Francis X. Murphy

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Francis X. Murphy (June 16, 1914–April 11, 2002) was a Redemptorist chaplain and theology professor. He is most known for his articles about the Second Vatican Council, published under the pseudonym Xavier Rynne.[1]

Early life[edit]

Murphy was born June 16, 1914 to Dennis and Anna Rynne Murphy, who eloped from Ireland. His father was a policeman. Francis grew up in the Bronx, where he attended Immaculate Conception School. He graduated from the minor seminary at North East, Pennsylvania in May 1934, and then entered the Redemptorist novitiate at St. Mary's College, Ilchester, Maryland, and completed his theological training at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, New York.[2]


Murphy made his first profession as a Redemptorist in August 1935 and final profession in September 1938. He was ordained at Esopus on June 23, 1940. Sent for further studies, Murphy first earned a master's degree and, then in 1945, a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America writing Rufinus of Aquileia (345-411): His Life and Works. Subsequently, he was assigned as a naval chaplain at Annapolis, Maryland. Murphy was stationed at St. Mary’s Parish in Annapolis until 1947, when he returned to Esopus to teach and organize the library.[2]

In the summer of 1948 he was sent to Sant’Alfonso in Rome to assist in the task of collecting and microfilming Redemptorist records in European libraries, and became a correspondent for the National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service.[2]

In 1959, Murphy became a professor of moral theology at Pontifical Lateran University.

Second Vatican Council[edit]

As a journalist, Murphy attended the Second Vatican Council which met at the Vatican from 1962-1965. Under the pseudonym Xavier Rynne, combining his middle name and his mother's maiden name, he revealed the inner workings of Vatican II to The New Yorker.[3] He is credited with setting the tone for the popular view of the council, depicting it as "conservative" versus "liberal".[4]

Later life[edit]

During the 1970s Murphy served as a visiting professor at Princeton University and later was connected with Johns Hopkins University. By the early 1980s he then served as rector of Holy Redeemer College in Washington, D.C..

He wrote more than 20 books in his lifetime, under his pseudonym and his own name.[3]


  • John XXIII: The Story of the Pope (1959)
  • Letters from Vatican City : Vatican Council II, first session : background and debates (1963)
  • The second session; the debates and decrees of Vatican Council II, September 29 to December 4, 1963 (1964)
  • The third session; the debates and decrees of Vatican Council II, September 14 to November 21, 1964 (1965)
  • The fourth session; the debates and decrees of Vatican Council II, September 14 to December 8, 1965 (1966)
  • The Pilgrim Pope (1979)


  1. ^ Jones, Arthur (May 3, 2002). "Another luminary lost: F.X. Murphy dies at 87; as Xavier Rynne, exuberant scholar revealed the inside story of Vatican II". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  2. ^ a b c "Francis X. Murphy, C.Ss.R. Papers", Baltimore Province of the Redemptorists Archives
  3. ^ a b Page, Eric (April 15, 2002). "Francis Murphy Dies at 87; Chronicled Vatican Debates". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  4. ^ Graeme Zielinski (April 12, 2002). "Priest Francis X. Murphy Dies; Wrote Dispatches on Vatican II". The Washington Post. p. B06. Retrieved 2008-04-17.