Matthew Talbot (1856 – 1925) was born in the poverty of Dublin’s inner city. He began drinking at twelve years of age and became a chronic alcoholic. It was the drug culture of the 19th century. Matt was an addict. After sixteen years he decided to ‘kick the habit’. A priest helped him, giving him a rehabilitation programme, which providentially incorporated the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the help of this Priest friend Matt modeled his life on that of the monks, who lived in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries.
It was a tough programme of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.That was fifty years before AA was founded. After a horrendous struggle, he found sobriety through prayer and self-sacrifice. His Higher Power was the Christian God. He remained sober for forty years until his death. His life story has been an inspiration for alcoholics and addicts throughout the world. He is a candidate for canonisation in the Catholic Church
To his neighbours and his work mates in the timber yards, he was a cheerful, happy friend. He gave away most of his wages every week to the poor at home and abroad. “Matt had no time for money”, his sister remarked. He was keenly aware of his fellow workers struggle for social justice. A loyal member of Ireland’s Transport and General Workers Union, a Union leader, Stephen McGonagle, described him as “a beacon of light to Irish workers”. After a life of heroic perseverance, he died suddenly on the way to Mass on 7th June 1925.
Matt’s programme of recovery was built around devotion to the Eucharist, love of Mary, Mother of God, spiritual reading, self-discipline and manual work. But he never forgot his struggle with his addiction. “Never look down on a man, who cannot give up the drink”, he told his sister, “it is easier to get out of hell!”.
Most of the favours attributed to his intercession world-wide are for addicts and their families. Hundreds have been reported. Some day he may be declared the patron saint for addicts.
Short version of the prayer for his help:
“May Matt Talbot’s triumph over addiction, brings hope to our community and strength to our hearts, may he intercede for …name… who struggles with his/her addiction, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”