Monday, March 25, 2019

The Feast of Our Lady in Spring

Today is known in the Irish Language as Lá Fhéile Muire san Earrach (the Feast Day of Our Lady in Spring) or Lá Theachtaireacht an Aingil (the Day of the Coming of the Angel).

The unequalled love of the Gaelic Race for the Mother of God is woven into the very words of everyday language. Even as the Anglophone will speak of Mary-down-the-street and Mary-the-Ever-Virgin-Mother-of-God by means of the same word, the Gael will call his neighbour Máire and the Immaculate Queen of Heaven Muire.

The Mother of God was a practical part of everyday life, as shown in the traditional Gaelic Milking Song or Cronan Bleoghan:

Thig, a Mhuire, ’s bligh a bhó,
Thig, a Bhride, ’s comraig í,
Thig, a Choluim-chille chaoimh,

’S iadh do dhá laimh mo m’ bhóin.Thig, a Mhuire, dh’ fhios mo bhó,
Thig, a Bhride, mhór na loin,
Thig, a bhanachaig Íosa Críost,
’S cur do lámh a níos fo m’ bhóin.


This roughly translates as:

Come, O Mary, and milk my cow,
Come, St. Brigid, and attend her,
Come, St. Columba, the kind one,
And in thy two hands cradle my cow.

Come, O Mary, to meet my cow,
Come, St. Brigid, great of beauty,
Come, O milking woman of Jesus Christ,
And put thy hand beneath my cow.


*The image of the Annunciation on this post is the Cestello Annunciation on tempera by Sandro Botticelli c. 1490 in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

St. Blath of Kildare

Among the several daughters of St. Brigid renowned for sanctity stands St. Blath (orse St. Flora) of Kildare. St. Blath is commemorated, if she is remembered at all, on 29th January. She was a lay-sister in the Convent of Kildare founded by St. Brigid.

As cook of the Convent, she earned a reputation not only for her heroic sanctity and her personal devotion to her foundress but also for her cooking. It is said that, under the care of St. Blath, the bread and bacon at St. Brigid's table were better than a banquet elsewhere.

She is recorded as having been born to heaven in the year 523, about two years before the death of the great St. Brigid.

At the risk of a pun or an anachronism, it might be said that St. Blath was the Little Flower of Kildare.

St. Blath of Kildare, pray for us!

Friday, January 4, 2019

St. Aedh of Kildare

The life of King Aedh Dubh (Hugh the Black) of Leinster is to be found both in the Annals of the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster. His name, under the latinized form of Aidus, is to be found in several martyrologies.

His hair colour, rather than any misdeeds, is the source of his designation 'the black'. This distinguishes him from King Aedh Finn of Ossory, Hugh the Fair, on account of his hair colouring - although his deeds were high and holy too.

The great ecclesiastical historian Colgan recounts King Aedh's abdication about the year 591, whereupon he entered the monastery of Kildare for the remaining forty-eight years of his life.

He went on to become Abbot of Kildare and, from 630 to his death in 638 or 639, he was Bishop of Kildare. c.f. Colgan's Trias Thaumaturga, and the Secunda Vita S. Brigidae, cap. xxxv, ps. 523-4. This is a point of singular interest. Some writers ascribe to St. Conleth, and to the Bishops of Kildare after him, a joint role as Bishop-Abbot. However, St. Aedh is the first of the Bishops of Kildare who is recorded as having held both posts.

O'Donovan, in his Annals of the Four Masters vol. i, pps 256-7 gives the year of St. Aedh's death as 638. Colgan gives his feast day as 4th January and prefers the latter year for his birth to Heaven.

St. Aedh of Kildare, pray for us!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

St. Evin of Monasterevin

St. Abban is said to have preceded St. Evin in this locality, and to have established a church, if not also a monastic house in it. St. Evin-sometimes styled Emin-an, i.e., "Little Evin," and sometimes Beccan, which means "Little"-of the royal blood of Munster, brother to St. Cormac and two other saints, (1) - if he did not himself found the monastery, at least he colonized it by bringing thither a large number of monks from his native province. Hence the place, the previous name of which was Ros-glas ("the green wood"), came to be called Ros-glas-na-Moimneach, or "Ros-glas of the Munstermen."

