Sunday, 25th March 2018

Hope: The Absolute Certainty of God’s Love

Posted on 28. Feb, 2013 in Parish News, Pope's Message

media_xll_15199131. “SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. To continue reading the Encyclical please click on the link: Spes Salvi

God is Love

Posted on 28. Feb, 2013 in NEWS, Parish News, Pope's Message

2013_06The first Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI was entitled “Deus Caritas Est” Latin for “God is Love”. The following is the first paragraph of this insightful and refreshing presentation of the central truth about God.

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.

To read the rest of the encyclical click on the link Deus Caritas Est

Conclave 101

Posted on 28. Feb, 2013 in Diocesan and National News, NEWS

papal20conclave-005A quick course in ‘Conclave 101’ By John Allen – National Catholic Reporter


People typically ask two kinds of questions about conclaves: those that deal with the event in general and those that pertain to this one specifically — who the leading candidates are, what the issues seem to be, and so on. We’ll deal with the latter soon enough, but first, it’s important to grasp how the behind-the-scenes politics work.

Ideally, this exercise in “Conclave 101″will help make sense of what we’ll be seeing and hearing between now and that magic moment when white smoke rises from a small chimney above the Sistine Chapel, proclaiming to the world that a new pope has been elected.

(That’s probably a first insight worth offering: The white smoke isn’t always so white. A chemical mix is used to make burned ballots either turn black, signifying an inconclusive vote, or white, meaning that we have a pope. In reality, the result is often an indistinct gray. In 2005, the Vatican said bells would also ring when a pope had been elected, but bells ring in Rome all the time, so that doesn’t always add much clarity. Generally, it takes a few minutes to sort out what’s actually happened.)

Before we begin, let me say a word about the traditional Catholic conviction that a conclave unfolds under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In 2005, this idea was summed up by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli of Florence, who said God already knew who the new pope was, so it was simply up to the cardinals to figure out what God had already decided.

Some pious souls take that to mean that it’s inappropriate, even borderline heretical, to suggest that politics are involved. Yet Catholic theology also holds that “grace builds on nature,” meaning that the spiritual dimension of a papal election doesn’t make it any less political.

Anyway, one shouldn’t exaggerate the role of divine inspiration. As one cardinal put it to me after the election of Benedict XVI, “I was never whapped on the head by the Holy Spirit. I had to make the best choice I could based on the information available.”

Perhaps the classic expression of this idea belongs to none other than the outgoing pope, Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was asked on Bavarian television in 1997 if the Holy Spirit is responsible for who gets elected. This was his response:

I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.

Then the clincher:

There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!

‘You’d be bored to tears’

Famously, the term “conclave” comes from two Latin words meaning “with a key,” referring to the fact that once the cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel and the phrase extra omnes has been intoned by the master of ceremonies, meaning “everybody out,” the doors are locked and the voting begins.

In their mind’s eye, people often picture a highly charged political atmosphere behind those locked doors, with caucuses of cardinals hurriedly whispering in corners, desperately attempting to mobilize support for or against certain candidates. I had this image myself once upon a time, envisioning cigars being chomped and horses being traded. Then I interviewed Cardinal Franz König in Vienna in 2002, two years before his death. König had been part of the conclave of 1963 and the two of 1978, and I asked him about the “electricity” I imagined must be palpable inside the Sistine Chapel.

“Actually, if you could watch what happens inside, you’d be bored to tears,” König laughed.

In truth, what goes on is more akin to a liturgy than a political convention. In each round of balloting, every one of the cardinals eligible to vote (117 this time) has to process to the altar beneath Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment and place his ballot on a paten, then deposit it in a chalice (though last time, the Vatican used a specially designed urn). They vow they have voted for the candidate whom before God they believe should be elected, then return to their seats. The counting is an elaborate process involving three cardinals, and their work has to be checked by another three cardinals to ensure it’s accurate. All told, one round of balloting can take an hour or more to complete, so that two ballots are, in effect, a morning’s or afternoon’s work.

