Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Successors of St. Aidan (-1222) (Walsh)

From Walsh's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 1891, c. lxv, p. 703 ff:

Dachua or Mochua Luachra, a native of Munster, abbot, and bishop of Ferns, was the immediate successor of St. Maidoc [St. Aidan]. In the life of St. Maidoc it is stated, that being about to cross a certain ford, he said to his charioteer, that the person who would open for them the entrance to it, would sit in his see after himself. A number of students who were there amusing themselves near the ford, and among whom was Mochua, who ran and opened the passage to the ford, as soon as the
saint came up. He then said with great humility to the saint: "holy man of God, I wish to go witli you and live under your discipline."

The saint asking him whence he was, and what his name, he replied, I am from Munster, and of the people who inhabit Luachra, and my name is Cronan. The saint then said, "henceforth you shall be called Mochua Luachra; come, then, and follow me." Accordingly Mochua went with the saint, and remained with him until his death. His progress in piety and learning was so great, that St. Maidoc appointed him as his successor in the see of Ferns. Mochua died in the year 652.  His festival is observed on the 22d of June.

Tuenoc succeeded as abbot and bishop of Ferns, and died in 662.

Maldogar, bishop of Ferns, died in 677.

Dirath succeeded, and died about 691.

Saint Molingus or Dairchill, was a native of Hy-Kinsellagh, and his descent has been traced to the royal house of Leinster. Having embraced a monastic life, he founded a monastery, called after him Teagh-Moling, near the Barrow, in the county of Carlow. He governed the monastery several years, and occasionally sojourned at Glendaloch, until 691, when he was consecrated bishop of Ferns He was styled archbishop in virtue of the precedence which King Brandubh conferred on the see of Ferns. He succeeded in inducing Finacta, monarch of Ireland, to remit the tribute of oxen, which had so heavily pressed on the province of Leinster for a considerable time. It is also stated that he foretold some things relative to the affairs of Ireland. He died on the 17th of June, 697, and has been considered as one of the principal saints of Leinster. He is called one of the four prophets of Ireland.

Killen, his successor in the see, died A.D. 714.

Arectacius Mac Cuanach, bishop of Ferns, died in 737. A void occurs in the records of the succeeding bishops and abbots for nearly a century, as the Danes cnielly oppressed Ferns.

Laidgene, comorban of Ferns, died A.D. 973.

Dermod O'Rudican, bishop of Ferns, died in 1048.

Cairbric O'Kerny, called bishop of Ferns and comorban of St. Maidoc, died in 1095.

Kellach O'Colman, bishop of Ferns, died in 1117.

Carthag O'Malgabry.

Melisa O'Cathan.

Ilory O'Trassy. When these three prelates sat is not known.

Bridgiu O'Cathlan, called successor of Maidoc, died in 1172. He must have resigned long before his death. The names of abbots and bishops are sometimes synonymous in the annals of Ireland. There is,
however, an uncertainty, unless the appellation of bishop be appended. The names of the abbots of Ferns will be given when treating of the abbey.

Joseph O'llethe governed the see of Ferns about thirty years. He is called bishop of "Wexford in the foimdation charter of the abbey of Dungiven. It is related of him that he was employed in a stratagem
to obtain a surrender of the castle of Carrig, in 1171, or the year following, by manifest perjury, but the charge was incorrect. He died in 1185, and was buried, it is said, in Wexford.

Albinus O'Mulloy, succeeded in 1186, and was sometimes, as his predecessor, styled bishop of Wexford. Perhaps there was some resolve at the time to change the see to that city. Albinus was abbot of Baltinglass. After the death of St. Lawrence, the see of Dublin was conferred on an Englishman, John Cumin, because Henry of England was at the time intent on transferring the dominion of the kingdom of Ireland to his son John; and as if to prepare the way for his reception,
none but an English ecclesiastic should be appointed to preside over the important see of Dublin. The person who was recommended was this John Cumin, a learned and eloquent ecclesiastic, and who had filled, for several years, some situation in the royal palace. Four years had elapsed from the period of the death of his sainted predecessor, until John had arrived in Dublin. In the meantime the coffers of Henry II must have been replenished by the spoils of the see, as he had immediately, on the decease of Lawrence, seized on and collected the episcopal revenues.

John Cumin, the first Englishman who ever sat in an Irish see, and representing that class of Britons who were so zealous of reform in the Irish church, resolved to signalize his episcopacy by some memorable act of pastoral care and solicitude. A provincial synod afforded him such a facility, and it was accordingly held about the middle of Lent, 1185, in the cathedral of Christ church. The decrees of which were of a disciplinary character, and most of them had been already sanctioned by long usage or ratified by positive enactments in former synods, of the Irish prelates. On the first day of meeting the archbishop himself preached on the sacraments, as is usually the case to open the business by a sermon. On the second day, Albinus O'Mulloy, then abbot of Baltinglass, delivered a powerful and impressive discourse on the subject of clerical continence; in the course of his observations the learned preacher dwelt on the unsullied character of the Irish priesthood, and in terms of grief and indignation inveighed most bitterly against the English and Welsh clergy who had
come over to Ireland: upbraided them with having polluted the altars of his country by their filthy and abominable crimes, and in tears of anguish assured them, that crying scandals of this sort were unheard in the Irish church, until aliens and adventurers had been authorized to come amongst them. Albinus, by his just censures, produced the desired efifect. Scarcely had he descended from his pulpit, when those English ecclesiastics began to recriminate and accuse each other, each one asserting more criminality in the other, and thus publicly exposing themselves to the contempt and scom of the Irish clergy. Numbers of them were convicted, and suspended by the archbishop, from ecclesiastical functions, and from the enjoyment of their benefices. Good and gracious God! why allow this profanation of a sanctuary so pure and unsullied?

