February 19 is the feast of Saint Odhrán (Odran, Odhran, Oran) whom tradition records as the faithful chariot driver to Saint Patrick. The vignette below recounts how he was faithful to his saintly master until the end:
ST. PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND.— HOW ST ODRAN SAVED THE SAINT'S LIFE.
St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, was taken captive in his youth by King Niall, in one of his raids into Gaul. He served seven years in bondage as a swineherd, with Milcho, a chief who lived in the County Antrim. Having escaped to Gaul, he had a vision in which he heard the voice of the Irish crying out: "We entreat thee, holy youth, to come and walk still among us". Patrick was deeply affected by this vision, and he was subsequently commissioned, to his great joy, by Pope Celestine, to bear the faith of Christ to the pagan Irish. His mission was miraculously successful. He won the entire nation to the doctrines of Christ without a drop of blood having been shed through persecution, a fact unexampled in the history of Christianity.
But there was one martyr during his mission. A certain idolater named Failge, a great adversary of Christ, resolved to kill the saint, who had destroyed the idols to which he was bound. Odran, Patrick's driver or charioteer, having discovered the danger, requested his master to change places with him in the chariot, pretending that he was greatly fatigued. The saint, always happy to exercise his humility, gladly acquiesced. Ere long they arrived at the spot where the assassin lay in ambush, and as they were passing, the wretch rushed forward, and mistaking the driver for the servant, pierced Odran with a spear. The saint now understood Odran's motive, and his grief was great over his pious and devoted disciple. The vengeance of God fell on the murderer, for he died on the same day. St. Odran is ''the only Irish martyr on record that suffered in Ireland by the hands of an Irishman."
Short Instructive Sketches from the Lives of the Saints for the use of Parochial and Sunday Schools, Academies &etc. (New York, 1888), 38-39.
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