Saint Oliver Plunkett was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland who was the last victim of the Popish Plot. Plunkett was beatified in 1920 and canonised in 1975, the first new Irish saint for almost seven hundred years and the first of the Irish martyrs to be beatified. For the canonisation, the customary second miracle was waived. He has since been followed by 17 other Irish martyrs who were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
Plunkett was found guilty of high treason in June 1681 “for promoting the Roman faith”, and was condemned to death. Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681, aged 55, the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England. His body was initially buried in two tin boxes next to five Jesuits who had died before in the courtyard of St Giles in the Fields church. The remains were exhumed in 1683 and moved to the Benedictine monastery at Lamspringe, near Hildesheim in Germany. The head was brought to Rome, and from there to Armagh and eventually to Drogheda where, since 29 June 1921, it has rested in Saint Peter’s Church. Most of the body was brought to Downside Abbey, England, where the major part is located today, with some parts remaining at Lamspringe. Some relics were brought to Ireland in May 1975, while others are in England, France, Germany, the United States, and Australia.