Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Apostle of Ireland

On the feast of Saint Brigid we looked at an account of her life from a nineteenth-century author, John O'Kane Murray, who was writing for an Irish-American audience. We can now turn to the same writer's account of Saint Patrick and a marvellously stirring and romantic account it is too. This is the Victorian view of our national apostle in all its chauvinistic glory. Beanachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!


 DIED A.D. 465.

 "All praise to St. Patrick, who brought to our mountains 
 The gift of God's faith, the sweet light of His love; 
 All praise to the shepherd who showed us the fountains 
 That rise in the heart of the Saviour above!

"There is not a Saint in the bright courts of heaven
More faithful than he to the land of his choice; 
 Oh! well may the nation to whom he was given 
 In the feast of their sire and Apostle rejoice.
 In glory above, True to his love, 
 He keeps the false faith from his children away — 
 The dark, false faith 
 Far worse than death." 

— Faber.

ST. PATRICK, whose noble name [1] is revered in many lands, was born in the year 387, at Boulogne, in the north of France. [2] His father, Calphurnius, and his mother, Conchessa, a niece of St. Martin, Archbishop of Tours, were persons of rank and virtue. Conchessa, it is said, was noted for elegance of manners and beauty of person. 

The Saint's childhood was marked by many miraculous incidents. We can give but one. While running about in a field one of his sisters slipped and fell, striking her forehead against a sharp stone. The girl was so stunned and severely wounded that she seemed to be lifeless. Friends anxiously gathered around, and her little brother was soon on the scene. Patrick's surgery was wonderful. He made the sign of the cross on her blood-stained countenance, and instantly the wound was healed. But the scar remained as a sign to mark the spot where faith and holiness had gained a victory. 

The boy grew up in the bright way of virtue. His merits far surpassed his years. In the words of the venerable monk Jocelin, he went "forward in the slippery paths of youth and held his feet from falling. The garment that nature had woven for him — unknown to stain — he preserved whole, living a virgin in mind and body. On the arrival of the fit time he was sent from his parents to be instructed in sacred learning. 

" He applied his mind to the study of letters, but chiefly to psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, retaining them in his memory and continually singing them to the Lord; so that even from the flower of his first youth he was daily wont to sing devoutly unto God the whole psalter, and from his most pure heart to pour forth many prayers." [3] 

 But the day of trial was at hand. The future Apostle of Erin was to be tested as gold in a furnace. When he had reached the age of sixteen, the famous King Niall of the Nine Hostages, monarch of Ireland, [4] swept along the coast of France on a marauding expedition, and captured the good youth with many of his countrymen. Patrick was carried to the shores of Ireland, and sold as a slave to Milcho, a chief ruling over a portion of the county of Antrim. The young captive was chiefly employed in tending herds of sheep and swine on the mountains. It was a period of sore adversity. But his soul rose above such lowly occupations and held unbroken communion with Heaven. Thus, in the heat of summer and the biting blasts of winter, on the steep sides of Slieb-mish [5] or on the lone hill-tops of Antrim, he recalled the sacred presence of God, and made it a practice to say "a hundred prayers by day and nearly as many more at night." [6]

After Patrick had served Milcho for six years, he was one night favoured with a vision, as he relates in his " Confessions." "You fast well," said the voice. " You will soon go to your own country. The ship is ready." To Patrick this was welcome news.

 "Then girding close his mantle, and grasping fast his wand, 
He sought the open ocean through the by-ways of the land." 

 A ship, indeed, was about to sail, but he had much difficulty in obtaining a place on board. After a passage of three days he landed at Treguier, in Brittany. He was still, however, a long distance from his native place, and in making the journey he suffered much from hunger and fatigue. But he bravely triumphed over all obstacles — including the devil, who one night fell upon him like a huge stone — and reached home at the age of twenty-two, about the year 410.

 The Saint now formed the resolution of devoting himself wholly to the service of God, and retired to the celebrated monastery of St. Martin at Tours, where he spent four years in study and prayer. After this he returned home for a time.

 It was not long, however, before Patrick's future mission was shadowed forth by a vision. One night a dignified personage appeared to him, bearing many letters from Ireland. He handed the Saint one, on which was written: "THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE IRISH." While in the act of reading, he says, " I seemed to hear the voices of people from the wood of Fochut, [7] near the western sea, crying out with one accord: 'Holy youth, we implore thee to come and walk still amongst us.' Patrick's noble heart was touched. He "awoke, and could read no longer."

