According to the Canon’s own writings, the cornerstone is ‘a fine block of Travertine weighing over 4 cwt. This stone stood for nearly 2000 years in the vaults of St. Clement’s princely mansion which on his conversion, became most probably the first Christian temple of Rome.’ The preservation of San Clemente by the late Fr. Joseph Molloy O.P. was praised with the Canon ‘praying that it may outlive the Colloseum that stands grimly beside it‘. Pope Leo XIII also presented a Sidonian marble from the Catacombs of St. Domitilla inscribed with the words of the Papal Approval.
Canon Brosnan went to Rome in December 1883 with a letter of recommendation from his Bishop which stated that he was ‘fully alive to the difficulties that lie before him, to Rome he goes to seek in the approval and blessing of Our Holy Father and in prayers at the grave where that great heart lies buried, (Daniel O’Connell’s heart)
the courage and strength he so much needs to bring his work to a happy issue.’ The Canon was received in private audience by Pope Leo XIII on December 10th. He outlined his plans for the church and received approval. Pope Leo remarked that in 1846, in the British House of Commons, he saw O’Connell ‘as I greatly desired to see so great a man, I fixed my eyes and lights upon him and he was great’.
The Papal Approval read ‘ We very much approve of the project of building a new temple in that place in which the strenuous vindicator of the Catholic religion, Daniel O’Connell, was born and we, willingly in the Lord, bestow the Apostolic benediction on you (the rev. petitioner) and all who have contributed their aid or assistance to it’. Leo XIII, Pope.
The Cornerstone was laid by the Rev. Dr. Croke, Archbishop of Cashel on August 1st, 1888.