Two Oransay Grave-slabs

Slabs at Oransay, Argyll, Plate LX, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.


The slabs on this Plate are selected from the many examples within the ruined church here.

The one represents an abbot1 in his rich ecclesiastical vestments, with one hand lifted up in the act of benediction, and the other holding his staff.

Grave-slab at Oransay Priory; photo credit: Andreas G. Wolff.

The other pourtrays a man in armour. Two figures, apparently ecclesiastics, are engaged in buckling on his Spurs. The sculpture of this slab is in high relief. One of the figures on the pillar may represent St. Michael and the Dragon.

1 Sir Donald MacDuffie, Conventual Prior of Oransay, d. 1554/5.

Grave-slab of Domhnall MacDubhtaich, Conventual Prior of Oransay (1538-1554/5); photo credit: Carron Brown.

“Here lies Sir Donald MacDuffie, Conventual Prior of Oransay, who died in the year 155-”

[This tombstone was originally in the mural recess of the MacPhie chapel, with the foot towards the east. He was appointed Prior by authority of the Pope in April 1538 and died in 1554; he had probably been in ill-health since an application had been made to permit him to retire, and since his gravestone was able to be prepared with confidence in advance.]


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Columba of the Graves and Tombs


DHE beannaich fein mo bhuain,
Gach imir, cluan, agus raon,
Gach corran cama, cuimir, cruaidh,
Gach dias is dual a theid ’s an raoid,
Gach dias is dual a theid ’s an raoid.

Beannaich gach murn agus mac,
Gach mnaoi agus miuchainn maoth,
Tiuir iad fo sgiath do neairt,
Is tearmaid ann an teach nan naomh,
Tearmaid ann an teach nan naomh.

Cuimrich gach mins, ciob, is uan,
Gach ni, agus mearc, is maon,
Cuartaich fein an treuid ’s am buar,
Is cuallaich a chon buailidh chaon,
Cuallaich a chon buailidh chaon.

Air sgath Mhicheil mhil nam feachd,
Mhoire chneas-ghil leac nam buadh,
Bhride mhin-ghil ciabh nan cleachd,
Chaluim-chille nam feart ’s nan tuam,
Chaluim-chille nam feart ’s nan team.


GOD, bless Thou Thyself my reaping,
Each ridge, and plain, and field,
Each sickle curved, shapely, hard,
Each ear and handful in the sheaf,
Each ear and handful in the sheaf.

Bless each maiden and youth,
Each woman and tender youngling,
Safeguard them beneath Thy shield of strength,
And guard them in the house of the saints,
Guard them in the house of the saints.

Encompass each goat, sheep and lamb,
Each cow and horse, and store,
Surround Thou the rocks and herds,
And tend them to a kindly fold,
Tend them to a kindly fold.

For the sake of Michael head of hosts,
Of Mary fair-skinned branch of grace,
Of Bride smooth-white of ringleted locks,
Of Columba of the graves and tombs,
Columba of the graves and tombs.

Carmina Gadelica, 89.

* * *

Calum-cille nam feart ’s nan tuam. Columba of the graves and tombs.
(Carmina Gadelica, vol. i. p. 249.)

In the Celtic Review of April Mr. J. M. Mackinlay asks the meaning of this phrase. Like many other passages in the work, this was translated tentatively. I am under the impression that the phrase refers to the many churches, with burying-grounds attached, named after St. Columba.

Feart is a grave, a graveyard; tuam is a tomb, a place of tombs, a chambered place of burial.

Tung is also applied to a chambered place of burial, and sometimes to an underground house.

Alexander Carmichael.

— Carmichael, Alexander, ‘Replies’, The Celtic Review, vol. 4, no. 13 (July, 1907), p. 96.

God’s Most Merciful Deliverance

That the 22d of March be yeerly solemnized as holliday and all other hollidays (except when they fall two together) betwixt the feasts of the annuntiation of the blessed virgin and St. Michael the archangell, then only the first to be observed by reason of our necessities.

— Statutes at Large of Virginia, I, compiled by William W. Hening.