Colgan thus writes of this saint:-"St Emin, who is also corruptly called Evinus, betook himself to Leinster, and at the bank of the river Barrow, . . . he raised a noble monastery, called in that age, Rosglas, and which, from the number of monks who followed the man of God from his own country of Munster, who were most holily governed by him there, began to be called Rosglas na-miamhneach, i.e., of the Momonians, and in process of time grew up into a large and formerly flourishing town. There the holy man was famous for many and great miracles, and that monastery, on account of the reverence paid to its first founder, stood in so great a veneration with posterity, that it was held a most safe sanctuary, and nobody presumed to offer violence or injury to the holy place who did not soon suffer the severity of the Divine vengeance. For the holy man is said to have obtained from God that none of the Lagenians, who should, with violent audacity, taste meat or drink in his sanctuary, or offer any other violence, would live beyond the ninth day afterwards. It was also said that after his death there was a bell belonging to this saint, which was called Bearnan Emhin, and was held in so great veneration that posterity, especially those sprung from the seed of Eugenius, his father, were accustomed to swear on it as a kind of inviolable oath, and conclude controversies by the virtue of the oath. It was in defence of this town that the famous battle of Bealach-Mughna (Ballymoon), in the plain of the country of Hy-drona, commonly called Maghailbhe, was fought, in which the Momonian invaders suffered great disaster, their King, Cormac-mac-Culenan, being slain."

In the Life of St. Clonfert Molua we read of that Saint visiting the Abbot St. Evin in his monastery, not far from the Barrow, which the most holy old man, Abban, had founded:-"S. Molua visitavit S. Evinum abbatem non longe a flumine Berbha in monasterio quod sanctissimus senex Abbanus fundavit, habitantem." The following passage from the Book of Ballymote, 270, a, (kindly translated from the Irish, by Mr. W.M. Hennessy) refers to this monastery:-

Emin-an, son of Eoghan, son of Murchadh, son of Muiredach, son of Diarmait, son of Eoghan, son of Ailill Flann-beg. Ros-glaise, moreover, was his foundation-place. On the brink of the Barrow the church is. And it was he that left [word] with the Lagenians, that he would not preserve for a moment alive the laic who would taste meat or butter or cold milk in his church-i.e. in Ros-glaise of the Munstermen.

And it is contending for this place the battle of Ballaghmoon, in Moy-ailbhe in Idrone, was given [fought]; and in it was slain Cormac MacCuilennan. Of which Cormac said:-

"About Ros-glaisne we shall give
The battle, since we cannot help it.
By Fiach (2) shall fall a King, on account of the ‘Ros.’
'Twill be sad, be true, be manifest."

The "swearing relic" of the Race of Eoghan is the Bernan Emin; and it is a miraculous breo, ("flame".)

The year of St. Evin’s death has not been recorded; Colgan, in Trias Thaum., states that it took place during the reign of Brandubh, King of Leinster, who was killed in the battle of Slaibhre, in A.D. 601 (or 604, according to the Annals of Ulster), after a reign of 30 years. O’ Curry and other reliable authorities, however, assign reasons for believing that our saint flourished at an earlier period, that he was a contemporary of St. Patrick, though only as a youth, and that his death occurred very early in the sixth century. We may justly conclude that he died on the 22nd of December, as our calendars mark his feast on that day. The Martyrology of Tallaght at that date has the entry: "Emini Rois glaissi," i.e., Emhin, or Evin of Rosglas; and the Mart. Donegal, at same date, has "Emin, Bishop of Rosglas, in Leinster, to the west of Cill-dara, on the brink of the Bearbha. Jamhnat, daughter of Sinell, was his mother. Eimhin was the son of Eoghan, etc. He was the brother of Cormac, son of Eoghan, as stated in the Life of the same Cormac." St. Evin was the author of the Life of St. Patrick called the Tripartite, published by Colgan, from which Joceline, who wrote a Life of our Apostle early in the twelfth century, acknowledges that he derived much help. This work is written partly in Latin and partly in Irish. Of this Life, Dr. Lanigan says that it contains a much greater variety of details concerning the Saint’s proceedings during his mission in Ireland than any other of his Lives. St. Evin also wrote the Life of St. Comgall, the famous Abbot and Founder of the Monastery of Bangor, out of which Colgan cites some particular passages. (Harris’s Ware.)

