Wednesday, 15 January 2014

'Gem of Our Church, Fair Ita'

F. Anger, St Itha (1901)


January 15 is the feast of Saint Ita, 'the Brigid of Munster' and patroness of the Diocese of Limerick. A post on her life can be found here, but below is the text of a late nineteenth century poem in honour of the saint. It was published in the periodical founded by Father Matthew Russell S.J., The Irish Monthly.  The poem is typically Victorian in its sentimental piety, but still worth reading on the feast of this great Irish woman saint. The illustration is a near-contemporary one taken from the work of the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, Virgin Saints and Martyrs, published in 1901.

ST. ITA.
Patroness of the Diocese of Limerick
[Jan. 15]

SING, sing ye a maiden holy,
And pure as the driven snow,
A saint of our sainted island
Serving God long ago.
Oh, she had riches and suitors
Where royal Decies stood,
But gave up all for a lover
Who shed for her His Blood.

Sing, sing ye a maiden holy,
And pure as the driven snow,
A saint of our sainted island
Serving God long ago.

"Depart", cried a voice, "from kindred,
And from thy father's lands;
Make haste to a distant region,
Where dark-browed Loochar stands.
Wild warriors there shall build thee
A home by the mountain side;
Hy-Connaill bloom as a garden,
And bless thee far and wide. "

Sing, sing ye a maiden holy,
And pure as the driven snow,
A saint of our sainted island
Serving God long ago.

And clansmen and maidens gathered
Around that white-robed dove;
And the land served God as a virgin,
All, all of that virgin's love.
O, gem of our Church, fair Ita,
Maid of our worship and love,
Pray for our priests and people,
Saint of the heavens above.

Sing, sing ye a maiden holy,
And pure as the driven snow,
A saint of our sainted island
Serving God long ago.

R. O. K., St. Ita,  The Irish Monthly,  Vol. 23, No. 259 (Jan., 1895), p. 26.

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