryan Bust in
Hall, New Orleans, La.
(Photo by Mike Jones)