Toimdenach, brother of St. Abban, was Abbot of Rosglas (Leabhar Breac), and Dubhan, another brother is said to have been a member of the same community; the feast of the former was celebrated on the 12th of June, and that of the latter on the11th of November.

Itharnaise is another saint whom we find connected with St. Evin and his monastery, and whose memory was celebrated on the same day, the 22nd of December. The Feilire of Aengus, at that day, has the invocation:- "May (Ultan) the Silent’s prayer protect us! Itharnaisc who spoke not, who was with pure Emine from the brink of the dumb Barrow." These two saints, Ultan and Itharnaisc, were chiefly identified with Clane, County of Kildare; they were brothers of St. Maighend, Abbot of Kilmainham, and sons of Aed, son of Colcan, King of Oirghallia. Aed himself became a monk, and died in 606.

A St. Cronan, whose feast is calendared at the 10th of Feb., is also identified with this monastery. The Feilire of Aengus thus refers to him:-"Fair star, offspring of victory, glowing mass-gold, bright pillar, Cronan holy, without reproach, white sun of Glais-Mar!" To which the scholiast in the Leabhar Breac adds:- "Cronan the chaste, without reproach, i.e., in Ros Glaise," etc.

A manuscript volume in the Irish language, preserved in the Royal Irish Academy, - MSS. 23, P.3,-contains a most interesting prose tract entitled the Cain Emine (Emine’s Tribute or Rule), and also a poem, which may be called The Lay of the Bell of St. Emine. O’ Curry, in his descriptive catalogue, states his opinion that the prose tract is certainly as old as the year 800; but that the poem was not written till long after.

From the entry on the Parish of Monasterevin in Most Rev. Dr. Comerford's History of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin (1883).

St. Evin of Monasterevin, pray for us that we may be granted all the graces of Christmas and Christmastide!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Forgotten Saints

The Feast of the All the Saints of Ireland is celebrated on 6th November. Very many of the Saints of Ireland are still remembered by the people today but very many more are forgotten. This may be for two reasons, first, because of their multitude in number, since the celebration of the feast of each Saint of Ireland would surely deprive us of the opportunity to celebrate so many Saints on the Universal Calendar of the Church, and, secondly, because the brilliance of many outshines the luminous sanctity of so many more.

“Archbishop Usher, on the authority of some very old and authentic manuscript, which throws much light on our ancient ecclesiastical history, divides the saints who flourished in Ireland during the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries into three classes.

Dr. Lanigan is of opinion that this catalogue was written before the year 715, the period at which the disputes about the tonsure and the Paschal cycle had concluded.

The first class consisted of one hundred and fifty bishops, who were all founders of churches and eminent for sanctity. Those bishops were Romans, Britons, Franks, and Scots (Irish)… This class was called most holy.

The second class commenced from the year 542, the latter end of the reign of Tuathal, and continued to AD 598 or 599. This class consisted of three hundred saints, few of whom were bishops, the greater part having been priests… This order was called very holy.

The third order of saints consisted or holy priests and a few bishops, in all one hundred in number, who dwelt in deserts, and lived on herbs, water, and alms… The first order (or class) most holy; the second very holy; the third holy. The first burns brightly like the sun, the second like the moon, and the third like the stars.”

From: The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, by Rev. A. Cogan, C.C., Published in Dublin, 1862.

However, these holy men and women should not be forgotten.

