Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: N-P

The biographies of the saints listed in the nineteenth-century encyclopaedia chronological list continues with those whose names come under the letters N-P. There are only three featured, one for each letter,  but as P is for Patrick it's a rather more substantial account than most. There is also a reasonably full entry for Saint Laurence O'Toole which includes a wonderful piece of nationalist hyperbole on the foreign plague which still poisons our country's soil - the faithless invader! Saint Navel contents himself with seeing off the unwanted advances of a wicked woman, as faithless spouses seem to have been more of a concern in his day:

NAVEL SAINT, a son of the celebrated King Angus of Cashel, who was converted by St. Patrick, and is said to have been one of twenty-four children, most of whom became religious. Our Saint was brought up in his father's court, and was trained as a warrior as well as receiving all the advantages which the growing schools of Ireland possessed at that day. When grown up he was placed in the care of St. Ailbe bishop of Emly, with whom he remained until he had completed his education for the holy office of the priesthood. He had well imbibed the lessons of his saintly teachers, and as his zeal prompted him to labor amongst those not yet converted, he soon became celebrated for his power and zeal as a preacher. His rank, appearance, eloquence and sanctity of life gave him great influence, and his success was marked. He established monasteries and built churches amongst the communities he converted. He traveled into Ossory, where he converted many from paganism. This was about 515, and it is said that St. Canice, first bishop of Ossory, was placed under his care. It is said that while traveling through Kilkenny he stopped at a chief's house whose wife tried to tempt the saint. He reproached her in such strong terms that she determined on revenge, and on the return of her husband made charges against the saint, who had gone on his way. The chief pursued him for the purpose of slaying him. The saint asked to be confronted with the woman, and if he did not make her confess her falsehood; he was willing to suffer. He returned, and the woman boldly renewed her charge, when the saint praying called upon God to pass judgment between them, and that the lying tongue might be paralyzed. The woman was instantly struck dumb, and throwing herself at the saint's feet, clung to his garments in terror. He then said to her, "If you will confess the truth I will release you," and making the sign of the cross on her lips speech was restored and she declared her falsehood, and both she and her husband became pious Christians. In the year 520 he founded his most celebrated monastery, that of Kilmanagh. This became a famous school, and its halls were soon filled with students from all parts. The place, which was a forest, soon became cultivated, populous, and blossomed as a garden. The monks were the first to properly cultivate the lands and bring from them rich harvests. They reclaimed marshy lands by draining and barren lands by enriching, so that abbey lands became a synonyme for rich lands. He died about 564, and his feast is kept on July 31st.

O'TOOLE, ST. LAURENCE, Archbishop of Dublin, the last of the canonized saints of Ireland, was the son of Maurice O'Toole, prince of Imaile, County Wicklow, and was born about 1120. He belonged to a brave and warlike race, and his father having had some difficulty with the King of Leinster, Laurence at the age of ten years was put into the king's hands, as a hostage, and at length treated by him with cruelty, his father suddenly captured a number of prominent adherents of the king and threatened them with death if his son was not immediately given up to him, which was acceded to. Young Laurence feeling a call for the ecclesiastical state his father placed him with the Bishop of Glendalough, under whom the young student made great progress both in learning and the science of the Saints. He was raised to the priesthood in due time and in his twenty-fifth year was elected Abbot of the Monastery at Glendalough, where he had finished his studies. His heart was overflowing with a boundless charity, and he gave so freely and abundantly that the resources of the monastery were tasked to its utmost, and the patrimony of his father was recoursed to, to meet the calls of charity. The almost constant wars with which this part of the country was troubled, arising from the broken, divided and dissipated powers which Danish invasion had entailed, created often extensive suffering and want, and strained the charities of the monasteries, often themselves pilliaged by barbarians and reduced to distress. Our saint's hands, however, were always wide open, and seemed to be gifted with never-failing means to search out new resources to meet present wants. So conspicuous were his works that before he was thirty he was nominated Bishop of Glendalough, but declined. In 1162, however, the sea of Dublin became vacant, and the clergy and people with one accord turned their eyes toward the Abbot of Glendalough as the one pre-eminently fitted for the important post. He declined and protested, but the call was persistant and loud, and he at length accepted and was consecrated Archbishop by Gelasius, the primate. Dairmaid, the infamous king of Leinster, who brought to his country the foreign plague which still poisons her soil —the faithless invader— was at this time on the throne of that province and from the first gave our saint trouble by his crimes and abuses of power. Our saint however went to work with the fearless energy and boldness of an Apostle to reform abuses, and he set the clergy and people an example in the holiness and austerity of his life and the humility and disinteredness of his ceaseless labors. He became a member of the canons regular of the Cathedral, practicing all the austerities of the order, wearing the hair shirt and habit beneath his pontifical robes, joining them in the midnight offices and prayers, and often spending whole nights in the church in prayer and meditation. Often, too, when he could escape from the cares of his office he would spend days together in St. Kevin's cave in the mountains in fasting, prayer and contemplation.

