The Irish Fathers on the Invocation of Saints.
A celebrated French writer, Count Montalembert, says, " The history of the Catholic Church of the seventh century belongs to Ireland." In the seventh, and we may add in the sixth and eighth centuries, Ireland was the light of the Church of God. Not only did faith, piety, and the love of God flourish at home; not only did the hymn of praise from virgin lips, from hill and dale, ascend to heaven; not only was Erin the Island of Saints and the Island of scholars, at home, but abroad her apostolic Missionaries evangelized many countries in Europe; her scholars taught in the most famous schools on the Continent, and her martyrs fertilized with their blood the garden of the Church.
In the seventh century hordes of barbarians swept over Europe, not leaving behind them a vestige of religion, science, or civilization. Erin was then in peace and happy; her sons were engaged in prayer and study; and whilst on the Continent the lamp of science hardly flickered in its socket, in Ireland, the sun, not only of science and learning, but also of religion, shone forth in all the brilliancy of its meridian splendour. The day of bitter trial came. The foe, the stranger, the heretic, desolated the happy homes of Erin. The schools, with their priceless treasures of manuscripts, were reduced to ashes; the monasteries, on hill and dale, from which prayer and sacrifice for man's salvation ascended, like sweet incense, before the Almighty, were razed to the ground; and holy monks and priests were put to the sword or exiled to a foreign land. The ivy-mantled ruins, in countless numbers through the land, speak more eloquently than words of the past glories of our Church, and of the ruthless barbarities of the stranger and the heretic. Yet from amid this universal destruction of seats of learning, of famous monasteries, of libraries containing books and manuscripts, most precious and priceless, masterpieces of men of genius, of learning, and of world-wide fame, enough remains to attest the glories of our ancient Irish Church, and to make the Irishman glory in the faith of his fathers. Yes, there is a sacred brilliant halo round the ruins of our dear old land: they silently, but eloquently, tell of the glories of the past; they have transmitted from sire to son the traditions of the past; they are the unwritten books of history. No wonder, then, the Irishman, whether on his native hills or a forced or willing exile on the prairies of a foreign land, glories in St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, in St. Brigid, so beautifully styled the "Mary of Erin," in SS. Columbanus, Virgilius, Canice, Kieran, Ailby, Coleman, Finbar, Columba, Columbkill, and in the ten thousand other Saints of his dear Erin.
The learning and researches of modern writers, both at home and abroad, have brought to light what had been for centuries "sealed books." They have found and translated old manuscripts, priceless treasures of literature, which for ages were unknown and neglected in the libraries at home, and still more so, especially on the Continent. As might be expected, and to the great confusion of the heretics, these venerated relics of antiquity bear splendid testimony to the faith of our forefathers, and, with a golden chain, link in perfect harmony the faith and practices of the Church of the seventh and eighth centuries with those of the nineteenth.
In the old manuscripts are found many passages which prove to demonstration the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist, the Primacy of St. Peter, Devotion to 0ur Blessed Lady, Mary the Mother of God, and on our present subject, the Invocation of Saints.
We have before us such abundance of material on the Invocation of Saints, that we find it difficult to select passages; and space also obliges us to compress, not to swell, our little volume beyond its intended bulk.
The Blessed Virgin is the "Queen of Angels," and the "Queen of All Saints." The first proof, which we shall produce from ancient Irish literature, is a famous Litany of the Blessed Virgin, which consists of fifty-nine Invocations of 0ur Blessed Lady. This Litany has been translated from the "Leabhar Breac," "the oldest and best manuscript," says Dr. Petrie, "relating to Church history, now preserved in Ireland, or which the Irish ever possessed."* Of this Litany Eugene 0'Curry, the celebrated Irish scholar, says, "I believe it to be as old, at least, as the middle of the eighth century."
THE ANCIENT IRISH LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.
"0 great Mary, Pray for us.
0 Mary, the greatest of Marys, Pray for us.
0 greatest of women, Pray for us.
O Queen of the Angels, Pray for us.
0 Mistress of the Heavens, Pray for us.
O woman full and replete with the grace Pray for us.
of the Holy Spirit, Pray for us.
0 Blessed and most Blessed, Pray for us.
0 Mother of Eternal Glory, Pray for us.
0 Mother of the Heavenly and Earthly Church, Pray for us.
0 Mother of Love and Indulgence Pray for us.
0 Mother of the Golden Heights, Pray for us.
O Honour of the Sky, Pray for us.
0 Sign of Tranquillity, Pray for us.
0 Gate of Heaven, Pray for us.
0 Golden Casket, Pray for us.
0 Couch of Love and Mercy, Pray for us.
0 Temple of the Divinity, Pray for us.
0 Beauty of Virgins, Pray for us.
0 Mistress of the Tribes, Pray for us.
0 Fountain of the Parterres, Pray for us.
0 Cleansing of Sins, Pray for us.
0 Washing of Souls, Pray for us.
O Mother of the Orphans, Pray for us.
0 Breast of the Infants, Pray for us.
0 Solace of the Wretched, Pray for us.
O Star of the Sea. Pray for us.
0 Handmaid of God, Pray for us
0 Mother of Christ, Pray for us
0 Eosort of the Lord, Pray for us
0 Graceful like the Dove, Pray for us
0 Serene like the Moon, Pray for us
0 Resplendent like the Sun, Pray for us
0 Destruction of Eve's Disgrace, Pray for us
0 Regeneration of Life, Pray for us
0 Beauty of Women, Pray for us
0 Chief of the Virgins, Pray for us
0 Enclosed Fountain, Pray for us
0 Mother of God, Pray for us
0 Perpetual Virgin, Pray for us
'0 Prudent Virgin, Pray for us
0 Serene Virgin, Pray for us
O Chaste Virgin, Pray for us
0 Temple of the Living God, Pray for us
0 Royal Throne of the Eternal King, Pray for us
O Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, Pray for us
0 Virgin of the Root of Jesse, Pray for us
0 Cedar of Mount Libanon, Pray for us
0 Cypress of Mount Sion, Pray for us
0 Crimson Rose of the Land of Jacob Pray for us,
0 Blooming like the 0live Tree, Pray for us
0 Glorious Son-bearer, Pray for us
0 Light of Nazareth, Pray for us
0 Glory of Jerusalem, Pray for us
0 Beauty of the World, Pray for us
0 Noblest-born of the Christian Flock, Pray for us
0 Queen of Life, Pray for us
"0 Ladder of heaven, hear the petitions of the poor, spurn not the wounds and the groans of the miserable.
"Let our devotions and our sighs he carried through thee to the presence of the Creator; for we are not ourselves worthy of being heard, because of our evil deserts.
"0 powerful Mistress of heaven and earth, dissolve our trespasses and our sins; destroy our wickedness and our corruptions; raise the fallen and debilitated, and the fettered; loose the condemned; repair through thyself the transgressions of our immoralities and our vices; bestow upon us through thyself the blossoms and the ornaments of good actions and virtues; appease for us the Judge by thy voice and thy supplications; allow us not to be carried off from thee among the spoils of our enemies; allow not our souls to be condemned, but take us to thyself for ever under thy protection.
"We beseech and pray thee further, 0 Holy Mary, through thy great supplication from thy only Son. that is Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, that God may defend us from all straits and temptations; and obtain for us from the God of Creation, that we may all obtain from Him the forgiveness and remission of all our sins and trespasses; and that we may obtain from Him further, through thy supplications, the perpetual occupation of the heavenly kingdom, through the eternity of life, in the presence of the Saints, and the saintly virgins of the world, which may we deserve, may we occupy for all eternity. Amen."