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proceeds to assume that, even with regard to these, it is competent to pronounce that nothing certain can be known about them,
He has never seen the magnificent vision which God reveals to those who have the divine faith, without which it is impossible to please Him—the vision of a living Church moving majestic through all the ages-speaking with a voice that has not in its vast compass one quaver of uncertainty-a Church that has mingled in all the conflicts of human opinion, has stilled their tumult, confronted their hostility—and when her enemies mocked her and prophesied her fall, wrapped herself in the mantle of truth, passed on, and outlived them. This blessed vision the men of whom we speak have never known. Those who have known it, and felt how it can sweeten the lives of sorrowing men, must be filled with the pity that begets charity and patience for those to whom God hath not done likewise.
We have, in this paper, striven to ascertain the origin of “modern thought"—to show the direction in which it tends—to suggest the ultimate chaos in which it must necessarily result unless checked by something very different from itself. In condemning the contemptuous attitude of the disciples of “modern thought" towards the Church of God, we have suggested a palliation which makes us, not, indeed, absolve them of all blame, but makes us, even while we blame, pity far more than we blame them.
Inour next paper it will fall in with the course of the remarks we have been making, to describe, in a general way, the position which the Catholic Church assumes towards the human mind, and the nature and extent of the claim she advances to the allegiance of man. Afterwards, we shall proceed to some of the detailed controversies which have arisen between the Church and “modern thought."
ST. BLAITMAIC, OF IONA, MARTYR. SOME
OME individuals are heroic in action ; others in patient suffering. This noble saint, whose memory is held in honour on the 19th day of January, justly deserves the meed of praise for his fortitude under both aspects. Blaitmaic's biography has been elegantly composed, in Latin hexameter verses, by Walafridus or Galafridus Strabo,' a learned Benedictine monk,
1 He was a monk of Fulda, afterwards a dean at St. Gall; then he became abbot at Richenaw or Ringau, near Lake Constance. All of the foregoing religioas houses were founded by holy Irishmen, who were missionaries on the continent of Europe.
who died A.D. 847. This celelebrated writer was an accomplished mediæval poet. His greatly admired composition was written at the instigation of a venerable superior, Felix, and it appeared most probably some short time after the tragic but glorious death of the noble subject, suggesting Strabo's fine poem.
We are unable to state on whose authority events associated with the life of Blaitmaic depend, as they are metrically narrated by Strabo; but it is probable, they had been taken from some relation given by monks connected with Iona monastery. These informants, too, might have had a personal knowledge concerning the martyred Christian hero, and even of the circumstances attending his death. His interesting Acts have been frequently written in various forms, as well in prose3 as in verse.4
St. Blaitmaic or Brah Mac, which name, according to Strabo and Bollandus, means the beautiful son,''5 seems to have been gifted with singular graces even from his very infancy. This child, the delight of his parents, was of Royal extraction, and of noble birth. He was born in Ireland, most probably, about the middle of the eighth century. St. Blaitmaic was prospective heir to his father's possessions, the ornament and hope of his family and country.
1 See Bishop Challoner's “ Britannia Sancta," part i., p. 67.
? In the “Cursus Completus Patrilogiæ," the works of Walafridus Strabo will be found printed. The second tome of these works contains the tract in question, pp. 1043 to 1046.-See Tomus cxiii. Parisiis, 1852.
3 In Butler's " Lives of the Saints," we find, at January the 19th, some notices of St. Blaitmaic, abbot. These are brief, and, notwithstanding, quite incorrect.
4 In the “ Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti," occurs the life of St. Blaitmaic, martyr, with companions, in Latin hexameter verse-Tomus iv., pp. 439 to 442. Likewise in the great Bollandist collection "Acta Sanctorum,” Januarii, Tomus ii., pp. 236 to 238.
Cujus honorandum nomen sermone Latino,
Strabo, Vita S. Blait maici, & ii. 6 In the " Antiquae Lectiones of Canisius," Tomus vi., and nova editio Tomus ii., parte ii., p. 201, as also in Messingham's “ Florilegium Insulae Sanctorum,” p. 399, such particulars are stated in the metrical acts of this Saint by Strabo.
