In Four Things Like Unto Moses

St. Patrick kindles the Paschal Fire on the Hill of Slane, mosaic by Boris Anrep, Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland.
St. Patrick kindles the Paschal Fire on the Hill of Slane, mosaic by Boris Anrep, Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland.

In quatuor rebus similis fuit Moysi Patricius:

I. Primo, anguelum de rubo audivit:
II. quadraginta diebus et quadraginta noctibus ieiunavit:
III. quia annos centum viginti peregit in vita praesenti:
IIII. ubi sunt ossa eius nemo novit.

Duo hostes duodecim diebus corpus Sancti Patricii contenderunt et noctem inter se duodecim diebus non viderunt, sed diem semper et in duodecima die ad praelium venierunt, et corpus in grabato duo hostes viderunt apud se, et non pugnaverunt. Colombcille, Spiritu Sancto instigante, ostendit sepulturam Patricii, [et] ubi est confirmat, id est in Sabul Patricii, id est in aecclesia juxta mare proxima, ubi est conductio martirum, id est ossuum, Coluimb Cille de Britannia et conductio omnium sanctorum Hiberniae in die judicii.

(Two hostile hands contended during twelve days for the body of the blessed Patrick, and they saw no night intervene during these twelve days, but daylight always; and on the twelfth day they came to actual conflict; but the two hosts seeing the body on its bier with each party, gave up the conflict. Columcille, inspired by the Holy Ghost, pointed out the sepulchre of Patrick, and proves where it is; namely, in Saul of Patrick; that is, in the church nigh to the sea, where the gathering of the relics is — that is, of the bones of Coluincille from Britain, and the gathering of all the saints of Erin in the day of judgment.)

Book of Armagh, fo. 15, b. 2. from Whitley Stokes, Tripartite Life of Patrick, London, 1887.

Horsa and Hengist

The Hugin, at Pegwell Bay in Ramsgate, Kent, a gift from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the A.D. 449 migration from Jutland (modern Denmark) to Kent of Hengist and Horsa, Jutes who became leaders of the Anglo-Saxon invasion. The ship is a replica of the much later ca. 890 Gokstad ship.

In the meantime, three vessels, exiled from Germany, arrived in Britain. They were commanded by Horsa and Hengist, brothers, and sons of Wihtgils. Wihtgils was the son of Witta; Witta of Wecta; Wecta of Woden; Woden of Frithowald, Frithowald of Frithuwulf; Frithuwulf of Finn; Finn of Godwulf; Godwulf of Geat, who, as they say, was the son of a god, not of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ (who before the beginning of the world, was with the Father and the Holy Spirit, co-eternal and of the same substance, and who, in compassion to human nature, disdained not to assume the form of a servant), but the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they worshipped according to the custom of the heathen. Vortigern received them as friends, and delivered up to them the island which is in their language called Thanet, and, by the Britons, Ruym. Gratianus Æquantius at that time reigned in Rome. The Saxons were received by Vortigern, four hundred and forty-seven years after the passion of Christ, and, according to the tradition of our ancestors, from the period of their first arrival in Britain, to the first year of the reign of king Edmund, five hundred and forty-two years; and to that in which we now write, which is the fifth of his reign, five hundred and forty-seven years.

— Nennius, Historia Brittonum, Chapter XXXI.

An Order of Malediction

The Cathach of St. Columba.
The Cathach of St. Columba.

Adomnán has also set down an order of malediction for them, to wit, a psalm for every day up to twenty days and an apostle or a noble saint for every day to be invoked with it, to wit, “Quare” and Peter, “Domine quid multiplicati” and John, “Verba mea” and Philip, “Domine Deus meus” and Bartholomew, “Dixit insipiens” and Thomas, “Deus, Deus meus respice” and Matthew “Iudica me Domine innocentium” and Jacob “Dixit iniustus” and Simon “Domine ne in furore” and Thaddeus, “Dixi custodiam”  and Mattias, “Deus deorum”  and Mark, “Quid gloriaris” and Luke, “Dixit insipiens”  and Stephen, “Exurgat deus” and Ambrose, “Salvum me” and Gregory of Rome, “Deus, venerunt gentes” and Martin, “Deus, quis similis” and old Paul, “Deus laudem” and George, “Audite caeli quae loquor,” “Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo,” &c.

