By Hannah Brockhaus
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis on Tuesday recognized the heroic virtue of Father Patrick Peyton, an Irish priest known for his promotion of the Rosary.
Now called “Venerable,” Peyton was born in County Mayo, Ireland, January 9, 1909. In 1928 he and an older brother sailed to the U.S. to join his elder sisters who had already emigrated and were living and working in Pennsylvania.
Peyton worked as janitor at St. Stanislaus Cathedral in Scranton for several years before deciding to pursue the priesthood with his brother Thomas.
In 1938, while still a seminarian, he fell gravely ill with tuberculosis. Thinking he might die, his older sister brought him Marian novenas and reminded him of the Blessed Mother and the power of the Holy Rosary.
Encouraged by his sister and a Catholic priest, he gave himself over to God through the Blessed Virgin Mary. Soon, doctors discovered that the spots in his lungs had disappeared; and in 1941 he and his brother were ordained priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
He was one of the first pioneers of evangelism via mass media, using radio, film, advertising and eventually television, utilizing the help of Hollywood celebrities and artists. He is most known for his public rallies to encourage families to make pledges to pray the Rosary together, which were attended by thousands of people.
He founded the “Family Rosary Crusade” and popularized the phrase: “The family that prays together stays together.” In addition to working in the U.S., he also led missions in Latin America and in the Philippines.
Peyton died June 3, 1992, in San Pedro, California, and is buried on the grounds of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.