Though impiety may, in its momentary career, tarnish the beauty of religion, it is not to he screened from public censure. Hence it is, that the inspired penmen in recording the crime, in bold relief, place before the reader the punishment thereof, in order to guard us against its dangerous and pernicious influence, — if then the scribes and pharisees sit in the chair of Moses, we are exhorted by the Redeemer himself not to imitate their vicious example.

God himself obeys with equal pi-omptitude, the voice of the bad as of the good priest, because the power is the same — the burden and the dignity similar. If some among the dispensers of God's mysteries have been dissolute, their excesses are more than recompensed by the virtues and merits of others who lead an exemplary life. In that special predilection which the Saviour of the world has shown for the virtue of continence — in its practice by the apostles from the period of their vocation,
the Church, moreover, guided by the experience of centuries, and too well aware of its utility, enforces this holy and salutary discipline, when her ministers voluntarily embrace it, — it is a virtue which throws a halo of glory, a charm of admiration around the faithful servant of the altar, ennobles his very movements in the sanctuary, sanctifies and renders more pleasing in the sight of God the oblation of the immaculate lamb — that angelic virtue which adorns and burnishes those functions
entrusted to the priesthood. Hence it is the right of religion and of those to whom its services are administered, that the sacrifice of religion be oifered with hands pure and clean : as the ambassadors of heaven on this earth, which we tread, they are as much as possible to represent those in the immediate employ of their heavenly Father, — it is that \irtue which endeared the virgin apostle to his incarnate master, and to whose virginal care was commended the virgin mother of a virgin God.

In past ages the most venerable in the church, because so exalted above human ideas, and so worthy of a divine origin, as it constitutes the true champion of the cross, the true soldier of Christ, to carry his standard amidst the conflicts of life, and by his victories over flesh and blood, extend tlie dominion of his heavenly employer; that virtue which gives to the minister of the altar that true and real liberty whereby he is emancipated, as if from worldly pursuits — disenthralls his affections from the transitory objects of life — renders him the father of the orphan, the protector of the oppressed, and the comforter of the poor and the indigent — renders him really useful to his people, and devoted to their wants and necessities — master of himself, of his time, of his talents, of those resources which a grateful flock are ever disposed to place in the hands of that pastor, whose desires are centered in their welfare, and whose actions evince zeal in the faithful discharge of his arduous but sweet labors ; armed with this staff, and his brow adorned with the garland of virginity, he becomes firm and inflexible, when vice is to be reproved and extirpated— calm and stem, when virtue is to be inculcated and enforced. Thus shall he be free, in this vale of tears, of reproacli, — full of hope in future reward, when about to enter on that "bourne," whence the traveller does not return.

On the 3d day of the synod, Gerald Barry, by order of the archbishop of Dublin, preached, or rather delivered a tirade against the Irish clergy and the whole nation. It seems that the facts which Albinus O'MuUoy laid at the doors of tlie English priests, were incontrovertible. In his demeaning display, Gerald exhibited his malignity, as well as his ignorance of the ecclesiastical antiquities, manners, and
customs of the Irish people. "With all his prejudices, the force of truth elicited the acknowledgment that the "clergy of Ireland were very commendable for religion ; among other virtues, which distinguish them, they excelled and were preeminent in the prerogative of continence, and likewise, said he, they attend regularly and vigilantly to the psalms and hours, to reading and prayer, and remaining within the precincts of their churches, do not absent themselves from the divine offices,
to the celebration of which they have been appointed. They also," continued Gerald, "pay great attention to abstinence and sparingness of food, so that the greatest part of them fast almost every day until dusk, and until they have completed all the canonical offices."

Tlie chastisement which St. Lawrence O'Toole had been obliged to inflict on the English clergy for their incontinence and scandalous deportment with no unsparing hand, was not calculated to check the evil; they still poured into Ireland, and eacli party, as they landed, seemed to vie and outrival the preceding one in open profligacy and debauchery. If such scandalous demeanor pervaded generally the clergy of England in the beginning of the sixteenth century, we can easily account for the
universal defection from the faith that took place, and for the little resistance to the schismatical proceedings of Henry VIII.

Tlie unsuccessful debut of Gerald Barry on this important occasion contributed to check the haughty and domineering temper of this sacerdotal reviler of a nation. Though anxious to decorate his brow with a mitre, he refused the vacant see of Ferns, which his patron, Prince John had offered, and soon after returned to his own country — mortified by the disgraceful conduct of his countrymen, and the public exposure of their crimes.

A strong hand being necessary to extirpate such an evil; and as several of the English ecclesiastics became located in the diocese of Ferns, it was the anxious wish of the native clergy and of Archbishop Cumin, to select an Irishman of zeal and firmness to preside over it. Albinus liaving already exhibited proof of his ability in grappling with such a difficulty, was chosen, and having been accordingly consecrated, commenced that salutary reform, by which the English priests were taught the practice of Irish discipline and Irish morality.

Having had to institute proceedings against William, earl of Pembroke and earl marshal of England, who seized on certain manors, which belonged to the see of Ferns from time immemorial, and which
were set apart for the maintenance of the poor, and who added them to his already extensive estates. Against such an usurpation of the property the bishop remonstrated; his suit was a failure, as no tribunal could be either able or willing to decide impartially. The earl, however, soon after regretted his misconduct, and strove to repair it by his patronage of charitable foundations. Albin, having governed the see thirty-six years, died A.D. 1222.

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