Monday, 12 December 2016

St. Colga, Lector of Clonmacnoise - III

From O’Hanlon’s, Lives of the Irish Saints, Vol. 2, pps. 249ff., 20th January, Article VIII.

(Part III - Teachings)

St. Colga clearly shows the feeling of the ancient Irish Church, with respect to the practice of holy virginity, and in honouring the ever-blessed Mother of God. He alludes to the special reverence, in which Saint Germanus of Auxerre was held in Ireland, perhaps on account of his close connection with our holy Apostle, St. Patrick. The honour to be shown to the monastic state is indicated, by associating with all the holy monks who made battle for God's sake throughout the whole world, the great names of Elias and Eliseus under the Old Law, and of John the Baptist, Paul, the first hermit, and Anthony, the first founder of the monastic state, in the New Testament. Then Colga follows a chronological order. Our saint first invokes the early patriarchs, viz., Abel, Seth, &tc., to Jacob. He then calls upon the chosen of the written Law, including Moses, Josue, &c., and the chosen of the law of the Prophets, viz., Elius, Eliseus, David, and Solomon. He then passes to the New Testament, begging the intercession of Christ's own holy Apostles, and all the saints to the end of the world. Then, he sums up under one heading, the whole Church of Christ on earth. When indicating those holy bishops, who founded the ecclesiastical city in Rome, St. Colga follows the order of that Canon, found in the ancient Roman Liturgy. After St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles,(23) he names Linus, Cletus, Clement, showing by this arrangement, that close connection of our ancient Church, with the other Churches of Europe, and especially with the Church of Rome. Again, we are told, that it was he who composed that kind of prayer, called the Scuab Crabhaidh,(24) which means "the Besom or Broom of Devotion." In the prologue or preface, before that prayer already named, it is stated, that this Colga was a saint, was a priest, and was a scribe, among the saints of Erin.(25) From Colgan's description, it seems probable, that this does not differ from the prayer, which assumes the form of a Litany. It is stated to be a fasciculus of most ardent prayers, full of devout feeling, and of mental elevation towards the Almighty.(26)

Notes in O'Hanlon
(23) The Rev. Father Mullooly, O.P., of St. Clement's Church in Rome, has ably endeavoured to elucidate the order of succession among the early Sovereign Pontiffs.
(24) This is contained in the ''Book of Clonmacnoise." See Colgan's " Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," n. 9, p. 379.
(25) See the O'Clerys' " Martyrology of Donegal," at the 20th of February.
(26) See Colgan's "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," xx. Februarii. De S. Colga, Sapiente, n. 9, p. 379.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

St. Colga, Lector of Clonmacnoise - II

From O’Hanlon’s, Lives of the Irish Saints, Vol. 2, pps. 249ff., 20th January, Article VIII.

(Part II - Writings)

He was regarded as an accomplished Scribe (12) and Master, having on this account been denominated the "Wise.” He has left some works behind, which are replete with learning and piety. Some of these devotional tracts are thus specially described. A very remarkable Prayer of St. Colga (13) is to be found, in the Leabhar Buidhe Lecain,(14) or the "Yellow Book of Lecain” a manuscript (15) of the fourteenth century, kept in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. This appears to have been copied, by Michael O'Clery, in 1627. It is intituled, "Oratio Colgani Sancti.”(16) We find this Prayer described as being divided into two parts.(17) The first part consists of twenty-eight petitions, or paragraphs. Each paragraph beseeches the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus, through the intercession of some class, among the holy men, found in the Old and New Testament, who are referred to in the paragraph, or represented by the names of one or more, among the most distinguished of them.(18) The second part consists of seventeen petitions to the Lord Jesus, apparently offered at Mass time, beseeching Him to accept the sacrifice then made, for all Christian churches, for the sake of the Merciful Father, from whom He descended upon earth, for the sake of His Divinity, which the Father had overshadowed, in order that it might unite with His humanity for the sake of the Immaculate body from which He was formed, in the womb of the Virgin.(19) The reader may consult the Lectures of Professor Eugene O'Curry, for a further account of this precious relic of early Irish devotional literature.(20) The dogmatic importance of this Prayer is very great. It shows the belief of the Irish Church on many points, which are now set down by Protestants as of recent introduction. We are struck, in the first part, with the invocation of saints, whose powerful intercession is asked, not with God the Father only, but with the Son of God made man, the Mediator of God and man, Christ our Lord; while, intercession with Him is asked from saints of the Old as of the New Testament. In the nine degrees of the Church on earth, we find allusion to the four minor and three greater orders (21) while to these are added the office of bishop, which is the completion of the priesthood, and that of psalm-singer, which, as we are told by an ancient Irish canon, was given to any clerk, not by episcopal ordination, but by delegation from a priest. The nine choirs of blessed spirits are those mentioned by Saint Gregory the Great.(22) It may be added, that the coincidence with Saint Gregory's enumeration of them is not, perhaps, altogether casual, for there is reason to believe, that in the eighth century there was in Ireland a very extensive acquaintance with that great Pontiff's writings.