In 1167 he attended a great synod at Athboy, called by Roderick O'Connor, Monarch of Ireland, in which very likely the affairs of Leinster and its dethroned and banished king were discussed. This wretched traitor and outcast returned in 1169 with his English allies whom he had purchased by the promise of plunder and his acknowledgement of Henry II. Thus commenced the great misfortunes of Ireland and greater troubles for our Saint, whose see was to be the principle theatre of war and carnage. St. Laurence from the first energetically opposed the invaders, and begged and prayed the native princes to forget and lay down all personal and provincial quarrels, which unfortunately had become too common, and unite to oppose a common danger. He to a great extent succeeded, and Roderick the monarch had by 1171 cooped up the invaders and their allies under Strongbow, in Dublin, (the traitor king of Leinster, his father-inlaw, having died in May of that year), and reduced them to the last straights. The monarch, too confident of success, became careless, and Strongbow, desperate from the evils which threatened him on all sides—he having been outlawed by Henry II. for refusing to obey made a sudden and unexpected sortie at the break of day, almost capturing Roderick as he was in his bath, and compelling a complete rout of Roderick's provincial forces. The other Irish princes, already dissatisfied with the monarch's methods, broke up their camp, and marched back to their provinces. In 1171 Henry II. himself landed in Ireland with a large army and succeeded in securing the acknowledgements of some of the Irish princes. In 1175 Roderick and Henry came to an agreement through the medium of St. Laurence which seemed to promise peace, and by which Roderick was to be acknowledged King of Ireland, but was to acknowledge Henry as his superior lord. St. Laurence was about this time on a mission from Roderick to Henry when he was struck down on the altar steps in Canterbury by a minion of Henry's who knew his master hated the holy prelate, because he could not use him as a tool. The saint, however did not die, and through his intercession the would-be assassin was pardoned.

In 1179 our Saint attended the third general council of Lateran where he was greatly honored for his sanctity and learning, and on his return was appointed by the Pope his legate in Ireland. In 1180 he again went to England to settle some dispute between Roderick and Henry, but not agreeing to the wishes of the tyrant he was treated with severity and orders given that he should not be allowed to return to Ireland. He, however, followed Henry, who had gone to Normandy, hoping still to persuade the tyrant to agree to just arrangements, but he was taken ill of a fever, brought on by anxiety and ill treatment, and feeling that his end was approaching he entered the monastery of Augum to prepare for death. When the abbot reminded him to make a will, he answered, "God knows that I have not at the present time as much as one penny under the sun." With his dying breath he lamented the unfortunate condition of his country, and the dreary prospect which, with prophetic eye, he beheld before her, exclaiming, "Who will cure your misfortunes? Who will heal you?" He died on Friday, Nov. 14, 1180, and was canonized by Honorius III. in 1226.

