Thursday 23 November 2023

Saint Columbanus

In 1923 the 1300th anniversary of Saint Columbanus was celebrated at Bobbio and below is a report from The New Zealand Tablet describing the festivities. In addition to capturing something of the pride with which the newly-established Irish Free State regarded this important saint, it also links the spiritual and secular European dimension as the Irish delegates leave Bobbio to seek admission to the League of Nations: 

The New Zealand Tablet 



LAST week we published accounts of the centenary celebrations held at Bobbio in honor of St. Columbanus, giving such extracts from the Pope's brief as had come to hand. The latest mails brought us the complete text of this edifying and masterly review of the labors of the great Irish missionary saint. Our readers will find the Pope's glowing and eloquent words in another page of our present issue, and they will note for themselves how the Supreme Pontiff honors Columbanus by placing him among the men of Providence, chosen in the designs of God to protect the Church and safeguard her interests in times of storm and stress. In the person of her Primate, the land of St. Columbanus was worthily represented at the ceremonies, while the presence of the President of the Free State, with his attendant staff, further identified Catholic Ireland with the extraordinary memorial of her glorious past which took place in that Italian town in September last, thirteen hundred years after the death of the Saint.

The celebrations, and the Papal brief, bring into brighter light the pictures of the far-away years painted for us by historians who love to dwell on the Golden Age of the Island of Saints and Scholars. It was in Irish schools and by Irish monks that Columbanus was educated; and, equipped with the learning acquired there in his youth, he was called by God to leave his own native land and to become as a torch-bearer in many parts of the Continent of Europe. Other Irish missionaries received the same call and answered it as gladly as the Saint whose ashes are honored at Bobbio. Memory readily recalls a long bead-roll of their bright names, and the map of Europe has preserved many of them to the present day. But that a special mission was given Columbanus is evident from the remarkable testimony of Pope Pius XI., that this Irish monk, by his zeal and learning, had an influence on the rebirth of Christian knowledge and civilisation throughout France, Germany, and Italy, so great that it is only now becoming adequately appreciated by the students of history. He was a luminous example of the virtues of the priesthood, a man of profound learning, a courageous champion of the truth, a fearless lover of Christ, a captain among that chosen band of exiles from Erin who in different ages were inspired by the desire to become pilgrims for their Lord — Peregrinari pro Christo, was their watchword. With gratitude, all sons of Ireland will read the passage in which the Pope bears witness to the purity of faith and the excellence of learning which in those distant ages fitted Ireland to be the fruitful mother of missionaries: 

Christian civilisation (he says) had almost collapsed, and the glory of the arts which are the ornament of civil life seemed to be gone forever. It is marvellous how Ireland, justly called the Island of Saints; and no less justly the home of the arts and sciences, shone forth amid the darkness and the clouds of those days in her love of religion and civilisation. History tells us that the deep recesses of her valleys and forests echoed with the prayers and the works of her hermits, and that there arose numerous monasteries, which stood as so many schools of sanctity, and, for those times, of perfect learning in every branch of knowledge. 

Thither eager young men hurried to learn literature and science. Excellently prepared in the various branches of learning, trained in the virtues under the holy discipline of Cungallius, and burning with desire to accomplish great —and these were times that required his zeal —Columbanus, accompanied by a few companions, abandoned his fatherland and commenced those successive migrations from Ireland, which down through the centuries have brought blessings innumerable to so many peoples. 

 Columbanus, thirteen centuries ago, inspired a new spirit into a Europe that was sick almost unto death from wars and barbarian invasions. His voice— voice of the schools of Ireland— a message of hope, of faith, of charity, of consolation to the struggling peoples. To him was it, under God, due that the reconstruction which then began moved along Christian lines, and, by paths of sanity and reasonableness, achieved a success that endured for centuries. Ireland, still the most Catholic country in the world, still, the most faithful to the teachings of Christ, again comes into the midst of a gathering of nations groping helplessly towards the light and needing, just as the peoples did in the days of Columbanus, all the guidance and all the inspiration that Christianity can give them. "In the name of God, to this assembly, life and health!"' were the words with which President Cosgrave greeted the nations on behalf of Ireland. May it be her mission once more to recall them all to God, in whom alone is the healing of their wounds, as He alone is the source of life, here and hereafter. From Bobbio, full of the inspiration of the past, the Irish delegates went to seek admission to the League of Nations. And from that little town in the Apennines, the spirit of the great missionary saint will surely be with his countrymen to-day when a task not unlike his own is before them. 

