The Last General Absolution of the Munsters at Rue Du Bois
Near Neuve Chapelle
This scene was captured by the artist Fortunino Matania 2RMF
Second Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers
"The Munsters" Receiving a General Absolution before the Battle of Aubers Ridge.
The Irish chaplain Fr. Francis Gleeson is shown blessing the men:
The Men were ranged in three sides of a square, their green flags embroidered with the Irish Harp.... read more
Father Gleeson mounted, Colonel Rickard and Captain Thomas Filgate, the Adjutant on their chargers, were in the centre and in that wonderful twilight, Father Gleeson gave a general Absolution.
“Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus; et dimissis omnibus peccatis vestris, perducat vos Iesus Christus ad vitam aeternam”
May Almighty God have mercy on you, and having forgiven all your sins, may Jesus Christ bring you to life everlasting.
The whole regiment with their heads bared,
sang the Hymns."Te Deum" and "Hail Glorious St Patrick"
The following day 11 officers and 140 men died on the battlefield, including Lieutenant-Colonel Rickard, in addition to 8 officers and 230 men wounded.
The painting is based on an event that took place on Saturday evening, May 8th, 1915 near Neauve Chapell... read more
The soldier in the front of the painting is Regimental Sgt-Major John Ring who was born in Bandon County Cork, survived the war, and died in Limerick in 1960.
According to the Royal Munster Fusiliers Association, Ring “survived five consecutive years of fighting in France, refusing promotion time after time rather than leave the battalion and was highly respected by officers and men”.
Father Francis Gleeson Chaplain 2RMF
During the Irish Civil War he was appointed command chaplain to Dublin Army Command of the Irish Free State Army in February 1923
In1944 he was appointed parish priest of St Catherine's Meath Street in Dublin.
In Catholic canon law, a priest may grant general absolution of sin to a gathering of the faithful where there is imminent danger of death and no time for individual confessions.
Location of Scene
"The Last General Absolution of the Munsters at Rue Du Bois"
A memorial was unveiled on the centenary of the fighting at Aubers Ridge in May 2015 at the recently rediscovered site of Gleeson's absolution at Rue de Bois.
"500 metres from the Le Touret Memorial you will see an area enclosed by two stone walls and sometimes used as a gravel dump. This is the spot where re-alignment of the road took place in the 1970's, in the process demolishing a wayside chapel which is depicted in the famous painting "The Last General Absolution of the Munsters Fusiliers at Rue Du Bois" by Fortunino Matania."
This Information from the book. The Battles of French Flanders: Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert ... By Jon Cookset, Jerry Murland