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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Another interesting relic of our Saint is the Shrine of his Right Hand, which is at present in secure keeping amongst other sacred relics in the Museum of the Diocese of Down and Connor, at St. Malachy’s College, Belfast. This shrine has had a strange and eventful history, to which we can only briefly refer here. On the 9th June, 1186, as we have seen already, Cardinal Vivian, the papal legate in Ireland, had the remains of our three great national patrons translated with all due solemnity to an honourable place prepared for them in the Church of Downpatrick. On this occasion the right hand of St. Patrick was placed in a shrine, and laid upon the High Altar of the church, where it remained till the pillaging of the sacred edifice by Edward Bruce in 1315. The shrine soon, however, found its way into the worthier keeping of a religious family named Magennis, of Castlewellan, with whom it was a precious heirloom for centuries. On the marriage, within comparatively recent times, of an only daughter of that house to a Charles Russell of Killough, it passed to him, and through his second wife to a Colonel Nugent, who fitly transferred it to Father James Taggart, parish priest of Portaferry. This good priest, at his death, left it to Mr. McHenry, of Carrstown, a descendant of the Russell mentioned above.

In 1840 the shrine was taken over by the Most Rev. Dr. Denvir, Bishop of Down and Connor, and deposited by him in the Diocesan Museum at Belfast. On being opened by his Lordship in 1856, the shrine was found to contain only pieces of wood. These probably originally enclosed the bones of our Saint, which through the centuries had decayed or been removed.

The shrine itself is of massive silver, measures one foot three and a half inches in length, and takes the form of a hand and arm richly clothed in ecclesiastical fashion.

People full of faith in Patrick came from far and near to touch this remarkable shrine, in the hope of gaining, through his intercession, relief in their trying afflictions of mind or body.






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