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Chapter VI

Chapter V: St. Mirin and the Patron Saints

Of the legends regarding Mirin we need say little. We may, perhaps, smile at the story of the miracles and portents which cluster round him, in common with all the Irish saints; but, as it has well been said, “it matters little whether these legends are historically correct,—their value lies in the moral of them. The falsehood would not have been invented unless it had started in a truth, and in all these legends there is set forth the victory of a good and beneficent man over evil, whether it be of matter or of spirit.”[23] Amid the traditions, and fables, if we like so to call them, associated with our local saint, we discern the form of one who is well worthy of reverence, and when the inhabitant of Paisley mentions the familiar name of Mirin it is well he should know that it is that of one of the apostles of primitive Christianity, the disciple of Congal, the friend of St. Columba, and the companion of Columbanus, the missionary of France and of Italy.

The following is the complete office in the Breviary of Aberdeen for St. Mirin's day:—

Oh God ! who art merciful in Thy nature, and the ruler of our desires: graciously hear the prayers of Thy suppliants, that by the intercession of Thy blessed Pontiff Mirin we may be enabled to obtain the remission of our sins : through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mirin, the bishop, was entrusted by his parents, at an early age, through the Divine inspiration, to St. Congal, to be brought up in the Monastery of Bangor : not only that he might instruct him in all polite learning,
[24] but that he might likewise carefully train him in all knowledge of holiness, humility, chastity, and other virtues. Mirin committed the precepts of eternal life and all pertaining to salvation to a retentive memory with all the ardour of his soul.

With increasing years, deeming his ancestral halls, riches, landed possessions, and other earthly goods fleeting and delusive, he resolved to carry the yoke of the Lord from his youth, and asked and received the habit of Holy Religion from St. Congal in the Monastery of Bangor. Not long afterwards, the office of Prior of the Monastery having become vacant, he was elected Prior, against his will, by Congal and his brethren. Having entered upon the duties of his office, he reproved the Brethren more from a cordial love of charity than indiscreet zeal, and the one whom he outwardly chastised he inwardly loved.

On a certain occasion, Finian, Bishop of Moville, a man of great sanctity, came on a friendly visit to the Monastery of Bangor during the absence of St. Congal, and was kindly received by blessed Mirin, the prior, of whom, on account of delicate health, he asked a drink of milk. Now, there was no milk in the Monastery, but the cellarer, by order of the blessed Mirin, going into the cellar, found a dish filled with the best of milk, which having brought, at a nod from him, he presented to blessed Finian. Thereafter, he kindly sent it round the company, sitting according to their rank.


Mirin afterwards proceeded to the camp of a certain king of Ireland, for the purpose of establishing the Catholic faith upon a firmer footing, where, the wife of the king at the time being near her confinement, was sorely distressed by various pains and sufferings. The king having heard of Mirin's arrival, would not permit him to enter his camp; but, [on the contrary,] treated him with utter contempt; which the blessed Mirin perceiving, he prayed God that that accursed king might feel the pains and pangs of the suffering wife, which immediately happened, as he had besought the Lord; so that for three days and as many nights he ceased not to shout
[25] before all the chiefs of his kingdom. But the king seeing himself so ignominiously humbled by God, and that no remedy was of any avail, sought Mirin's lodging, and most willingly granted all that be had previously desired. Then blessed Mirin by his holy prayers freed the king entirely from his pains.

On a certain occasion the blessed Mirin remaining in his cell past the usual time, the brother who waited upon him went to ascertain the cause of the delay. On approaching the cell he instantly stood in rapt amazement, for through the chinks and fissures he beheld a celestial splendour. That night the blessed Mirin did not join the brethren at the psalmody in the church according to their wont. But understanding by Divine inspiration that the brother had been witness to such stupendous wonders, he took him apart in the morning, and charged him to tell no one during his life what he had seen on the previous night, and that in the meantime he should not presume to approach his cell.

On another occasion likewise, whilst the brethren of St. Mirin were at work near the valley of Colpdasch, one of them quite overpowered by fatigue and thirst, falling down upon the ground, expired, and lay lifeless from noon till none.
[26] But blessed Mirin was very much grieved that the Brother should have been removed by such an untoward and sudden death. He besought the Lord, and immediately the dead man was restored to his former life. At length, full of sanctity and miracles, he slept in the Lord at Paisley. The Church there is dedicated to God, under his invocation. [27]

[23] Kingsley's The Roman and the Teuton, pp. 204-206.
[24] Literally, “that he might teach him in the perfection of letters.”
[25] With pain (to howl).
26] i.e, 12-3 P.M,
[27] The last sentence is literally, in cujus honore, &c., “in whose honour the said Church is dedicated to God,” &c.