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Life of St. Declan of Ardmore and Life of St. Mochuda of Lismore online

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tried to draw his weapon his hands became powerless, so he was unable to
use them. Mochuda requested them to allow him pass with his burden and
he promised them on his credit and his word that he should return to
them when he had deposited the sack in safety. They took his word and he
went, deposited his bag of meal in the kitchen, and returned meekly to
martyrdom. The brethren imagined he had gone to a quiet place for
prayer as was his custom. When he returned to the robbers they drew
their weapons several times to kill him but they were unable to do so.
Seeing this wonder they were moved to repentance and they gave
themselves to God and to Mochuda for ever and, till the time of their
death, they remained under his guidance and rule and many subsequent
edifying and famous acts of theirs are recorded.

An angel came to Mochuda at Rahen on another occasion announcing to him
the command of God that he should go that same day to Mac Fhiodaig, king
of his own region of Kerry Luachra, and administer to him Holy Communion
and Confession as he was on the point of death. Mochuda asked the angel
how he could reach Kerry that day from Rahen. The angel thereupon (for
reply) took him up through the air in a fiery chariot until they arrived
at the king's residence. Mochuda administered Holy Communion and
Confession and the king having bestowed generous alms upon him departed
hence to glory. Mochuda returned that same day to Rahen where he found
the community singing vespers.

On another occasion Mochuda visited Colman Elo at the latter's monastery
of Lynally and requested Colman to come with him to consecrate for him
his cemetery at Rahen, for Colman, assisted by angels, was in the habit
of consecrating cemeteries and God gave him the privilege that no one
should go to hell who was interred in a grave consecrated by him.
Colman said to him: - "Return home and on the fifth day from now I shall
follow." Mochuda returned home, where he remained till the fifth day,
when, seeing that Colman had not arrived he came again to the latter.
"Father," said he, "why have you not kept your promise?" To which
Colman replied, "I came and an angel with me that day and consecrated
your cemetery. Return now and you will find it marked (consecrated) on
the south side of your own cell. Lay it out as it is there indicated
and think not that its area is too small, because a larger will be
consecrated for you later, by the angels, in the southern part of Erin,
namely - in Lismore." Mochuda returned and found the cemetery duly marked
as Colman had indicated.

About the same time clerics came across Slieve Luachra in the territory
of Kerry to the church of Ita, honoured [abbess] of Conall Gabhra. They
had with them a child upon seeing whom Ita wept bitterly. The clerics
demanded why she cried at seeing them. "Blessed," she answered, "is the
hour in which that youth in your company was born, for no one shall ever
go to hell from the cemetery in which he will be buried, but, alas, for
me, that I cannot be buried therein." The clerics asked what cemetery
it was in which he should be buried. "In Mochuda's cemetery," said she,
"which though it be as yet unconsecrated will be honoured and famous in
times to come." This all came to pass, for the youth afterwards became
a monk under Mochuda and he is buried in the monastic cemetery of
Lismore as Ita had foretold.

A child on another occasion fell off the bridge of Rahen into the river
and was drowned. The body was a day and a night in the water before it
was recovered. Then it was brought to Mochuda who, moved with
compassion for the father in his loss of an only son, restored the boy
to life. Moreover he himself fostered the child for a considerable time
afterwards and when the youth had grown up, he sent him back to his own
country of Delbhna. Mochuda's foster son begat sons and daughters and he
gave himself and them, as well as his inheritance, to God and Mochuda,
and his descendants are to this day servile tenants of the monastery.

Once as Mochuda, with large offerings, was returning from Kerry to Rahen
he passed through the confines of Delbhna [Lemanaghan?] by the lake
called Muincine [Lough Gur?] where he and his party were overtaken by
night. They found here before them by the roadside revolving wheels,
which an artisan, who was erecting a mill on the stream from the lake,
had set up for a joke. As the wheels revolved they made a terrific
noise which was heard by the whole neighbourhood. Many of the
inhabitants of the neighbouring villages aroused by the noise rushed
out, with appeals for help and loud cries, to investigate the matter.
Mochuda's people were frightened by the din and their pack and riding
horses stampeded and lost their loads and it was not without difficulty
that they were caught again. Mochuda knew what caused the noise and he
told the workmen who had played this mischievous trick that they should
be scattered throughout the different provinces of Ireland, that they
should be always worthless and unprofitable, that the mill they were
engaged on should never be finished and that their progeny after them
should be valueless race of mischief-makers. The latter are called the
Hi-Enna [Ui Enna Aine Aulium] to-day.