That’s the reality inside the Sistine Chapel: There are long stretches of time spent in silence and in prayer, with no floor speeches, no dramatic moments when a kingmaker pops up and swings his support to another candidate, no concessions and no victory laps.

Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore explained what some cardinals do to fill the time in an interview following the election of Benedict XVI: “One cardinal told me [that] while he was listening to the votes being counted, he said three rosaries,” Keeler said. “And another said, ‘Well, I said two,’ and so, a third said, ‘Well, I prayed mine with greater piety, and it was just one.’ ”

As a result, the politics don’t really unfold inside the conclave itself. They start well before the conclave begins — in fact, they’re going on right now. Things will really heat up beginning March 1 as cardinals converge on Rome and begin the consultations, both formal and informal, that will shape the balloting set to begin somewhere between March 15 and March 20.

So, where is the action? Four venues are especially crucial.

1. The General Congregations

One critically important arena to win friends and influence people is the General Congregation meetings that take place among all the cardinals (including not just the electors but those over 80, too), with the first one usually coming a day or so after the beginning of the sede vacante, or interregnum. Last time there were 13 General Congregation meetings before the conclave, held in the Vatican’s Synod Hall.

In part, these meetings are devoted to a line-by-line examination of the conclave rules in excruciating detail, but they also provide a forum for a more wide-open discussion of the issues facing the church.

Some cardinals came out of these meetings last time grumbling that the atmosphere was too much like a Synod of Bishops, with long-winded speeches and little opportunity for real interaction. Several mentioned it was especially difficult to keep the over-80 cardinals, of whom there were between 50 and 60 in the room, to stick to the seven-minute time limit. (Nobody really wants to be the one to tell an admired 92-year-prelate to sit down and shut up.)

Nonetheless, most participants also acknowledged that the way then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger chaired these sessions in his role as dean of the College of Cardinals was crucial in paving the way for his election as Benedict XVI. Ratzinger, the cardinals said later, knew everyone, spoke to them in their own language, and treated their opinions with respect. In general, his performance helped solidify impressions among many cardinals that his media profile as “God’s Rottweiler” was more myth than reality.

This time around, the dean is Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who’s already over 80 and won’t be in the conclave, so the General Congregations offer a chance for someone else to steal the show. If you hear cardinals talking about an especially impressive speech someone gave or the way a particular cardinal seemed able to broker consensus, that’s something well worth flagging.

2. The media

In 2005, the cardinals used one of those General Congregation meetings to agree among themselves not to talk to the press from April 8, the date of John Paul II’s funeral Mass, through April 18, the opening day of the conclave. It was reported at the time that a formal ban had been imposed, but the Vatican stressed this was “an invitation, not a prohibition.” (In fact, Ratzinger apparently said during the General Congregation that it is a “human right” of cardinals to speak to anyone they chose.)

It’s not yet clear if there will be a similar gentlemen’s agreement this time, but in any event, it’s not yet in force, and plenty of cardinals have been talking in general terms about the challenges facing the church and the kind of man who may be needed to face them. Other cardinals are reading these interviews, and collectively they help shape the psychology of the voters.

On Thursday, for instance, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the United States said in an interview with NCR that he believes the church is ready for a Third World pope. (McCarrick is already over 80, but he’ll be part of the pre-conclave discussions.) Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo told a reporter he wouldn’t vote for a career diplomat like himself because the church needs “a pastor of souls.”

In an interview with a German paper, Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany, sketched a picture of a pope who would be a mix of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, blending John Paul’s popular touch and Benedict’s culture. Meisner also added the revelation that in 2009, a group of cardinals tried to get Benedict to dump his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, over perceptions of incompetence — probably not a big help to Bertone’s electoral chances.

The media also play a role by the way various cardinals are depicted, including rumors that sometimes seem strategically calculated to either enhance or retard a particular candidate’s chances. Sometimes, in other words, papal politics turn nasty.

