Two years or three years before Patrick’s arrival, this is what they used to prophesy:–
Adzehead1 will come over a furious (?) sea;
His mantle head-holed, his staff crook-headed,
His dish in the east of his house.
All his household will answer
Adzeheads will come, who will build cities,
Who will consecrate (?) churches, pinnacled music-houses,
Many conical caps (for belfries), a realm round croziers.
“So,” say they, “when these signs shall come our worship and our heathenism will be destroyed, and the faith and the belief will be magnified.” As, then, it was prophesied and figured, so it came to pass and was fulfilled.
— Bethu Phátraic (Vita tripartita Sancti Patricii).
1 Patrick (likewise his fellow clerics) is termed tálcend,a reference to his tonsure.
Dixit autem Dominus ad Abram: Egredere de terra tua, et de cognatione tua, et de domo patris tui, et veni in terram quam monstrabo tibi. Faciamque te in gentem magnam, et benedicam tibi, et magnificabo nomen tuum, erisque benedictus. Benedicam benedicentibus tibi, et maledicam maledicentibus tibi, atque in te benedicentur universæ cognationes terræ. Egressus est itaque Abram sicut præceperat ei Dominus, et ivit cum eo Lot: septuaginta quinque annorum erat Abram cum egrederetur de Haran. Tulitque Sarai uxorem suam, et Lot filium fratris sui, universamque substantiam quam possederant, et animas quas fecerant in Haran: et egressi sunt ut irent in terram Chanaan. Cumque venissent in eam, pertransivit Abram terram usque ad locum Sichem, usque ad convallem illustrem: Chananæus autem tunc erat in terra. Apparuit autem Dominus Abram, et dixit ei: Semini tuo dabo terram hanc. Qui ædificavit ibi altare Domino, qui apparuerat ei. Et inde transgrediens ad montem, qui erat contra orientem Bethel, tetendit ibi tabernaculum suum, ab occidente habens Bethel, et ab oriente Hai: ædificavit quoque ibi altare Domino, et invocavit nomen ejus.
Bruti posteritas cum Scotis associata
Anglica regna premet, Marte, labore, nece.
Flumina manabunt hostili tincta cruore
Perfida gens omni lite subacta ruet,
Quem Britonum fundet Albanis juncta juventus:
Sanguine Saxonico tincta rubebit humus:
Regnabunt Britones Scotorum gentis amici
Antiquum nomen insula tota feret;
Ut profert aquila veteri de turre locuta,
Cum Scotis Britones regna paterna regent.
Regnabunt pariter in prosperitate quieta
Hostibus expulsis, judicis usque diem.
John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, lib. III., cap. xxii., quoting a poem of Gildas.
[The posterity of Brutus in league with the Scots shall harrass England with war, toil, and death; the rivers shall flow discoloured with blood, and the perfidious nation shall sink subdued by every contest. The British and Albanian youth united shall overwhelm them, and the soil be crimsoned with Saxon blood. The Britons shall reign in friendship with the Scots; the whole island shall bear its ancient name, as the eagle which spoke from the old tower declares; the Britons and Scots shall rule over the kingdoms of their ancestors, and reign alike in profound peace, after the expulsion of their enemies, until the day of judgment.]
Now they had a banner of wonderfully strange nature, which though I believe that it may be incredible to the reader, yet since it is true, I will introduce the matter into my true history. For while it was woven of the plainest and whitest silk, and the representation of no figure was inserted into it, in time of war a raven was always seen as if embroidered on it, in the hour of its owners’ victory opening its beak, flapping its wings, and restive on its feet, but very subdued and drooping with its whole body when they were defeated. Looking out for this, Thorkell, who had fought the first battle, said: “Let us fight manfully, comrades, for no danger threatens us: for to this the restive raven of the prophetic banner bears witness.” When the Danes heard this, they were rendered bolder, and clad with suits of mail, encountered the enemy in the place called Aesceneduno, a word which we Latinists can explain as ‘mons fraxinorum’.
When the mole shall reach the Mull: when the thorn tree near Inveraray shall be destroyed; when a road shall be made throughout the country; when bells shall ring from a rock in Loch Fyne; when Strone Point, near Inveraray, shall be covered with wood, high enough to conceal an invading army: and when the Atlantic shall flow into Loch Fyne, then shall the Argyll Campbells be driven from Cantire, excepting so many of them as shall escape on a crooked and lame white horse.
Prophecy of Niven MacVicar, first Reformed minister of Inveraray and reputed seer, regarding the extermination of the Campbell power from Kintyre, as quoted in Bede Cuthbert, Argyll’s Highlands, Glasgow, 1902.
