He was born on 2nd May 1856 in humble circumstance in Dublin’s inner city, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Talbot. In post-famine years Dublin and the rest of Ireland was in distressed state: an era of grinding poverty and appalling living conditions. Yet it was also a time when the Faith was strong and prayer and the practice of their religion were the channels of hope and optimism for the masses of people.
Hard-drinking was, however, a problem, a feature of Dublin life: all the attendant miseries of excess drinking, the hardship of broken families and unfulfilled hopes were only too evident in the city. From his early teens up to the age of twenty-eight Matt Talbot was a hard drinking man, never a day idle but enduring a source of distress to those who loved him. In 1884, however, Matt stopped drinking and made a three month pledge to God he would refrain from the habit. Despite great temptations in the early stages of his conversions he never took a drink again. The remaining forty-one years of his life were lived heroically by Matt in attending daily Mass, in constant prayer, in helping the poor and indeed in the ascetic life-style of Celtic spirituality.
The chains found on his body at death were not some extreme penitential regime but a symbol of his devotion to Mary, Mother of God that he wished to give himself to her totally as a slave. This life was his prayer to God and his defence against a reversion to alcoholism. He died on Trinity Sunday, 7th June 1925, in Granby Lane on his way to Mass in the Dominican Church nearby. Within a few short years of his death his reputation as a saintly man and especially as a patron protector of those suffering from all forms of addiction, and their families, was being established. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery and then in 1972 his remains were removed to a tomb in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Sean McDermott Street, Dublin, in the area where Matt spent his life. Every day pilgrims come to pray at his tomb, many come in organised pilgrimages from overseas as well as Ireland.
Matt has a tremendous following in North America and there is particular devotion to him there. The pilgrims pray to Matt asking him in turn to pray for them and their loved ones and they also pray for him that he may soon be raised to the company of the Saints in Heaven.
Prayer for the Canonisation of Venerable Matt Talbot
Lord, in your servant, Matt Talbot
you have given us a wonderful example
of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty,
and of lifelong reverence for the Most Holy Sacrament.
May his life of prayer and penance
give us courage to take up our crosses
and follow in the footsteps
of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
if it be your will that your beloved servant
should be glorified by your Church,
make known by your heavenly favours
the power he enjoys in your sight.
We ask this through the same
Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Favours received through the intercession of the Venerable Matt Talbot should be notified as soon as possible to the Vice Postulator:
Very Reverend Brian Lawless, Adm
Parish of St. Agatha,
North William Street,