In April 2005, various attempts to sabotage candidates wafted through the Roman air:

The Italian media reported rumors that Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice had been treated for depression, suggesting a sort of psychological instability that might disqualify him for the church’s highest office. (That bit of character assassination may make the rounds again this time, since Scola is once again considered a serious runner.)
Reports that Cardinal Ivan Dias of Mumbai has diabetes, a sign of ill health. In addition, an email campaign allegedly initiated by members of his own flock in India made the rounds, including complaints of an “unapproachable, stubborn and arrogant style.”
Reports about a book in Argentina, given wide attention in the Spanish-language media, alleging that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been unacceptably close to the military junta in the 1970s, even that he was complicit in the persecution of two liberal Argentinian Jesuits, something his defenders stoutly denied. Another email campaign, this one claiming to originate with fellow Jesuits who knew Bergoglio back when he was the provincial of the order in Argentina, claimed “he never smiled.”
Reports surfaced alleging that both Ratzinger and Sodano, considered by some to be leading candidates, were in poor health, raising questions about their physical capacity to be pope.

No one really had the time to trace down all these rumors, and in a sense, that was the point. The hope was that the mere fact that negative things were being said would be enough to derail a particular candidacy. In that sense, a conclave is more analogous to British rather than American politics — the race lasts only a couple of weeks instead of years. In the American cycle, there’s time to sort out whether rumors about George W. Bush’s National Guard service or Barack Obama’s birth certificate are authentic or not; in the frenzy of an abbreviated papal campaign, there’s just no time to do that kind of legwork.

It should be emphasized that these smear campaigns almost always originate outside the College of Cardinals and that there is generally a very genteel, respectful tone to the discussions among the cardinals themselves.

A safe rule of thumb about such reports is to assume they’re false until proof to the contrary emerges, though that’s not always easy in the hothouse atmosphere of the pre-conclave period. People launch these rumors for the same reason secular political advisers craft attack ads — because like it or not, sometimes negative campaigning works.

3. Apartments, colleges and lounges

Cardinals do not rely exclusively on impressions formed during the General Congregation meetings or from the press to shape their attitudes. Informal meetings also take place around the edges, among cardinals who have been friends over long stretches of time or who share a similar sense of where the church ought to go or who speak the same language (in this case, literally rather than metaphorically; that is, English-speakers often come together with one another, Spanish-speakers meet among themselves, and so on).

Unlike previous conclaves, in 2005 these sessions took place almost entirely in discreet locations, such as the private apartments of curial members, the national colleges where many cardinals were staying prior to moving into the Casa Santa Marta on Vatican grounds, and in the lounges of various ecclesiastical facilities around town. In part because of a desire to shun publicity, cardinals largely stayed away from their favorite Roman restaurants. (For some, this was probably the biggest sacrifice of the interregnum.)

In the initial stages, the most important gatherings tended to take place by language group. One such get-together in April 2005, for example, took place at the end of the first week of the interregnum at the Venerable English College on Via Monserrato, just off Rome’s Piazza Farnese, home to seminarians from Great Britain as well as handful of other clergy connected in one way or another to the United Kingdom.

The session was hosted by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, at the time still archbishop of Westminster, who emerged as a key point of reference for the English-speaking cardinals in the run-up to the conclave. In such environments, away from prying eyes and ears, cardinals were able to chat freely about various candidates and to get a sense of what other cardinals were thinking.

As one cardinal put it, “Some were rather uncomfortable with the free-flowing nature of these conversations, but that’s what you have to do if you’re going to get anywhere.”

4. The Casa Santa Marta

In the old days, cardinals actually slept inside the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace during the days of the conclave, sometimes on cots in spots normally used as offices or storerooms, in order to insulate them from the outside world. It wasn’t always pleasant; König described the indignity of forcing elderly men to make their way in the dark down confusing corridors in search of a bathroom, saying that sometimes you could actually hear their groans echo.