ST COLUMBANUS,New Zealand Tablet, Volume XLVIII, Issue 46, 22 November 1923.

 The Papal address referred to in this article was published previously at the blog and can be read here.  

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2023. All rights reserved.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Saint Laurence O'Toole's Devotion to the Mother of God

Our Lady of Dunsford, Co. Down

November 14 is the feast of Saint Laurence O'Toole a post on whose life can be found here. Below is a tribute to Saint Laurence's devotion to the Mother of God as recorded by Cardinal Moran in 1864:

St. Laurence O'Toole was the last saint of our Church before our island became a prey to every disorder, and well nigh barbarism, in consequence of the English invasion. In his life we read of his having "built a new church in Dublin, to the honour of God and of the blessed Virgin Mother." Another church was dedicated by him in Wales to the same holy Virgin; but the most striking proof of his devotion to the Mother of God was evinced in restoring to life a priest of the diocese, named Gallwed. The first act of this priest on awakening from his slumber of death, was to return thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin; and he declared to the bystanders, "I saw the Archbishop Laurence on bended knees before God and the glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, humbly entreating for my restoration to life."

Rev. Dr P.F. Moran, Essays on the Origin, Doctrines, and Discipline of the Early Irish Church, (Dublin, 1864), p.239.

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2023. All rights reserved.

Monday 6 November 2023

'Cherish in your Memories': All the Saints of Ireland, November 6

November 6 is the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland, a feast established just over a century ago. It is also the day on which I launched Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae just over a decade ago to try and keep the memories of our Irish saints alive and to encourage a greater devotion to them. This same motivation was expressed in 1927 by Mary Maher in her book Footsteps of Irish Saints in the Dioceses of Ireland and she found an interesting support for it in an eighteenth-century pontifical brief addressed to the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland by Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758):

When I placed my notes on Irish Saints in book form, I did so with one intention only - viz., to plead with the readers for increased devotion to our great Irish saints. For that purpose I began writing an explanatory Preface, but had only written a few lines, when a very old and valuable book came, by accident, into my hands. In this book I found a special devotion to Irish Saints, coming from a saintly and venerable Pontiff, Benedict XIV, addressed to the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland........:

 "Cherish in your memories," said the illustrious Pontiff, "St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, whom our predecessor Celestine sent to you, of whose apostolic mission and preaching, such an abundant harvest has grown, that Ireland, before his time idolatrous, was suddenly called, and deservedly, 'The Island of Saints'. Cherish in your memories St Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, who stood forth undaunted in every manner, prepared to convert the wolves into sheep, to admonish in public, to touch the chords of the heart. Cherish with yet more sincerity St Lawrence, Archbishop of Dublin, whom, born as he was of royal blood, our predecessor, Alexander III, constituted his Legate Apostolic for Ireland; and whom Honorius III, alike our predecessor, canonized. Yet more, we were to exhort you to cherish in your memories the very holy men Columbanus, Kylian, Virgil, Rumold, St Gall, with many others, who, coming out of Ireland, carried the True Faith over the provinces of the Continent, or established it with the blood of their martyrdom. Suffice it to commend you to bear in memory the religion and the piety of those who have preceded you, and their solicitude for the duties of their station, which has established their everlasting glory and happiness. And, in fine, cherish the virtues of your fathers - their piety and reverence for their pastors. Cherish the Faith that made them strong and invincible; be yours firm and immovable, as the rock on which it is founded; be yours illustrated with the earnest constancy of a Peter, the burning zeal of a Paul, the abiding confidence of a John."

Mary Maher, Footsteps of Irish Saints in the Dioceses of Ireland (London, 1927), v-vii.

Wishing everyone the blessings of the Feast and thank you to all who supports my work here at Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae and on All the Saints of Ireland on Radio Maria. Beannachtaí na Féile oraibh go Léir! Orate pro nobis omnes Sancti Hiberniae!

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2023. All rights reserved.