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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Returning from Raithin to Stringle Well, Patrick left Magh Carra, and went further westward to the boundary of Umall, at Achad Fobair. This place is now called Aghagower, a misleading corruption of the ancient name. It was a bishopric in ancient times, and is still an important parochial Church in the diocese of Tuam. Here Patrick founded a church, over which he placed Senach, whom he consecrated a bishop, apparently in the same place. He was a man of great meekness and piety, wherefore Patrick called him ‘Agnus Dei.’ His humility, too, was very striking, for we are told that he made three requests of Patrick—first, that through Patrick’s prayers he might not sin after ordination, that the place might not take its name from him—and his prayer has been heard in this respect—and, thirdly, that what might be wanting to his (full) age when called away by God, might be added to the age of his son Oengus.

Oengus, too, was a saint, and Patrick wrote an alphabet, or catechism, for the youth, that he might be trained for the priesthood. His sister too, Mathona by name, became a nun, and received the cloak and veil from Patrick himself; who likewise founded a church for her and her nuns, the ruins of which still remain a hundred paces to the north of the ancient church of Aghagower. Patrick also, edified no doubt by the sight of so much holiness and self-denial in one family, prophesied that many good bishops would arise in that church, and that their spiritual offspring would be blessed for ever and ever.

Patrick himself dearly loved Aghagower,—its swelling fields of green, its streams, and wells, with its walks for silent prayer; and he meditated making it his own spiritual city:—

‘I would choose

To remain here on a little land,

After faring around churches and waters

Since I am weary, I wish not to go further.’

But the Angel said to him:—

‘Thou shalt have everything round which thou shalt go,

Every land,

Both mountains and churches,

Both glens and woods,

After faring around churches and waters

Though thou art weary, still thou shalt go on further.’

Patrick at this time had spent about eight years in Ireland. So that he must have, according to the common chronology, been then very near seventy years of age—the span of life assigned to man by the Psalmist. His life hitherto had been laborious and eventful beyond that of most men. No wonder he was weary—climbing hills, wading through waters, camping out by night, building churches, blessing, preaching, baptising from farthest Antrim to the western sea.

But there was to be no rest for him yet, even half his work was not yet done. Such was God’s high will; and once more Patrick girt his loins for his great task. Truly his life is a noble lesson of patient untiring zeal in the cause of God, which should inspire the prelates of Erin for all time.

So he left Aghagower for a while—and he left there also, as the neighbours say, two small trout in the stream that still flows by the road side in front of the church. “Angels will keep them in it,” he said, “for ever.” Patrick had a great love of nature, and doubtless saw the trout in the stream, and watched them with loving interest—so when leaving he forbade them to be disturbed. He blessed the wells, and he blessed the stream with its fish; and men fondly think it is the same little fish that are still there. The wells are often dry in summer, or nearly so, but the stream flows for ever; and let us hope will never want a trout to remind us of Blessed Patrick’s tender love for all God’s creation, both great and small.

We are also told in the Book of Armagh that this church of Achad Fobair received the Mass of Patrick This statement probably refers to a later period, when considerable divergence had grown up in the liturgies used in the Irish monasteries. The neighbouring Anglo-Saxon monks of Mayo may have introduced from Iona or Lindisfarne a ‘Mass’ different from the ancient Patrician liturgy; and this statement might be intended to indicate that the clergy of Aghagower were faithful to the traditions of their founder, and adhered to the ‘Mass’ introduced by St. Patrick.






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