One day Mochuda came to a place called Cluain-Breanainn where apples
abounded. His followers asked some apples for him but the orchard owner
refused them. Said Mochuda: - "From this day forward no fruit shall grow
in you orchard for ever," and that prophecy has been fulfilled.

Mochuda had in his monastery twelve exceedingly perfect disciples,
scil.: - Caoinche Mac Mellain [Mochua Mac Mellain or Cronan], who was the
first monk to enter Rahen; Mucoinog [Mochoemog]; the three sons of
Nascainn - Goban, Srafan, and Laisren; Mulua [Molua]; Lugair; Mochomog
Eile; Aodhan [Aedhan]; Fachtna Coinceann [Fiachna or Fiochrae]; Fionnlog
and Mochomog who became a bishop later. The virtue of these monks
surpassed belief and Mochuda wished to mitigate their austerities before
their death. He therefore built separate cells for them that they might
have some comfort in their old age as a reward for their virtue in
youth; moreover he predicted blessings for them. He made [a prophecy]
for one of them, mentioned above, scil.: - Mochua Mac Mellain, for whom
he had built a comfortable cell at a place called Cluain-Da-Chrann. He
said to him: "Your place of resurrection will not be here but in
another place which God has given you." That prediction has been
verified. To a second disciple, scil.: - Fiachna, Mochuda said: - "Your
resurrection will not be in this place though I have made you a cell
here; you will have three further abiding places, nevertheless it will
be with your own companion, Aodhan, that your remains will rest and your
resurrection will be in the territory of Ui Torna, and it is from you
that the place will get its name." For this Aodhan alluded to Mochuda
likewise built another cell in the land of Ui Torna close by Slieve
Luachra, and speaking prophetically he said to him: "The remains of
your fellow-disciple, Fiachna, will be carried to you hither and from
him will this place be named." That statement has been verified, for
the church is now called Cill-Fiachna and it was first called
Cill-Aeghain. Concerning other persons, Mochuda prophesied various
other things, all of them have come to pass.

A child born of secret adultery was abandoned close by the monastery of
Rahen and Mochuda fostered the child until he became a bishop, though no
one knew his name or his progenitors. Mochuda said: - "This child's name
is Dioma and his father is Cormac of the race of Eochaidh Eachach." All
thereupon magnified the foreknowledge of Mochuda, which he had from no
other than the Holy Spirit. Having consecrated him bishop, Mochuda
instructed him: "Go in haste to your own native region of Hy-Eachach in
the southern confines of Munster for there will your resurrection be.
War and domestic strife shall arise among your race and kinsfolk unless
you arrive there soon to prevent it." Dioma set out, accompanied by
another bishop, Cuana by name, who was also a disciple of Mochuda's.
They travelled into Ibh Eachach and Dioma preached the word of God to
his brethren and tribesmen. He made peace between them and they built a
monastery for him and he placed himself, his kindred, and parish under
his chosen master, Mochuda, and he ended his life (there) in peace.

On another occasion Mochuda travelled from Rahen to the provinces of
Munster and entered Ciarraighe Corca. It happened that Cairbre Mac
Criomhthain, who was king of Munster, was at that time in Magh-Cuirce,
the place to which Mochuda came. At the same time there fell a fire
ball which destroyed one of the king's residences, killing his wife,
many of his people and his son, Aodh Mac Cairbre, who were buried in the
falling ruin. There were killed there moreover two good carriage horses
of the king's. Cairbre besought Mochuda that he would restore the queen
and his son to life, and when the saint saw the king's faith he prayed
for him to God and then addressing the dead he said, - "Arise." They
arose thereupon and he gave them safe to the king and they all gave
glory and thanks to God and Mochuda. The king moreover made large
offerings of land and servile tenants to Mochuda. But one of the
tenants, through pride and jealousy, refused to obey Mochuda,
notwithstanding the king's command. Mochuda said: "Your posterity will
die out and their inheritance, for sake of which you (mis)behave towards
me, shall become mine for ever; whosoever takes from me that which
another has given me shall be deprived of heaven and earth." That man
and his posterity soon came to nought.