“…we are greatly helped not only by theological investigation but also by that great heritage which is the “lived theology” of the saints. The saints offer us precious insights which enable us to understand more easily the intuition of faith, thanks to the special enlightenment which some of them have received from the Holy Spirit…” John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 27

“The saints are like beacons; they show men and women the possibilities open to human beings. They are therefore also culturally interesting, independently of the cultural, religious or investigatory approach to them.” Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

We hope to restore to memory some of the Saints associated with the Diocese of Kildare.

Friday, October 19, 2018

St. Ethbin of Kildare

St. Ethbin was born in Great Britain; and died in Kildare about the year 600. He was of noble birth. His father died when he was only about 15 years of age. His widowed mother then entrusted his education to his countryman, Saint Samson of Dol Abbey in Brittany.

One day, while Ethbin was at Mass, he really heard the words: "Every one of you that cannot renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple." He immediately resolved to renounce the world. Because he was a deacon, Ethbin sought the permission of his bishop to withdraw from the world. Upon receiving it, Ethbin retired to the abbey of Taurac. This was about the year 554.

For his spiritual director, this saint chose another: Saint Winwaloë. The community of Taurac was dispersed by a Frankish raid in 556 and Winwaloë died soon thereafter.

Ethbin then crossed over to Ireland, where he led the life of a hermit for 20 years in a forest near Kildare, now unidentifiable, called Nectensis. Historically, there was no cultus for Saint Ethbin in Ireland. His relics are claimed by Montreuil and Pont-Mort in France. The date assigned to his feast, for example, in the Martyrology of Donegal, is 19th October.

St. Ethbin of Kildare, pray for us!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

St. Erk of Slane

St. Erk of Slane, Bishop
Friend of St. Brigid of Kildare, co-consecrator of St. Conleth, first Bishop of Kildare.

“St. Erk, ‘the sweet spoken judge’, was, in all probability, a native of Munster; and is said to have been page to King Laoghaire at the time he showed this respect to St. Patrick. [Lanigan, vol. 1, p. 346] He was consecrated some time before the year 465, and was the first bishop of the ancient diocese of Slane, and abbot of the monastery which was erected there by St. Patrick. He is said to have been the preceptor of St. Brendan, and was an intimate friend of St. Brigid. At the synod of Magh-Femyn, in Tipperary, it is related that Erk spoke highly of the great abbess of Kildare, and of the miraculous favours with which she was endowed by the Almighty. He assisted at the consecration of Conlaeth, first bishop of Kildare, and took an active part in all the ecclesiastical movements of the age… Colgan says that, in the old calendars, Ercus is treated of on 2nd of October and 2nd of November Probus, writing of him in the tenth century, says: “Hercus, filius Dego, cujus reliquae nunc venerantur in civitate, quae vocatur Slane.”

From: The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, by Rev. A. Cogan, C.C., Published in Dublin, 1862.

St. Erk of Slane, pray for us!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Hallowing of Time

The Catholic Church, both in its wisdom and in its understanding of humanity, has many means of sanctifying time. Today, one of the almost forgotten Ember Days, is an excellent moment to consider the lesser cycles that sanctify time which are blessed by the Church.

Liturgically, we have Ember Days, seasonal periods of prayer and fasting, or Rogations, the twice-yearly occasions for rogating or imploring the mercy and goodness of God.

We also have the dedication of days and months to particular devotions. One traditional method, for example, dedicates Monday to the Holy Ghost, Tuesday to the Holy Angels, Wednesday to St. Joseph, Thursday to the Blessed Sacrament, Friday to the Sacred Passion, Saturday to Our Lady and Sunday to the Most Holy Trinity. The cycle of Votive Masses in the Missal varies from this formula slightly, dedicating Monday to the Most Holy Trinity and including the Holy Ghost on Thursday, while including the Holy Apostles in the dedication of Wednesday.