In consideration of Gods most mercifull deliuerance of so many in this Cuntrie from the treachery of the Indian on the 22th day of March last: the Gouernor with the advice of the Counsell of State hath thought it very fitt, that the 22th day of March both this present yeare and for euer hereafter (in memory of that great preservation) be in this Cuntrie celebrated Holy.

— The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8. Virginia Records Manuscripts. 1606-1737. Susan Myra Kingsbury, editor. Records of the Virginia Company, 1606-26, Volume IV: Miscellaneous Records.

Iam Regnaturus Vincit Nunc Hic Superatur

Mosaic of St. Michael the Archangel and the Dragon, Basilica di San Marco, Venice; by Francesco Zuccato; XVI century.
Mosaic of St. Michael the Archangel and the Dragon, Basilica di San Marco, Venice; by Francesco Zuccato; XVI century.

Ora nam Buadh

I bathe thy palms
In showers of wine,
In the lustral fire,
In the seven elements,
In the juice of the rasps,
In the milk of honey,
And I place the nine pure choice graces
In thy fair fond face,
The grace of form,
The grace of voice,
The grace of fortune,
The grace of goodness,
The grace of wisdom,
The grace of charity,
The grace of choice maidenliness,
The grace of whole-souled loveliness,
The grace of goodly speech.

Dark is yonder town,
Dark are those therein,
Thou art the brown swan,
Going in among them.
Their hearts are under thy control,
Their tongues are beneath thy sole,
Nor will they ever utter a word
To give thee offence.

A shade art thou in the heat,
A shelter art thou in the cold,
Eyes art thou to the blind,
A staff art thou to the pilgrim,
An island art thou at sea,
A fortress art thou on land,
A well art thou in the desert,
Health art thou to the ailing.

Thine is the skill of the Fairy Woman,
Thine is the virtue of Bride the calm,
Thine is the faith of Mary the mild,
Thine is the tact of the woman of Greece,
Thine is the beauty of Emir the lovely,
Thine is the tenderness of Darthula delightful,
Thine is the courage of Maebh the strong,
Thine is the charm of Binne-bheul.

Thou art the joy of all joyous things,
Thou art the light of the beam of the sun,
Thou art the door of the chief of hospitality,
Thou art the surpassing star of guidance,
Thou art the step of the deer of the hill,
Thou art the step of the steed of the plain,
Thou art the grace of the swan of swimming,
Thou art the loveliness of all lovely desires.

The lovely likeness of the Lord
Is in thy pure face,
The loveliest likeness that
Was upon earth.

The best hour of the day be thine,
The best day of the week be thine,
The best week of the year be thine,
The best year in the Son of God’s domain be thine.

Peter has come and Paul has come,
James has come and John has come,
Muriel and Mary Virgin have come,
Uriel the all-beneficent has come,
Ariel the beauteousness of the young has come,
Gabriel the seer of the Virgin has come,
Raphael the prince of the valiant has come,
And Michael the chief of the hosts has come,
And Jesus Christ the mild has come,
And the Spirit of true guidance has come,
And the King of kings has come on the helm,
To bestow on thee their affection and their love,
To bestow on thee their affection and their love.

Carmina Gadelica, Achaine 3.

Continue reading “Ora nam Buadh”

The Cross of the Saints and the Angels

Crois nan naomh agus nan aingeal liom
Bho fhrois ma aodain gu faobhar mo bhonn.

* * *

A Mhicheil mhil, a Mhoire ghlorach,
A Bhride mhin nan dualan orach,
Dionaibh mi’s a cholunn bhronach,
Dionadh tri mi air sligh na corach.
O! tri mi air sligh na corach.

Dionaibh mi’s a choich-anama bhochd,
Dionaibh mi’s mi cho diblidh nochd,
Dionaibh mi air sligh gun lochd,
Dionadh tri air mo thi a nochd.
O! tri air mo thi a nochd.

– Carmina Gadelica, Achaine, 17.

Continue reading “The Cross of the Saints and the Angels”

For the Dead

Domine Iesu Christe, Rex gloriae, libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu; libera eas de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum; sed signifer sanctus Michael repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam, quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini eius. Amen.