7 Without giving the date of his festival, Convæus thus refers to this Saint :-“S. Blaithmac, princeps, haeres regni, et inclytus martyr, in insula Eo." See O'Sullivan Beare's “ His oriae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium.”—Tomus i., Lib. iv., cap. X., p. 48.
8 Henry FitzSimon, citing Antique Lectiones, tom. vi., p. 575, states that S. Blaithmac lived about the year 912. -See ibid., cap. xii., p. 52. This date is later, however, than has been allowed by other writers, and long after the period when Strabo, the biographer of St. Ilaitmaic, died.
9“ In the Irish annals and calendars his father is called Flann ; but it is not stated what principality he had. Colgan conjectures that he was one of the
At an early age he was distinguished for almost every virtue and merit. He is described as being of sound judgment, prudent, a great lover of holy purity, and humble, notwithstanding his exalted birth. The innate nobility of his soul surpassed that of his race.” Accomplishments were not wanting to add a royal grace to his character; sober and circumspect, he was pleasing in mien, and agreeable in disposition. Although remaining in the world he was not one of this world's votaries. He had resolved upon devoting himself wholly to religious services, but kept this secret locked up within his own breast, until such time as he could most conveniently put his resolution into practice. Without his father's knowledge, Blaitmaic withdrew privately to a monastery, where he practised all exercises of a monastic life, until his retreat was discovered.
Hereupon, the fond parent, who loved his son according to the instinct of worldlings, repaired to this monastery ; and he brought a band of friends and acquaintances, whose exertions and entreaties it had been supposed must have exercised great influence in changing Blaitmaic's purpose. Besides the chiefs and people, a bishop and several abbots united their persuasions with those of his father to induce the Saint to resume his former rank. But the pious prince resisted all these solicitations, and persevered in his happy course of life. 4
He looked upon himself as a servant to all the religious in the monastery, although esteemed beyond expression by his fellow-cenobites. He was distinguished by religious silence, and the observance of monastic discipline : by attentive study of the sacred Scriptures and books of ecclesiastical science, he edified all through his conduct and conversation. In due time, he was made superior of the religious community ;5 and this southern Niells, princes of Meath, because the names Flann and Blaithmaic were rather common in that family.”—Lanigan's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, vol. iii., chap. XX., $ xi., n. 121, p. 255.
Hugh Menard calls him “Filium Regis Hiberniæ.” The Annals of Clonmacnoise and of Senat Mac-Magnus, at A.D. 823, concur.
· The Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Marianus O'Gorman, as also St. Ængus' commentator on the Feilire, represent him as the son of Flann.-See Colgan's “Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," xix. Januarii, n. 2, p. 129. 3 The poem of Strabo states:
“Tractabat laicus, quod clericus efficiebat.”- Vita S. Blaitmaici. * See Mabillon's Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti.- Tomus ii., lib. xxvi., § xxvii., pp: 309, 310: 5 This is stated by Strabo :
"Sicque vigens doctrinarum, morumque nitore,
Agmina multorum rexit veneranda Vivorum," --- Vita S. Blaitmaici. Where this religious institute was has not been stated, but it seems to have been in some part of Ireland,
band of religious he governed more by example than by precept. Christ Jesus was the sole object of his praise and glory, as of his discourse and allusions. Peace was his shield, prayers were his coat of mail; patience was his field for victory, and the word of God his sword; mildness characterized his conduct towards the monks; he became all things to all of them, that he might gain all to Christ. He was ever hopeful and loving ; practising every virtue and avoiding every imperfection; and ever referring his actions to the great Author of our being. Thus his example brightened as a beacon before the eyes of his disciples; and these latter progressed towards perfection under the directing zeal of their saintly superior.