John Paul II changed all that by decreeing that the cardinals would instead stay in the Casa Santa Marta, the $20 million hotel on Vatican grounds ordinarily used to house various visitors who have business in the Holy See. Located near the Paul VI audience hall, across from the entrance to the excavations underneath St. Peter’s Basilica, the facility features 108 guest suites, each with a living room and a bedroom, and 23 single rooms, all with private baths. It also has a chapel, a modern wood-and-glass design with enough room for a little more than 100 people, just enough to accommodate all the cardinals.

Last time, some cardinals walked back and forth from the Casa Santa Marta to the Sistine Chapel while others took minivans made available to them. Either way, Vatican security forces are supposed to ensure no one approaches the cardinals in order to short-circuit any effort to influence their votes. Although the Santa Marta has Wi-Fi and all the other modern conveniences, cardinals are not permitted to use any means of communication with the outside world.

In 2005, the cardinals decided to move into the Santa Marta early. They gathered on Sunday night ahead of the opening of the conclave the next morning. Several cardinals said they felt the need for a “jump start” since the behind-the-scenes conversations up to that point had been scattered and not everyone had been involved. After the fact, several cardinals said that brief period in the Santa Marta before things got started played an important role in allowing the pro-Ratzinger coalition to set the tone for the conclave.

By all accounts, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna was among the “king-makers.”

“When you talked to other cardinals about Ratzinger, most of them would say, yes, he’s a good candidate, but there’s also this man or that man,” one cardinal recalled. “Not Schönborn. For him, it was God’s will that Ratzinger be pope, and that was it.”

Privately, some cardinals are already saying they should head into the Santa Marta even earlier this time, in order to give the group a better chance to get organized. That may have some traction, given that there are plenty of voters whose memories of 2005 are still fresh. Last time, there were only two cardinals inside the conclave who had ever been through the experience before: Ratzinger and American Cardinal William Baum. This time, 50 of the 117 electors are conclave veterans.

(Actually, there are 51 veterans. Although Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., was only made a cardinal in 2010, he was inside the 1978 conclave that elected John Paul II. Wuerl was then a personal secretary to Cardinal John Wright, who had been in the United States recovering from leg surgery when John Paul I was elected, but made it back for the second conclave that year in a wheelchair. Wuerl was allowed in as his attendant. I’m indebted to my colleague Jerry Filteau for recalling this bit of trivia.)

Once the conclave begins, the Santa Marta becomes even more important because it’s the only place they can have extended conversations with one another outside the quasi-liturgical rhythms of the Sistine Chapel. Cardinals gather over breakfast, lunch and dinner for as long as the conclave wears on, making the Santa Marta the critical venue in which potential gridlocks are addressed and a final consensus begins to emerge.

[John L. Allen Jr. is NCR senior correspondent. His email address is]

Bulletin – Sunday 17 February 2013

Posted on 15. Feb, 2013 in Parish Bulletin

If you would like to download the bulletin, please click on the link below.

17 February 2013

Lenten Practices

Posted on 14. Feb, 2013 in Diocesan and National News, Parish News


Ash Wednesday Mass Times

Posted on 12. Feb, 2013 in Parish News

Detail of Sacred Heart Window - Holy Trinity Church

Detail of Sacred Heart Window – Holy Trinity Church

Holy Mass and Distribution of Ashes

Holy Trinity Church

7:30 am

10:00 am

7:30 pm

Bulletin – Sunday 10 February 2013

Posted on 08. Feb, 2013 in Parish Bulletin

If you would like to download the bulletin, please click on the link below.