On another occasion Mochuda sent a golden belt to Fergus Mac Criomhthan
who suffered from uncleanness of skin arising from kidney disease and
upon application of the girdle, by the blessing of Mochuda he recovered.

Another time again a king of Munster, Cathal Mac Aodha, in the region of
Cuirche, was a sufferer from a combination of complaints - he was deaf,
lame, and blind, and when Mochuda came to see him the king and his
friends prayed the saint to cure him. Mochuda therefore prayed for him
and made the sign of the cross on his eyes and ears and immediately he
was healed of all his maladies - he heard and saw perfectly, and Cathal
gave extensive lands to God and Mochuda for ever, scil: - Oilean Cathail
and Ros-Beg and Ros-Mor and Inis-Pic [Spike Island]. Mochuda placed a
religious community in Ros-Beg to build there a church in honour of God.
Mochuda himself commenced to build a church on Inis-Pic and he remained
there a whole year. [On his departure] Mochuda left there - in the
monastery of Inis-Pic - to watch over it, in his stead, and to keep it
in perfect order - the three disciples whom we have already named
(scil: - the three sons of Nascon, i.e. Goban a bishop, Srafan a priest,
and holy Laisren) together with the saintly bishop, Dardomaighen
[Domangenum], (who had conferred orders on them in presence of Mochuda)
and forty monks. Thereupon Mochuda returned to Rahen. That island we
have mentioned, scil.: - Inis-Pic, is a most holy place in which an
exceedingly devout community constantly dwell.

Mochuda next directed his steps eastward through Munster and he crossed
the river then called Nemh, and now named the Abhainn More. As he
crossed he saw a large apple floating in the middle of the ford. This
he took up and carried away with him in his hand. Hence (that ford is
named) Ath-Ubhla in Fermoy [Ballyhooley]. His attendant asked Mochuda
for the apple, but the latter refused to give it saying - "God will work
a miracle by that apple and through me to-day: we shall meet Cuana Mac
Cailcin's daughter whose right hand is powerless so that she cannot move
it from her side. But she shall be cured by the power of God through
this apple." This was accomplished. Mochuda espied the child playing a
game with the other girls in the faithche [lawn] of the Lios. He
approached and said to her: - "Take this apple." She, as usual, put
forth her left hand for the fruit. "You shall not get it in that hand,
but take it in the other." The girl full of faith tried to put out the
right hand, and on the instant the hand became full of strength and
blood and motion so that she took the apple in it. All rejoiced thereat
and were amazed at the wonder wrought. That night Cuana said to his
daughter: "Choose yourself which you prefer of the royal youths of
Munster and whomsoever your choice be I shall obtain in marriage for
you." "The only spouse I shall have," said she, "is the man who cured
my hand." "Do you hear what she says O Mochuda?" said the king.
"Entrust the child to me," answered Mochuda, "I shall present her as a
bride to God who has healed her hand." Whereupon Cuana gave his
daughter Flandnait, together with her dowry and lands on the bank of
Nemh, to God and to Mochuda for ever. Cuana was almost incredibly
generous. Mochuda took the maiden with him to Rahen where she passed her
years happily with the religious women there till Mochuda was expelled
by the kings of Tara as you may hear. He took Flandnait with him (from
Rahen) in his party to her own native region that she might build
herself a cell there. She did build a famous cell at Cluain Dallain in
Mochuda's own parish.

Previous to his expulsion (from Rahen) Mochuda visited the place where
(later) he built Lismore and he heard the voice of persons reading at
Rahen, wherefore he said to his followers: "I know that this is the
place where God will permit us to build our monastery." This prophecy
was subsequently verified.

On a certain occasion Columcille came to Rahen where Mochuda was and
asked him: - "Is this place in which you now are dear to you?" "It is,
indeed," answered Mochuda. Columcille said: "Let not what I say to you
trouble you - this will not be the place of your resurrection, for the
king of Erin and his family will grow jealous of you owing to
machinations of some of the Irish clergy, and they shall eventually
drive you hence." Mochuda questioned Columcille who had a true
prophetic gift - "In what other place then will my resurrection be?"
Columcille told him - "The place where from the summit of Slieve Gua you
saw the host of angels building a chair of silver with a statue of gold
therein on the bank of the Nemh - there will your resurrection be, and
the chair of silver is your church in the midst of them [, and you are
truly the golden statue in its midst]." Mochuda believing what he heard
thanked and glorified God.

