Saint Palladius, Bishop

July 6

Today is the feast day of Saint Palladius.  Ora pro nobis.

The name Palladius marks Saint Palladius as a Roman; and a seventh century Irish biography of Saint Patrick identifies him as Archdeacon of the Roman Church under Pope Celestine. Saint Prosper of Aquitaine, his contemporary, informs us in his historical chronicle that when Agricola, a noted Pelagian, had corrupted the churches of Britain by introducing that pestilential heresy, Pope Celestine, at the instance of Palladius the deacon, in 429 sent there Saint Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, as his legate. He, after having ejected the heretics, brought back the Britons to the Catholic faith. (1)

‘Palladius was dispatched to the Irish Christians at about the same time as Germanus of Auxerre was sent to the Christians in Britain. Germanus had been dispatched to Britain in AD 429 to combat the heretical teachings of Pelagius. Active from around the year 400, Pelagius was a British monk who had developed a doctrine of human free will. Since this conflicted with the Catholic doctrine of grace, Pelagius was declared a heretic in 418. In his Ecclesiastical History Bede tells us that Germanus had refuted Pelagianism in Britain through the healing power of relics (H.E. 1, 17ff.). A similar function could be attributed to the relics Palladius brought to Ireland. If this was the case, it would indicate that Rome assumed a rather highly-developed level of Christianity amongst the Irish. (2)

” The Vita Secunda, Life of St. Patrick in Colgan’scollection, adds further interesting details: “The most blessed Pope Celestine ordained Bishop the Archdeacon of the Roman Church, named Palladius, and sent him to the Island of Hibernia, after having committed to him the relics of Blessed Peter and Paul and other Saints, and having also given him the volumes of the Old and New Testament. Palladius, entering the land of the Irish, arrived at the territory of the men of Leinster where Nathi Mac Garchon was chief, who was opposed to him. Others, however, whom the Divine mercy had disposed toward the worship of God, having been baptized in the name of the sacred Trinity, the blessed Palladius built three churches in the same district; one, which is called Cellfine, in which even to the present day, he left his books which he had received from St. Celestine, and the box of relics of blessed Peter and Paul and other Saints, and the tablets on which he used to write, which in the Irish language are called from his name Pallere, that is, the burden of Palladius, and are held in veneration. Another, Tech-na-Roman, and the third, Domnach Arcdec, in which are buried the holy men of the companions of Palladius, Sylvester and Sallonius, who are honoured there. After a short time Palladius died in the plain of Girgin in a place which is now called Fordun. but others say that he was crowned with martyrdom there.” Another ancient document, known as the Vita Quinta in Colgan’swork, repeats the particulars given here relating to the foundation of three churches, and adds: “But St. Palladius, seeing that he could not do much good there, wishing to return to Rome, migrated to the Lord in the region of the Picts.

The saint died at Fordun, the capital town of the little county of Mernis, fifteen miles from Aberdeen to the south, about the year 450. His relics were preserved with religious respect in the monastery of Fordun, as Hector Boetiu  and Camden testify. In the year 1409, William Scenes, archbishop of St. Andrew’s and primate of Scotland, enclosed them in a new shrine enriched with gold and precious stones. (4)

It is easy to conceive how painful and laborious the mission of this saint must have been; but where there is ardent love, labour seems a pleasure, and either is not felt or is a delight. It is a mark of sloth and impatience for a man to count his labours, or so much as to think of pains or sufferings in so glorious an undertaking. St. Palladius surmounted every obstacle which a fierce nation had opposed to the establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Ought not our hearts to be impressed with the most lively sentiments of love and gratitude to our merciful God, for having raised up such great and zealous men, by whose ministry the light of true faith has been conveyed to us.  (4)

Image: (1)

Research by REGINA Staff


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