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.

No comments:

Post a Comment