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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

The narrative explains to us how Patrick trained candidates for Holy Orders. Mochae was a ‘tender youth’ when Patrick first met him herding swine, and the sight reminded him of the old time when he, too, still a tender youth, was engaged in the same work on the slopes of Slemish. Finding him apt and bright, he caused him to be instructed in the catechism and the rudiments of the Latin tongue by the clerics of his own household. Then he baptised him, and to show that he was destined for the clerical state, he tonsured him, giving him, at the same time, a copy of the Gospels, which was at once his Latin class book for the study of the language, and his theological treatise, which his teachers duly explained in all its power and simplicity. When he was thus trained to read the ‘Lebar Ord,’ or Ordinary of the Mass, Patrick ordained him a priest, and at the same time gave him the necessary outfit for saying Mass, such as is now usually contained in a vestment-box—not elaborate, perhaps, as in our time, but certainly including a chalice, a paten, a small altar-stone with relics, and, of course, his Mass-book—such was the menistir.

Later on Mochae received episcopal Orders, and was invested by Patrick with the crozier as a sign of his jurisdiction. Of course, all this took some time, but the process is here very accurately, though briefly, summed up. It is not unlikely that this Mochae was the priest whom, in his old age, St. Patrick sent with his Letter to Coroticus. He tells us himself that the messenger was one whom he had taught from his infancy, and this, in a sense, would be true of Mochae, and also of Benignus; but the latter was certainly dead when the letter was written.

Mochae was, we are told, the son of Bronach, daughter of Milcho; and this fact at once explains the deep interest that Patrick took in the boy—he was the grand-child of that stern old pagan master who had committed himself and all his property to the flames rather than become the spiritual bondsman of his own slave. Patrick probably knew his mother while she was yet a child in her father’s dun, and he a poor slave-boy tending the swine. Ancient affection for the family woke up within him, and so he resolved to make a bishop of the boy—and that boy became a holy and a learned man, the founder of the monastery and school of Noendrum in one of the green islands in Strangford Lough, where he in turn became the teacher of many distinguished saints and scholars.

Mochae is said by some learned writers to be equivalent to Mo-Caolan, the latter part being the baptismal name of ‘the tender youth,’ and Mo the usual Gaelic prefix of endearment. From him, according to O’Laverty, Kilschaelyn, as given in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, takes its name, which is elsewhere called Ballchatlan, and has, in our own time, become Ballynoe—ancient church land certainly belonging to St. Mochae’s monastery of Noendrum or Island Mahee. If that be so, we may fairly assume that Ballynoe, between Downpatrick and Bright, represents the place where St. Patrick met young Mochae, where the youth was baptised, and where he afterwards had his first church, which in course of time became subject to his own great monastery of Noendrum.

Patrick remained in Magh-Inis during the winter and early spring, but ‘when the high tide of Easter drew nigh he thought there was no fitter place for celebrating the chief solemnity of the Church, that of Easter, than in Magh Breg—the Plain of Bregia—the place which was the chief abode of the idolatry and wizardry of Erin, to wit, in Tara.’ So he bade farewell to Dichu, son of Trichem, and embarking with his companions, they sailed southward till they anchored once more in Inver Colptha, at the mouth of the Boyne.






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