— Cáin Adamnáin, xxxii.

Adomnán Obtained This Law of God

After fourteen years Adomnán obtained this Law of God, and this is the cause. On Pentecost Eve, a holy angel of the Lord came to him, and again at Pentecost after a year, and seized a staff, and struck his side and said to him, “Go forth into Ireland, and make a law in it that women be not in any manner killed by men, through slaughter or any other death, either by poison, or in water, or in fire, or by any other beast, or in a pit, or by dogs, but that they shall die in their lawful bed. Thou shalt establish a law in Ireland and Britain for the sake of the mother of each one, because a mother has borne each one, and for the sake of Mary mother of Jesus Christ, through whom all are. Mary besought her Son on behalf of Adomnán about this Law. For whoever slays a woman shall be condemned to a twofold punishment: that is, his right hand and his left foot shall be cut off before death, and then he shall die, and his kindred shall pay seven full cumals and one-seventh part of the penance. If, instead of life and amputation, a fine has been imposed, the penance is fourteen years, and fourteen cumals shall be paid. But if a host has done it, every fifth man up to three hundred shall be condemned to that punishment; if few, they shall be divided into three parts. The first part of them shall be put to death by lot, hand and foot having been first cut off; the second part shall pay fourteen full cumals; the third shall be cast into exile beyond the sea, under the rule of a hard regimen; for the sin is great when any slays the mother and sister of Christ’s mother and the mother of Christ, and her who carries a spindle and who clothes every one. But he who from this day forward shall put a woman to death and does not do penance according to the Law, shall not only perish in eternity, and be cursed for God and Adomnán, but all shall be cursed that have heard it and do not curse him, and do not chastise him according to the judgement of this Law.”

— Cáin Adamnáin, xxxiii.

The Voice of the Irish

Detail of shrine of St. Patrick at Our Lady of the Atonement Church (Anglican Use), San Antonio, Texas.
Detail of shrine of St. Patrick at Our Lady of the Atonement Church (Anglican Use), San Antonio, Texas.

And after a few years I was again in Britain with my parents [kinsfolk], and they welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go anywhere else away from them. And, of course, there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish’; and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke. Thanks be to God, because after so many years the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry.

Confession of St. Patrick, no. 23.

The First Prey by the Saxons

The first prey by the Saxons from Ireland or in Ireland.

Annals of Ulster, U434.1.

The Angles came to England.

Annals of Ulster, U464.2.

The second prey of the Saxons from Ireland (as some state) was carried off this year, as Maucteus (Mochta) says. Thus I have found in the Book of Cuanu.

 — Annals of Ulster, U471.1.

[These are the only V century citations of the “English” in the Annals of Ulster. In 409 or 410, the Romano-British were either invited by the emperor to see to their own defence or rather expelled the Roman magistrates from their cities, effectively ending Roman rule in Britain.]

Mysterious Scottish Petrospheres

Carved Stone Balls are petrospheres, usually round and rarely oval. They have from 3 to 160 (but usually six) protruding knobs on the surface. Their size is fairly uniform at around 2.75 inches or 7 cm across, they date from the late Neolithic to possibly as late as the Iron Age, and are mainly found in Scotland, but also elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. They range from having no ornamentation (apart from the knobs) to extensive and highly varied engraved patterns. A wide range of theories have been produced to explain their use or significance, without any one gaining very wide acceptance.

An example from Towie in Aberdeenshire, dated from 3200–2500 BC.
An example from the farm of Golspie Towers, found in 1933.
A Carved Stone Ball with low profile knobs.
Three examples from Scotland; now in the British Museum.