 Saint and student that he was, Patrick now began to prepare himself with redoubled vigour for the vast work that lay before him. He placed himself under the guidance of St. Germain, the illustrious Bishop of Auxerre, who sent him to a famous seminary in the isle of Lerins, where he spent nine years in study and retirement. [8] It was here that he received the celebrated crosier called the Staff of Jesus, which he afterward carried with him in his apostolic visitations through Ireland. [9]   

The learned and saintly priest returned to his patron, St. Germain, and passed several years in the work of the holy ministry and in combating heresy. In 430, however, St. Germain sent him to Rome with letters of introduction to the Holy Father, warmly recommending him as one in every way qualified for the great mission of converting the Irish people. A residence of six years in the country, a perfect knowledge of its language, customs, and inhabitants, and a life of study, innocence, and sanctity — these were the high testimonials which Patrick bore from the Bishop of Auxerre to the Vicar of Christ.

 Pope Celestine I. gave the Saint a kindly reception, and issued bulls authorizing his consecration as bishop. Receiving the apostolic benediction, he returned to France, and was there raised to the episcopal dignity. [10] The invitation, " Come, holy youth, and walk amongst us," rang ever in his ears. It armed his soul with energy. The new Bishop bade adieu to home and kindred, and set out for the labour of his life with twenty well-tried companions.

It is supposed that St. Patrick first landed on the coast of the county of Wicklow; but the hostility of the natives obliged him to re-embark, and he sailed northward toward the scenes of his former captivity. He finally cast anchor on the historic coast of Down, and, with all his companions, landed in the year 432 at the mouth of the little river Slaney, [11] which falls into Strangford Lough. The apostolic band had advanced but a short distance into the country when they encountered the servants of Dicho, lord of that district.

Taking the Saint and his followers for pirates, they grew alarmed and fled at their approach. The news soon reached the ears of Dicho, who hastily armed his retainers and sallied forth to meet the supposed enemy. [12] He was not long in learning, however, that the war which Patrick was about to wage was not one of swords and bucklers, but of peace and charity; and with true kindness and Irish hospitality, Dicho invited the apostle to his residence.

 It was a golden opportunity. Nor did the Saint permit it to escape. He announced the bright truths of the Gospel. Dicho and all his household heard, believed, and were baptized. The Bishop celebrated Holy Mass in a barn, and the church which the good, kind-hearted chief erected on its site was afterwards known as Sabhall -Patrick, or Patrick's Barn. Thus Dicho was Patrick's first convert in Ireland. The glorious work was commenced. In that beautiful isle the cross was destined to triumph over paganism, and ever more to reign on its ruins.

 The great missionary next set out to visit his old master, hoping to gain him over to the faith. But when Milcho heard of the Saint's approach, his hard heathen soul revolted at the idea that he might have to submit in some way to the doctrine of his former slave. The old man's rage and grief, it is related, induced him to commit suicide. " This son of perdition," says the ancient monk, Jocelin, "gathered together all his household effects and cast them into the fire, and then, throwing himself on the flames, he made himself a holocaust for the infernal demons." [14]

At this time Laegrius, [15] supreme monarch of Ireland, was holding an assembly or congress of all the Druids, bards, and princes of the nation in his palace at Tara. St. Patrick resolved to be present at this great meeting of chiefs and wise men, and to celebrate in its midst the festival of Easter, which was now approaching. He resolved with one bold stroke to paralyze the efforts of the Druids by sapping the very centre of their power. He resolved to plant the glorious standard of the Cross on the far-famed Hill of Tara, [16] the citadel of Ireland. Nor did he fail.

 It was the eve of Easter when the Saint arrived at Slane [17] and pitched his tent. At the same hour the regal halls of Tara were filled with all the princes of the land. It was the feast of Baal-tien, or sun-worship; and the laws of the Druids ordained that no fire should be lighted in the whole country till the great fire flamed upon the royal Hill of Tara. It so happened, however, that Patrick's Paschal light was seen from the king's palace. The Druids were alarmed. [18] The monarch and  his courtiers were indignant. The Apostle was ordered to appear before the assembly on the day following.

