WARNING: Graphic Images
“Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory” (1 Cor. 15: 43).
A mass grave has come to light in picturesque Galway, Ireland. This grave was not, however, left by Bronze Age warriors or Celtic chieftains.
Containing the skeletal remains of over 750 children, this grave was left by a group of Catholic nuns who operated a home for unwed mothers in the town of Tuam from 1925 – 1961 .
The children buried here are thought to have ranged in age from 35 fetal weeks to 2-3 years. They had been in the care of the Bon Secours (French for “good help”). If the little ones perished, their bodies were placed in an abandoned sewer system to save on the cost of a coffin. No solemnities. No markers.
The story was not entirely unknown. In the 1970s, some children playing where the home had stood were shocked to find human bones inside an old septic tank. The presence of these bones was reported to the local church.
A priest advised that the site was likely a mass grave dating from the 19th Century potato famine. Prayers were said. The septic tank – and the truth – were covered up again. Residents on their own erected a small shrine.
It was an amateur historian, Catherine Corless, who discovered that only two of the children who died at the unwed mothers home were ever buried in consecrated ground. Those two were orphans. The rest were illegitimate, born out of wedlock.
Clearly, both church and lay authorities had to be aware of the practice of discarding the remains of illegitimate children. Death certificates were filed. Yet no undertaker buried the child of an unwed mother in over 30 years’ time. The bodies of hundreds of children simply vanished.
Corless repeatedly met obstacles in her search for the truth. However, she persevered. The Irish government has launched an investigation.
Thus far, there has been no assertion of infanticide by the Bon Secours. One can only hope.
 Daily Beast, “The Amateur Historian Who Uncovered Ireland’s Mass Grave of Babies” by Tom Sykes, 3/4/17, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/04/the-amateur-historian-who-uncovered-ireland-s-mass-grave-of-babies.html.
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