Nearly all have been found in north-east Scotland, the majority in Aberdeenshire, the fertile land lying to the east of the Grampian Mountains. A similar distribution to that of Pictish symbols led to the early suggestion that Carved Stone Balls are Pictish artefacts. The core distribution also reflects that of the Recumbent stone circles. As objects they are very easy to transport and a few have been found on Iona, Skye, Harris, Uist, Lewis, Arran, Hawick, Wigtownshire and fifteen from Orkney. Outside Scotland examples have been found in Ireland at Ballymena, and in England at Durham, Cumbria, Lowick and Bridlington. The larger (90mm diameter) balls are all from Aberdeenshire, bar one from Newburgh in Fife.

Cæsar on the Druids

Druid’s Oak at Burnham Beeches.

Chapter XIII

Throughout all Gaul there are two orders of those men who are of any rank and dignity: for the commonality is held almost in the condition of slaves, and dares to undertake nothing of itself, and is admitted to no deliberation. The greater part, when they are pressed either by debt, or the large amount of their tributes, or the oppression of the more powerful, give themselves up in vassalage to the nobles, who possess over them the same rights without exception as masters over their slaves. But of these two orders, one is that of the Druids, the other that of the knights. The former are engaged in things sacred, conduct the public and the private sacrifices, and interpret all matters of religion. To these a large number of the young men resort for the purpose of instruction, and they [the Druids] are in great honor among them. For they determine respecting almost all controversies, public and private; and if any crime has been perpetrated, if murder has been committed, if there be any dispute about an inheritance, if any about boundaries, these same persons decide it; they decree rewards and punishments; if any one, either in a private or public capacity, has not submitted to their decision, they interdict him from the sacrifices. This among them is the most heavy punishment. Those who have been thus interdicted are esteemed in the number of the impious and the criminal: all shun them, and avoid their society and conversation, lest they receive some evil from their contact; nor is justice administered to them when seeking it, nor is any dignity bestowed on them. Over all these Druids one presides, who possesses supreme authority among them. Upon his death, if any individual among the rest is pre-eminent in dignity, he succeeds; but, if there are many equal, the election is made by the suffrages of the Druids; sometimes they even contend for the presidency with arms. These assemble at a fixed period of the year in a consecrated place in the territories of the Carnutes, which is reckoned the central region of the whole of Gaul. Hither all, who have disputes, assemble from every part, and submit to their decrees and determinations. This institution is supposed to have been devised in Britain, and to have been brought over from it into Gaul; and now those who desire to gain a more accurate knowledge of that system generally proceed thither for the purpose of studying it.

Chapter XIV

The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters. Induced by such great advantages, many embrace this profession of their own accord, and [many] are sent to it by their parents and relations. They are said there to learn by heart a great number of verses; accordingly some remain in the course of training twenty years. Nor do they regard it lawful to commit these to writing, though in almost all other matters, in their public and private transactions, they use Greek characters. That practice they seem to me to have adopted for two reasons; because they neither desire their doctrines to be divulged among the mass of the people, nor those who learn, to devote themselves the less to the efforts of memory, relying on writing; since it generally occurs to most men, that, in their dependence on writing, they relax their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employment of the memory. They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded. They likewise discuss and impart to the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion, respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of the immortal gods.

– Gaius Julius Cæsar, De Bello Gallico, Book 6, Chapters 13 & 14.

