Monday 3 April 2023

From the Litany of Confession: the Effects of Our Sins

In 1925 the Oxford scholar and Anglican cleric, Rev. Charles Plummer (1851–1927), editor and translator of the 1910 two-volume Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, added to his work on Irish medieval manuscripts by publishing a volume on Irish Litanies.  He assembled a selection of thirteen litanies in all, taken from a variety of manuscript sources including some of those used by Friar Michael O'Clery (1590-1643), preserved in the Royal Library at Brussels. Plummer called the first Litany in his collection The Litany of Confession, noting that O'Clery's manuscript called it 'De Confesione Sancte Ciarane (sic)' to which the Donegal hagiologist added 'I do not know to which of the Ciarans it is to be attributed...unless it be to Ciaran of Cluain (Clonmacnois)'. Plummer himself commented 'It is little likely that the Litany can be as old as the time of this Ciaran (ob. 549), but the connection with Clonmacnois should be noted. I have found no other indication of authorship.' In the extract from the Litany below, Daphne Pochin-Mould felt that 'in striking terms [it] details the effects of sins upon the penitent':

"Come to help me, for the multitude of my inveterate sins have made dense my too guilty heart; 
They have bent me, perverted me, have blinded me, have twisted and withered me;
They have clung to me, have pained me, have moved me, have filled me;
They have humbled me, exhausted me, they have subdued me, possessed me, cast me down;
They have befooled me, drowned me, deceived me and troubled me;
They have torn me and chased me;
They have bound me, have ravaged me, have crucified me, rebuked me, sold me, searched me, mocked me;
They have maddened me, bewitched me, betrayed me, delayed me, killed me.

 Daphne Pochin-Mould, The Celtic Saints: Our Heritage (Dublin, 1956), 116.

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