History of St. Malachy

 

St. Malachy was born in Armagh in 1094 and was baptised Máel Máedóc. He spent most of his early life studying. In 1119, he was ordained to the priesthood. In 1123, he was chosen as Abbot of Bangor and a year later, in 1124 he was consecrated as Bishop of Down and Connor. Later he was appointed as the Archbishopric of Armagh, a dignity he accepted with great reluctance. He became deeply involved in the re-organisation of the hierarchy of the Irish Church, begun in 1110 (Synod of Rathbraesail). In connection with this work, he set out to visit the Pope in Rome. On the way he stayed at the Cistercian Monastery of Clairvaux, where he met St. Bernard. This experience lead to the establishment of the first Cistercian Monastery in Ireland, Mellifont Abbey in 1142. In his writings St. Bernard recalls many interesting stories about St. Malachy. He praised his zeal for religion both in Down and Connor and Armagh. Malachy was credited with restoring the discipline of the church which had grown. Malachy reformed and reorganised the Irish Church and brought it into subjection to Rome. He proved to be a zealous reformer and a promoter of monasticism. When he felt he had achieved his objectives as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Malachy resigned from Armagh in 1136/37 and returned to Down. In 1148 St. Malachy made a second journey to Rome, to request the pallia for the newly established Archbishop in Ireland. Sadly, he died at Clairvaux, on 2nd November, 1148. St. Malachy was canonized by Pope Clement III in 1190 and his feast is observed on November, 3rd, so as not to conflict with All Souls Day. He is Patron Saint of the Archdiocese of Armagh and the Diocese of Down and Connor.

The artistic panel of St. Malachy in the school foyer depicts key elements associated with his life. The design is based on the ancient high crosses of Ireland. St. Malachy wears the stole and chasuble which symbolise his ordination to the priesthood. The mitre on his head represents his elevation as Bishop and later Archbishop. A small on the panel reminds us of the time Malachy spent at Mellifont. Deprived from the Latin “mel” – honey and “fonsil” fountain. The bee’s scapular-like vestment is visible. This is called a ‘pallium’. It is made of white wool decorated with black crosses, and was given to Malachy whenever he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh. The pallium symbolises the Archbishop’s sharing of the authority with the Pope. Other symbols that are shown are: - The book of the Roman Liturgy which St. Malachy introduced to replace the earlier Celtic (Stowe) Missal. - The faces at the bottom of the panel are done in the style of the ancient high crosses. They represent the pagan gods which Christianity replaced in Ireland. - The place names of Clairvaux and Mellifont refer to the respective Cistercian monasteries Malachy visited in France and established in Ireland. Cashel, Tuam, Dublin and Armagh, the names of the four archdioceses, were also significant in the life of St. Malachy. -The image of the Inich abbey represents the local link with the saint. The coat of arms is that of the Dioceses of Down and Connor where St. Malachy was Bishop.

 

   
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