PATRICK, ST., the great apostle of Ireland. We need not say that St. Patrick was not a native of Ireland, but it has so been claimed, and is just as likely as that he was a native of Scotland, or any other part of Britain, as has been also claimed. He was, however, a Celt, and no man in the history of the ages ever so indentified himself with a country as St. Patrick did with Ireland. Other apostles became great spiritual benefactors of the countries which they converted, and out of gratitude were adopted as patrons; but St. Patrick became as if it were a part of Ireland itself, united to it by an indissoluable bond, the father of its people; the incarnation of its individuality, and biographies of its people would be incomplete without him. If anything were wanting to show how universally he fills the hearts of the Irish race, the fact that even the Presbyterian Irish claim him as of themselves, would complete it. St. Patrick himself states in his confessions that his father was Calpurnius, a deacon, son of Potius, a priest of the town of Bonaven Tibernia, being the same as Boulogne-sur-mere in Piccardy, France; his mother, Conchessa, was a near relative of St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. The clerical character of his ancestors is explained by the fact that it was very common in those days for men who had been married to become priests afterward, and for married persons out of religious motives to separate for the purpose of embracing a religious state. It was in a little village near this place that St. Patrick was captured by a predatory excursion from Ireland under Niall of the Nine Hostages, about the year 403, he being then sixteen years of age. Little is known of his early years, except what he tells us himself. He himself tells us that his captivity was deserved because he did not keep the laws of God, nor hearken to the admonitions of his pastors, and that through his captivity he became humbled and acknowledged the error of his past life and became sincerely converted. He was held as a slave and put tending sheep on the mountains in the County Antrim by his master, Milcho MacCuboin. Of this he says: "My business was to feed the flocks; I was frequent in prayer; the love and fear of God more and more inflamed my heart; I said a hundred prayers bv day and as many more by night." Although arising before day for prayers, and laboring in snow, and frost, and rain, he says he received no damage, "for the spirit of God was warm within me." He remained a captive six years, and he tells us that he heard a voice in his sleep telling him he would soon go to his own country, and again that "a ship is ready for you." He had to travel about 200 miles to go where the ship lay, and on reaching the place he was at first roughly refused a passage, when he prayed and was called back and offered a passage on faith, i.e.: credit. They were three days reaching land, and for many days traveled through a desert, that is woods, and became almost famished. The others being Gentiles appealed to Patrick if his God was so powerful to save them, and he prayed and almost immediately they got succor in the appearance of a drove of swine and the finding of wild honey. According to two ancient histories published at Rhiems the place they landed was at Tregnier, Brittany, and it would take fully a month for pedestrians to travel through the woods, there being no connecting roads, and reach Patrick's birth place, Boulogne-sur mere. He was received with great joy by his family, they long having given him up as dead. Soon after returning he entered the monastery of St. Martim at Tours, and devoted himself to study and preparation for the priesthood. He spent four years here and received tonsure and minor orders, and then returned home, where he remained practicing charity and good works until he was again made captive, by whom he says not, and was delivered after two months, as had been revealed to him. After his return his parents, who were growing old, desired that he should not leave them. It was at this time that he saw in a vision "a man coming as from Hibernia named Victricius, who handed him a letter, which contained the words 'The voice of the Irish,' and at the same time he heard voices of persons from near the woods of Foclut, said to be in County Mayo, who cried out,"We entreat thee to come and walk still amongst us." This was about the year 418, when Patrick was thirty years old. Being filled by those and other visions with an ardent desire to bring to the Irish people the one only saving faith, he took an affectionate leave of his family and placed himself under the instruction and discipline of St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre. After remaining some time with him, by his advice he went to a celebrated school and monastery on the island of Lerins.

Near this, on an island in the Tuscan sea, lived a hermit called Justin, celebrated for his sanctity. Our saint visited him and was received with great respect. The hermit placed in his hands a staff which he said he miraculously received from our Lord, and which was to be given to Patrick. Patrick remained with the holy hermit some time, and when leaving took with him the staff. This celebrated staff, called "Baculus Jesu," is mentioned by many of the ancient Irish writers, and St. Bernard speaks of it in his life of St. Maiachy, and says it is one of the insignia of the See of Armagh, and was used as the crosier by his successors. In his day it was adorned with gold and precious stones. It was held as most sacred and twas used to give more solemn effect to many public acts. In the bag marked "Ireland" in the chapter house of Westminister Abbey, is a paper No.53, "an examination of Sir Gerald Mackshagne, sworn 19th March, 1529, upon the Holy Massbooke and the great relike of Ireland called Bachlum Christi in presence, etc." The staff was afterward burned by the Christian Reformers under Henry VIII. The old annals in Trinity College, Dublin, says, "The staff of Jesus, which wrought so many miracles, and which was in the hands of Christ himself, with images, crosses, and sacred relics, were all destroyed." St. Patrick, after leaving Lerins, returned to St. Germanus, and must have been ordained a priest, for he appears to have been engaged in performing the sacred duties of the ministry, and while here converted Mineria, daughter of the prince of that district. He accompanied St. Germanus and Lupus to Britain for the purpose of preaching against the Palagian heresy, and while there sought information in regard to the state of Ireland.

