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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

In Catholic times, Down, like Armagh, was a place of frequent pilgrimage to honour the tomb of St. Patrick. Even so early as the time of Columcille, who discovered and opened the tomb of Patrick, we find this pilgrimage was in vogue. Later on, when we are told that the relics of Brigid and Columcille himself were interred in the same tomb, the pilgrimage became still more celebrated. Although it would appear there was always some doubt as to the exact location of the tomb, there was never any doubt amongst the ancients that the Saint was buried somewhere within the Cathedral precincts on the Hill of Downpatrick. As we have discussed this question more fully elsewhere in the Appendix on the Burial-Place of St. Patrick, we need not refer to it here. We have also referred at length to the two-fold invention of the relics of Patrick at Down, which was a great stimulus to the pilgrimage.

When the place passed into Protestant hands the pilgrimage practically came to an end; for the persecuted Catholics dared not venture into the enclosure of the Cathedral to pray over the grave of the beloved Saint. But it was never wholly given up, and still there is a grave in the churchyard said, on very poor authority, to be the grave of the three saints, whose relics were transferred there from the Protestant Cathedral, which is frequently visited by pilgrims, especially by those about to emigrate, who usually carry off a small portion of the blessed clay to their distant homes in America or Australia. We may venture to hope that their beloved Saint in heaven will not be insensible to this tender devotion, and will watch over them in far off lands, as, he tells us himself, God’s Angel, Victor, watched over him in the land of his captivity.






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