"Gleamed the sun-ray, soft and yellow,
On the gentle plains of Meath;
Spring's low breezes, fresh and mellow,
Through the woods scarce seemed to breathe;
And on Tara, proud and olden,
Circled round with radiance fair,
Decked in splendor bright and golden,
Sat the court of Laeghaire —

"Chieftains with the collar of glory
And the long hair flowing free;
Priest and Brehon, bent and hoary,
Soft-tongued Bard and Seanachie.
Silence filled the sunny ether,
Eager light in every eye,
As in banded rank together
Stranger forms approacheth nigh,

"Tall and stately — white beards flowing
In bright streaks adown the breast —
Cheeks with summer beauty glowing,
Eyes of thoughtful, holy rest;
And in front their saintly leader,
Patrick, walked with cross in hand,
Which from Arran to Ben Edar
Soon rose high above the land."

 The Apostle preached before Laegrius and the great ones of Tara. " The sun which you behold," said he, " rises and sets by God's decree for our benefit ; but it shall never reign, nor shall its splendour be immortal. All who adore it shall miserably perish. But we adore the true Sun — Jesus Christ." [19]

The chief bard, Dubtach, was the first of the converts of Tara; and from that hour he consecrated his genius to Christianity. A few days after Conall, the king's brother, embraced the faith. Thus Irish genius and royalty began to bow to the Cross. The heathen Laegrius blindly persevered in his errors, but feared openly to oppose the holy Apostle. The scene at Tara recalls to mind the preaching of St. Paul before the assembled wisdom and learning of the Areopagus. A court magician named Lochu attempted to oppose St. Patrick. He mocked Christ, and declared that he himself was a god. The people were dazzled with his infamous tricks. The hardy impostor even promised to raise himself from the earth and ascend to the clouds, and before king and people he one day made the attempt. The Saint was present. " O Almighty God!'' he prayed, " destroy this blasphemer of thy holy Name, nor let him hinder those who now return, or may hereafter return, to Thee." The words were scarcely uttered when Lochu took a downward flight. The wretch fell at the Apostle's feet, dashed his head against a stone, and immediately expired.

 After a short stay at various points, St. Patrick penetrated into Connaught. In the county of Cavan he overthrew the great idol called Crom-Cruach [20] and on its ruins erected a stately church. It was about this time that he baptized the two daughters of King Laegrius. The fair royal converts soon after received the veil at his hands.

The Apostle held his first synod in 435, near Elphin, during which he consecrated several bishops for the growing Church of Ireland. It was in the Lent of this year that he returned to Crtiach-Patrick, a mountain in Mayo, and spent forty days, praying, fasting, and beseeching heaven to make beautiful Erin an isle of saints.[ 21]   The most glorious success everywhere attended his footsteps. The heavenly seed of truth fell on good ground, and produced more than a hundred-fold. Nor did miracles fail, from time to time, to come to the aid of the newly-announced doctrine. He reached Tirawley at a time when the seven sons of Amalgaidh were disputing over the succession to the crown of their deceased father. Great multitudes had gathered together. The Saint made his voice heard. An enraged magician rushed at him with murderous intentions; but, in the presence of all, a sudden flash of lightning smote the would-be assassin. It was a day of victory for the true faith. The seven quarrelling princes and over twelve thousand persons were converted on the spot, and baptized in the well of Aen-Adharrac. [22]

St. Patrick, after spending seven years in Connaught, [23] directed his course northward. He entered Ulster once more in 442. His progress through the historic counties of Donegal, Derry, Antrim, and others was one continued triumph. Princes and people alike heard, believed, and  embraced the truth. Countless churches sprang up, new sees were established, and the Catholic religion placed on a deep, lasting foundation. The Apostle of Erin was a glorious architect, who did the work of God with matchless thoroughness.

" From faith's bright camp the demon fled,
 The path to heaven was cleared;
 Religion raised her beauteous head —
 An Isle of Saints appeared."

The Apostle next journeyed into Leinster, and founded many churches. It is related that on reaching a hill distant about a mile from a little village, situated on the borders of a beautiful bay, he stopped, swept his eye over the calm waters and the picturesque landscape, and, raising his hand, gave the scene his benediction, saying: "This village, now so small, shall one day be renowned. It shall grow in wealth and dignity until it shall become the capital of a kingdom." It is now the city of Dublin.