It was about this time that Pope Celestine sent Palladius and companions there as missionaries, but they seemed to have met with poor success and gave up the work. St. Germanus, knowing St. Patrick's fitness for this mission on account of his knowledge of the people and their language, as well as his holiness and zeal, encouraged him in his desires to seek the conversion of the Irish people, and gave him strong letters of recommendation to the Pope. In 431 we find St. Patrick in Rome. Celestine received him with great kindness and finding him well fitted for the work, commissioned him to assist Palladius, and in case of Palladius' death or failure, to receive consecration and enter upon the missson himself. Having received the papal benediction and some relics of the saints and other necessary presents for the establishment of missions and churches, he returned to St. Germanus, who also supplied him with chalices, vestments, books, etc. While on his way to take shipping and join Palladius, he met Augustine and Benedict, two of the missioners who had accompanied Palladius to Ireland, and they informed him of their misfortunes and the death of Palladius in Scotia. St. Patrick, as instructed by the pope, immediately sought consecration and received it at the bands of Amator, Bishop of Iberia. His friends tried hard to dissuade him from so dangerous a mission, but St. Patrick was moved by a stronger power and knew that that power which filled his heart with an ardent love and desire for the mission would work out His holy will in his behalf. All things being ready he gave his blessing to his friends and sailed. He landed in Britain and passing through that country and Wales, he preached by the way, and is said to have built a monastery in Cornwall. He landed in Ireland in 432 with about twenty companions, the fourth year of the reign of Laghaire, son of the Neill who had brought him a captive nearly thirty years before. Ireland at this time was in the full tide of military enterprise and success, the Britons were in constant fear of them, threatened by them from their colony in the north, Scotland, and from the coast, by their predatory excursions by the sea, and even the Romans in Gaul felt the power of their arms. Dathy, the successor of Neill as monarch of Ireland, carrying his successful arms through Brittany and Normandy to the very foot of the Alps, when he was killed by lightning. Laghaire, who succeeded him, and who ruled at the landing of St. Patrick, compelled the Britons to purchase peace by a heavy tribute. The religion of Ireland was Druidical, the Pythagorean doctrine of the immortality and transmitigation of souls being taught. It seems to have been of a more refined and rational kind than that practiced in Gaul, for there is no evidence of their having offered human sacrifices to their idols or Gods. They seemed to honor the sun and moon as lesser divinities, and every spot around them seemed hallowed by unseen beings of a superior kind, such as Fairies, etc. They were essentially a religious people. It is generally supposed his first landing place, Inbher-Dea, was about the present town of Wicklow, but he was compelled to leave, and the next attempt was made at Anat-Cailtrim, supposed to be between Navan and Kells in the county of Meath, which also proved unsuccessful. He at length landed at Ulidia in the county Down, probably near the present, Lough Strangford, and proceeded a little ways into the county, when he came across a herdsman who fled to his master Dicho. Dicho, on approaching, was so impressed with the appearance of the saint that he invited him to his house and paid him the greatest deference. St. Patrick opened to him his mission, and through God's grace he and his whole family were converted and baptized. He gave to St. Patrick, a piece of land on which to erect a church, which received the name of Sabhal Padruic. Here he afterward built a church and monastery. This Dicho had a brother, Rus, who upbraided him for forsaking the Gods of his fathers, and on whom our saint was obliged to perform a miracle before he would believe. From this Patrick sought his old master Milcho, but he was an obstinate heathen and refused to see him, and was either by accident or otherwise burned to death in his own house. His daughters, as Patrick had many years before foretold, were converted and became nuns and his son, became bishop of Granard. Our saint returned to Lecale and preached the Gospel with great success, and among others converted Mochua, a young man who followed him, and by his instruction afterward became a priest, abbot and Bishop of the church of Edrum. 