Notes in O'Hanlon
(12) By way of distinction, he is even called the Scribe of all the Scots. See ibid., n. 8.
(13) See this Prayer, translated into English with accompanying comments in the “Irish Ecclesiastical Record,” vol. i, no. i., pp. 4 to 12.
(14) Notwithstandingmany losses, this Manuscript yet contains 500 pages of large quarto vellum. With the exception of a few small tracts, in somewhat later hands, it is all finely written, by Donnoch and Gilla Isa Mac Firbis, in the year 1390. It would appear to have been, in its original form, a collection of ancient historical pieces, civil and ecclesiastical, both in prose and verse. Professor O'Curry enumerates these pieces, in his work “Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History,” lect. ix., p. 191.
(15) It is classed, H. 2, 16. The prayer is to be met with in col. 336.
(16) Then follow these words: “Sapientis et Prespiteri et Scriptae omnium Sanctorum incipit quicunque hanc orationem cantaverit veram penitentiam et indulgentiam peccatorum habebit et alias multa gratias, id est, Ateoch fuit a Isa naemh do cheithre suisceala, etc.”
(17) A copy, belonging to Profesor Eugene O’Curry, is preserved among his Manuscripts at the Catholic University.
(18) The first part begins thus:- “I beseech the intercession of Thee, O Holy Jesus! Of They four Evangelists, who wrote Thy Gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”
(19) The second prayer begins thus:- “O Holy Jesus! O Beautiful Friend!” etc., etc.
(20) See “Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History,” lect. xviii., and Appendix cxxii., pp. 379, 380, 614, 615.
(21) Their names are to be found in the Decrees of the Council of Trent.
(22) See “Homilia,” xxxiv. In Evangelia. “Opera” S. Gregorii Magni.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Shruel Abbey (Walsh)

Abbey Shruel in the barony of Shruel and near the river Inny.

AD 901 died the abbot Moelpoil.

AD 952 died the abbot Macatalius O Ferrall founded an abbey for Cistercians under the invocation of the Virgin Mary the year of its erection is said to have been 1150 or 1152.

May the 2d the eleventh of Queen Elizabeth the site of this monastery with its appurtenances twenty four cottages in the town of Vore one hundred and eighty acres of land in the vicinity of the same eighty acres of pasture and underwood adjacent one messuage four cottages in the town of Cranaghe and sixty acres adjoining two messuages four cottages in the town of Ballynemanagh and sixty four acres two messuages three cottages in the town of Knockaghe and sixty four acres adjacent thereto were granted to Robert Dillon and his heirs at an annual rent of 10 14s 4d.

In another inquisition it was discovered that the abbot was seized of some possessions which were until then concealed.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

St. Colga, Lector of Clonmacnoise - I

From O’Hanlon’s, Lives of the Irish Saints, Vol. 2, pps. 249ff., 20th January, Article VIII.

(Part I - Early Life)

St. Colga, or Colcho, Surnamed the Wise, Lector of Clonmacnoise, King's County. [Eighth Century.] Improvement in religious life and training depends much on the frequent presence of holy bishops and pastors, in the schools and religious institutes, under their immediate care. This ensures educational efficiency, and blesses the house of education, even when the faith of pupils is in no way perilled. His frequent presence impresses, not alone on youth, but even on their parents, the importance of that business in which they are engaged. To this, the purity and innocence of children are mainly to be attributed, while such religious teaching and example exercise beneficial influences during after life. (1) At the 20th of February, Colgan has illustrated such particulars as are known, regarding the present holy man.(2) These he has drawn from various sources. The Bollandists have simply a brief notice, in which they state, that only in the Irish fasti do they find him commemorated, as one of the saints.(3) In Irish, we are told, the name is written Coelchu; and, by some writers, it is rendered into Cogius, Colcius, Colcus,(4) Colcanus, Colchonus and Colganus. By Colgan, the denomination is thought to be derived from the Irish word, coel, "thin," or "slender," and cu, "a grey-hound," or " a wolf."(5) More generally Coelchu or Colgchu is rendered Colgu or Colga.(6_ This holy man was born, as seems most probable, after the beginning of the eighth century. He seems, from the family name given him, to have been of the Ui Eathach Mumhan race.(7) Yet, his pedigree has not been more exactly traced, than we find it briefly noted, in our Martyrologies and Annals. In an age of learning and piety, St. Colga was most distinguished among the holy men of Ireland. He was probably educated at Clonmacnoise. It was with him St. Paul the Apostle came to converse, according to the legend, in a human form, and to help him on in his road. St. Paul is said to have given him particular lights, and to have taken his satchel of books, at Moin tirean air,(8) while, it was he that pleaded for this saint, to preside over the great school of Cluain-mac-nois.(9) It is doubtful, if amidst the ruins and ancient remains of this once celebrated place, any traces of that college can now be found.(10) It is stated, likewise, that a great theological question was here in controversy, among the theologians; and doctors of another place held an opinion, differing from that of our saint. Again, St. Paul is said to have appeared in person, to have taken part with our saint, and to have spoken to this effect before the seniors assembled.(11) Soon afterwards, St. Colcho was elected to preside, as Rector of the great school, at Clonmacnoise; and he was recognised as the chief teacher there, while shining pre-eminently a lamp of learning and of sanctity.

