Tuesday 3 November 2020

Irish Missionaries

As we approach the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland on November 6, below is a brief reminder of the part Irish saints played in the evangelization of other countries. These missionary saints were a source of great pride to the writers of the nineteenth century cultural revival, including Irish expatriates like Monaghan man John Joseph Lynch, C.M. (1816-1888), Archbishop of Toronto. At a time when mass emigration had aroused anti-Irish and anti-Catholic feeling it was no doubt comforting to take refuge in the achievements of an earlier golden age, when the Irish made a substantial contribution to European Christian civilization. This piece appeared in the New Zealand press in 1878 which syndicated items likely to be of interest to its own Irish population:


St. Patrick's bishops and priests were so ardent in their zeal that they carried the light of the gospel into England, Scotland, Germany, France, and even into Italy, regaining to the Church many of those people who had lost the faith on account of the incursions of barbarians, and the breaking up of the Roman Empire. These holy missionaries from Ireland are invoked as patron-saints in these countries. We have venerated their relics in cathedral churches, in monasteries, in rural parishes on the continent of Europe. We found St. Cataldus, the Apostle of Tarentum, near Naples; St. Sedulius famous for his fourteen books of commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul; St. Fridolin, who instituted religious houses in Alsace, Strasbourg, and Switzerland, and who is interred on an island in the Rhine, in a monastery built by himself; St. Columbanus, the founder of the celebrated monastery of Bobbio, near Milan, in Luxan; and Fontaine St. Gall, near Lake Constance, famous to the present time for its learned men and holy monks, the admiration of all travellers St. Fiacre, the Patron Saint of many churches in the diocese of Meaux and through Picardy, and whose relics are the objects of pious pilgrimages to the present day; St. Aidan, who preached the gospel to Northumbrians in England, and who was the first bishop of the See of Lindisfarne; St. Colman, who preached the gospel to the Northern Saxons, St. Fursey, especially invoked in numerous chapels built by him near Paris; St. Abrogast, Bishop of Strasbourg, buried on Mount Michael, where there was a monastery dedicated under his patronage; St. Maidulphus, who established the famous school of Ingleborne, now Malmsbury; St. Cuthbert, son of an Irish Prince of Kells, in Meath, Bishop of Lindisfarne, now invoked as an English saint; St. Killian apostle of Franconia, and first Bishop of Wirtzburg, who gained the crown of martyrdom, like St. John for having reproached the incestuous adulteress, Goilana, St. Virgilius, Bishop of Fiesole, preacher of the gospel to the Etruaians; St. Findin, Abbot of Richew, on the Rhine; St. Buo and St. Ernulphus, who carried the Gospel to Iceland and founded a church under the patronage of St. Columba. We have mentioned enough of illustrious names of the Irish nation to show how they fulfilled their mission on the continent of Europe in early ages. — Archbishop Lynch of Toronto.

IRISH MISSIONARIES.,New Zealand Tablet, Volume VI, Issue 271, 12 July 1878

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