Seachd bliadhna roimh ’n bhràth,
Thig muir airEirinn ré aon tràth,
’S thar Ile ghuirm ghlais,
Ach snàmhaidh I Choluim Chléirich!
Seven years before that awful day, When time shall be no more, A dreadful deluge shall o’ersweep Hibernia’s mossy shore.
The green-clad Isla, too, shall sink; While, with the great and good, Columba’s happier isle shall rear Her towers above the flood.
Gaelic proverb; periphrastic translation by Dr. John Smith, Minister of Campbeltown, given in his Life of St. Columba (1798).
Seven years before the Day of Doom (conflagration, destruction), The sea shall come over Erin in one watch (time, season, period), And over Islay, green, grassy (blue-green), But float will Iona (Hy) of Columba the cleric.
These are the three prayers of Patrick, as they were delivered to us by the Hibernians, entreating that all should be received on the day of judgment, if we should repent even in the last days of our life.
That he should not be shut up in hell.
That barbarian nations should never have the rule over us.
That no one shall conquer us, that is the Scots, before seven years previous to the day of judgment, because seven years before the judgment we shall be destroyed in the sea, this is the third.
Tírechán’s Collections Concerning St. Patrick, from the Book of Armagh (TCD MS 52), translated in Sir William Betham, Irish Antiquarian Researches, Vol. 1, Dublin: William Curry, Jun. and Co., 1827, p. 386.
By virtue of his prayer, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he healed several persons suffering under various diseases; and he alone, by the assistance of God, expelled from this our island, which now has the primacy, innumerable hosts of malignant spirits, whom he saw with his bodily eyes assailing himself, and beginning to bring deadly distempers on his monastic brotherhood. Partly by mortification, and partly by a bold resistance, he subdued, with the help of Christ, the furious rage of wild beasts. The surging waves, also, at times rolling mountains high in a great tempest, became quickly at his prayer quiet and smooth, and his ship, in which he then happened to be, reached the desired haven in a perfect calm.
When returning from the country of the Picts, where he had been for some days, he hoisted his sail when the breeze was against him to confound the Druids, and made as rapid a voyage as if the wind had been favourable. On other occasions, also, contrary winds were at his prayers changed into fair. In that same country, he took a white stone from the river, and blessed it for the working of certain cures, and that stone, contrary to nature, floated like an apple when placed in water. This divine miracle was wrought in the presence of King Brude and his household. In the same country, also, he performed a still greater miracle, by raising to life the dead child of an humble believer, and restoring him in life and vigour to his father and mother. At another time, while the blessed man was yet a young deacon in Hibernia, residing with the holy bishop Findbarr, the wine required for the Sacred Mysteries failed, and he changed by his prayer pure water into true wine. An immense blaze of heavenly light was on many and wholly distinct occasions seen by some of the brethren to surround him in the light of day, as well as in the darkness of the night. He was also favoured with the sweet and most delightful society of bright hosts of the holy angels. He often saw, by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, the souls of some just men carried by angels to the highest heavens. And the reprobates too he very frequently beheld carried to hell by demons. He very often foretold the future deserts, sometimes joyful, and sometimes sad, of many persons while they were still living in mortal flesh. In the dreadful crash of wars he obtained from God, by the virtue of prayer, that some kings should be conquered, and others come off victorious. And such a grace as this he enjoyed, not only while alive in this world, but even after his departure from the flesh, as God, from whom all the saints derive their honour, has made him still a victorious and most valiant champion in battle.
On a certain day Columcille was going to Tara of the Kings, and by adventure he met Bee mac De, the druid of Diarmaid mac Cerbail, King of Erin. And Bee had the gift of prophecy from God, albeit he was a druid, and he had made no false prophecy ever. But Columcille had foretold that Bee should twice prophesy falsely ere his death. And Colcumcille saluted him, and entered into friendly converse with him.
And he said: “Great is thy wisdom and knowledge, Bee mac De, in the tidings thou givest to other folk touching their deaths. Hast thou knowledge also of when thou shalt thyself die?”
“Thereof have I knowledge in sooth,” saith Bee. “There be yet for me seven years of life.”
“A man might do good works in shorter space than that,” saith Columcille. “And knowest thou for a surety that thou hast so much of life still?”
Then was Bee silent for a space, and thereafter spake he to Columcille and said, “I have not. It is but seven months of life I have.”
“That is well,” saith Columcille, “and art certain thou hast still so much of life to come?”