Notes in O'Hanlon
(1) See “Ecclesiastical Meditations suitable for Priests on the Missions and Students in Diocesan Seminaries." by a Catholic Clergyman. On the Visitation of the Schools, sect. 2, pp. 130, 131.
(2) See "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," xx. Februarii. De S. Colcho, sive Colga, Sapiente, pp. 378 to 380.
(3) See "Acta Sanctorum," tomus iii., Februarii xx. Among the pretermitted saints, p. 169.
(4) Thus is he styled, in Albinus' Epistle.
(5) A secondary meaning is sought for the name in Colg, which signifies, "a sword," or metaphorically, "a fierce look," or "cruelty."
(6) See ''Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," xx. Februarii, n. 2, p. 379.
(7) This was the tribe name of the O'Mahonys and O'Donoghoes, in South Minister. See Dr. O'Donovan's "Annals of the Four Masters," vol. ii., nn. (a, r), pp. 772, 775.
(8) This place does not seem to be identified.
(9) See Rev. Drs. Todd's and Reeves "Martyrology of Donegal," pp. 54, 554.
(10) The accompanying illustration, from a photograph, taken by Frederick II. Mares, and drawn on the wood by William K. Wakeman, was engraved by Mrs. Millard.
(11) In a work, known as the "Book of Clonmacnoise,” and in other Manuscripts belonging to Colgan, the foregoing statements were contained while tracts attributed to Colga were also in his possession. See "Acta Sanctorum Hibernias," xx. Feb- l6 Then follow these words : " Sapientis cap. ii., hi., iv., and nn. 6, 9, pp. 378, 379.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Religious Houses of Ardagh

From Fr. Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy:

Ardagh in the barony to which it gives its name Canons Regular St. Mel was bishop of Ardagh. See diocese of.

Archdall almost invariably calls the friars of St. Augustine canons regular though no such order existed in Ireland until they were introduced by St. Malachy and Imar, they were then called canons of St. Augustine or secular canons as St. Augustine drew up no particular rule for men.

St. Melchuo said to be the brother of St. Mel succeeded as abbot and bishop. See diocese of.

AD 741 died the abbot Beochuil.

Franciscan friary not known when it was founded Reformed by friars of the strict observance in the year 1521

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Saint Mel of Ardagh (O'Hanlon 3)

From Canon O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints for 6th February:

Article II. - Reputed Festival of St. Melcu or Moelchuo, Supposed be a Bishop of Ardagh.

If we are to credit some records, at this date should we add the festival of a St. Melchu or a St. Moelchuo, thought by many to have been the brother and the inseparable companion of St. Mel. The Martyrology of Salisbury commemorates, at this date, four brothers, St. Mel, St. Melchuo, St. Munis, who are called bishops, and St. Rioch, called an abbot. They are said to have been distinguished for sanctity, and for many miracles. On the date, contained in such entry, Colgan confesses himself induced to place the festival of those reputed brothers, at the 6th of February; although, he says it is possible, St. Melchuo may be identified with St. Mellan, whose festival was observed on the 28th of October, in the territory of Hibh Echach, in Ulster. Other writers have followed Colgan's arrangement; among these may be noted Bishop Challoner, and Rev. S. Baring-Gould. Ancient tracts have also distinguished St. Mel from St. Melchuo, a reputed brother. Ware and Colgan are said to have been led astray by these accounts, but they are corrected by Dr. Lanigan. Both Mel and Melchus are represented as having been left, in Southern Teffia, by St. Patrick, and as jointly ruling over the see of Ardagh. The day of their festivals is the same—a circumstance rather singular, and suspicious — being reputed brothers, as co-bishops, likewise, in one and the same see. Without sufficient authority, Ware and Harris place Melchuo after Mel, in the order of succession. These names and notices are applied, it is thought, to one and the same person; the real etymon, which was probably Melchu, having been contracted, and Latinized into Melus or Mel, signifying "honey." Hence a false distinction of persons may have arisen.