Of the days dedicated, the most familiar and the most commonly practised, even in our own day, is the dedication of Saturday to Our Lady. The visions of Simon Stock and the children of Fatima would seem to be confirmation from Heaven of this venerable tradition. However, the origin of the dedication of Saturday seems to originate in the Court of Charles the Great (742-814) with the monk Alcuin of York, who composed two Masses in honour of Our Lady for Saturdays. By the 11th Century, the devotion was well established in the Universal Church when St. Peter Damien famously promoted the devotion and Pope Urban II prescribed prayers to Our Lady on Saturdays for the success of the first Crusade.

The dedication of months is also very traditional and frequently enriched with Indulgences. One traditional method devotes January to the Holy Name of Jesus, March to St. Joseph, May to Our Lady, June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, July to His Precious Blood, September to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, October to the Holy Rosary, November to the Holy Souls, and December to the Holy Infancy. Most of these are derived from liturgical feasts ocurring during the month.

The tradition of special devotions to Our Lady during the month of May can certainly be traced to the High Middle Ages, the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X of Castille being frequently cited. The dedication of the entire month to Our Lady may have taken until the 17th Century to be widespread. However, to Pope Clement VIII we owe the custom of the Crowning of Images of Our Lady, now strongly associated with May.

The origin of the dedication of June to the Sacred Heart is less clouded in the mists of history. We owe it to Angéle de Saint Croix, a Parisienne schoolgirl of the 1830s, who was inspired to propose it to the Superioress, not because the feast of the Sacred Heart falls in June, since it is a movable feast dependent upon the timing of Easter, but because Angéle felt that, if Our Lady had a whole month of May, the Sacred Heart should have a whole month of June.

The Superioress recommended her to make the suggestion to the Archbishop when he visited the school the following week. This she did and the Archbishop responded immediately, dedicating the month of June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus throughout the Archdiocese for the joint intentions of the conversion of sinners and the return of France to the practice of the faith. The devotion soon spread and became universal throughout the Church.

In such ways, the Church recommends to the Faithful to dedicate each moment of time to God and to His Angels and Saints, to sanctify time and, by doing so, to sanctify ourselves.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Pilgrimage to Borris, County Carlow

Members and friends of the Catholic Heritage Association joined together this afternoon for a Pilgrimage to Borris, County Carlow, and a Traditional Latin Mass in the beautiful Church of the Sacred Heart, at the foot of Mount Leinster, in the valley of the River Barrow eight miles upstream from Graiguenamanagh and next to Borris House, seat of the McMorrough Kavanaghs, the ancient Gaelic Kings of Leinster.  The Mass celebrated was that of the day, the feast of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, Martyrs; Victor I, Pope and Martyr; and Innocent I, Pope and Confessor.

Reports of previous Traditional Latin Masses organised by the Association to Borris can be found here: 2012, 2013, 2014.

Unfortunately, Buildings of Ireland has only a short account of the Church here.

The Parish website can be found here and the link to the webcam of the Church can be found here.









Friday, July 20, 2018

Saint Natfrioch of Kildare

Saint Natfrioch of Kildare

A monastery for the canons of St. Augustine was founded at Kildare, of which St. Natfrioch is said to have been the first Abbot – he was the Priest who attended the institution of St. Brigid before the appointment of its first Bishop – he is spoken of as the companion of St. Brigid, and to have remained with her all his life, notwithstanding the superintendence of Conlaeth, and it is also stated that he was wont to read in the refectory while the nuns were at their meals.

P. 486, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland by Rev. Thomas Walsh

Saint Natfrioch of Kildare, pray for us!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pilgrimage to Kilcock, County Kildare

Members and friends of the Catholic Heritage Association joined together last Saturday for a Traditional Latin Mass for the repose of the soul of one of our founder members.

Reports of previous Traditional Latin Masses organised by the Association in Kilcock can be found here: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017.

The Patroness of the Parish is St. Coca. You can find out more about her here.

St. Ninian of Scotland began his career in Cloncurry, also in the Parish. You can find out about his connection with Kilcock here.

Buildings of Ireland gives a detailed description of the Church of St. Coca here.







