Bestselling Irish author Maeve Binchy, who lost her faith as a young woman, was thanked for her generosity to the Catholic Church at a funeral Mass in the parish where she lived.
Father William Stuart told a crowded congregation in the Dalkey district of Dublin that Binchy had not been a religious person in a traditional sense, and died not having come to know God.
“The divine eluded her,” he said.
Father Stuart said the novelist was a very generous woman, and while not a churchgoer she contributed several times a year to the parish church.
Remembering one particularly large donation, he recalled how Binchy told the parish priest to “spend it on anything you want…as long as it’s not statues or holy pictures”.
She also said: “I know that if you are around when I die then you will dispatch me with dignity and without hypocrisy in a faith which I envy and would love to share.”
Maeve Binchy’s parents were Catholics and she attended a Catholic school. But in a 2009 television interview, she spoke of losing her faith while living on an Israeli kibbutz as a young woman.
She described the experience as “the Road to Damascus in reverse”.
Irish journalist Mary Kenny recalled that Binchy had a typically funny story to tell about this episode:
“One very hot Sunday she set off to find the location where it was said that the Last Supper took place. She heaved herself up a mountain-side and finally got to a desolate-looking cavern, guarded by a Brooklyn-born Israeli soldier.
“Maeve burst into tears when she saw the unprepossessing cave. The guard wisecracked, ‘What’ya expect, ma’am — a Renaissance table set for 13?’ ‘Yes!’ she cried. ‘That’s just what I did expect.’ ”
Kenny added that, paradoxically, at a time when most Irish writers were anti-clerical and anti-Catholic, priests and nuns were “sunny and benign” in Binchy’s stories. “But that’s not because she set out to make that point: it was the way she had experienced the Irish clergy herself.”
Image: The Telegraph
News category: World.