As Mochuda on another day was at Rahen there came to him a priest and
monk of his own community from the northern part of Munster; he made a
reverence as was the custom of the monks, in Mochuda's presence and said
to him, "Father, I have complied with all your commands and the precepts
of God from the day I left Rahen till now - except this - that, without
your permission, I have taken my brother from the secular life."
"Verily I say to you," answered Mochuda, "if you were to go to the top
of a high hill and to shout as loudly as you could and were to bring to
me all who heard the cry I should not refuse the habit of religion to
one of them." Hearing these words all realised the character and extent
of Mochuda's charity and returned thanks to God for it.

On a certain day about vesper time, because of the holiness of the hour,
Mochuda said to his monks: - "We shall not eat to-day till each one of
you has made his confession," for he knew that some one of them had ill
will in his heart against another. All the brethren thereupon confessed
to him. One of them in the course of his confession stated: "I love
not your miller and the cause of my lack of charity towards him is this,
that when I come to the mill he will not lift the loads off the horses
and he will neither help me to fill the meal sacks nor to load them on
the horse when filled. And not this alone but he does everything that
is disagreeable to me; moreover I cannot tell, but God knows, why he so
acts. Often I have thought of striking him or even beating him to
death." Mochuda replied, "Brother dear, the prophet says - 'Declina a
malo et fac bonum' [Psalm 36(37):27] (Avoid evil and do good). Following
this precept let you act kindly towards the miller and that charity of
yours will move him to charity towards you and ye shall yet be steadfast
friends." Things went on thus for three days - the monk doing all he
could to placate the miller. Nevertheless the miller did not cease his
persecution, nor the brother his hate of the miller. On the third day
Mochuda directed the brother to confess to him again. The brother said:
- "This is my confession, Father, I do not yet love the miller." Mochuda
observed: - "He will change to-night, and to-morrow he will not break
fast till you meet him and you shall sit on the same seat, at the same
table, and you shall remain fast friends for the rest of your lives."
All this came to pass; for that monk was, through the instruction of
Mochuda, filled with the grace of the Divine Spirit. And he glorified
and praised Mochuda, for he recognised him as a man favoured by the Holy
Ghost.

On another occasion two British monks of Mochuda's monastery had a
conversation in secret. Mochuda, they said, is very old though there is
no immediate appearance of approaching death - and there is no doubt that
his equal in virtue or good works will never be found - therefore if he
were out of the way one of us might succeed him. Let us then kill him
as there is no likelihood of his natural death within a reasonable time.
They resolved therefore to drown him in the river towards close of the
following night and to conceal all traces so that the crime could never
be discovered. They found him subsequently in a lonely place where he
was accustomed to pray. They bound him tightly and carried him between
them on their shoulders to the water. On their way to the river they
met one of the monks who used to walk around the cemetery every night.
He said to them: "What is that you carry?" They replied that it was
portion of the monastic washing which they were taking to the river. He
however, under the insistent suggestion of the Holy Spirit, believed
them not. He said: "Put down your load till we examine it." They were
constrained to obey and the burden proved to be - Mochuda. The monk who
detected [the proposed murder] was the overseer of the homestead. He
said mournfully, "My God, it is a dreadful work you are about." Mochuda
said gently: - "Son, it were well for me had that been done to me for I
should now be numbered among the holy martyrs. And it were bad for them
(the two wicked monks) for it is with Judas the betrayer of his Lord
they should be tortured for ever, who had desired my death for their own
advancement. Neither these wretched men themselves nor anyone of their
nation shall be my coarb for ever, but my successors shall be of his
race through whom God has rescued me. Moreover my city shall never be
without men of the British race who will be butts and laughing-stocks
and serve no useful purpose." The person who saved Mochuda was of the
Ciarraighe race and it is of that same people that the coarbs and
successors of Mochuda have commonly been ever since. [See note 2.]