10 February 2013

Message of the Holy Father for World Day of the Sick

Posted on 04. Feb, 2013 in Parish News

Pope_Benedict“Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. On 11 February 2013, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Twenty-first World Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated at the Marian Shrine of Altötting. This day represents for the sick, for health care workers, for the faithful and for all people of goodwill “a privileged time of prayer, of sharing, of offering one’s sufferings for the good of the Church, and a call for all to recognize in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ, who, by suffering, dying and rising has brought about the salvation of mankind” (John Paul II, Letter for the Institution of the World Day of the Sick, 13 May 1992, 3). On this occasion I feel especially close to you, dear friends, who in health care centres or at home, are undergoing a time of trial due to illness and suffering. May all of you be sustained by the comforting words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: “You are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless. You have been called by Christ and are his living and transparent image” (Message to the Poor, the Sick and the Suffering).
2. So as to keep you company on the spiritual pilgrimage that leads us from Lourdes, a place which symbolizes hope and grace, to the Shrine of Altötting, I would like to propose for your reflection the exemplary figure of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37). The Gospel parable recounted by Saint Luke is part of a series of scenes and events taken from daily life by which Jesus helps us to understand the deep love of God for every human being, especially those afflicted by sickness or pain. With the concluding words of the parable of the Good Samaritan, “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), the Lord also indicates the attitude that each of his disciples should have towards others, especially those in need. We need to draw from the infinite love of God, through an intense relationship with him in prayer, the strength to live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or not we know them and however poor they may be. This is true, not only for pastoral or health care workers, but for everyone, even for the sick themselves, who can experience this condition from a perspective of faith: “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love” (Spe Salvi, 37).

3. Various Fathers of the Church saw Jesus himself in the Good Samaritan; and in the man who fell among thieves they saw Adam, our very humanity wounded and disoriented on account of its sins (cf. Origen, Homily on the Gospel of Luke XXXIV,1-9; Ambrose, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, 71-84; Augustine, Sermon 171). Jesus is the Son of God, the one who makes present the Father’s love, a love which is faithful, eternal and without boundaries. But Jesus is also the one who sheds the garment of his divinity, who leaves his divine condition to assume the likeness of men (cf. Phil 2:6-8), drawing near to human suffering, even to the point of descending into hell, as we recite in the Creed, in order to bring hope and light. He does not jealously guard his equality with God (cf. Phil 2:6) but, filled with compassion, he looks into the abyss of human suffering so as to pour out the oil of consolation and the wine of hope.

4. The Year of Faith which we are celebrating is a fitting occasion for intensifying the service of charity in our ecclesial communities, so that each one of us can be a good Samaritan for others, for those close to us. Here I would like to recall the innumerable figures in the history of the Church who helped the sick to appreciate the human and spiritual value of their suffering, so that they might serve as an example and an encouragement. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, “an expert in the scientia amoris” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 42), was able to experience “in deep union with the Passion of Jesus” the illness that brought her “to death through great suffering” (Address at General Audience, 6 April 2011). The Venerable Luigi Novarese, who still lives in the memory of many, throughout his ministry realized the special importance of praying for and with the sick and suffering, and he would often accompany them to Marian shrines, especially to the Grotto of Lourdes. Raoul Follereau, moved by love of neighbour, dedicated his life to caring for people afflicted by Hansen’s disease, even at the world’s farthest reaches, promoting, among other initiatives, World Leprosy Day. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta would always begin her day with an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and then she would go out into the streets, rosary in hand, to find and serve the Lord in the sick, especially in those “unwanted, unloved, uncared for”. Saint Anna Schäffer of Mindelstetten, too, was able to unite in an exemplary way her sufferings to those of Christ: “her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a missionary service. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her counsel” (Canonization Homily, 21 October 2012). In the Gospel the Blessed Virgin Mary stands out as one who follows her suffering Son to the supreme sacrifice on Golgotha. She does not lose hope in God’s victory over evil, pain and death, and she knows how to accept in one embrace of faith and love, the Son of God who was born in the stable of Bethlehem and died on the Cross. Her steadfast trust in the power of God was illuminated by Christ’s resurrection, which offers hope to the suffering and renews the certainty of the Lord’s closeness and consolation.

5. Lastly, I would like to offer a word of warm gratitude and encouragement to Catholic health care institutions and to civil society, to Dioceses and Christian communities, to religious congregations engaged in the pastoral care of the sick, to health care workers’ associations and to volunteers. May all realize ever more fully that “the Church today lives a fundamental aspect of her mission in lovingly and generously accepting every human being, especially those who are weak and sick” (Christifideles Laici, 38).

