Sunday, 24 December 2017

St. Bridhe of the Mantle - A Legend of Saint Brigid at Christmas

St. Bridhe of the Mantle.


The following legend is told of St. Brigid, whose feast is celebrated on February 1:

In Ireland this saint is sometimes called 'St. Bridhe of the Mantle' because of the way she came to be at Bethlehem when Our Lord was born.

When she was a tiny child she came to the Island of Iona with her father, Donell Donn, a prince of Ireland, who was banished from the country. He took the child and left at night in a small boat. They were washed up by the storm on the coast of Iona, where they settled and made their home.

When Brigid was 21 years old, one day, as she climbed the hillside, a white bird called her from the thicket and she followed him over the crest of the hill to find herself in a strange country. Here no green fields and pastures met the eye; it was a country of sand and hot sun close to Bethlehem. Her father was with her, and as they came to the village he said: 'Bridhe, the drought has been upon the country for many months. The wells are empty, the wine is failing, and our cattle are dying. I shall leave you in charge of the inn to-night and go to a place near the Mount of Olives where they say the
well is never dry.'

"And what shall I do while you are away?" asked Brigid.

"Stay in the inn," he said, "and don't open the door to a soul."

"But what if they ask for food?" she said.

"There is only enough for yourself," he told her. 'And be sure to keep the promise and not shelter anyone until I return."

He then drove off with his camels, and for two days nobody called at the inn. But on the third night, as Brigid was getting ready for bed, there came a knock at the door.

"Who is it, and what do you want?" she asked without opening the door.

A man's voice replied: "I am Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and I have Mary with me, who needs shelter."

"That I cannot give as I have promised not to. Were it not for that I would gladly give you welcome."

Then the woman's voice called from the darkness and Brigid could not resist the sweet pleading of her voice.

She opened the door wide and bade them enter, laying before them all the food she had left. But she could not break the whole of the promise she had made to her father, and so led them to the stable in the courtyard, where they sought shelter for the night.

As she hurried back to the inn she found that her father had arrived, and sorrowfully she told him what she had done. But when they looked at the dishes that were empty, behold they were as if they had not been touched, and at once they realised that a miracle had happened.

Outside came the sound of falling rain.

''The drought is broken!" said Donell Donn. Then they remembered the prophecy:

'The King of  Love, Ruler of the World and All Time, shall be born on the first night of rain following the great drought, and He shall be born in a byre outside an inn.'

They hurried out to see, and there on the hay lay the newly-born Child. Brigid took Him lovingly and wrapped Him in her white mantle, and all, through the night she cradled Him in her arms. At daybreak, the white bird called again, and when she looked about her she found herself on the crest of the holy hill once more, with the green fields and pastures full of sheep and the blue bay of Iona at her feet.

"'Tis all a dream," she said. But she looked at her mantle and saw that it was woven with gold threads into marvellous pictures of birds and beasts and angels. Slowly she went down the hill, and when she came to her father's hut she found that she had been gone for a year and six months.

St. Bridhe of the Mantle. (1935, December 26). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), p. 6. Retrieved December 19, 2017, from

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Saint Fiacc of Sletty and Saint Patrick's Gift

Saint Fiacc of Sletty had a bad leg. Saint Patrick heard of it, and sent him a chariot and a pair of horses, to enable him to get about. This aroused the jealousy of Sechnall (Secundinus), another of his missionaries, and he scolded Patrick soundly as giving way to partiality. But after he became cool, Sechnall repented; he had intercepted the present, and he sent it to Mancen, and begged him to forward it to Fiacc. This Mancen did, with an apology; but Fiacc, too charitable to receive a gift that had caused heart-burnings, restored chariot and horses to Patrick, and refused to use them.

Rev. S. Baring-Gould, 'Cornish Dedications of Saints, Part IV' in Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Volume 15 (1901-02), 51.

Note: October 12 is the feast day of Saint Fiacc of Sletty, one of the early Irish converts. You can read a post on his life at my other site here.

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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille: A Farewell Prayer

As this is the octave day of the feast, we bid farewell to the festival of Saint Colum Cille  with a farewell prayer from our Irish Redemptorist:


 May his children hear his voice and follow in his steps. 

 May we love this loving Saint, and invoke him in our prayers. May his name be given to our Irish children that he may protect them. May his Feast Day, the Ninth of June, be kept holy throughout the Land — a day of prayer and supplication for Ireland and Scotland, a day of rejoicing for our young people in University and College, and in every one of Ireland’s schools. — 
May school and pulpit celebrate each year the glories of St. Columcille’s life. May Ireland’s own Music and Language and Literature be used to praise and glorify him. May Ireland’s new Bards awake and sing the glories of their own Columcille. 