St. Patrick's success was already marked, having converted several chiefs of Dalradia and their followers but he resolved to invest the stronghold of paganism at once, and as there was to be a great festival of the kings and nobles at Tara about the season of Easter he resolved to attend. He landed at Colbdi, mouth of the Boyne, and leaving the vessel in charge of his nephew, Laman, with instructions to wait for forty days, he pushed into the interior parts of the country to preach the Gospel, intending to celebrate the festival of Easter on the plains of Bregia, in the neighborhood of Tara. On his way he stopped at the house of a man named Segnen, who received him kindly and after listening to his exhorhortations believed and was baptized with his whole family, and amongst the rest a little son whom the saint called Benignus or Sweet, and who afterward became his disciple and successor in the See of Armagh. On Easter Eve St. Patrick arrived at Fearta-fir-feic on the north banks of the Boyne, and rested, with the intention of celebrating the festival in sight of Tara. It was penal to light a fire within the province before the kings' bonfire was lit at the celebration. St. Patrick, probably ignorant of the law, caused a blazing fire to be made in front of his tent, which, although eight miles away, was plainly visible at Tara. This sight created great indignation in the court, and consternation amongst the Druids, who told the king that unless the fire was that night extinguished, he who lighted it will reign over the island. Whether this was to excite the king's anger, or whether on account of some prophecy amongst them, is hard to tell, However, the monarch was very indignant and vowed to punish the intruder. Accompanied by a large retinue he hastened in his wrath to extinguish the fire and punish the intruder. When the Saint saw them approach he commenced chanting a hymn. The Druids cautioned the king against Patrick's enchantment. The king sent messengers ahead to summon him into his presence, all being warned by the king not to use or show him any honor as he approached. But when he came near with his disciples a certain youth named Eric, the son of Dego, rose up in sight of all and did him honor. St. Patrick immediately blessed him and prophesied for him great things and eternal reward, and he afterward became one of his disciples, noted for his virtues and miracles and was made Bishop of Slane.

Patrick boldly proclaimed the truths of Christianity, and made such an impression on the king that he invited him to preach his religion before the assembled nobles at Tara the next day. St. Patrick and his disciples spent the night in prayer, begging God to open the hearts of the king and people. The Druids, who saw the danger, were busy trying to avert it and to harden the heart of the king, and it is said the king, whose fears were excited by their malice, had resolved to destroy Patrick and all his followers. St. Patrick appeared the following day in court, dressed in the full canonicals, with his staff or crosier, and confident of the irresistible power which sustained him, he appeared the prophet he was. The machinations and snares of his enemies and the enemies of his Master, dissolved before the living light whose effulgence he possessed. The contest, as related by the ancient biographers, was like that of Moses with the sorcerers of Egypt before Pharoah. It is related that the last test was one of Patrick's disciples and the arch-priest of the Druids entering a house which was to be consumed by fire. Patrick prayed, and the sorcerers used all their malign powers, but the Druid was consumed while the Christian was unharmed. The multitude immediately acknowledged the God of the Christians, and the arch poet, Dubtach sang of the wonders of the occasion.

Common sense would indeed indicate that something wonderful must have been done to produce the results which history tells us followed, for the field which no christian heretofore could penetrate, was thrown wide open and Patrick was henceforth more honored even than a king, and his preaching was crowned with a success that had no parallel since the days of the Apostles, neither has there been any since like to it. St. Patrick was indeed an inspired apostle, he labored with great prudence, he did not rudely attack the predjudices, or babies, or customs of the people or even traditional ceremonies, where the intended purpose was good, and they might be directed to honor the one true God, where before they were misdirected by the arch enemy of men. King Laghaire, although granting perfect freedom to our Saint, does not seem to have been converted, but the Queen and Conall, his brother, were among the believers, the latter giving the Saint lands to build, for himself and people. The next day Patrick attended the national games at a place called Tailton, at which assembled the chiefs, nobles and immense numbers of people. Here he also preached and was threatened with violence by Carbre, one of the King's brothers. The Saint built his first church on the land given him by Conell, and now called Donaghpatrick, and with his staff marked out a plan for Conall’s dwelling and blessed it, and him, and his throne. The Saint remained Easter week, during a great fair held at Tailton, and following after the games, and baptized many. Those who were present at this festival were from all parts of Ireland, and on returning brought with them news of the great things they had seen and heard. He now visited other parts of Meath, everywhere meeting success. Perhaps his great success might be attributed in part to the fact that no great violence was done to the religious feelings of the people. Their heathenism was of a poetic mould, and contained many suggestions or figures of the truth. Their adoration of the sun, the great material light of the world, which they mistook for the true light which illumnes all things; the immortality of the soul, corrupted by transmigration, which but only seemed to hide a truth that the brave and good shall advance higher and enjoy eternal blessings, and the bad be transmitted down through brutes to lower depths. The lesser deities, who were around them in a thousand shapes, were only a mistaken conception of guardian angels, and thus the substitution was easy. St. Patrick next preached in West Meath, and converted and baptized large numbers, occasionally meeting great opposition from some chief. He erected churches also for the celebration of the Divine Mysteries and put in charge some of the priests who accompanied him. He next proceeded to Longford and met with uniform success, preaching, instructing, baptizing and marking out with his staff the sites for churches. These churches were generally simple structures, about twenty-five by eighty feet, and soon gave place to more imposing ones as the people became universally Christians.

