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Ballinspittle, Co Cork - Moving statue HQ of the 1980s David Barrie via Flickr

Cardinal Rules Part 14 On being moved by moving statues

The (not) Primate of All Ireland on having faith in Holy mysteries: “it’s the intellectual putty which fills in the holes of doubt caused by the cracks of reason”.

THIS WEEK HAS been a huge one for so called “nostalgia freaks” in our house.

For starters myself and the priests watched the apparitions documentary on RTE featuring “unofficial” visionary Joe Coleman. It was like the great moving statues craze of the mid-’80s  all over again.

Joe is “unofficial” because he has yet to be issued with his “official visionary” badge by the Church. But in the meantime we are quite happy to listen patiently to Joe, and watch his brilliant adventures, as he goes around the country meeting up with Our Lady and having chats with her and crying.


Our thoughts turned to the last great official visionary Miz Biddy McCardle who first spotted Our Lady by the fruit and veg section in Tesco’s in Drogheda in 1986. When asked what the Virgin Mary had been doing there, Betty replied “She had come to warn us that the hour of atonement was at hand. And She was checking the expiry date on the cucumbers.”

Very soon Biddy’s visions became the talk of the country. Some claim the Church was initially sceptical. In fairness the Church can’t be sceptical about such things. We are not big on scepticism, and if we were sceptical about anything, well then that would be rather confusing.

We prefer instead to keep an “open mind” until certain things are proven beyond doubt. Now usually we are not big on having things proven beyond doubt either. Instead we have faith which is the intellectual putty which fills in the holes of doubt caused by the cracks of reason. And faith is a tool which we apply with a certain amount of finesse and timing, not unlike a Polyfilla gun.

Where was I?

Oh yes, Biddy began to see Our Lady at least once a week. Her official visionary status was approved when Our Lady correctly informed her of the result of the 1986 Milk Cup Final. (Oxford United 3 Queens; Park Rangers 0)

I Like To Move It

There were some rumblings when her cousin Billy opened a hot dog stand in the grotto where the Mother of God made her most frequent appearances. But all cynicism was banished when he then opened a stall selling statuettes of Our Lady. (In later years he redeemed himself even more by bringing out a commemorative animatronic statuette which moved in time to Reel 2 Real’s pop classic, ‘I like to Move it.’)

Now I am not saying that Joe Coleman is exactly like Biddy McCardle. For starters his hair is not a fetching shade of blue, and he has never had to contest an extradition warrant while on a long sabbatical in a French chateau. But he has the same unyielding faith, and air of conviction that might some day see him take his seat among the best of the best in the Church’s league table of visionaries.

And while I don’t want to say anything official, there is something quite moving about a man talking to Our Blessed Mother which brings the heady days of 1986 rushing back. It made me wonder why there are so few people imbued with the same sense of belief.

Mr Charlie Sheen

For the same type of conviction (and I mean the non judicial kind. Oho!) one can perhaps only look to Mr Charlie Sheen for the kind of firmly held certainties that matches Joe Coleman’s. Indeed, Father Lawlor has suggested that Mr Sheen could play Joe Coleman in the inevitable Hollywood biopic.

“He has the same intensity,” said Father Lawlor, “And besides he hasn’t done anything as good as Navy Seals in years. This could put him right back on top.”

All told, it was an inspiring few days. I don’t want to give the impression that we got carried away on waves of nostalgia, but later in the week we just might have indulged ourselves in a little “Song of Bernadette”/“Navy Seals” double bill.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady