Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/808

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734

ARMAGH


r34


ARMAGH


St. Martin of Tours", by Sulpicivis Severus. At the bottom of folio 16 lertio, there is an enti^' whicli the Bcribe says was made "in conspectu I5riani inipera- toris ScoYorum", that is, in the presence of Brian Borumha, probably in tlie year 1002.

St. Bernard, writing in the twelfth century, in his "Life of Malachi", speaks of a certain book which, he says, was one of the marks of the primatial rights of the See of Annagh. This was probably the "Liber Ardmachanus". In such high estimation was this Book held that a custodian was appointed for it and in virtue of his office he had, as his re- muneration, no less than eight townlands. It was probably one of his functions to carry the Book on occasions of state and ceremony. The name of the keeper (in Irish, Maor, "steward") became in the course of time the family name of the keeper, since the office was hereditary, and they became known as mac (pi. meic) Maor. or, anglicized, Moyre, Moyer. The precious Book thus changed hands frequently, and there is mention in the records that it was once pawned as security for a claim of five pounds. In the latter part of the seventeenth century it passed from the hands of the MacMoyres into the possession of the Brownlow family of Lurgan. with whom it remained until 1853, when it was purchased for three hundred pounds by the Irish antiquarian. Dr. Reeves, and by him transferred, on the same terms, to the .Anglican primate Beresford, who presented it to the Library of Trinity College. There is evidence to show that the Book was often used when giving testimony, and that oaths were sworn, and covenants ratified on it. This may account for some of the pages having the appearance of having been rubbed or touched frequently.

The Irish of the Book of Armagh is of the greatest importance for the history of the Irish language. It is not only one of the very oldest monuments of the Old-Irish, since it is antedated only by the frag- mentary glosses in the Irish manuscripts preserved on the Continent, but it is the earliest extant speci- men of a continuous narrative in Irish prose. It represents the language of the end of the seventh, or of the beginning of the eighth, century. The phonetic peculiarities of the Irish of that period, as evidenced in the Book of Armagh, are described briefly by Whitley Stokes and John Strachan in the preface to the second volume of their "Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus", XIII, sqq. This same volume contains all the Irish found in the Book of Armagh.

On the date of the manuscript, see Charles Graves, in t\\e Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, III, 316 sq.,356 sqq. The manuscript has been described by George Petrie in his Inquiry into the Origin and Uses of the Round Towers^ of Irelund, in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, XX, 330 sqq. All the documents in the Book relating to St. Patrick are in Whitley Stokes's The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick. pt. II, 1887, and were reprinted by E. Hogan, from the AnaUcta Bollartdiana. I and 11, under the caption Excerpta hibemica ex Libra Armnchano, in his Outlines of the Grammar of Old-Irish (Dublin, lilOO). See also Stuart, Historical Me- moirs of the City of Armagh, ed. Coleman (Dublin, 1900); Betham, Irish Antiquarian Researches, II. 1827; Healy, Ancient Schools of Ireland (1st ed., Dublin). 103-105. A critical, definitive edition of the whole Codex, reproducing the text "diplomatically", was projected by the late Dr. Reeves, ced for immediate publication by Professor


It

Gwynn of Dublin.

Joseph Dunn. Annagh, The School op, seems to have been the oldest, and down to the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion continued to be one of the most celebrated, of the ancient schools of Ireland. It dates, so far as we can judge, from the very foundation of the See of Armagli, for it has always boon regarded as one of the primary duties of a bishon to make due pro- vision tor the education of his clergy, and as far as possible under his own immediate supervision. St. Patrick was certainly not the man to neglect this important duty. When the foreign clergy of various grades who had accompanied the apostle to Ireland


had been all assigned to the care of the first churches which he had foimded in Meath and Connaught, iV became necessary to train native youth for the ser- vice of the Church. For this purpose Patrick estab- lished a kind of peripatetic school. That is to say, when he found a likely subject for the ministry, especially amongst the youthful bards cr brehons, he took him into his own missionarj' train, wrote a catechism of Christian doctrine for him, and then handed him over to one of his clerics to be instructed in the Ordo of the Mass and the administration of the sacraments. It was the very best thing that could be done at the time, but it was, of course, only a temporary expedient. Armagh was founded most probably in 457, that is, in the twenty-fifth year after the founding of Trim as we arc expressly told in the "Notes to Tirechan". We may fairly assume that one of the very first things Patrick did was to establish a school in connexion with his own cathedral, for the training of the clergy, and no doubt he himself exercised a general supervision over the direction of the infant semina^^^ But he was now too old to teach in person, and so his coadjutor in .\rmagh would naturally be chief director of the Cathedral School. His first coadjutor, his nephew Sechnall, died about this time, or earlier, and Benig- nus, Irish secretaiy and psalm-singer to the saint, was chosen to succeed Sechnall in the office of co- adjutor; so, we may fairly assume, he became the first rector of the School of Armagh.

Benignus was admirably qualified for the office. There is some reason to think that his family be- longed to the bardic order, and we know that he had been trained by Patrick in sacred learning from his early youth and was, moreover, well versed in the language and learning of his native land. Hence, we find that he was appointed secre- tary to the great Commission of Nine, which a few years before had been constituted for the purifica- tion of the Brehon Laws. He was also chief singer in the church services, and to him the original com- pilation of the "Book of Rights" has been always attributed. No doubt the School of .\rmagh would be primarily a great theological seminary, not only for Patrick's royal city or see, but also for students from all parts of Ireland; for the chief seat of eccle- siastical authority should also be the fountain of sound doctrine for all the land. But under such a rector as Benignus we may be sure that due attention would be paid to the cultivation of the ancient language of Erin, and also of her bardic history and romantic tales, which were all familiar to him from his youth. Still, sacred science would be the chief study of Armagh, and, above all, the constant and profound study of the Scripture would be the primary purpose of its scholars. Their theological studies were all based on Scripture, and although theology had not yet assimied the scien- tific form which was given to it by the great scholas- tic doctors, and which has ever since been retained ami brouglit to higher perfection in the Church, they were careful to expound the positive theology of tne Latin Fathers, whose writings w-ere well known in .\rmagh, as we know, to some extent, from the "Book of Armagh" itself.

One of the most famous books at a somewhat later period in all the schools of Ireland and especially at Armagh, was the "Morals" of St. Oregon,' the Great. It is a large treati.se in thirty-five books, and, although nominally merely a commentary on the Book of Job, it is in reality one of the most beautiful works on moral theology in its widest sense that has ever been penned. Kvery verse of Job is made the text for a homily; not a homily of a formal character, but a series of moral reflections conveyed in sweet and touching language, in which argument and ex- hortation arc very liappily blended. On Sacred