Monday, May 7, 2012

That Irish saint who was in the news mid-March

That's right, it's March & lately there's been a saint in the news.  An Irish saint.  & I am delighted to tell you it is Lorcán Ua Tuathail.  That's the Irish name of the Patron Saint of Dublin:  Laurence O'Toole.  & the reason he is in the news?  Someone stole his heart.

& that is as far as I got when my life got busy & I could either live it or blog about.  So here is our March saint in early May:

Before he was Lorcan, doesn't that sound like a name right out of a Harlequin Presents?  Let me start again:  before he was Lorcan, Archbishop of Dublin, he was Lorcan one of four sons born to one of innumerable Irish princesses & a king's man to one of the multiple kings of Leinster.  Unsurprisingly, Lorcan spent a chunk of his youth as a hostage (it meant something slightly other then) to his father's good behavior in the house of said king.

It was also typical that one son at least go into the church & legend has it his father tossed a coin or drew straws or something to decide which boy it would be.  This made me laugh actually, because I know a catechism class who was having trouble remembering the Apostles Creed for their confirmation & took to betting the recitations.  When they were found out there was hell to pay & now it turns out gambling is not quite so frowned upon as they had been lead to believe.

So Lorcan was chosen for the church, did well, & eventually became Archbishop of Dublin which I am sure made his parents very proud.   He spent a bit of time mediating between warring factions in Leinster; it probably helped that he was related to more than a few of them.  A Norman invasion & a few sieges later, Lorcan is still top church man for miles around.  Then, while giving mass he was attacked, much like Thomas a Becket, but he got up again & being tired of mucking around went to Rome for official papers & received a papal bull naming him big church cheese of Dublin.  When he got back, he cleaned house, sending a number of other appointments back to Rome under charges of corruption etc.  Today's church could take a page, frankly.

All fairly normal.  He left Ireland again (taking hostages naturally) & died before he could return.  When urged to make a will, he replied he had nothing to leave.  He had lived a life of as-close-to-poverty as the son of nobles, moving among nobles, commanding the respect of nobles could be expected to do.  At feasts, he was said to drink water colored to look like wine so as not to make those who indulged self conscious but not violate his own vows.  I'm not sure if this makes me like him more or less.

He is patron of Dublin, his feast day is November 14 & that was about it until last March.  Oh he was revered & they had parades & the locals seem quite fond of him even 800 years since he died, but lets jump up to March 2012.  But first lets jump back again.  Remember I said he died on the road?  Well he did.  When this happened, it wasn't super unusual for the body to be made into parts, each part going or staying.  His skull went to England centuries after his death & then went missing.  But his heart went back to his own parish church.  & there it....resided, I guess in a wooden heart shaped box, surrounded by an iron cage & locked with a great big medieval looking lock

& then in March someone took it.  They walked past golden chalices that could have been melted down, even if you couldn't find a black market buyer, past beyond antique candlesticks, cut the iron cage & left with the heart-shaped box (I'm sorry, it was just irresistible).

Is it me or this beginning to sound like a Dan Brown novel?  It gets even more so:  one of the advantages of falling behind is a little time gives a little perspective.  The primary suspects are, wait for it, Travelers.  Apparently, they are big in rhino horn trade (a market I had no idea had any connection with the Irish Republic, but there you are).  If Dan Brown wrote this, I think he would be accused of going just too absurd.

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