Patrick next proceeded toward the plains of Magh Sleacht in the county of Cavan, where King Laghaire and his people were worshipping the great idol, Crom-Cruach, or head of all the Gods, and which was said to utter responses. Around this idol were twelve inferior ones made of brass. Our saint having failed to make any impression on the worshippers, he retired to a little distance and prayed, and stretching his staff against it the idol fell to pieces, and with the inferior ones was swallowed up. This idol was supposed to be symbolical of the sun and the smaller ones the twelve signs of the zodiac. Many of those present immediately acknowledged the God of Patrick and were baptized. He remained three years in this part of Ireland organizing the church, establishing religious houses schools of instruction, etc. After this he set out for Connaught. He crossed the Shannon at Suav-daen, probably Dunnanave in Leitrim and proceeded to Dumhagraidh, where he ordained one of his followers St. Ailbe. He then proceeded to the plain of Connaught, until he reached a fountain called Cleback, near the royal residence and rested for the night. In the morning two young daughters of King Laghaire came to the fountain with two druids, their teachers, and they beheld with wonder our Saint and his companions, who were singing their office dressed in white garbs, and supposed them to be some gods of the earth or phantoms, and they ask, "who are ye?" and Patrick entered into a conversation with them and exposed to them the truth of Religion, and they, believing, asked to be received, and were baptized, as were also the druids. St. Patrick mentions at this time having baptized another illustrious young lady, who some days after came to him and said she was admonished to become a Virgin of Christ, and she received the white vail, and he further says the number of those who desire to consecrate themselves to God is great and increasing.

About this time he also converted Ono, grandson of Bryan, King of Connaught, who bestowed on him his place called Imleach Ono, where the Saint founded a church, which became the Cathedral of Elphin, over which he placed Assicus as bishop. This Assicus was an artist, and worked in gold and made altars and church services, and also beautified the staff of Patrick. Our Saint next visited Cashel and Sligo, where he converted, baptized, established churches and placed over them his disciples. He did the same in what is now Roscommon, Galway, Sligo and Mayo. In the town of Carragh he baptized great numbers, planted a church, and placed over it Conan, a priest; it was here a pagan again attempted to take his life. He next entered the territories of the O'Malleys and founded a church at what is now Aghagower, and placed over it Senachus, who was elevated to the Episcopacy. During the holy season of Lent Patrick retired for meditation, prayer and fasting to a mountain in Connaught called Mount Eagle, or Croagh-Patrick. It was at this time, it is said, that he banished the venomous reptiles from the land. None of the early writers, however, make allusion to it, and others claim that the island was free before the introduction of Christianity. After the Saint left his retirement he baptized many thousands and built three churches in Toga, and came to the fountain of Slane, which was honored with superstitious practices.

Patrick exposed the absurdity and untruthfulness of its legend, converted and baptized those who came to it in great numbers. He went from here northwards until he came to what is now Tirauley, when the seven sons of King Amalgaidh were disputing the succession, which had been decided by King Laghaire in favor of Edna Crom. St. Patrick went amongst them and preached with such success that the seven princes, the king and twelve thousand others were converted and baptized, and St. Manchen was placed over the new church. He also founded a church at the present Donaghmore, over which he placed Bishop Muena, and another at Killalu, over which a disciple, Muredach, was placed. Another attempt at this time was made upon his life by the instigation of two druids. It appears from his own account that he was imprisoned, robbed and threatened with death, but after fourteen days he was delivered out of their hands by good friends, and his goods restored. It was Conall, son of Edna, chief of the territory who rescued him, and Patrick, with his staff, stamped the sign of the cross on his shield, and prophesied that none of his race would be conquered in war who bore that sign on their shield. He at this time converted Eochad, son of Dathy, former monarch, and also visited the Gregories in Sligo, but the druids compelled him to leave. He, however, baptized many in Sligo and erecting churches, placed over them Bishop Brone. He returned to Mayo and built a monastery at Drumlias over which he placed Benignus, who governed it for twenty years, and from this he went to Ulster, having spent seven years in Connaught. About this time, through the influence of Patrick and other Christians, the laws of Ireland were revised and purified. The work has been called "Senachus Mor."

