Thursday 8 August 2013

Saint Daire, August 8

The Irish calendars commemorate Saint Daire (Daria) on August 8. In his account of this holy woman Canon O'Hanlon helpfully lists the three saints who bear this name and attempts to identify which of them might have been our saint of August 8. One clue is that two are classified as widows whereas today's Daire is a virgin saint. This leads Canon O'Hanlon to wonder if she might be the blind nun Daire mentioned in the hagiography of Saint Brigid, even though he had been somewhat more lukewarm about the possibility when discussing the miracle of Saint Daire in his February entry for Saint Brigid. We can look at the account of this miracle now from Volume 2 of the Lives of the Irish Saints, before proceeding to the entry for the day from Volume 8:

No matter how far we may dissent from the details of various legendary narratives, we must admit the spell of a charming treatment and a sublime moral lesson in the following story, related almost in the words of an accomplished writer [Baring-Gould], alluding to St. Brigid. One evening, she sat with Sister Dara, or Daria, a holy nun, who was blind, as the sun went down; and they talked of the love of Jesus Christ, and the joys of Paradise. Now, their hearts were so full, the night fled away whilst they spoke together, and neither knew that so many hours had sped. Then the sun came up from the Wicklow mountains, and the pure white light made the face of earth bright and gay. Bridget sighed, when she saw how lovely were earth and sky, and while she knew that Dara's eyes were closed to all this beauty. So she bowed her head and prayed. She extended her hand and signed the dark orbs of the gentle sister. Then the darkness passed away from them, and Dara saw the golden ball in the east, while all the trees and flowers glittered with dew in the morning Hght. She looked a little while, and then, turning to the abbess, said: "Close my eyes again, dear mother, for when the world is so visible to the eyes, God is seen less clearly to the soul." So Bridget prayed once more, and Dara's eyes grew dark again.

St. Daria, or Daire, Virgin.

At the 8th day of August, a festival for Daria, a holy Virgin, is entered in the published Martyrology of Tallagh, as also in the Book of Leinster copy. Marianus O'Gorman and Cathal Maguire have inserted the name of this holy Virgin in their respective Calendars. The Bollandists notice her, likewise, at the 8th of August.

There are three saints having this name to be found in the Irish Martyrologies. The first is St. Daria, Virgin, who died in the eighteenth year of her age, and on the 8th of August, as mentioned at this day. The second is St. Daria, Widow, named Bochana, who is venerated on the 2nd of November. The third St. Daria was a widow, likewise, and she was venerated on the 26th of October. It has been thought most probable, that the present holy virgin is more likely than any other bearing the same name and venerated in our Calendars, to have been that St. Daria mentioned in the Acts of St. Brigid, and who was one of her nuns. If so, she is said to have been blind from the time of her birth, and she must have flourished towards the close of the fifth or beginning of the sixth century. The Martyrology of Donegal registers a festival at the 8th of August, in honour of Daire, Virgin. It likewise adds, that from earlier records, her age was eighty years; and, in the Table thereto appended her name is Latinized, Daria, Virgo.

Note: The poem Saint Brigid and the Blind Nun by the 19th-century writer, Aubrey de Vere, can be found at my other blog here.

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