Saturday 19 July 2008

Report on the Walking Pilgrimage

On Saturday, 12th July, with the kind permission of the Parish Priest of Allen, 52 souls gathered in St. Brigid’s Church, Milltown, Co. Kildare, Ireland, for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Revd. Fr. Desmond Flanagan, Ord. Carm., according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin granted the Plenary Indulgence of the Holy Year of St. Paul to all those who attended the Mass, under the usual conditions.

The Church at Milltown has the rare distinction of having been built in 1817, before Catholic Emancipation, that is to say, it was built while Catholicism was still an illegal practice in Ireland.

It was in the same Parish that several of the Bishops of Kildare hid during the centuries of persecution known as the Penal times. Bishop James Doyle wrote of it on 6th of May, 1823: “I am here placed in the centre of an immense bog, which takes its name from a small hill under whose declivity the chapel and house are built, where I now write. What perhaps interests me most in the wide and vast expanse of the Bog of Allen is, that it afforded, for nearly two centuries, a place of refuge to the apostolic men who have gone before me in preaching the faith, and administering the sacraments to a people in every respect worthy of such pastors. The haunts and retreats frequented by the Bishops of Kildare in the times of persecution are still pointed out by aged inhabitants of these marshes with a sort of pride mingled with piety; and they say-‘There he administered Confirmation; here he held an assembly of the clergy; on that hill he ordained some young priests, whom he sent to France to Spain, to Italy; and we remember, or we heard, how he lived in yonder old walls in common with the young priests whom he prepared for the mission. He sometimes left us with a staff in his hand, and being absent months, we feared he would never return; but he always came back, until he closed his days amongst us. Oh! If you saw him; he was like St. Patrick himself.’ What think you, my dear friend, must be my reflections on hearing of the danger, and labours, and virtues of these good men, and what a reproach to my own sloth, and sensuality, and pride! They of whom the world was not worthy, and who went about in fens and morasses, in nakedness, and thirst, and hunger, and watching, and terror, will be witnesses against me for not using to the best advantage the blessings which their merits have obtained from God for their children. Their spirit, indeed, seems to dwell here, and in those remote and uncultivated districts there are found a purity and simplicity of morals truly surprising. From five to six o’ clock this morning the roads and fields were covered with poor people, young and old, healthy and infirm, hurrying to see the Bishop, and assist at his Mass, and hear his instructions. They thought he should be like those saints whom they had seen or heard of to have gone before him” (Quoted in Dr. Comerford’s history of the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin)

Surely, this Mass would not have been unfamiliar to our forefathers in the Faith.

A view from the pews.

Following Mass, 16 members and friends of St. Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association participated in a walking pilgrimage for vocations, as part of their efforts to mark the Year of Vocations that has been proclaimed by the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland, running from Vocations Sunday 2008 (13th April) to Vocations Sunday 2009 (3rd May).

Follow Peter! The pilgrims were led by a Papal Flag.

Pilgrims sang hymns and prayed the Holy Rosary and Litanies as they walked. The first stop was Fr. Moore’s Well. This Holy Well is near the site of the house of Fr. John Moore (1779-1826), who was Curate of the Parish of Allen and much reputed for sanctity of life and the power to heal, particularly to heal those afflicted with ailments of the head. His hat, which is now kept in Westmeath, is a precious relic of this saintly Priest, said to carry this healing power. Fr. Moore’s well is still a popular place of pilgrimage.

Pilgrims make the ‘rounds’ of the Well.
The site of the original Well is next to the pool used for prayer by pilgrims.
Votive offerings left at the shrine at the Well.

Leaving Fr. Moore’s Well, the pilgrims headed for the Curragh Plains. This is a glacial outwash plain of about 5,000 acres. The Curragh is steeped in history. In particular, it is associated with St. Brigid of Kildare, Secondary Patroness of Ireland, to whose Convent in Kildare the lands of the Curragh were attached by means of a miraculous bargain with the King of Leinster. Colgan tells us that St. Brigid was granted as much land as her mantle would cover in return for having cured the King of Leinster of a deformity. It is said that when her mantle was spread it covered the present Curragh.

In the 12th Century, Geraldus Cambrensis wrote: “There are also here the most delightful plains, which are called the pasturage of St Brigid, into which no one dares to enter a plough and of which it is estimated as a miracle that although the cattle of the whole province may have clipped the grass close to the ground in the evening it will appear the next morning as high as ever, and it has been said of these pastures: 'As much as the herds crop during the long day, so much does the cold dew restore during the short night'.”

The head of the pilgrimage reaches the Curragh.


Donnelly's Hollow said...

This was a great event! Mass was beautiful and the walk was very prayerful. The picnic was delicious! The organisers deserve great credit!

Jim'll Fix It! said...

A great day! There should be more penitential walks like this. The next one should remember the Holy Souls who died during the persecutions. The De profundis after Mass brought me back to serving Mass in my childhood.

Shandon Belle said...

I'm a regular participant in the Chartres Walk. There is definitely a need to create more mini-Chartres pilgrimages in Ireland. You should also post information on the Tochar Pádraig and the Bealach Colm Cille. Either is about four times the length of this Walking Pilgrimage but I guess you have to start somewhere.

Convenor said...

If you enjoyed it, tell your friends!

God bless,

St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association