Monday 6 February 2017

Saint Brigid gives King Dunling a Lesson in Charity

Today we have a concrete example of the generosity of Saint Brigid spoken of so approvingly in yesterday's post as our saint shows an Irish king the meaning of Christian charity. For the ability of the saints to speak fearlessly and frankly to those in secular authority is also something recorded in hagiography:

C. Chandler, The Red Book of Saints (1958)

Another story showing how exceedingly charitable the Saint was is taken from Colgan. It relates that when Dunling, King of Leinster, reproved her for having given to a poor man the jewelled sword he had with his own hand given to her father in token of friendship and esteem, she replied to him thus: "Do not wonder, O King, that I have bestowed what was in my keeping on the poor, since, were it in power to do so, I would give them all that is possessed by you, O King, and by my father; for God will give eternal rewards in exchange for such temporal riches." The king was deeply impressed by this answer, and he repented that, in a moment of anger, he had used harsh words to one who had shown him a striking example of the exercise of Christian charity. To signify his approval of an act, the motive of which he now understood, he bestowed another sword of greater value, and a number of rich gifts, upon Dubhtach, to show that he now admired her conduct.

Saint Patrick and the Saints of Ireland from authoritative sources (London, John Ouseley Ltd, 1908-1909), 44.

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