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IRISH CALENDAR

WE here subjoin an Irish Calendar, that the reader may the more readily find out the pages wherein the virtues and sufferings of the saints honored in this country are mentioned. We think, with a rational confidence, that the perusal of those pages will be edifying to Irishmen of every denomination: to those who are bewildered in the theological contradictions of the present age, and to those who still travel in the steps of their ancestors. The former steering by the unerring card of ecclesiastical history, will learn what the faith was which Ireland received in the fifth century; and the latter, steady to that faith, will be excited by the example of their countrymen in ancient times, to practise in the present those virtues by which faith is crowned. It is undoubtedly a truth of very important consideration, that among the remote nations converted to Christianity, the Irish have been singular by deviating in no instance whatever from the doctrine originally preached to them. Through the course of eleven centuries no charge of heteredoxy was laid against them; and notwithstanding a great relaxation of morals towards the close of that long period, yet the identity of their faith was acknowledged. This reference therefore to the history of religion in Ireland must have a salutary effect, as no suspicion of fallacy can attend the information it invariably affords; for it establishes a fact, to us the more interesting, as it involves the true use of religious controversy, without partaking of its bitterness.

Here, in the extremity of the West, in a sequestered island, God was pleased to kindle lights which illumined pagan nations, who took possession of the greater part of Europe on the demolition of the Roman empire. Rome, stripped of her imperial power, and a prey to barbarians, lost all her splendor except what she derived from the rays of the gospel. Amidst civil depression she triumphed, and extended her spiritual conquests to regions which her arms never subdued. By converting Ireland to her faith, she raised up champions for its propagation, and through the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries, Christendom bore witness to their zeal and their sanctity At home, the ecclesiastics of Ireland founded cities in the midst of deserts, which they cleared and cultivated with their own hands. Their districts, called Termons,* were held sacred by the princes who were the donors of them; nor did the most cruel domestic wars disturb the repose of their monasteries and schools. This immunity of the Termon districts received the sanction of a permanent law, so revered by the body of the Irish nation, that through the space of three hundred years the violation of it would ensure absolute disappointment to the most daring ambition. Depredation on a Termon impressed a character of infamy, which very warring party avoided; as the incurring it would render the trespasser odious, and give a decisive superiority to an adversary in the field. Such a slate of perfect repose amidst the calamities of war hath, we believe, no parallel in the history of any other country; and to that state undoubtedly was owing the frequent voyages of princes and students from most parts of Europe in those days to Ireland, as to the emporium of literature, and habitation of true liberty. Abroad in South and North Britain, in Germany, in Burgundy, and in France, those holy men converted heathers, and laid the foundations of the most celebrated universities in Europe. We cannot surely be mistaken when we recommend a retrospect to men and times, under this description To contrast them with our own times, divided by various and varying theological systems, disgraced also by contentions as uncharitable as they are endless; a moment is not left for hesitation on the judgment we ought to form, or the example we ought to follow.

It were to be wished that the learned author of this work had given us the lives of the Irish saints more in detail than he has done. But he certainly was obliged to trust to short abstracts, through the difficulty or rather impossibility of coming at the originals now dispersed through private bands in various countries resorted to by Irish Catholics, since the time that their country ceased to be the asylum of religious liberty.








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