Sunday, June 24, 2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pilgrimage to Duiske Abbey 2018

Along the waters of the mighty River Barrow that forms the backbone of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin - and whose waters have witnessed many of our pilgrimages in the past - we returned again to beautiful Graiguenamanagh and to the ancient and new Duiske Abbey for a Traditional Latin Mass of Our Lady on Saturday. Reports of previous pilgrimages are to be found here and here, here and here.









Sunday, March 25, 2018

Traditional Easter Ceremonies


The Easter Ceremonies in the Gregorian Rite:

Holy Thursday

4 p.m. - Holy Mass: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
6 p.m. - Holy Mass: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
6 p.m. - Holy Mass: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
7 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
7.30 p.m. - Tenebrae: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath

Good Friday

12 noon - Stations of the Cross: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
3 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
3 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
5 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
6 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
7 p.m. - Stations of the Cross: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
7.30 p.m. - Tenebrae: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath

Holy Saturday

12.30 p.m. - Tenebrae: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
8 p.m. - Easter Vigil: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
8.30 p.m. - Easter Vigil: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
9 p.m. - Easter Vigil: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
9 p.m. - Easter Vigil: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.

Easter Sunday

9 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Mary's Church, Ballyhea, Co. Cork
9 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Mary's Church, Chapel Street, Newry, Co. Down
10 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Patrick's Church, Drumkeen, Co. Donegal
10 a.m. - Holy Mass: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
10.30 a.m. - Holy Mass: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
10.30 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
12 noon - Holy Mass: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
1.30 p.m. - Holy Mass: Holy Cross Church (O.P.), Tralee, Co. Kerry
2 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Columba's Church, Longtower, Derry City
4 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Therese's Church, Somerton Road, Belfast City
5 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Patrick's Church, College Road, Kilkenny City
5.30 p.m. - Holy Mass: Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Our Lady's Shrine, Knock, Co. Mayo

Beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh go léir!
A happy and holy Easter to one and all!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pilgrimage to Honour Saint Brigid of Kildare

For over a decade we have been making an annual pilgrimage to the Parish Church of Saint Brigid of Kildare, Kildare Town. Today we returned to do honour to the Patroness of Ireland.

Bishop Comerford in his Collections Relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, Vol. 2 (1886) under the Parish of Kildare says:

"Ancient Kildare is believed to have stood a little to the west of the present town. From a passage in the Book of Leinster, quoted by O’Curry, (Lectures, p. 487,) it appears that the place was previously named Drumcree, (Druimcriadh, ie. “the Ridge of Clay.”) It received its present appellation “from a goodly, high oak,” under the shadow of which St. Brigid constructed her cell. “When the most glorious virgin, Brigid, returned to her own country,” writes her Biographer, Cogitosus, Bishop of Kildare, in the 10th century, “she was received with great honour and with the great joy of the whole Province, and there a cell was assigned unto her in which this Saint of God led a wonderful life. There she erected a monastery of many virgins, and there, in honour of St. Brigid, a very great city afterwards sprung up which is at this day the Metropolis of the Lagenians. That cell is called in the Scotic, Cill-dara, which sounds in Latin, Cella Quercus, i.e. the cell of the oak. For there was a very high oak tree there which St. Brigid loved much and blessed; of which the trunk still (circa A.D. 980,) remains. No one dares to cut it with a weapon; but he who can break off any part of it with his hands, deems it a great advantage, hoping for the aid of God by means of it; because through the benediction of St. Brigid, many miracles have been performed by that wood. The same name which this cell bore, the city also is named.” (Vita IV. St. Brigidoe, lib. II. c. 3, Tr. Thaum.) St. Brigid established herself at Kildare some time about the year 470, to which period, therefore, the town can trace its foundation.

St. Brigid was born at Faughart, now a village in the Diocese of Armagh, and County of Louth, probably in the year 453. Her father, Dubhtach, and her mother, Brocessa or Brotseach, were both distinguished for their noble descent and their Christian virtues, “Sancta itaque Brigida, quam Deus praescivit ad suam imaginem et praedestinavit, a Christianis, nobilibusque parentibus genita.” (Cogitosus.) The same is repeated in the Prologue to the Vita VI., or metrical Life of the Saint, by Cilien of Iniskeltra. (Tr. Thaum.)