“I am not,” saith Bee, “and this is a token, O Columcille. I cannot withstand the prophecy thou hast made. For thou didst foretell that I should make two false prophecies ere I should die. There is left me but seven hours of this same day,” saith he. “Do thou assoil me and give me the sacrament.”
“It was to give thee this that I came hither today,” saith Columcille, “for God revealed to me that thou shouldst die today.”
Then did Columcille succor Bee with the consolation of Holy Church, and gave him the sacrament from his own hand. And Bee died then. And his soul went to Heaven through the goodness of God and the intercession of Columcille.
– Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille in Erin and of Certain Visions, 129;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
BAOITHIN, abbot of I-Coluim-Cille, next after Colum Cille himself; and Tech Baoithin in Cinel Conaill was his chief church, for he was of the race of Conall Gulban. It was to this Baoithin it was permitted to see the three grand chairs in heaven empty, awaiting some of the saints of Erin, viz., a chair of gold, and a chair of silver, and a chair of glass, and he told Colum Cille at I the vision which was shown unto him; for he used to be always along with Colum Cille, for they were close in consanguinity and friendship, i.e., they were the sons of two brothers. It was then Colum Cille gave the interpretation to him of the thing which he had seen, for he was a famous prophet, so that he said then: The chair of gold which thou hast seen is the chair of Ciáran, son of the carpenter, the reward of his sanctity, and hospitality, and charity. The chair of silver which thou hast seen is thine own chair, for the brightness and effulgence of thy piety. The chair of glass is my own chair, for although I am pure and bright, I am brittle and fragile, in consequence of the battles which were fought on my account. So that it was after this he (Colum Cille) resolved upon the celebrated abstinence, i.e., to take nettle pottage as food for the future, without dripping or fat whatever, so that the impression of his ribs through his woollen tunic was seen in the sandy beach, which is by the side of I when he used to lie on it at night.
Now, Baoithin was four years in the abbacy at I after the death of Colum Cille, for it was from among the men of Erin the abbot of I was chosen; and he was most frequently chosen from the men of Cinel Conaill. When he used to eat food, he was wont to say, “Deus in adjutorium meum intende,” between every two morsels. When he used to be gathering corn along with the monks he held one hand up beseeching God, and another hand gathering the corn. Baoithin resigned his soul to heaven after the four years aforesaid, on the same day of the month that Colum Cille went to Heaven A.D. 600.
— Martyrology of Donegal, A Calendar of the Saints of Ireland,by Michael O’Clery, James Henthorn Todd, William Reeves (Bp. of Down, Connor and Dromore).
There were three pets that Columcille had; a cat, and a wren, and a fly. And he understood the speech of each of those creatures. And the Lord sent messages to him by them, and he understood all from them as he would understand an angel or human folk that might be sent with a message to him. And it happed that the wren ate the fly, and the cat ate the wren. And Columcille spake by the spirit of prophecy, and he said that it was thus men should do in a later time: the strong of them should eat the weak, that is to say, should take his wealth and his gear from him, and should show him neither right nor justice. And Columcille said that the while the Gael of Erin were thus, the power of foreigners should be over them, and whenever right and justice were kept by them, they should themselves have power again. And such love had Columcille for those little creatures of his, that he asked God to revive them for him, to get back the fly from the wren, and the wren from the cat. And he obtained that from God. And they were with him thenceforth as they were before, till they had lived out their lives according to nature. Wherefore he made this quatrain:
The deed they have done.
If God wills it, may He hear me:
May he get from my cat my wren;
May he get from my wren my fly.
— Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille and of Certain Visions, 118;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
A day as I was going to Rome,
I forgathered with Columba, Peter, and Paul,
The talk that they had and that happened in their mouths,
Was loud-lunged, white-bellied, female calves,
As was spoken in the prophecy,
On this foundation for a year and a day,
Through the bosom of the God of life and all the hosts,
Chief of chiefs and of the everlasting Powers above.
— Carmina Gadelica, Uibe, 188.
* * *
La domh ’s mi dol dh’ an Roimh,
Thachair orm Calum-cille, Peadail, agus Pol,
Is e comhradh a bh’ aca ’s a thachair bhi ’n am beul,
Laoigh bheura, bhoirionn, bhailgionn,
Mar thubhradh anns an dailgionn,
Air an laraich seo gu ceann la ’s bliadhna,
A uchd Dia nan dul is nan uile bhuadh,
Triath nan triath ’s nan Cumhachdan siorruidh shuas.
To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.
I N. firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (cf. Rom. 1:19-20), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time. Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely. Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our Creator and Lord.
Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality — that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful. Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.
Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact — one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history — the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way. I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God…