Wednesday 17 January 2018

Catherine O'Flaherty: My grand-uncle, the brave priest who defied the Nazis

Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty

Growing up, my grand-uncle was my hero. He had saved the lives of 6,500 people. He died before I was born, but as a filmmaker I always wanted to tell his story and got the chance to do so when I produced the documentary 'Vatican sa Pimpernel' for TG4.

In February of 1963, an audience of old friends and admirers gathered at the BBC for a recording of 'This is Your Life'. The guest of honour was Major Sam Derry – a British army officer who had helped save more than 4,000 allied POWs and Italian Jews from death at the hands of the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied Rome. At one point, a taped message from an elderly Irish priest was played in. This, said Derry, was the man who truly deserved the credit. The man whose bravery and ingenuity had denied the Nazis their prize.

But how did a Catholic priest from a neutral county become a hero of the Roman underground?

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