St. Macartan, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Clogher
The story goes that as word reached the Kingdom of Airghealla, the region that is Clogher Diocese today, King Eochaidh, pronounced 'Uckoo', sent his son, Prince Cairbre to warn Patrick and Macartan not to enter his kingdom or attempt to introduce Christianity to his subjects. Just before Cairbre rode off with his troops his mother gave him an apple to enjoy on his journey. On meeting the two Christian missionaries Cairbre rather than offering murderous threats on behalf of his father asked for baptism instead. On the occasion of Cairbre's introduction of Patrick and Macartan to his royal father the King wielded a sword at Patrick. Macartan touched and froze the King's shoulder causing him to drop the deadly weapon. At this magical intervention King Eochaidh, though declining baptism, permitted Patrick and his disciple to continue the mission through his Kingdom. Patrick ordained Macartan as bishop of Clogher, the village in Tyrone, after which the diocese is named.
On 5th September 2004 Bishop Joseph duffy unveiled on the occasion of his silver jubilee as bishop a statue of 'St. Macartan and the Prince' sculpted by Ken Thompson from Ballytrasna, County Cork. It shows Cairbre kneeling with an apple in his hand and Macartan wearing the symbols of the Gospels on his chasuble; the Man for St. Matthew, the Lion for St. Mark, the Ox for St. Luke and the Eagle for St. John.
St. Macartan is called in the Irish language the 'Trean Fhear', the 'Strong Man' from which the North Monaghan popular surname 'Treanor' derives. Patrick was at times so weak and aged that Macartan carried him on his back through rivers, fields and forests.
Among the tapestries by Frances Biggs hanging behind the Bishop's Chair in St. Macartan's Cathedral, the one on the left depicts events from the life of Macartan.The events in his life are listed below the photograph.
1. Macartan in orange receives the bishop's staff and the 'Domhnach Airgid' from St. Patrick (bottom left)
2. Macartan crosses the river (lower right)
3. Macartan sets out with staff in hand to found his church in Clogher (centre right)
4. Macartan reads his Bible in his church in a light radiated by faith (mid-centre)
5.Macartan seated at table offers bread with two guests. The bread denotes Eucharist and hospitality. (top left)
6. The scenes of the miracle of the corn falling like snow over the table and the spring from which water that tasted like wine flowed, are depicted. (most top left)
The St. Macartan Icon below, also in the Cathedral, was designed by Luis Alverez of Mexico and painted for the 1500th anniversary of the saint in 2006. Three scenes in the life of St. Macartan appear at the bottom of the icon.
Macartan, at the dawn of Christianity in Ireland
your faithfulness in supporting St. Patrick
enabled the good news of the Gospel
to be told in our land.
May the Word of God be reborn in us.
May we in our time promote
collaboration among the people of God,
and lend a hand to those in our families,
and parish communities that may be in need.
May the Spirit of God,
sustain and strengthen us in our friendships with one another
on our journey towards the light,
Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
A Thiarna Dia,
éist le h-urnai do Eaglaise.
an neart a bhí ag Naomh Mac Cáirthinn,
an seirbhíseach dílis a bhí ag Naomh Pádraig,
ionas go n-éirigh leis-sean,
buachan ar gach olc
agus go ndéanfaimid thú a adhradh
go cráifeach agus go cuí.
Sin é ár nguí chugat
trínár d'Tiarna Íosa Críost do Mhac
a mhaireann agus rialaíonn leatsa,
mar aon leis an Spiorad Naomh, ina Dia,
trí shaol na saol.
Photographer: Donal Mc Enroe