Our Saint burned with a desire of martyrdom ; and to attain this object, he had often attempted to visit strange lands, but had been prevented by his people. On a certain occasion, Blaitmaic thought to effect his retreat under cover of night, and through a secret path. He was accompanied by a small band of disciples; but the fugitives were arrested and brought back. However, his wishes were at length gratified; for he contrived to escape from his native country. Blaitmaic directed his course to Iona, “the sacred isle" of Columba.” The Danish ravages had been frequently directed against the shrines and altars of unprotected religious that peopled this known island. But, in a knowledge of this fact, Blaitmaic grounded his hopes for securing to himself the palm of martyrdom.
He had been gifted from on high with a spirit of prophecy. Hence, before a hostile irruption, which took place after the commencement of the ninth century, Blaitmaic predicted to his companions, in Iona monastery, a storm which was about to burst upon them. This seems to have occurred during the
1 The year in which he departed from Ireland does not appear to have been recorded, 2 The poem states:
" Insula Pictorum quaedam monstratur in oris
Vita S. Blaitmaici. 3 Applicable to such a prophecy are the following spirited lines from Motherwell, in his magnificent poem,
THE BATTLE FLAG OF SIGURD.
The warriors of the world are forth to choose another land ;
incumbency of Diarmait, the twentieth abbot in succession to the great St. Columkille.
Before the northern pirates, with their fleet, had reached the shores of Columba's sacred isle, Blaitmaic called the monks together, addressing them as follows:-“ My friends, consider well the choice which is now left you. If you wish to endure martyrdom for the name of Christ, and fear it not, let such as will remain with me arm themselves with becoming courage. But those who are weak in resolution, let them fly, that they may avoid impending dangers, and nerve themselves for more fortunate issues. The near trial of certain death awaits us. Invincible faith, which looks to a future life, will shield the brave soldier of Christ, and the cautious security of flight will preserve the less courageous."3
These words were received by the religious with resolutions suited to the confidence or timidity of each individual. Some resolved to brave the invaders' fury, together with their holy companion ; some betook themselves to places of concealment until this hostile storm had passed.
On the morning of January the 19th, A.D. 823,5 824, or 825, St. Blaitmaic, robed in vestments of his order, had been engaged in celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.? Whilst he offered up the Immaculate Host, he stood as a self-immolated victim, prepared for sacrifice. The band of his faithful religious, anticipating a coronal of martyrdom, knelt around; with tears and prayers they besought mercy and grace before the throne of God. This, truly, must have been a sublime spectacle, and one never yet surpassed in the records of human heroism. Whilst engaged in these services, the loud shout of their destroyers was heard thundering without the church.”
1 See Rev. Dr. Reeves' edition of Adamnan's “Life of St. Columba.” Addi. tional Notes, O, pp. 388 to 390.
* His rule at Iona commenced A.D. 815, and continued after A.D. 831. 3 See Bishop Challoner's “ Britannia Sancta,” part i., p. 68.
*Mabillon, in his “Annales Ordinis, S. Benedicti,” tcmus i. lib. xxvi., $ xxvii., A.D. 793, mistakes when he assigns the martyrdom of our Saint to that year. See pp. 309, 310. Yet he is more generally followed as an authority by Continental historians than our own Colgan, who is a much safer guide in dates and particulars regarding Irish ecclesiastical history and biography.
According to Dr. O'Donovan's “ Annals of the Four Masters," vol. i., p. 436. 6 In extracts from the “Annals of Ulster,” given by the Rev. James Johnstone, the following entry occurs :- _"824. Blachan M.Flan murdered, in I-Colm-kil, by the Gâls.”—Antiquitates Celto-Normannicae, p. 63.
? Dr. Reeves has this martyrdom recorded at A.D. 825. See his “ Adamnan's Life of St. Columba.” Additional notes, O, P 389.
8 In “ Whittier's Poetical Works” this situation is thus correctly, although fortuitously, described :
“ Iona's sable-stoled Culdee
Has heard it sounding o'er the sea,
Legendary Poems. - The Norsemar, p. 67.