I entrust this Twenty-first World Day of the Sick to the intercession of Our Lady of Graces, venerated at Altötting, that she may always accompany those who suffer in their search for comfort and firm hope. May she assist all who are involved in the apostolate of mercy, so that they may become good Samaritans to their brothers and sisters afflicted by illness and suffering. To all I impart most willingly my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 2 January 2013


Eucharistic Adoration

Posted on 02. Feb, 2013 in Parish News

ostensoir-dans-eglise400Holy Trinity Church

One Hour a Week

Are you interested

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is available for 4 full days every week in this parish – this is a wonderful ministry within our parish – would you like to give of your time generously praying before God for the good of yourself and others. We are looking for people of all ages who will commit to being in the church at a specific time on these days – this ensures that there will always be someone praying in the church before the Blessed Sacrament . Can you commit to one hour a week – might you take it on for Lent ? If so please give your name to the parish office or any of the parish clergy.

Contact the parish office or one of the clergy.




St. Blaise – Blessing and Novena Prayer

Posted on 01. Feb, 2013 in Parish News

nov_blaise-239x300Sunday, February 3rd, is the traditional feast of St. Blaise. There will be a general blessing of throats at all Masses.

Novena in Honour of Saint Blaise

World Day for Consecrated Life

Posted on 01. Feb, 2013 in Diocesan and National News, Parish News

logoOn Sunday 3rd February we will rejoice and celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life.  The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life invites all the Church to reflect on the role of Consecrated Life within the Christian community. Some Christian women and men respond to God’s call to become followers of Jesus through profession of vows and a life dedicated to prayer and service. They live out the consecrated life in different ways; religious sisters, nuns, brothers, religious priests, and monks consecrate their lives through their profession of vows and live as part of a community. Other forms of consecrated life include secular institutes and single lay people who choose to take vows with the approval of the local Bishop.

Those who become followers of Jesus through the Consecrated Life bless the Church.

We ask God to bless our Church with others who will dedicate their lives to God’s service.

For more information on the vocation to consecrated life in Ireland today, check out

Are you searching for a way to offer yourself to the service of God’s world?  Explore God’s call for you at

St. Brigid – Mary of the Gael

Posted on 01. Feb, 2013 in Parish News

St Brigid SmallBorn in 451 or 452 of princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525, at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, “the church of the oak” (now Kildare), in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigid’s biographers, but the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the court of her father Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650. It is metrical, as may be seen from the following specimen:

Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach
Ni bu huarach im sheire Dé,
Sech ni chiuir ni cossens
Ind nóeb dibad bethath che.
(Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God’s love;
Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for
The wealth of this world below, the holy one.)

Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare in the eighth century, expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified it in good Latin. This is what is known as the “Second Life”, and is an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cogitosus’s work is the description of the Cathedral of Kildare in his day: “Solo spatioso et in altum minaci proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis”. The rood-screen was formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated curtains. Probably the famous Round Tower of Kildare dates from the sixth century. Although St. Brigid was “veiled” or received by St. Macaille, at Croghan, yet, it is tolerably certain that she was professed by St. Mel of Ardagh, who also conferred on her abbatial powers. From Ardagh St. Macaille and St. Brigid followed St. Mel into the country of Teffia in Meath, including portions of Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about the year 468. St. Brigid’s small oratory at Cill-Dara became the centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply “selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction”, and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth “to govern the church along with herself”. Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland.

Not alone was St. Bridget a patroness of students, but she also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination, over which St. Conleth presided. From the Kildare scriptorium came the wondrous book of the Gospels, which elicited unbounded praise from Giraldus Cambrensis, but which has disappeared since the Reformation. According to this twelfth- century ecclesiastic, nothing that he had ever seen was at all comparable to the “Book of Kildare”, every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and he concludes a most laudatory notice by saying that the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that “all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill”. Small wonder that Gerald Barry assumed the book to have been written night after night as St. Bridget prayed, “an angel furnishing the designs, the scribe copying”. Even allowing for the exaggerated stories told of St. Brigid by her numerous biographers, it is certain that she ranks as one of the most remarkable Irishwomen of the fifth century and as the Patroness of Ireland. She is lovingly called the “Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael” by a writer in the “Leabhar Breac”. St. Brigid died leaving a cathedral city and school that became famous all over Europe. In her honour St. Ultan wrote a hymn commencing:

