HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

‘Dichuil, in the territory of the sons of Erc,’ was the scene of this curious story of the Giant’s Grave. As Patrick and his familia came to this place, they found an enormous grave, one hundred and twenty feet in length, and were filled with amazement at the sight. Probus gives the length as thirty feet, which is the more likely figure, as an X might easily be mistaken for a C by the transcriber. “We cannot believe,” they said, “that anyone so tall ever existed.” Then Patrick replied—“If you wish, you will be able to see him.” So they answered—“Yes, by all means; we should like to see him.” Then Patrick struck the headstone of the huge grave with his Staff, and he drew the Sign of the Cross over the grave, saying, at the same time—“O Lord, open this tomb.” The tomb opened forthwith; and the huge giant stood up whole in body, and said—“Thanks be to thee, O holy man, that you have even for one hour relieved me of my great pains.” At the same time, he wept bitterly as he spoke, and said—“Shall I go with you?” But Patrick said—“No; you cannot come with us, for men would be afraid to look at you; but believe in the God of heaven, be baptised with the Lord’s baptism, and you will return no more to the place of torments where you were. And now,” said Patrick, “tell us who you are.” He replied—“I am the son of Mac Cas, the son of Glas, and I was swine-herd to King Luger, the King of Hirot. Soldiers of the son of Mac Con slew me in the reign of Cairbre Niafer, just one hundred years ago from this day.” So he was baptised, ‘having made confession of faith in God, and he rested and was once more laid in his grave.’

The story is a strange one for Tirechan to record in his sober history; and it cannot be accepted as true in its present form. A man dead for one hundred years was raised to life in order to gratify the curiosity of Patrick’s disciples, and then he was baptised, and by his baptism released from purgatory, if not from hell itself! That the story was current we may assume as certain, but how it originated it is now impossible to ascertain. The alleged chronology, too, has its difficulties. This ‘resurrection’ took place, so far as we can judge, about the year A.D. 441. The warriors referred to flourished not one, but two hundred years before that date.

After this it would seem Patrick, still faring towards Tara, came into Magh Finn, in the country of the Hy Maine. Magh Finn, afterwards known as Keogh’s Country, was a well-known territory comprising the present parish of Taghmaconnell, in the south of the County Roscommon. The Hy Maine were not there in the time of Saint Patrick, for, according to their own tribal records, they only came in the next century, when, with the help of St. Grellan, their patron saint, they expelled the Firbolgs from their ancient seats on the River Suck, and took possession of the conquered territory, which was called Hy-Maine, from their great leader, Maine Mor. The name, therefore, like many other names in the Lives of Patrick, is here given to the district by anticipation, that is the writer calls it by the name used in his own time.

Patrick, journeying through this territory, saw a cross erected and two new graves near each other. And the Saint, perhaps wondering at the cross in that remote district, spoke from his chariot, and asked “who was buried there?” Whereupon a voice from the grave replied: “A wretched gentile man I am.” “Why then,” asked the Saint, “is the cross placed over your grave?” “Because,” the voice replied, “the man who is buried near me asked his mother to have the cross erected over his grave, but the foolish man (who erected it) by mistake placed it over mine.” Then Patrick leaped down from his car, and pulled up the cross from the gentile’s grave, and placed it over the Christian’s grave. He then got on his car again, and went his way, praying in silence to the Lord. When the prayer was over, and he came to Libera nos a malo, his charioteer asked, “Why did you leave the gentile man unbaptised in his grave? Let us return to him, for I pity a man left without baptism. Would it not be better to pray for him to God by way of baptism, and pour the baptismal water on his grave?” The charioteer was no theologian; and Patrick made him no reply. ‘I think,’ adds the writer, ‘the reason Patrick left him (without baptism) was that God was unwilling to save his soul;’ but he evidently thought baptism might even then have saved him.

These two stories are closely connected, at least in the mind of the writer, who could not understand why Patrick baptised and saved the one dead man, but left the other to his fate.

The story, however, shows that from the earliest times in Ireland the sign of the Cross in wood or stone was usually placed over the Christian graves as an emblem of their hope of salvation by the Cross in life and in death. We are told, too, by the Tripartite that Patrick had a special devotion to the Cross, and that he was in the habit of signing himself with the sign of the Cross a hundred times every day and every night. And when driving or riding through the country on his missionary journeys wherever he saw a cross he would go and visit it, even though it were a thousand paces from his road. The writer adds that on this journey through Magh Finn Patrick did not see the cross as he travelled past; but his charioteer reminded him of his omission when they reached their station, whereupon Patrick got up again into the chariot, and went to visit the cross, asking at once who was buried there; and when he heard it was a heathen, he said—“that is why I did not see it as I passed.”

The writer also makes reference on this occasion to Patrick’s assiduity in prayer, even during his long and wearisome missionary journeys. ‘No one,’ he says, ‘can realize the greatness of his diligence in prayer. For he used to chant every day psalms and hymns and the Apocalypse, and all the spiritual canticles of the scriptures, whether remaining in one place or going on his journeys.’ This is what every priest is now bound to do to some extent, for the spiritual canticles seem to refer to the Benedictus and the Magnificat and other canticles which form a part of the daily office. It would, however, be difficult in those days to have regular lessons of what is now called the ‘Scripture Occurring,’ that is the lessons assigned to that day. It may be, then, that fixed portions of the Apocalypse were read instead of our daily Scripture lessons, or perhaps got by heart. But the number of psalms then recited every day was much greater than at present; and it is highly probable that Patrick and his clergy made it a fixed duty to recite the whole psalter not every week, as at present, but every day. Before all things Patrick was a man of prayer.

The writer also adds that Patrick never travelled from first Vespers on Saturday until None on Monday. That time he gave, with his familia, entirely to the worship of God; and on a certain Sunday evening when Patrick was abroad—doubtless praying—a great rain overtook him there pouring down upon the earth, but where Patrick stayed in the open it was dry like Gideon’s fleece, though all around was wet with the rain.

The journey through the Plains of Boyle and thence to Magh Finn seems to imply very clearly that Patrick went south through the County Roscommon, revisiting the churches which he had founded there the previous year. This visitation would bring him to Fuerty, and from Fuerty he would naturally pass through Magh Finn on his way to the ford at Athlone, which was certainly the usual place for crossing the Shannon at that time. He would thus have an opportunity of visiting the churches he had founded in Westmeath on his way to Tara, where he went in all probability to meet the sons of Amalgaid, who were coming to plead before the King. The Book of Armagh and the Tripartite give a consecutive account of Patrick’s foundations, but they do not attempt to give any account of his subsequent visitations of his churches; and, unfortunately, they never tell us when or where he wintered. We must now, however, accompany him to Tara and see what took place there.






This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Sicarr




Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com