In Ulster he commenced his preaching in the territory of Tyrconnel (Donegal), and erected a church. He went to the River Erne to meet Prince Conall and blessed him and his son Fergus, and it is said foretold the greatness and sanctity of Columba, who was to descend from him. After erecting and providing for a number of churches in Donegal he passed into Derry, where he built seven churches, he returned and founded a church at the foot of Slieve Snaght, over which he placed Mac Carthan. He crossed Lough Foyle, entered Londonderry, convened many, built churches and established pastors, from whence he passed into Dalradia, where he erected at least sixteen churches. He was opposed by the chieftain Carthen and compelled to leave the territory. He had, however, baptised his brother and family. After making many and important converts in these districts he entered the present County Monaghan, baptizing, erecting churches, ordaining priests, consecrating Bishops, and giving the veil to hundreds of holy virgins. He baptized Owen, son of Orian, chief of this district, and in the next district, over which ruled Victor, he was equally successful, although at first meeting opposition. Victor was afterward consecrated a bishop. He next visited Meath and repeated his victories, consecrating as Bishop, Secundinus, to preside over the church in these parts.

From this our saint went to Leinster and baptized Ailid and Iland, sons of the King Dunluny. In Wicklow, he was badly received by the Prince Duchir, son-in-law of King Laghaire, but hospitably by a poor man named Killan, whom he blessed, with all his substances, whichever afterward prospered. He next went to Kildare where he converted great numbers, erected many churches and placed over them Isernius and Auxilius. From this he proceeded to Queen's county where he was not so well received but met Dubtach, the poet, whom he had converted at Tara and who had helped to spread the faith around about in those parts. St. Patrick raised one of the poet's disciples named Fiach to the priesthood and afterwards to be Bishop of Sletty, who built a monastery and became famous for his sanctity. In Ossory, the Saint renewed his successes. From this he entered Munster and went at first to Cashel, the spring of 445. Core was king at this time. It appears that the people here had a traditional prophesy about the coming of Patrick; be that as it may, he was well received, the king, himself, having previously met him at the council to revise the laws. It is said that the idols in the temples fell and were broken as Patrick passed. The king and his son were soon after baptized. Aengus, the son, became fervent and zealous and anxious to have the truth spread, and Patrick blessed him and his race. The saint spent seven years in this province and religion was established everywhere, churches and monasteries dotting all the land.

The Saint occasionally met violent opposition, but he usually conquered the stubborn. Some of the people of Thomond (Clare) crossed the Shannon to hear and see Patrick, for his fame and wonders had long since spread to the uttermost parts of the Island. They entreated him to visit their county, he could not then, but ascended Mount Fintine and blessed Thomond and foretold the advent of St. Senan. He also prophesied the birth of St. Brendan. He did not enter Kerry, but blessed all the county beyond Luachra. He next visited South Munster, founded many churches and at Desii, Waterford, arranged the ecclesiastical affairs of that territory, he continued his preaching along the Suir through Tipperary and brought both princes and people to the fold. On leaving Munster, Aengus with a large retinue of nobles and guards accompanied him while the people followed, thousands calling for his blessing. While in Munster,Patrick was grieviously afflicted over a predatory descent on the coast, by a British prince named Caroticus, who murdered some of his converts and took others as slaves. He wrote to the pillager, who pretended Christianity, and demanded the liberation of the prisoners, but he refused with insult, and Patrick excommunicated him.

