The Alcoholic Who Became a Saint

Venerable Matt Talbot

The Alcoholic Who Became a Saint

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Nothing ever happened to Matt Talbot, an ordinary Irish laborer of no great learning, no riches, no remarkable accomplishments.

He lived in poverty and died, alone and unrecognized on a cold cobblestone lane, in Dublin. He left no family, no followers, no written discourses.

Scarcely anyone knew a thing about him. Yet within six months of his death, a brief biography sold 120,000 copies. Within a year, it had been published in twelve languages. Five years after that, the Catholic Church began investigating Matt Talbot’s life to determine if he warranted consideration for sainthood. A short fifty years after his death, the Church bestowed on him the title, “Venerable,” finding him fit to be commended as a “hero” whose virtues are worthy to be imitated.

No, nothing ever happened to Matt Talbot, but as one biographer noted, “he happened to those about him, as light happens to a dark room.”

Living to Drink. Darkness abounded during Matt’s lifetime. Ireland’s…

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