 Columcille is dead, but may Ireland’s love for him never die, and may his protection never fail us; may his memory never perish, nor his spirit depart from our Land! Amen! Amen!

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 121. 

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Friday, 16 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille: 'another Saint John on Patmos'

During the four extra years of life granted to Saint Colum Cille he exercised his gift of prophecy to the full, including the sight of people passing from this world to the next:


 During these four years Columcille was wrapt up in the contemplation of God and heavenly things, and he saw many wonderful things. 

 He exclaimed one day: “I see the soul of Columbanus, the smith, ascending to heaven in the company of the angels! He merited heaven by the labour of his hands and his charity to the poor.” 

 On another occasion he exclaimed in a transport: “O happy woman! O, happy woman! The angels carry your soul to heaven in reward of your virtues.” And after a year Columcille was again heard to say: “I see the soul of that blessed woman coming down from heaven to meet the soul of her husband at death’s hour. See! she is helping the angels to fight the demons who are striving to gain possession of his soul. They have failed! The soul is saved!” 

 He saw the soul of St. Brendan, of Birr, going up to heaven in great glory. Such was the splendour of Brendan’s soul that Columcille saw that it illuminated the whole world. He directed his monks to celebrate a solemn High Mass to thank God for Brendan’s happiness. 

He said a Mass of Thanksgiving for the happy death of the holy Bishop Coleman; and he also saw his soul ascend gloriously to heaven. 

St. Columcille was indeed another St. John in his Island of Patmos, and God revealed to him in Iona many wonderful things about this world and the world to come. 

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 110-111.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille: The Golden Moon Sinking

The hagiographers present Saint Colum Cille as anxious to depart this world and to take his place in heaven. The people among whom he lived, however, had different ideas:


Our dear and blessed Saint was now drawing towards his end. The golden moon, that so long shone bright and full over Ireland and Scotland, was waning — fading away into the glorious dawn of God’s eternal day. 

With St. Paul, our Saint desired to be dissolved and so be with Christ. 

He appeared one day very joyful. Soon, however, he seemed to grow downcast and sad. Two monks were present, Lugbeus from Ireland, and Pilu from England. They asked him why, after such great joy, he became so strangely sad. “I will tell you,” he said, “but promise not to reveal now what I am going to say. With my whole heart I asked God,” he continued, “to let me die when I should have lived thirty years in Scotland, and the Lord heard my prayer; and He had sent angels to bear away my soul after my approaching death. But alas! God has now yielded to the prayers of the Faithful, and has prolonged my life for four years more.”

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 108-9. 

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille and Connla the Craftsman

Continuing the series of vignettes from the Life of Saint Colum Cille with the story of Connla the Craftsman. Here Saint Colum Cille uses another of his extraordinary gifts, that of raising the dead to life:


 About this same period he worked a wonderful miracle. There then lived an exceedingly artistic and accomplished man, whose name was Connla. He dwelt in a place known of old as Dim Cruitre (Fort of the Picts), but now called Screen Columcille, or Ardmagilligan. Connla was making a shrine, an exquisite shrine indeed, but, unfortunately, he died before it was completed. When Columcille beheld the unfinished shrine, he greatly desired to see it completed in all its beauty. He was aware, however, there was no artist in Ireland capable of completing the work in all its perfection. An inspiration came into his mind. He went to Connla’s grave, stood before it, and he cried out: “O Connla, in the name of Jesus Christ, arise from the dead ! ”And behold! he that was dead arose full of life and health, and all who were present were filled with awe and amazement and they praised God for His wonderful works. Conla finished the beautiful shrine, and lived to a good old age. 

 The tradesmen and artists of Ireland of that time could not be surpassed by any others in the whole world, and, by God’s blessing, the time is near when the same can be said once more.

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907) ,39. 

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille and the Duel Fought in Ireland

Yesterday we looked at the granting of the gift of prophecy to Saint Colum Cille and today we see an example of this gift in use as our saint, although in Iona, is able to witness events in Ireland:


Columcille one day appeared very sad and troubled. “ What ails you, father ?” said the monks to him. “Alas,” he answered, “ two noblemen are just now fighting a duel in Ireland. They have wounded each other. They are dying.” And such had really happened, as they learnt afterwards. 

“Father,” asked a monk, “how do you get knowledge of hidden things like these?” “There are people,” said Columcille, “and they see the whole world lit up most brilliantly as in one glorious sunbeam.” He was speaking of himself: for it was given him to see everything in the light of God. In the same way, we are told, he saw fire falling from heaven on a town in Italy, destroying its inhabitants on account of their wickedness.

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 103. 
Content Copyright © Trias Thaumaturga 2012-2017. All rights reserved.