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 Saint Malachy

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Saint Malachy   Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:46 pm

Mael m'Aodhog Ua Morgair - (c.1094 - 1148)

Church Reformer

Malachy was the son of a renowned teacher in Armargh (modern Northern Ireland). He was a devout and studious boy who attached himself to the hermit, Imar. His piety and virtue so impressed the Bishop Cellach of Armagh (r.1106 - 1129) that Malachy was made his Vicar.

Malachy was ordained (1119) and showed great reforming zeal in establishing the Roman Liturgy and other matters, including the Confession, Confirmation and Marriage Rites. He was part of a group of reformers who sought to enforce higher standards within the Celtic Church through strong central organisation derived from Rome. Malachy went to Lismore Monastery, County Waterford (1121) to study under Bishop Malchus, a man knowledgeable about the Church in England and in Rome.

Malachy was appointed Abbot of Bangor Monastery, Co. Down (1123) and set about rebuilding the monastery which had been destroyed by the Vikings. The following year he was appointed Bishop of Down and Connor (1124). Five years later, Malachy was named as the successor of the dying Cellach (1129) - this broke with hereditary tradition. However, an usurper claimed the Bishopric and Malachy was not consecrated until three years later (1132) and he finally entered the city of Armagh two years later (1134). Malachy was able to restore both peace and discipline.

Malachy did not remain Bishop of Armagh for long - he resigned and returned to Down (1137) and founded an Augustinian Priory at Downpatrick, Co. Down. Here he remained for two years before setting out for Rome to seek the pallum for the Archbishops of Armagh and Cashel (1139). En route to Rome, Malachy stayed at Clairvaux Abbey where he met his future biographer, St. Bernard (De vita et rebus gestis S. Maiachiae, Hiberniae episcopi). On the return journey, Malachy left four companions at Clairvaux to train under the Cistercian discipline.

Melifont Abbey became the first of 30 Cistercian abbeys in Ireland (1142) - this however, signalled the end for the Celtic Church.

Malachy would have remained at Clairvaux Abbey had not Pope Innocent II insisted that he return to Ireland as Papal Legate and convene the Council of Clergy and Kings to make a formal request for the pallia. Malachy was now able to diplomatically continue his reform work and set out for Rome again (1148). He was already in poor health prior to the journey and died at Clairvaux (2/11/1148). Malachy was canonised by Pope Clement III (1190).

Malachy is also renown for his series of Mottoes and Domesday Coda (or prophecies) composed (1140) upon his first journey to Rome. These "Prophecies of St.Malachy" have become the focus of a book "The Last Pope - the Decline and Fall of the Church of Rome" by John Hogue.


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