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permit, the famous St. Simeon and the other Stylites of the East*. By living within the column instead of the outside of it, they avoided the ostentation which the western bishops objected to, and by having a covering over their heads, they were protected from the greatest severity of the weather; as it was indispensably necessary they should be in this northern climate. If we examine the door-ways of the towers, we find them universally raised from the ground, generally to the heighth of from eight to twenty feet. Hence we may conclude that they were not made to be easily entered into, or for any of the ordinary purposes of life. They are also generally ornamented in the Saxon style; because the ceremony of introducing the anchorite into the door of that cell, from which he was no more to go out, like a monastic profession, was conducted with much solemnity t. It required a ladder to get into the tower, which the recluse, of
* It is certain that St. Simeon's STUλ was round, and though Raderus speaks of the cells usually built for the Inclusi of Bavaria as being square, yet, it is certain, that in a matter of optional devotion, such as the one in question, there was no fixed ecclesiastical law. I have observed that the piers for supporting large doors and gates, as also many other buildings in Ireland, are made in a circular form with a conical cap upon them. Whence could this singular style have been derived, except from the round towers? And from what models are the round towers themselves copied, except from the columns of the eastern anchorets?
In the life of St. Raynerus the Anchoret, it is said: “Cum "multa devotione et reverentia clausus est inclusorio juxta ostium "majoris ecclesiæ."
course, drew up after him when he entered, and which would be equally necessary for him to ascend or to descend from one story to another. He would occupy which ever story suited the weather, his health, or his devotion; but he would undoubtedly receive the priest, who came to communicate him, or the charitable person who brought him provisions, or the pious Christian who sought his advice* in the lower apartment, next to the door.
Upon the whole, Sir, I have no sort of doubt that these curious and singular monuments of Irish antiquity were built for the habitation of anchorites, within a century or two after the conversion of the island. They are admirably well adapted and situated for the purposes of these recluses, and they bear as near a resemblance as circumstances would permit with the TUλa of the admired Syrian hermits. It is impossible to shew what other purpose they were calculated for, and it is equally impossible to discover the vestiges of any other Clusoria in the neighbourhood of the great churches; which, however, we know to have heretofore existed near many of them. But, after all, the present
We learm from St. Bernard that St. Malachy, afterwards Archbishop of Armagh, in the 12th century, applied for religious instruction, when a youth, to a holy solitary, by name Imarus, who was shut up in a cell near the cathedral of the said city, probably in a round tower. St. Bern. in vita St. Malach. c. z.
antiquarian disquisition is insignificant compared with that which I am next required to enter upon, namely, what species of Christianity was originally preached to the Irish nation?
I am, &c.
Cashel, July 23, 1807.
IN treating of the important
subject of antiquity, which I announced at the conclusion of my last letter, I have to combat two principal adversaries, being persons of very different characters, attainments, and systems; but, nevertheless, combined together in the same cause, that of robbing the Irish Catholics of their ancient faith. These persons are Archbishop Usher and Dr. Ledwich. They both maintain that the original Christianity of Ireland was not Catholic, but rather the reverse of it. They are, however, in very different and inconsistent stories with respect to the source and
nature of this Christianity, as will appear from the following abstret of their respective systems. Archbishop Usher says: "Unquestionably there was a missionary from Rome, of the name of "Patrick, who, together with his disciples, "converted the greater part of our Irish ances"tors from Paganism to Christianity, about the "middle of the fifth century. All history attests it, and it would be madness to deny it. But I can prove, from the very acts of this apostle, "from venerable Bede, and other ancient doc"tors of the Church, that the religion then imported by St. Patrick was different in its essen"tial parts from that professed by the Catholics "at the present time."-On the other hand, Dr. Ledwich exclaims: "Away with the phan"toms invented by missionaries of the ninth
century, in imitation of Mars, Minerva, and Juno. There never was such a man at all as St. "Patrick, the apostle of Ireland; and it is cer"tain that the Irish were converted to a religion "the very reverse of Popery, by certain un"known preachers from Asia ; which pure reliἐκ gion continued in Ireland down to the year "1152. As to Ware, Harris, and Primate Usher, "they had not even a tolerable idea of our origi "nal episcopacy *; and when they appeal to the "testimony of Bede and the English Saxon "church, in opposition to Popery, they appeal to " acknowledged Papists."I shall first pay
See Antig. p. 87.
attention to the arguments of the Archbishop, as they are detailed by Harris, after which I shall · again notice the declamations of Ledwich*: the occasion, however, requires that I should compress both the former and the latter, as likewise my answers, within as small a compass as possible.
1. It is urged by Usher, that the Christianity which prevailed in the age of St. Patrick. and a considerable time afterwards, could not be the religion of modern Catholics, because the poet Sedulius in the fifth century, and our venerable Bede in the eighth, strongly recommended the reading of the holy scriptures. -But does the Catholic Church in these times forbid the reading of them ?-On the contrary, she imposes a strict obligation of reading them upon all her clergy, and she interdicts the practice to no one, but only expresses a desire that they who apply to it may have some previous tincture of literature, or at least that they may be possessed of a docile and humble mind, so as to be willing to admit her interpretation of the many things hard to be understood, which occur. in them. In the mean time, I might quote whole volumes of passages from the Fathers
* See a Dissertation annexed to the Life of St. Patrick.
t2 Pet. iii. 16.
↑ See in particular amongst St. Patrick's cotemporaries, St. Basil, Lib. de Spir. S. c. 27. St. John Chrys. in Orat. 4. in Epist. ad Thessal. and St. Vincent of Lerins, in the whole of his golden work, called, Commonitorium adversus profanas Hæreseon novitates.