“Dubhtacus ejus erat genitor cognomine dictus,
Clarus homo meritis, clarus et a proavis;
Nobilis atque humilis, mitis, pietate repletus;
Nobilior propria conjuge, prole pia.”

Dubhtach was descended of Eochad, brother of the celebrated Con of the Hundred Battles; and Brotseach was of the noble race of Dal Conchobhair or O’Conor. The parents of the Saint belonged to the district of Leinster; whether her being born at Fauchart was owing to their having a residence there also, or to their having been on a visit there at the time, cannot now be determined. Her biographer, Cogitosus, tells us that she received a good education: - “A sua pueritia bonarum literarum studiis inolevit;” and even in her childhood that extraordinary charity towards the poor, which so distinguished her in after life, manifested itself. Having grown up, she declined various offers of marriage, declaring her purpose of serving God in the Religious Life. In fulfilment of this resolution she had recourse to a holy Bishop named Maccaille, who had a Church at Cruachan-Bri-Eile, in Ifalgia, now the Hill of Croghan, where the site of his Church is still observable, and where his feast was celebrated on the 25th of April. The Bishop being satisfied as to her holy dispositions, received her to Religious Profession, by clothing her with a white mantle and placing a veil of the same colour on her head. Such was the dress of the early Irish nuns, and so it continued for some centuries after the time of St. Brigid :– “Ille, coeleste intuens desiderium, et pudicitiam, et tantam castitatis amorem in tali virgine, pallium album et vestem candidam super ipsius venerabile caput imposuit.” (Cogitosus.) The Profession of the Saint took place about the years 467 or 469. We are not here concerned about the first Communities founded by St. Brigid; the fame of her holiness having spread abroad, the people of her native place sent to invite her to found a Convent amongst them. In compliance with this request, she established herself at Kildare sometime about the year 470. Her first house there was a mere cell; after some time however, the number of those who flocked thither to serve God under her guidance became so great that she had to apply herself to the construction of a monastery of large proportions. This took place, according to Ware, in 480, but other authorities place the date somewhat later. For the details of the wonderful life of this great Servant of God the reader is referred to the Lives of the Irish Saints, by the Rev. J. O’Hanlon, M.R.I.A. The year in which St. Brigid died is uncertain; without entering into the merits of the disputed point, it will be sufficient to state that the weight of authority appears to favour the accuracy of the entry in the Annals of Ulster which assigns it to the year 523, in the 70th year of her age. “A.D. 523, Quies S. Brigidae, an. lxx aetatis suae.” The Annals of Donegal, at Feb. 1st, after tracing her illustrious descent, say, “It was Ultan of Ard-Breccain that collected the (account of the) virtues and miracles of Brigid together, and he commanded his disciple, Brogan to put them into poetry.” The Poem of St. Brogan-Cloen in praise of St. Brigid, here referred to, may be seen—both the original Irish and a Latin translation—in the I. E. Record for February, 1868. It was composed about the year 650, partly in the Monastery of St. Moedhoc, at Clonmore, in the County of Carlow. The Annals of Donegal, still treating of St. Brigid, say of her: –“It was this Brigid that did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him, and ever constantly thinking of Him, as is evident in her own Life, and also in the Life of St. Brenainn, Bishop of Cluainfearta. She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her Life proves, and as Cuimin of Coindaire states in the Poem whose beginning is:– ‘Patrick of the fort of Macha loved,’ &c. Thus he says:–

‘The Blessed Virgin loved
Constant piety, which was not prescribed;
Sheep-herding and early rising,
Hospitality towards men of virtues.’

