Gregorian Masses of Cormac mac Airt

On a time that Columcille was walking by the side of the river that is called the Boyne, the skull of a man was sent to him. And Columcille and the saints marvelled at the size of that skull, for it was far greater than the skulls of the folk of that time. Then said his household to Columcille:

“It is a poor thing for us,” say they, “to be without knowledge of
whose this skull may be, or where is the soul that was in the body wherein it dwelled.”

Columcille answered them and said: “I will not quit this place save
I get knowledge thereof for you from God.”

Then gan Columcille to pray God earnestly to reveal to him this
thing. And God heard that prayer of Columcille, so that the skull spake to him. And it said how it was the skull of Cormac mac Airt son† of Conn of the Hundred Battles, King of Erin and ancestor to himself. For Columcille was the tenth degree from Cormac. And the skull related that albeit his faith had not been perfect, yet such had been the measure thereof, and his keeping of the truth, that, inasmuch as God knew that Columcille would be of his seed, and would pray for his soul, He had not dammed him in very truth, albeit it was in sharp pains that he awaited the prayer of Columcille.

Then Columcille lifted up the skull and cleansed it right worshipfully. And he baptized it and blessed and buried it thereafter. And he left not the place ere he had said thirty masses‡ for the soul of Cormac. And at the last of those masses the angels of God appeared to Columcille, bearing with them the soul of Cormac to Heaven to enjoy glory everlasting through the intercession of Columcille.

Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille and of Certain Visions, 131; compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

† Cormac mac Airt was son of Art mac Cuinn and grandson of Conn Cétchathach (Conn of the Hundred Battles)
‡ The reference to “thirty masses” is likely anachronistic, as the custom of the thirty Gregorian Masses dates from A.D. 590, being established by Pope St. Gregory the Great at St. Andrew’s Monastery in Rome, originally restricted to the high altar of the monastery church, with the privilege later being allowed to other altars in Rome, and only centuries later extended to monasteries and churches throughout the world.

To Him Who Is Able

Lancelot Andrewes.
Lancelot Andrewes.

Let us beseech the Lord in peace, for the heavenly peace, and the salvation of our souls;–for the peace of the whole world; for the stability of God’s holy Churches, & the union of them all;–for this holy house, and those who enter it with faith and reverence; for our holy Fathers, the honourable Presbytery, the Diaconate in Christ, and all, both Clergy and people;–for this holy retreat, and all the city and country, and all the faithful who dwell therein;–for salubrious weather, fruitfulness of earth, and peaceful times;–for voyagers, travellers, those who are in sickness, toil, and captivity, and for their salvation. Aid, save, pity, and preserve them, O God, in Thy grace. Making mention of the all-holy, undefiled, and more than blessed Mary, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin, with all saints, let us commend ourselves, and each other, and all our life, to Christ our God.

To Thee, O Lord, for it is fitting, be glory, honour, and worship. The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with me, and with all of us. Amen.

I commend me and mine, and all that belongs to me, to Him who is able to keep me without falling, & to place me immaculate before the presence of His glory, to the only wise God and our Saviour; to whom be glory and greatness, strength and authority, both now and for all ages. Amen.

Lancelot Andrewes’ Greek Devotions (Course of Prayers for the Week: The Fifth Day),
translated by Blessed J. H. Newman.

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.

Customary Collect for St. Columba

The very first item I checked in the new Customary was the Office for St. Columba, my patron. The Collect from that office follows.

ALMIGHTY God, who didst fill the heart of Columba with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and with deep love for those in his care: grant to thy pilgrim people grace to follow him, strong in faith, sustained by hope, and made one in the love that binds us to thee; Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

I can’t say that I’m too fond of the composition. It’s hardly an improvement on the Collect from the 1929 Scottish Book of Common Prayer. I would have wished a prayer that invoked St. Columba’s intercession.