Monday, March 13, 2017

Beannachtai Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Cover of an old prize-book,
St Patrick's College, Maynooth

The above is a very traditional representation of St Patrick. Every Sunday in St Mary's we gaze up at him in his bishop's robes in the stained-glass window above the altar, between St Brigid and St Colmcille. Next Friday is his day, then, and we (especially those called after him) will think of him in many different ways, each of us conjuring up our own images and associations. The fact that there are so many schools, colleges, hospitals (e.g. St Patrick's), streets (e.g. our own St Patrick's Crescent, Rathcoole) and even towns (e.g. Patrickswell) called after him shows just how deeply influenced Ireland has been by this British-born propagator of the faith who, back in Britain after six years' captivity in Ireland, heard as in a dream the haunting voice of the Irish calling him to come, this time voluntarily, and walk among them once more.

One lasting association for me. Many years ago, my wife and I found ourselves abroad (in London) on St Patrick's day. As it happened, evening drew on without our having done anything to mark the day, even (mea culpa, because of an all-day meeting for me) going to Mass. We decided to go to a production of Hamlet. It looked like the day was thus going to end on a Shakespearean note far removed from St Patrick and Ireland. The first act unrolls and scene five arrives. Hamlet sees his father's ghost and, after rejoining his friends, tries to conceal what has happened, while apologizing to Horatio for his mysteriousness. Horatio reassures him, saying, 'There's no offence, my lord' but Hamlet disagrees: 'Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio, / And much offence too.'  (The ghost has come from purgatory and the saint is invoked here because of his connection, known far and wide in medieval times, with St Patrick's Purgatory, Lough Derg, Co. Donegal.)

So, against all expectations and quite unintentionally, we did mark St Patrick's Day that year after all!

Please see the Newsletter 12.3 for times of Masses and details of the local parade.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Feast of St Brigid / Lá Fhéile Bríde

St Brigid in East Window
Saggart Church
The above photo is not a very good one but will have to do until a better one can be found/supplied.  The feast-day of St Brigid prompts us to take a close look at this window that we know so well but never really dwell on.   Seeing it up close, however indistinctly (click to enlarge), we notice that the name is in Latin (S. Brigida). We also notice that she is bearing a branch of  oak leaves, symbolizing the Church of the Oak Tree (Cill Dara).  (Next year we will feature the fine window of St Brigid in Newcastle church.)

There is still a community of sisters in Kildare today, the convent of the Brigidine Sisters called Solas Bhríde.  Read about the community here and about how they are celebrating their founder's feast-day here. The life of the Brigidine convent and school in Mountrath which closed in 2009 is recalled in these photos.

Contrasting with the 19th century window in our parish church is the window in St Mary's, Ballinrobe, created by Harry Clarke in the following century, an account of which can be found here (not easy to read in parts, e.g. on the subject of the oak leaves). 

But what is surely one of the most spectacular (as we have to call it) visual portraits of St Brigid is to be seen in northern Italy, in the early 16th century chapel located in the grounds of the Villa Suardi in Bergamo. In 1524 the Renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto depicted scenes from the life of St Brigid (as well as St Barbara) in frescoes that should -- in addition to our own homely portrait in Saggart, of course, -- really concentrate our minds on her feast-day. See here for a description of the wonderful frescoes, making sure to to click on the links at the bottom of the page for some really close-up views. (For a general account of the Villa Suardi in a fairly obvious English translation from the original Italian, see here.  Details of the St Brigid fresco are given in the 6th and 5th paragraphs from the end.)

Finally, back to our own excellent art/craft work in Saggart: 

St Brigid's Cross (work of Mervyn Ennis)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Belated New Year Wishes

Cover of an Old Writing Pad
click on photo to enlarge

     May God 

     look after us all in 2017   

     And may we 

     look after each other

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Timetable 2016

St Mary's, Saggart,  Evening of  Carol Service, 18th December
Click on photo to enlarge

For times of Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation over the Christmas period from Christmas Eve to the Feast of the Epiphany (6th January), please click  here.

For a Christmas Message from Fr John,  please click  here.

Christmas Light, Newcastle

May the light of the Star of Bethlehem
that guided the Magi long ago
guide us all
today.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent Carol Service Sunday 18th

Carol Service, St Mary's, Sunday 13 December 2015 
(Photo: Liam Roche. Click to enlarge.)
A carol service will take place in St Mary's, Saggart, on Sunday 18th, 7.30 p.m.  Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served afterwards.  (See Newsletter for 11th December.)