Christus in nostra insula
Que vocatur Hivernia
Ostensus est hominibus
Maximis mirabilibus
Que perfecit per felicem
Celestis vite virginem
Precellentem pro merito
Magno in numdi circulo.
(In our island of Hibernia Christ was made known to man by the very great miracles which he performed through the happy virgin of celestial life, famous for her merits through the whole world.)

The sixth Life of the saint printed by Colgan is attributed to Coelan, an Irish monk of the eighth century, and it derives a peculiar importance from the fact that it is prefaced by a foreword from the pen of St. Donatus, also an Irish monk, who became Bishop of Fiesole in 824. St. Donatus refers to previous lives by St. Ultan and St. Aileran. When dying, St. Brigid was attended by St. Ninnidh, who was ever afterwards known as “Ninnidh of the Clean Hand” because he had his right hand encased with a metal covering to prevent its ever being defiled, after being he medium of administering the viaticum to Ireland’s Patroness. She was interred at the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, and a costly tomb was erected over her. In after years her shrine was an object of veneration for pilgrims, especially on her feast day, 1 February, as Cogitosus related. About the year 878, owing to the Scandinavian raids, the relics of St. Brigid were taken to Downpatrick, where they were interred in the tomb of St. Patrick and St. Columba. The relics of the three saints were discovered in 1185, and on 9 June of the following year were solemnly translated to a suitable resting place in Downpatrick Cathedral, in presence of Cardinal Vivian, fifteen bishops, and numerous abbots and ecclesiastics. Various Continental breviaries of the pre-Reformation period commemorate St. Brigid, and her name is included in a litany in the Stowe Missal. In Ireland today, after 1500 years, the memory of “the Mary of the Gael” is as dear as ever to the Irish heart, and, as is well known, Brigid preponderates as a female Christian name. Moreover, hundreds of place-names in her honour are to be found all over the country, e.g. Kilbride, Brideswell, Tubberbride, Templebride, etc. The hand of St. Brigid is preserved at Lumiar near Lisbon, Portugal, since 1587, and another relic is at St. Martin’s Cologne.
Viewing the biography of St. Brigid from a critical standpoint we must allow a large margin for the vivid Celtic imagination and the glosses of medieval writers, but still the personality of the founder of Kildare stands out clearly, and we can with tolerable accuracy trace the leading events in her life, by a careful study of the old “Lives” as found in Colgan. It seems certain that Faughart, associated with memories of Queen Meave (Medhbh), was the scene of her birth; and Faughart Church was founded by St. Morienna in honour of St. Brigid. The old well of St. Brigid’s adjoining the ruined church is of the most venerable antiquity, and still attracts pilgrims; in the immediate vicinity is the ancient mote of Faughart. As to St. Brigid’s stay in Connacht, especially in the County Roscommon, there is ample evidence in the “Trias Thaumaturga”, as also in the many churches founded by her in the Diocese of Elphim. Her friendship with St. Patrick is attested by the following paragraph from the “Book of Armagh”, a precious manuscript of the eighth century, the authenticity of which is beyond question: “inter sanctum Patricium Brigitanque Hibernesium columpnas amicitia caritatis inerat tanta, ut unum cor consiliumque haberent unum. Christus per illum illamque virtutes multas peregit”. (Between St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the columns of the Irish, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many miracles.) At Armagh there was a “Templum Brigidis”; namely the little abbey church known as “Regles Brigid”, which contained some relics of the saint, destroyed in 1179, by William Fitz Aldelm. It may be added that the original manuscript of Cogitosus’s “Life of Brigid”, or the “Second Life”, dating from the closing years of the eighth century, is now in the Dominican friary at Eichstätt in Bavaria.

This article is taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia