Columba Murphy

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Columba Murphy, SS.CC., (fl. 1835) of Ireland, was an Irish Catholic priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious institute of the Roman Catholic Church. He was one of the first Catholic missionaries to arrive in the Kingdom of Hawaii during the persecution by Kaahumanu, Kamehameha III and their American Congregationalist advisors.

Murphy was sent periodically to Hawaii by Father Alexis Bachelot, SS.CC., the Apostolic Prefect of Hawaii, who was living in exile in Lower California, to evaluate the situation which the Roman Catholic Church had found itself in the Hawaiian Islands. As a seminarian, still technically a layman, he was allowed to enter the kingdom, from which the priests of his Order were barred. It was during these visits that he came to determine that the time was right for the priests to return and establish their presence in the mission, which had been maintained by the lay brothers who had been allowed to remain.

Under the leadership of his compatriot, Arsenius Walsh, SS.CC., the Irish members of the missions, through their position as British subjects, ultimately became instrumental in the securing of religious freedom for Roman Catholics in Hawaii. This was later reinforced through the military threats of a French frigate engaged in exploration, under the command of Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace, which resulted in the Edict of Toleration forced upon the king.

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