Blessed Dominic was a very learned, well read person but he had a lot of trouble with pronunciation. Living in an Italian community, he had no one to correct him. The other priest, Fr. Amadeus, though born in Ireland, had spent most of his life in Italy, and his thick Irish brogue, intersperced with Italian expressions, made him even harder to understand than Fr. Dominic.
There are some stories worth recording about Dominic’s problem with pronunciation.
He was giving a retreat to the priests of the area. He declared: “This I assert – that it is impossible for a man to be a good priest unless he come first all a good tinker!” And giving a retreat to a community of Benedictine Nuns, he declared, “If you have no face, you cannot be shaved.”
This is the man that came amongst the people of Aston. His first attempt to speak to them brought sniggers from the congregation. We actually have the text:
“I wish to say a few words for your edification, but I cannot do it because I am not yet able to speak English. However, I shall say something – a very short sermon. My dear beloved, let you love one another because they who love their brothers accomplish perfectly the will of God. Let you love God and men’s for God’s sake and you shall be perfectly happy for ever. Amen.” (MSS, iv, ii, i).
(“Fr. Julian Tenison Woods and the Passionists”, Fr.Gerard Mahony, C.P., Passionist Via, December 1980).