St. Melchu — it has been asserted — was an assistant to St. Mel, during his missionary labours and preaching. It is thought, too, that Melchu had been consecrated bishop, by his reputed uncle, St. Patrick; and that, he remained with his reputed brother Mel, in the monastery, at Ardagh. They are supposed to have been emulous of each other, only in sanctity, and that Maelchu, having thus persevered to the end, deserved to be registered among the saints. It is not probable, that Tirechan would have omitted to mention Melchu, in addition to Mel, had the former name belonged to a brother of Mel, and to a joint-administrator, at Ardagh. Nor is it likely, the name of Melchu should have been omitted, in our most authentic Irish Martyrologies and Annals, while particular mention is made of Mel or Melus. Labouring under a mistake, Colgan distinguishes St. Melchuo from St. Mel. He devotes a separate short notice to the former, after having given St. Mel's Acts in full, at the 6th of February. For his various illustrations and proofs, reference is made to these Acts.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Traditional Latin Mass in Longford Cathedral

For the 40th Anniversary of the death of Bishop James Joseph McNamee, who had been Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise from 1927 to his death on 24th April, 1966, our Association was granted the singular privilege by Bishop Francis Duffy, his successor as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise of organising a Traditional Latin Mass in the newly refurbished Longford Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Colm O'Reilly, another of Bishop McNamee's successor's as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise. On Sunday, 24th April, 2016, members and friends of the Catholic Heritage Association gathered to pray for the soul of one of the most liturgically conscious of Ireland's Bishops of the mid-20th Century, who had attended the first three Sessions of the Second Vatican Council.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Clonebrone Abbey

From Fr. Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy:

Clonebrone in the barony of Granard between Granard and Edgeworthstown. The two Emerias are said to have been placed here in the time of St. Patrick and they are also said to have been the daughters of the unfortunate Milcho who refused to listen to the words of salvation from the lips of St. Patrick because the saint had been his captive. It is also said that at the time of receiving the veil they left the impression of their feet in the stone on which they stood.

AD 738 the virgin and abbess of Clonebrone St. Samthanna, daughter of Dyamranus, died. Her festival is celebrated on the 19th of December.

AD 771 died the abbess Sithmath.
AD 775 died the abbess Forblaith.
AD 778 this nunnery was destroyed by fire.
AD 780 died the abbess Elbrigh.
AD 791 died the abbess Lerveanvan.
AD 804 died the abbess Finbil.
AD 810 died the abbess Gormley, daughter of Flathnia.
AD 1107 died the abbess Cograch, daughter of Unon.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Saint Mel of Ardagh (O'Hanlon 2)

From Canon O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints for 6th February:



St. Brigid seems often to have visited St. Mel, when she resided not far from Ardagh. At one time, the king of that district entertained both these holy personages; and, a remarkable miracle was wrought by the illustrious abbess, at a banquet, given in their honour. The kindness of St. Mel, interceding with the king for a supposed transgressor, on this occasion, pleasingly illustrates the holy bishop's character. St. Mel and St. Moelchu — both being regarded as distinct — are stated to have accompanied the abbess, to a synod, which was held at Tailten, in Meath.

Our thoroughly ignorant and presumptuous antiquarian, Ledwich, confounds St. Mel, with a St. Maula, venerated in Kilkenny city, and said to have been the mother of St. Canice. He therefore, flippantly assumes, the sex of this present saint to be doubtful, and that other accounts about him are unauthentic. Perhaps, absurdity of statement is carried to a still further degree, where we find it gravely advanced, that St. Mel is to be identified with the Cuthite Melissa; and again, that he left his name to Mellifont. St. Mel is classed among the disciples of St. Patrick, by Colgan. There can be no doubt, that our holy bishop acted under the advice and direction of that great master. Whether or not, he survived St. Patrick is open to question. It seems probable enough, however, that Mel passed away from earth, before the Irish Apostle had terminated his earthly career.

