Father William Doyle S.J. (1873-1917) is undoubtedly one of the greatest military chaplains of all time. A steadfast Irishman by birth and mentality, he gave his life as a martyr of Charity on Frezenberg Ridge, Belgium, on the 16th August 1917. He had spent the previous year and a half administering the Sacraments in harrowing circumstances to the many Irish soldiers who were fighting during World War I “for little Belgium” (to quote the last words of one of the dying men to Father Doyle).
Though best known for his untiring and fearless charity in the service of his “boys”, the words he wrote on his appointment as chaplain in November 1915 show us that this heroic devotion was merely the outward manifestation of a deep holiness characterized by a great love for Christ: “What the future has in store I know not, but I have given Jesus all to dispose of as He sees best”.
In this classic biography of the great Irish Jesuit, Alfred O’Rahilly, relying in large part on Father Doyle’s personal correspondence and diaries, outlines the main facts of his life from birth and childhood to his years as a Jesuit student, preacher and spiritual director. He includes a thorough analysis of Father Doyle’s interior life and charts his growth in the love and service of Christ, which culminates in his heroic actions among the Irish troops in war-torn France and Belgium between December 1915 and August 1917.