St. Patrick left Munster in 452. A little before this occured the first death amongst the bishops he had placed over the church, St. Secundinus, of Meath, in his 75th year. Shortly after leaving Munster his life was again threatened by a chief, in the present King's county, an obstinate pagan. One of Patrick's attendants, learning of the design, feigned sickness knowing the Saint would place him in his conveyance, and thus being mistaken for the Saint, he was killed. But the vengence of God fell upon the chief, the same day he was struck dead. The Saint again entered Ulster and a chief—a robber and desperado— named Maccaldus, resolved to kill him and with his band awiating him on a lonely road, one of the robbers was made to feign sickness and covered with a cloak. They were to ask Patrick to heal him and when the Saint would lift the covering, then to kill him. But Patrick said to them, "he is sick indeed, and they, lifting up the cloak, found him dead, and they were filled with fear and the chief was converted, and going to the Isle of Man to do penance, became renowned for his virtues and was afterwards Bishop of that Isle. St Patrick next entered Louth determining to erect his permanent see there, but receiving divine intimation that he should fix his see at Ardmacha, Armagh, he completed his work in Louth and turned his face towards Armagh.

He had now about completed his missionary labors. He found Ireland all pagan, a warlike but chivalrous people, with a religion full of poetry, to which its people were attached as well by its weird and wonderful tradition as by the skill and learning of its priests, yet in the short space of twenty-three years, directed by the finger of God, had he changed the whole face of Ireland, exalted and purified a whole people, so that they became not merely Christians, but Saints. The whole Island became dotted with churches and monasteries, which were filled with holy men and women. A Christian triumph, the like of which has no parallell in the entire history of God's dispensation to men. St. Patrick having arrived at Armagh asked from the Chief of the District, Daire, a certain elevated piece of land, which was at first refused, but was afterwards freely offered. Patrick here laid out his city, and built his metropolitan cathedral, which was of stone, and 140 feet in length. Around this sprung up the city with its great religious houses and schools of learning. After completing his cathedral, and arranging and defining the bounds and relations of the various sees established over the Island, he made a journey to Rome to have confirmed all he had done. It is said that he visited Rome once before during his mission. He was received with great kindness by the Supreme Pontiff, who confirmed all his acts and bestowed upon him many marks of esteem, also precious gifts and relics for the Irish church. On his return to Ireland, St. Patrick spent the remainder of his life at his see of Armagh, making occasional visitations to other parts to encourage, strengthen and bless his spiritual children. He also held the first synod called St. Patrick's, which contained thirty-one chapters and the "Synod of Bishops Patrick, Auxilius and Isiminus," whose canons define better than ought else the condition of the Irish church, its foundations, orders and also the social condition of the country. They also show the relationship to the holy see, acknowledging its supreme authority. This was held about the year 456. In his work of conversion, St. Patrick chiefly traveled on foot in imitation of the apostles, his outer garment being a simple white habit. He received for himself no gifts or presents, but received them only as almoner for the poor or the church. His appearance was mild but dignified and saintly. He was exalted in his humility and wonderful in his spirit of prophecy, foretelling the advent of some of his saintly successors. He was also extremely mortified in his life, sleeping on the bare ground and wearing hair-cloth around his loins. His nights were mostly devoted to prayer and his days to good works, and he observed the Sunday with singular solemnity and devotion never even traveling on that day. It is said that having entered a harbor on a Sabbath morning, he would not go ashore, but celebrated the Divine Mysteries on board, being disturbed by some heathens who were engaged in building a fort on the shore, he asked them to desist from labor, but they laughed at him, and he foretold them that their labor would be in vain; and so it came to pass for the next night it was entirely destroyed by the sea.

St. Patrick died at his monastery of Saul, at Ulidia, his favorite retreat, built on land given to him by his first convert, Dicho, as he himself had long before foretold. His death was a glorious one, surrounded by multitudes of holy men, his children in Christ, and after receiving the bread of life from the hands of Bishop Tassach, lifting up his holy eyes in adoration, he beheld the heavens opened, raising his hands he blessed his people and giving thanks expired. This event took place on the 17th of March, 456, according to the most probable authorities. According to the four Masters, he built seven hundred churches, ordained 3000 priests and consecrated a great number of bishops. Some of his writings are still extant, among them his epistle to Caroticus, the robber prince, besides his canons and proverbs. We will conclude with a stanza from the sweet pen of Father Faber on

St. Patrick's Day.

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 Savior above.
For hundreds of years
In smiles and in tears,
Our saint hath been with us, our shield and our stay.
All else may have gone
St. Patrick alone,
He hath been to us light when earth's lights were all set,
For the glories of faith, they can never decay;
And the best of our glories is bright with us yet,
In the faith and the feast of St. Patricks day.


James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).

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