“She spent indeed 74 years diligently serving the Lord, per¬forming signs and miracles, curing every disease, and sickness in general. The Life of Ciaran of Cluain states, c. 47, that the Order of Brigid was (one) of the eight Orders that were in Erin.” February was called in Irish, “the month of Brigid’s festival;” and Irish writers style her the Mary of Erin, and, on account of her many virtues, assign to her, after the Mother of God, the second place amongst the virgin Saints in heaven. St. Aengus in the Feilire, thus marked her feast:-

“The Calends of February are magnified,
By a galaxy of martyrs of great valour;
Brigid the spotless, of loudest fame,
Chaste head of the nuns of Erin.”

The old Brehon laws prescribe special devotion to St. Brigid, and tribute to her Convent as duties of the Kings of Leinster. Through respect for the Saint, the town and suburbs of Kildare possessed the privilege of Sanctuary:—“Maxima haec civitas et Metropolitana est; in cujus suburbanis, quae sancta certo limite designavit Brigida, nullus carnalis adversarius nec concensus timetur hostium.” (Trias Thaum. 534.) St. Tighernach, Abbot of Clones, and Bishop of Cloghar in succession to St. Maccarten, one of the most illustrious of the Saints of Erin, was baptized at Kildare by St. Conlaeth, St. Brigid acting as Sponsor. A gloss in the Leabhar Breac on the entry in the Feilire of Aengus at the 4th of April, the feast-day of this Saint, quaintly records this event as follows:—“Coirpre, son of Fergus of Leinster, i.e. of Leix, was Tighernach’s father. Or he is of Ui-Bairrchi. Now Coirpre bore him under cover to Kildare. He came into the guest-house. Brigid beheld a watch of angels over the head of the house, and she asked who was there. “One young man is there,” quoth the servant. “Look thou still,” quoth Brigid. Then he looked. “There is, in sooth,” quoth he, “a little babe in the young man’s bosom.” “Good is the babe,” quoth Brigid. Brigid comes into the guest-house, and baptizes the child, and Brigid holds him at his baptism."

He continues:

"Beside the town of Kildare there is a large pond or lough named Loughminane, the formation of which is thus accounted for in a Gloss on the Feilire AEnguis in the Leabhar Breac:- 'Eighteen Bishops came to Brigid from Hui-Brinin Chualand and from Telach-nam-espoc to Loch Lemnachta, beside Kildare on the north. So Brigid asked her cook, to wit, of Blathnait, whether she had food, et dixit illa non. And Brigid had shame, so the angel said that the cows should be milked iterum. And Brigid milked them, and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels of Leinster; and the milk came over the vessels and made a lough thereof. Inde Loch Lemnachta dicitur.'"

Monday, January 1, 2018

St. Connat of Kildare

Today is the feast given in the Martyrology of Donegal for St. Connat or Comnat or Comnantan who was Abbess of Kildare in succession to St. Brigid until her death in the year 590.

Nothing is recorded of her life but it is an excellent opportunity to recall to mind the many excellent women of the Convent of Kildare, particularly her sister Abbesses, St. Darlaugdach, Abbess of Kildare, who was the immediate successor of St. Brigid and lived for but a year after the great foundress, St. Tulalla, a near contemporary of St. Connat, St. Sebdana, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 726, St. Affrica, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 738, and St. Finnia, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 801.

All ye holy Abbesses of Kildare, pray for us!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pilgrimage to Rome 2017 (7) - Day 2

After Mass in the Church of Sant'Eustachio for the feast of All Saints, our pilgrims made their way up the Via della Dogana Vecchia to the Church of San Luigi dei Franchesi. This is another of the National Churches of Rome that we visited on the feast of All Saints. Having passed across the Piazza Navona we visited Santa Maria dell'Anima of the Germans and San Nicola dei Lorenesi and then passed down the Vicolo della Pace to enter the Teatro of Santa Maria della Pace, built under our friend Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere and completed under our dear friend Pope Alexander VII Chigi. Santa Maria dell'Anima
Santa Maria della Pace
We made our way down the way of Peace to the Via del Governo Vecchio, part of the old Via Papale, the main thoroughfare of Papal Rome, and down to the Chiesa Nuova, the new Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella, the home of the Oratorians and the tomb of St. Philip Neri.