Monday, 25 August 2014

Saint Patrick: The Archaeology and the Texts

A forthcoming workshop at Queen's University, Belfast sounds promising. Further details from the School of Education's Open Learning programme here for anyone in this part of the world who might also be interested in attending.

St Patrick: The Archaeology and the Texts
Peter Morgan Barnes, BA

Autumn 2014

A two-day workshop on Fridays 10 & 24 October, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

In recent years our understanding about the 5th century has been transformed by archaeology and new techniques of reading Patrick’s texts. This two day intensive workshop will bring participants up to speed on current thinking about this most enigmatic figure. Only two texts are known from the 5th century in the entire British Isles and Patrick wrote both of them!

Recommended Textbook: St Patrick AD 493 – 1993, D.N.Dumville (Boydell Press).

Friday, 15 August 2014

Who is Patrick? – Answers from the Saint Patrick's Confessio HyperStack

A useful review of the Royal Irish Academy's Confessio Hyperstack from a German academic:

Who is Patrick? – Answers from the Saint Patrick's Confessio HyperStack

Franz Fischer

University of Cologne

Cologne Center for eHumanities

Universitatsstr. 22, D-50923 Koln


Not everyone realizes that there are two Latin works, still surviving, that can definitely be attributed to Saint Patrick’s own authorship.

On 14th September 2011 the Royal Irish Academy published his writings in a freely accessible form on line, both in the original Latin and in a variety of modern languages (including Irish). Designed to be of interest to the general public as well as to academic researchers, the Saint Patrick’s Confessio Hypertext Stack includes such features as digital images of the medieval manuscripts involved, a specially commissioned historical reconstruction that evocatively describes life in pre-Viking Ireland, articles, audio presentations, and some ten thousand internal and external digital links that make it truly a resource to be explored.

Read the paper in full here.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Such was Columba

He was at the same time full of contradictions and contrasts at once tender and irritable, rude and courteous, ironical and compassionate, caressing and imperious, grateful and revengeful led by pity as well as by wrath, ever moved by generous passions, and among all passions fired to the very end of his life by two which his countrymen under stand the best, the love of poetry and the love of country. Little inclined to melancholy when he had once surmounted the great sorrow of his life, which was his exile; little disposed even, save to wards the end, to contemplation or solitude, but trained by prayer and austerities to triumphs of evangelical exposition; despising rest, untiring in mental and manual toil; born for eloquence, and gifted with a voice so penetrating and sonorous that it was thought of afterwards as one of the most miraculous gifts that he had received of God; frank and loyal, original and powerful in his words as in his actions in cloister and mission and parliament, on land and on sea, in Ireland as in Scotland, always swayed by the love of God and of his neighbour, whom it was his will and pleasure to serve with an impassioned uprightness. Such was Columba.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Saint Colum Cille and the Beggar

Vignettes from the Lives of the Irish Saints: Saint Colum Cille and the Beggar

One of those rarely beautiful and instructive incidents, common to the lives of many saints, is recorded as having happened at Derry. The Saint fed a hundred poor men daily, but his steward, or dispenser, did not quite appreciate the liberality of his master. He had a fixed time for giving the dole of food, and any one who came late was peremptorily dismissed. A poor man came one day late, and was, as usual, sent away. The next day he came in time, but was told there was nothing for him. For many days he came, but each time he met with some repulse. He then sent a message to Columba, to tell him that he advised him for the future to put no limit to his charity while he had alms to give, except what God set on the number of those who came for it. Columba was struck by the message, and came down to the gate of the monastery, not waiting even to put on his cloak. He hastened after the beggar; but when he had gone some distance he found not the poor man, but Christ, who had taken the form of a beggar. Then, as he fell down and adored his Lord, he obtained from him a royal alms — new lights, new graces, new and yet more wonderful powers of miracle and prophecy. In the precise language of the chronicle, "He saw both the secrets of Holy Scripture, things happening at a distant place or time, and even what was passing in a man's thoughts; and he came to know about beasts and birds, and their affections, and their language, and of what great value it was to have pity on the poor, when that virtue was joined on to other virtues." And so it came to pass that when St. Brendan came to visit him with a hundred men there was food for all, and the very lakes were filled with fish for his service.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A Portrait of Saint Colum Cille

BEFORE we follow him to his monastic foundations in Ireland, or on his missionary journeys through Scotland, it may be well to see what manner of man he was personally. Venerable Bede and the ancient Irish manuscripts leave no room for conjecture regarding his physical appearance. He was tall and muscular, angelic of face, somewhat reddish haired, with a loud resonant voice that could on occasions be heard very far off and was withal musical as an angel's. Naturally hot and fiery in his temperament, he so completely overcame himself by his fastings, prayers, and vigils as to successfully verify his baptismal name of "The Dove." Restless and studious by turns, he was at once the deepest student and the most extensive publisher of the Sacred Text, the most energetic missionary and enlightened statesman of his day. Adamnan says "he never could spend even the space of one hour without study or prayer, or writing, or some other holy or useful occupation. So incessantly was he engaged, night and day, in the un wearied exercise of fasting and watching, that the burden of each of these austerities would seem beyond the power of all human endurance, and still in all these he was beloved by the brethren, for a holy joyousness ever beaming on his countenance revealed the joy and gladness with which the Holy Ghost filled his inmost soul."

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Monastic Life of Saint Colum Cille

In the midst of the new community Columba inhabited, instead of a cell, a sort of hut built of planks, and placed upon the most elevated spot within the monastic enclosure. Up to the age of seventy-six he slept there upon the hard floor, with no pillow but a stone. This hut was at once his study and his oratory. It was there that he gave himself up to those prolonged prayers which excited the admiration and almost the alarm of his disciples. It was there that he returned after sharing the outdoor labour of his monks, like the least among them, to consecrate the rest of his time to the study of Holy Scripture and the transcription of the sacred text. The work of transcription remained until his last day the occupation of his old age as it had been the passion of his youth; it had such an attraction for him, and seemed to him so essential to a knowledge of the truth, that, as we have already said, three hundred copies of the Holy Gospels, copied by his own hand, have been attributed to him.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Saint Colum Cille on the Angels' Hill

Vignettes from the Lives of the Irish Saints: Colum Cille on the Angels' Hill

"Let no one follow me to-day," Columba said one morning with unusual severity to the assembled community: "I would be alone in the little plain to the west of the isle." He was obeyed; but a brother, more curious and less obedient than the rest, followed him far off, and saw him, erect and motionless, with his hands and his eyes raised to heaven, standing on a sandy hillock, where he was soon surrounded by a crowd of angels, who came to bear him company and to talk with him. The hillock has to this day retained the name of Cnocan Aingel the Angels' Hill. And the citizens of the celestial country, as they were called at Iona, came often to console and strengthen their future companion during the long winter nights which he passed in prayer in some retired corner, voluntarily exposed to all the torments of sleeplessness and cold.