* * *

13. In omni Gallia eorum hominum, qui aliquo sunt numero atque honore, genera sunt duo. Nam plebes paene servorum habetur loco, quae nihil audet per se, nullo adhibetur consilio. Plerique, cum aut aere alieno aut magnitudine tributorum aut iniuria potentiorum premuntur, sese in servitutem dicant nobilibus: in hos eadem omnia sunt iura, quae dominis in servos. Sed de his duobus generibus alterum est druidum, alterum equitum. Illi rebus divinis intersunt, sacrificia publica ac privata procurant, religiones interpretantur: ad hos magnus adulescentium numerus disciplinae causa concurrit, magnoque hi sunt apud eos honore. Nam fere de omnibus controversiis publicis privatisque constituunt, et, si quod est admissum facinus, si caedes facta, si de hereditate, de finibus controversia est, idem decernunt, praemia poenasque constituunt; si qui aut privatus aut populus eorum decreto non stetit, sacrificiis interdicunt. Haec poena apud eos est gravissima. Quibus ita est interdictum, hi numero impiorum ac sceleratorum habentur, his omnes decedunt, aditum sermonemque defugiunt, ne quid ex contagione incommodi accipiant, neque his petentibus ius redditur neque honos ullus communicatur. His autem omnibus druidibus praeest unus, qui summam inter eos habet auctoritatem. Hoc mortuo aut si qui ex reliquis excellit dignitate succedit, aut, si sunt plures pares, suffragio druidum, nonnumquam etiam armis de principatu contendunt. Hi certo anni tempore in finibus Carnutum, quae regio totius Galliae media habetur, considunt in loco consecrato. Huc omnes undique, qui controversias habent, conveniunt eorumque decretis iudiciisque parent. Disciplina in Britannia reperta atque inde in Galliam translata esse existimatur, et nunc, qui diligentius eam rem cognoscere volunt, plerumque illo discendi causa proficiscuntur.

14. Druides a bello abesse consuerunt neque tributa una cum reliquis pendunt; militiae vacationem omniumque rerum habent immunitatem. Tantis excitati praemiis et sua sponte multi in disciplinam conveniunt et a parentibus propinquisque mittuntur. Magnum ibi numerum versuum ediscere dicuntur. Itaque annos nonnulli vicenos in disciplina permanent. Neque fas esse existimant ea litteris mandare, cum in reliquis fere rebus, publicis privatisque rationibus Graecis litteris utantur. Id mihi duabus de causis instituisse videntur, quod neque in vulgum disciplinam efferri velint neque eos, qui discunt, litteris confisos minus memoriae studere: quod fere plerisque accidit, ut praesidio litterarum diligentiam in perdiscendo ac memoriam remittant. In primis hoc volunt persuadere, non interire animas, sed ab aliis post mortem transire ad alios, atque hoc maxime ad virtutem excitari putant metu mortis neglecto. Multa praeterea de sideribus atque eorum motu, de mundi ac terrarum magnitudine, de rerum natura, de deorum immortalium vi ac potestate disputant et iuventuti tradunt.

— C. Iuli Cæsaris, Commentariorum de Bello Gallico, Liber Sextus, xiii & xiv.

Genealogy of St. Patrick

Statue of St. Patrick at the Hill of Tara.

Now Patrick’s race was of the Britons of Dumbarton. Calpurn was his father’s name, a high priest was he. Otid (Potitus) was the name of his grandfather: he was a deacon. But Conchess was his mother’s name: daughter was she of Ochbas: of France was her race, that is, she was a sister of Martin’s.

Patrick, then, (was) son of Calpurn, son of Otid, son of Odisse, son of Gorniuth, son of Lubeniuth, son of Mercut, son of Otta, son of Muric, son of Oricc, son of Leo, son of Maximus, son of Ecretus, son of Eresus, son of Felestus, son of Ferinus, son of Brittus, from whom are the Britons.

He had five sisters, namely, Lupait and Tigris and Darerca and Liamain and Richell.

At Nemthur, now, was he born, and (as to) the flagstone on which he was born, when any one commits perjury thereunder, it sheds water as if it were bewailing the false declaration. If his oath is true the stone abides in its proper nature.

— A Life of St. Patrick, Anonymous.

Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus

Death of Uther Pendragon, king of England, to whom succeeded his son, King Arthur, who instituted the Round Table.

[Bas Oiter Pendragen regis Anglie cui sucsessit filius suus, .i. Cingh Arrtur, .i. do orrdaig an bord cruinn.]

— Annals of Ulster, U467.3.