 In 445 St. Patrick passed to Munster, and proceeded at once to " Cashel of the Kings." Angus, who was then the royal ruler of Munster, went forth to meet the herald of the Gospel, and warmly invited him to his palace. This prince had already been instructed in the faith, and the day after the Bishop's arrival was fixed for his baptism.  During the administration of the sacrament a very touching incident occurred. The Saint planted his crosier — the Staff of Jesus — firmly in the ground by his side; but before reaching it the sharp iron point pierced the king's foot and pinned it to the earth. The brave convert never winced, though the pain must have been intense. The holy ceremony was over before St. Patrick perceived the streams of blood, and he immediately expressed his deep sorrow for causing such a painful accident. The noble Angus, however, quietly replied that he had thought it was a part of the ceremony, adding that he was ready and willing to endure much more for the glory of Jesus Christ.

 Thus, in less than a quarter of a century from the day St. Patrick set his foot on her emerald shores, the greater part of Ireland became Catholic. The darkness of ancient superstition every- where faded away before the celestial light of the Gospel. The groves of the pagan Druids were forsaken, and the holy sacrifice of the Mass was offered up on thousands of altars.

The annals of Christianity record not a greater triumph. It is the sublime spectacle of the peo- ple of an entire nation casting away their heathen prejudices and the cherished traditions of ages, and gladly embracing the faith of Jesus Christ, announced to them by a man who had once been a miserable captive on their hills, but now an Apostle sent to them with the plenitude of power by Pope Celestine.

Nor is it less remarkable that this glorious revolution — this happy conversion of peerless Ireland — was accomplished without the shedding of one drop of martyr blood, except, perhaps, at the baptism of Angus, when,

" The royal foot transpierced, the gushing blood
 Enriched the pavement with a noble flood."

 While St. Patrick was meditating as to the site he should select for his metropolitan see, he was admonished by an angel that the destined spot was Armagh. Here he fixed the seat of his primacy in the year 445. A cathedral and many other religious edifices soon crowned the Hill of Macha. The whole district was the gift of King Daire, a grandson of Eoghan.

 The Apostle, having thus established the Church of Ireland on a solid basis, set out for Rome to give an account of his labors to Pope St. Leo the Great. The Holy Father confirmed whatever St. Patrick had done, appointed him his Legate, and gave him many precious gifts on his departure.

The ancient biographers give many a curious legend and quaint anecdote in relation to our great Saint. Eoghan (Eugene, or Owen) was one of the sons of King Niall of the Nine Hostages. He was a bold and powerful prince, who acquired the country called after him " Tir-Owen " (Tyrone), or Owen's country. His residence was at the famous palace of Aileach in Innishowen. [24]   When Eoghan heard of St. Patrick's arrival in his dominions, he went forth to meet him, received him with every mark of honour, listened with humility to the word of God, and was baptized with all his household. But he had a temporal blessing to ask of the Apostle.

 " I am not good-looking," said the converted but ambitious Eoghan; "my brother precedes me on account of my ugliness."

 "What form do you desire ? " asked the Saint.

 "The form of Rioc, [25] the young man who is carrying your satchel," answered the prince. St. Patrick covered them over with the same garment, the hands of each being clasped round the other. They slept thus, and afterwards awoke in the same form, with the exception of the tonsure.

"I don't like my height," said Eoghan.

 "What size do you desire to be?" enquired the kind-hearted Saint.

 The prince seized his sword and reached upwards.

 "I should like to be this height," he said ; and all at once he grew to the wished-for stature.

 The Apostle afterwards blessed Eoghan and his sons. [26]

"Which of your sons is dearest to you ? " asked St. Patrick.

"Muiredhach," [27] said the prince.

 " Sovereignty from him for ever," said the Saint.

 "And next to him ? " enquired St. Patrick.

"Fergus," he answered.

"Dignity from him," said the Saint.

 "And after him ?" demanded the Apostle.

 "Eocha Bindech," said Eoghan.

 "Warriors from him," said the Saint.

 "And after him? "

 "They are all alike to me," replied Eoghan.

 "They shall have united love," said the man of God.

 "My blessing," he prayed, " on the descendants of Eoghan till the day of judgment. . . . The race of Eoghan, son of Niall, bless, O fair Bridget ! Provided they do good, government shall be from them for ever. The blessing of us both upon Eoghan, son of Niall, and on all who may be born of him, if they are obedient." [28]

St. Patrick, it is told, had a favorite goat which was so well trained that it proved very serviceable. But a sly thief fixed his evil eye on the animal, stole it, and made a feast on the remains. The loss of the goat called for investigation; and the thief, on being accused, protested with an oath that he was innocent. But little did he dream of his accuser. " The goat which was swallowed in his stomach," says Jocelin, " bleated loudly forth, and proclaimed the merit of St. Patrick." Nor did the miracle stop here; for "at the sentence of the Saint all the man's posterity were marked with the beard of a goat." [29]

About ten years before his death the venerable Apostle resigned the primacy as Archbishop of .
Armagh to his loved disciple, St. Benignus, [30] and retired to Saul, his favorite retreat, and the scene of his early triumphs. Here it was that he converted Dicho and built his first church. Here also he wrote his "Confessions," and drew up rules for the government of the Irish Church. When he felt that the sun of dear life was about to set on earth, that it might rise in brighter skies, and shine for ever, he asked to be taken to Armagh. He wished to breathe his last in the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. But on the way an angel appeared to the blessed man, and told him to return — that he was to die at Saul. He returned, and at the age of seventy-eight, on the 17th of March, in the year 465, St. Patrick pass- ed from this world.

 He was buried at Downpatrick, in the county of Down ; and in the same tomb were subsequently laid the sacred remains of St. Bridget and St. Columbkille. The shrine of the Apostle of Ireland was visited by Cambrensis in 1174, and upon it he found the following Latin inscription:

 Hi tres Duno tumulo tumulantur in uno, 
 Brigida, Patricius, atque Columba Pius. 

In Down three Saints one grave do fill,
Bridget, Patrick, and Columbkille. [31]

This illustrious Saint was a man of work, and prayer, and penance. To his last breath he ceased not to teach his people. His daily devotions were countless. It is related that he made the sign of the cross many hundred times a day. He slept little, and a stone was his pillow. He travelled on foot in his visitations till the weight of years made a carriage necessary. He accepted no gifts for himself, ever deeming it more blessed to give than to receive.

His simple dress was a white monastic habit, made from the wool of the sheep ; and his bearing, speech, and countenance were but the outward expression of his kind heart and great, beautiful soul. Force and simplicity marked his discourses. He was a perfect master of the Irish, French, and Latin languages, and had some knowledge of Greek.

He consecrated three hundred and fifty bishops, [32] erected seven hundred churches, ordained five thousand priests, and raised thirty-three persons from the dead. But it is in vain that we try to sum up the labors of the Saint by the rules of arithmetic. The wear and tear of over fourteen hundred years have tested the work of St. Patrick : and in spite of all the changes of time, and the malice of men and demons, it stands to-day greater than ever — a monument to his immortal glory. [33]

"It should ever be remembered," says the Nun of Kenmare, " that the exterior work of a saint is but a small portion of his real life, and that the success of this work is connected by a delicate chain of providences, of which the world sees little and thinks less, with this interior life. Men are ever searching for the beautiful in nature and art, but they rarely search for the beauty of a human soul, yet this beauty is immortal. Something of its radiance appears at times even to mortal sight, and men are overawed by the majesty or won by the sweetness of the saints of God; but it needs saintliness to discern sanctity, even as it needs cultivated taste to appreciate art.  A thing of beauty is only a joy to those who can discern its beauty; and it needs the sight of angels to see and appreciate perfectly all the beauty of a saintly soul. Thus, while some men scorn as idle tales the miracles recorded in the Lives of the Saints, and others give scant and condescending praise to their exterior works of charity, their real life, their true nobility is hidden and unknown. God and the angels only know the trials and the triumphs of holy human souls."


[1] Patrick is from the Latin, and signifies noble. 

[2] There is a curious want of unanimity amongst ecclesiastical historians as to the birthplace of St. Patrick. Baronius and others say he was born in Ireland ; Usher and his followers make him a native of Scotland ; and others give him a still different origin. But this disputed point seems to have been finally settled by the learned Dr. Lanigan in his " Ecclesiastical History of Ireland." He proves that the Saint was born at Boulogne, in France. See Lanigan's " Ecclesiastical History of Ireland " and Sister Cusack's " Life of St. Patrick."

[3] "The Life and Acts of St. Patrick." 

[4] Niall the Great, or, as he is usually called, Niall of the Nine Hostages, was the one hundred and twenty-sixth monarch of Ireland. Ireland is a fertile and beautiful island, 306 miles in length and 180 in breadth. It has been known at various periods of history as Erin, Hibernia, and Scotia. It was called Hibernia by Caesar, Pliny, Tacitus, and other Roman writers. The name of Scotia was exclusively applied to Ireland until the eleventh century, when it was transferred to Scotland, called Alba, and sometimes Scotia Minor, before that period. Ireland has been so named by the English during the last seven or eight centuries. 

[5] Slieb-mish (the dish-shaped mountain) is one of the most beautiful elevations in Ireland. It rises in the form of a spherical cone to the height of several thousand feet, in the midst of a fine, level, fertile district, about the centre of the county of Antrim. It is flat on the top, which is watered by a never-failing spring. The sides are clothed with the greenest of grass, and to this day Slieb-mish is what it was in the days of St. Patrick — a pasture-ground for sheep. For the foregoing description of this famous mountain the writer is indebted to his father, Mr. Edward Murray. 

 [6] "But after I had come to Ireland I was employed in tending sheep, and I prayed frequently during the day. The love of God, and His faith and fear, increased in me more and more, and the spirit was stirred, so that in a single day I have said as many as a hundred prayers and at night nearly the same. Though I remained in the woods and on the mountain even before dawn, I was aroused to prayer, in snow and ice and rain ; and I felt no injury from it, nor was there any slothfulness in me, as I see now,  because my soul was then fervent." — Confessions of St. Patrick. 

[7] The village bearing the name of Tocoill, but little varied from the ancient name, Fochut, found in St. Patrick's biography, is yet to be seen on the west of Killala, not far from the Bay of Kilcummin. — Archbishop Mac Hale's Letters. 

[8] Lerins is an island in the Mediterranean, not far from Toulon. In 410, the very year in which St. Patrick escaped from captivity, a young noble, who preferred poverty to riches and asceticism to pleasure, made for himself a home. The island was barren, deserted, and infested by serpents — all the more reason for his choice. The barrenness soon disappeared, for labor was one of the most important duties of the monk; and it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that one-half of the marshes of Europe were re- claimed and made fruitful by these patient tillers of the soil.— Sister Cusack, Life of St. Patrick. 

 [9] In the "Tripartite Life of St. Patrick," written by St. Mac- Evin in the sixth century, it is stated that the Saint received this staff from the Lord Himself, who " said that it would be of assistance to him in every danger and every difficulty."

Jocelin, in his "Life and Acts of St. Patrick," composed in the twelfth century, exclaims: "O excellent gift, descending from the Father of Light ! . . . For as the Lord did many miracles by the rod in the hand of Moses, leading forth the Hebrews out of the land of Egypt, so by the staff which had been formed by His own hand was He pleased, through Patrick, to do many and great wonders for the conversion of many nations. And the staff is held in much veneration in Ireland, and even unto this day it is called the Staff of Jesus."

This precious relic of the Saint was long honored with the veneration of Catholic Ireland in the Church of the Holy Trinity at Dublin; but in the early years of the so-called Reformation — that godless time of sacrilege and wild profanation— the Staff of Jesus was stripped of its priceless ornaments and cast into the flames by a fanatical Protestant. 

[10] The "Tripartite Life" of the Saint states that he was consecrated Bishop by Pope Celestine himself. Various other writers say that he was consecrated in France. See Sister Cusack's elaborate "Life of St. Patrick," chap. vi. p. 210. 

[11] The Slaney "rises in Loughmoney, and passes through Raholp, emptying itself into Strangford Lough, between Ringbane and Ballintogher." — Sister Cusack.

[12] "Dicho came and set his dog at the clerics. Then it was that Patrick uttered the prophetic verse, Ne trades bestis, etc.. et canis obmutuit. When Dicho saw Patrick he became gentle." — Tripartite Life of St. Patrick.

 [13] Sabhall (pronounced Saul) means a barn. It afterwards became a monastery of Canons Regular. Saul is now the name of the parish.

[14] Milcho's two daughters were converted, and one of his sons was made a bishop by St. Patrick.

 [15]  This Laegrius (or Lear) was one of the sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

 [16] The Hill of Tara is large, verdant, level at the top, and extremely beautiful; and though not very high, it commands extensive and most magnificent prospects over the great and fertile plains of Meath. At Tara the ancient records and chronicles of the kingdom were carefully preserved ; these records and chronicles formed the basis of the ancient history of Ireland, called the "Psalter of Tara," which was brought to complete accuracy in the third century; and from the "Psalter of Tara " and other records was compiled, in the ninth century, by Cormac MacCullenan, Archbishop of Cashel and King of Munster, the celebrated work called the " Psalter of Cashel." The triennial legislative assemblies at Tara, which were the parliaments of ancient Ireland, continued down to the middle of the sixth century; the last convention of the states at Tara being held, according to the "Annals of Tigearnach," A.D. 560, in the reign of the monarch Diarmot, who abandoned that royal palace A.D. 563. — O' Hart, Irish Pedigrees.

[17] Slane is on the left bank of the Boyne, in the county of Meath.

[18] "The Druids," writes the Abbe MacGeoghegan, " alarmed at this attempt, carried their complaints before the monarch, and said to him that, if he had not that fire immediately extinguished, he who had kindled it, and his successors, would hold for ever  the sovereignty of Ireland; which prophecy has been fulfilled, in a spiritual sense." — History of Ireland.

[19] It was on this occasion that St. Patrick, when told by the Druids that the doctrine of the Trinity was absurd, as three could not exist in one, stooped down, and, pulling a shamrock, which has three leaves on one stem, replied: " To prove the reality and possibility of the existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I have only to pluck up this humble plant, on which we have trodden, and convince you that truth can be attested by the simplest symbol of illustration." — Mooney.

20 Crom-Cruach (which signifies the stooping monument) was the chief idol in Ireland. It was situated in the present barony of Tullyhaw, county of Cavan. According to the "Tripartite Life of St. Patrick," this "arch idol of Erin was made of gold and silver, surrounded by twelve other idols formed of bronze."

[21] According to the ancient " Tripartite Life" of the Saint, it was on this occasion that he obtained from God the privilege of judging the people of Ireland on the last day. "Is there anything else you demand?" asked the angel. " There is," said Patrick. " The day that the twelve royal seats shall be on the Mount, and when the four rivers of fire shall be about the Mount, and when the three peoples shall be there — namely, the people of heaven, the people of earth, and the people of hell — that I myself may be judge over the men of Erin on that day."  " This thing cannot be obtained from the Lord," said the angel. "Unless this is obtained from Him, I shall never leave this mountain," answered Patrick. The angel went to heaven. Patrick began to pray. When evening came the angel appeared. Patrick enquired as to the success o! his request. " It is granted," said the angel ; " all creatures, visible and invisible, including the twelve Apostles, entreated, and they have obtained." — Tripartite Life, part ii.

''Jocelin adds," writes the Abbe MacGeoghegan, ''that he (St. Patrick) collected all the serpents and venomous reptiles of the country upon this mountain and cast them into the ocean, to which he ascribes the exemption of this island from all venomous reptiles. Solinus, however, who had written some centuries before the arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland, makes mention of this exemption ; and after him Isidore, Bishop of Seville, in the seventh century, and Bede in the eighth, speak of it without as- signing any cause. It seems that Jocelin is the first who gave this account; thus it is probable that it proceeds from the climate, or the nature of the soil, rather than from any supernatural cause." — History of Ireland. To the present writer's mind this subject stands thus: (1) It is a. fact that Ireland is exempt from venomous reptiles. (2) This exemption is the result either of God's working through nature, or of God's working a miracle through the instrumentality of St. Patrick. (3) But whether this exemption can be traced to some blessing of nature or to the miracle of the Saint, it is equally the work of the Almighty; for God is equally the Creator of nature and the Creator and Father of the Saints. It is, in truth, wonderful that Ireland, which has a milder climate and is under the same physical conditions as England and Scotland, is exempt from venomous reptiles, from which they are not.

[22] Aen-Adharrac signifies the one-horned hill.

[23] Ireland is at present divided into four provinces — Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught ; and these are subdivided into thirty-two counties.

[24] Innishowen (i.e., Owen's Island) is a peninsula forming a portion of the present county of Donegal. It became the patrimony of the O'Doherty family. In the ancient '' Tripartite Life" of our Saint it is related that he gave a particular blessing to Innishowen. It is of this historic district that a poet of our day writes:

"And fair are the valleys of green Innishowen,
And hardy the fishers that call them their own —
A race that nor traitor nor coward have known
Enjoy the fair valleys of green Innishowen."

 [25] Rioc was St. Patrick's nephew and an ecclesiastic of dignified bearing and extremely beautiful countenance.

[26] " From this Eoghan," writes O'Hart, "came (among others) the following families : O'Kane, O'Daly, O'Hagan, O'Crean, O'Carolan, etc." — Irish Pedigrees, p. 118.

[27] The ancestor, according to the old genealogists, of the Murray family ; this old name is written O' Muiredhaigh in Irish.

[28] "Tripartite Life," part ii.

[29] "Life and Acts of St Patrick," chap, xlviii.

[30] St. Benignus was of the race of the Cianachta — O'Connors or O'Kanes ? — of Glen Gemhin, in the county of Derry. His parents, however, resided near the site of the present town of Drogheda ; and when St. Patrick came that way he passed the night at their hospitable residence. Benignus, then a mere boy f grew intensely fond of the Saint. He was baptized, and followed the Apostle of Ireland until he became his immediate successor as Archbishop of Armagh. St. Patrick has had one hundred and eight successors in the See of Armagh. Those of the present century are : Richard O'Reilly, Patrick Curtis, Thomas Kelly, William Crolly, Paul Cullen, Joseph Dixon, Michael Kieran, and Daniel MacGettigan.

31 The shrine of St. Patrick, enriched by many precious offerings, was destroyed in the general profanation under Henry VIII. " I had a very pleasant ride to Downpatrick," says Rev. Dr. Vetromile, "where I went to see the church built by St. Patrick, for which I paid a shilling to the woman who kept the key. The church is Gothic, and has been nearly rebuilt by the Episcopalians. I asked the woman — a Protestant — if St. Patrick was a Protestant. She answered, 'No — a Catholic' ' How, then, is it,' said I, 'that the church is in the hands of Protestants?' ' They took it from the Catholics,' she replied. 'Then,' I said, 'it should be given back to the Catholics.' ' If they fight for it they will get it,' she answered. The inside of the church is plain. I saw the place where the altar must have stood, the pulpit, etc. Then I went to see St. Patrick's grave, which is close to the church in the ceme- tery, now used by Protestants. There is nothing to distinguish the grave of Ireland's Apostle. It is only a mound without headstone or inscription, not so much as a cross; yet everybody knows it, and the path leading to it from the road is kept smooth by the frequent visits of the Irish, who go thither to pray ; and there is a cavity over the grave made by the Irish taking away, in their devotion, the earth for a memento. I could not but think what a magnificent monument they would build up on the grave of their Apostle, were they but allowed to do so. Still, though St. Patrick's grave has no sign to mark it, after the lapse of nearly fifteen centuries, many of them passed in bitter persecution, in a part of Ireland inhabited by Orangemen, every one in Downpatrick, and  thousands elsewhere, can point out the spot. It is shown from generation to generation by tradition, and herein Protestants have before their eyes a certain proof of the truth and reliability of tradition." — Travels in Europe.

[32] Bishops were far more numerous then than now, but the reason is obvious. In an age when communication between one part of the country and another was difficult and often impossible for a considerable period of time, it was necessary that there should be bishops in every locality. — Sister M. F. Clare.

[33] After the Most Blessed Virgin, there is, perhaps, no saint in the calendar who has been chosen patron of so many churches in our country as has St. Patrick. The cathedrals of Erie, Newark, Rochester, Harrisburg, and New York bear his noble name; and there is scarcely a town or city from Maine to California that has not its St. Patrick's Church. The greatest and most beautiful church in the New World is St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. The style of architecture is the pure Gothic that prevailed in Europe in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1858 the corner-stone was laid by Archbishop Hughes. The foundation is of immense granite blocks; and all above the base course consists of fine white marble. The extreme length is 332 feet, extreme breadth, 174 feet. The two massive towers will each be 328 feet high. This magnificent edifice was dedicated to divine worship in May, 1879. The ceremony was grand and impressive. Among the many distinguished dignitaries who participated therein were His Eminence Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop Gibbons of Baltimore, and Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati. The sermon — a noble effort — was delivered by Bishop Ryan, Coadjutor of St. Louis.

John O'Kane Murray, Little Lives of The Great Saints (New York, 1880), 228-254.

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