It is said, that St. Mel wrote the Acts, virtues and miracles of his uncle, St. Patrick, while this latter holy man had been living; for, the great Apostle of Ireland is supposed to have survived our saint five years. For his death, a.d. 466 has been assigned. Mel departed this life, at Ardagh, however, about the year 487 or 488. St. AEngus the Culdee, the Martyrology of Tallagh, Marianus O'Gorman, Cathal Maguire, and the Martyrology of Salisbury, record this holy bishop's festival, at the present date. It was probably that of his death, which is usually assigned to the 6th of February, and according to accounts left by our Irish hagiographers. This corresponds with the 8th of the February Ides. In Ardagh diocese, his feast is a double of the first class, with an octave.

Notwithstanding the celebrity of this saint, Mel, Epis. —meaning bishop— is the only entry, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, concerning him. Besides this, we read, in the Martyrology of Donegal, as having a festival on this day, Mel, Bishop of Ard-achadh, in Tethbha. He was a disciple of Patrick, according to the same authority; but, nothing has been noted, about his relationship. Mel is regarded, as the first bishop over the see of Ardagh, and, he has been constantly venerated as the special patron saint of that diocese. Longford being of late years the chief town in the diocese of Ardagh, the magnificent new cathedral of St. Mel was commenced there, by the bishop of that see. Dr. O'Higgins, about forty years ago, and completed, nearly as it now stands, by the late bishop. Dr. Kilduff. The beautiful high altar was erected since this prelate's death, as a memorial to commemorate his zeal and virtues. The present bishop. Dr. Conroy, has contributed largely to complete the interior, and further improvements are yet contemplated. Adjoining the cathedral, a fine college has been erected, in a delightful situation, and on very extensive grounds, for purposes of lay and ecclesiastical education of a high order. This establishment has also been placed under the patronage of St. Mel. The fine cathedral, dedicated to St. Mel, at Longford, is one of the largest and handsomest ecclesiastical structures in Ireland. It is built of the finest grey marble limestone, which on the exterior is cut and carefully dressed, from the foundation to the projecting course, that crowns the walls. Cut stone mouldings enclose the windows exteriorly, and these are covered with moulded pediments. Six pillars are intended to support a grand pediment in front, but this portion has yet to be erected. The style throughout is of the Italian composite order. The ground plan includes a nave, connecting two side aisles, by a double range of eleven arches, divided on either hand, resting on twelve grey marble columns of great height, yet symmetrical and solid. The columns are capped by chiselled capitals, under the turning of the arches. A transept extends across the upper end of the nave and side aisles. A grand high altar of exquisitely white polished Carrara marble — of elaborate and congruent design with the style of building — is in the centre, and opposite to the great entrance by the nave. At the end of the right side aisle, there is a side altar of our Holy Redeemer, and at the end of the left side aisle, there is one dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Transverse columns and arches are in the transepts. Four circular-headed windows light either side aisle, and they alternate with circular canopied niches, all with fine mouldings interiorly. Five such niches fill up the circular apse, behind the front altar. A circular-headed window, between similarly designed niches, ornaments either end of the transept. Twenty-eight angels, wrought in a highly artistic manner, rise immediately over the capitals of all the nave columns. The coved roof of the ceiling is wrought very tastefully in plaster, while a highly ornamental cornice runs over the whole circuit of nave and apse, in the same elaborate style. High in the coved ceiling, over the three large entrance vestibules, is the fine-toned organ of the choir. Two fine columns, with three connecting arches, support the organ-loft and choir. The vestibules, in front, lead to the nave and aisles. A moulded cornice runs immediately under the window sills, all through the cathedral. Twelve clerestory and circular-headed lights are over their respective colonnade arches, on either side of the nave. The bishop's throne is on the Gospel side, within the sanctuary; while the pulpit rises against the third circular column, on the Epistle side of the nave. Basso-relievo flat columns are placed along the walls of the transepts, of the side aisles, and of the apse. The campanile, surmounted with a dome, and terminated by an elaborate gilt cross, is an object of great architectural beauty. On an octagonal base, rising over the roof, are three projecting mouldings, each sustaining a highly ornate compartment of the campanile. Carved columns sustain the cornices.

As in the instance of the renowned Saint Mel, we find the holiest persons are not exempt from unjust suspicions. In like cases, we must have patience awhile; slanders are not usually long-lived. Truth is the child of Time; ere long she shall appear to rehabilitate the character of those, who respect her dictates. Then shall the caluminated and maligned retire from life, vindicated and rewarded. Even, should base calumny fasten a sting, a stigma, or a stain, on the motives or actions of departed persons; the Almighty, who knows the hearts of all men, and who views their whole course of conduct, in a clear light, will justify the innocent, and most certainly reverse the false opinions of all men, on the day of General Judgment.