Mochuda refused for a long while, as we have already said, to accept
cattle or horses from anyone; it was the monks themselves who dug and
cultivated the land and they did all the haulage of the monastery on
their own backs. St. Fionan however who was a kinsman of Mochuda and
had just returned from Rome, came at this time on a visit to the
monastery. He reproached Mochuda saying: "Mochuda, why do you impose
the burden of brute beasts upon rational beings? Is it not for use of
the latter that all other animals have been created? Of a truth I shall
not taste food in this house till you have remedied this grievance."
Thenceforth Mochuda - in honour of Fionan - permitted his monks to accept
horses and oxen from the people and he freed them from the hardship
alluded to. Sometime later the holy abbot, Lachtaoin [St. Lachten],
compassionating Mochuda and his monks because of their lack of cattle
paid a visit to Rahen bringing with him a gift of thirty cows and a
bull, also a couple of cattlemen and two dairymaids. Coming near Rahen
he left the cattle in a secluded place, for he did not wish them to be
seen. Thereupon he went himself to the monastery and simulating illness
requested a drink of milk. The house steward went to Mochuda to tell
him that Lachtaoin was ill and required milk. Mochuda ordered the
steward to fill a pitcher with water and bring it to him - and this order
was executed. Mochuda blessed the water which immediately was changed
into sweet new milk apparently of that day's milking. He sent the milk
to Lachtaoin but the latter identified it as milk miraculously produced;
he in turn blessed it with the result that it was changed back again
into water. He complained: - "It is not water but milk I have
asked for." The messenger related this fact publicly. Lachtaoin
declared: - "Mochuda is a good monk but his successors will not be able to
change water to milk," and to the messenger he said - "Go to Mochuda and
tell him that I shall not break bread in this house until he accept the
alms which I have brought to the community." On Mochuda agreeing to
accept them he handed over the cattle and dairymen to the monks of Rahen
and the stewards took charge of them. Mochuda said thereupon, that he
should not have accepted the cattle but as a compliment to Lachtaoin.
Lachtaoin replied: - "From this day forward there will be plenty cattle
and worldly substance in your dwelling-place and there will be a
multitude of holy people in the other place whence you are to depart to
heaven (for you will be exiled from your present home)." After they had
mutually blessed and taken leave and pledged friendship Lachtaoin
departed.

Once, at harvest time, the farm steward came to Mochuda complaining
that, though the crop was dead ripe, a sufficient number of harvesters
could not be found. Mochuda answered: "Go in peace, dear brother, and
God will send you satisfactory reapers." This promise was fulfilled,
for a band of angels came to the ripest and largest fields, reaped and
bound a great deal quickly, and gathered the crop into one place. The
monks marvelled, though they knew it was God's work and they praised and
thanked Him and Mochuda.

The spirit of obedience amongst Mochuda's monks was such that if any
senior member of the community ordered another to lie in the fire he
would be obeyed. As an instance of this, - some of the brethren were on
one occasion baking bread in an oven when one the monks said to another
younger than himself, "The bread is burning: take it out instantly."
There was an iron shovel for drawing out the bread but the brother could
not find it on the instant. He heeded not the flames which shot out of
the oven's mouth but caught the hot bread and shifted it with his hands
and suffered no hurt whatever. On another day the monks were engaged in
labour beside the river which runs through the monastery. One of the
senior monks called upon a young monk named Colman to do a certain piece
of work. Immediately, as he had not named any particular Colman, twelve
monks of the name rushed into the water. The readiness and exactness of
the obedience practised was displayed in this incident.

Great moreover was their meekness and patience in sickness or ill-health
as appears from the case of the monk out of the wounds of whose body
maggots fell as he walked; yet he never complained or told anyone or
left his work for two moments although it was plain from his appearance
that his health was declining, and he was growing thinner from day to
day. The brothers pitied him very much. At length Mochuda questioned
him - putting him under obedience to tell the truth - as to the cause of
his decline. The monk thereupon showed him his sides which were torn by
a twig tied fast around them. Mochuda asked him who had done that
barbarous and intolerable thing to him. The monk answered: - "One day
while we were drawing logs of timber from the wood my girdle broke from
the strain, so that my clothes hung loose. A monk behind me saw this
and cutting a twig tied it so tightly around my sides that it has caused
my flesh to mortify." Mochuda asked - "And why did you not loosen the
twig?" The monk replied - "Because my body in not my own and he who tied


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Online LibraryAnonymousLife of St. Declan of Ardmore and Life of St. Mochuda of Lismore → online text (page 7 of 9)