Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Saint Moroecha Mac Naeb, July 22

On July 22 Canon O'Hanlon brings details of an Irish saint described as a 'boy-saint' in the seventeenth-century Martyrology of Donegal. I think this is the first time I have come across an Irish saint specifically recorded as a child. The memory of Saint Moroecha Mac Naeb is first preserved in the earliest of the surviving calendars, the late eight/early ninth-century Martyrology of Tallaght and his youthfulness prompts Canon O''Hanlon to sound very Victorian when musing on the nature of the Irish children of his own day at the end of the piece:

St. Moroecha Mac Naeb, or Morecha, a Boy-Saint.

It seems quite probable, that this holy child did not exceed the years of puberty, and that " he was taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding,  or deceit beguile his soul." [Wisdom, c. iv., v. ii.] At the 22nd of July, a festival is  recorded in the Martyrology of Tallagh,  in honour of Moroecha Mac Naeb. Further particulars are hardly known concerning him. Again, the Martyrology  of Donegal registers him at the same date, as Morecha, a boy-saint. In our day, we have had a knowledge of the simple and guileless innocence of Irish children, whose good and almost sinless dispositions gave promise of a riper sanctity. Parents find real treasures in such children, and they are greatly open to censure, if the arch-enemy afterwards be allowed to destroy the working of God's grace, in the souls of their dearest charge.

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