Home Celtic How St Maughold’s Staff Performed a Miracle

How St Maughold’s Staff Performed a Miracle

by Bernadette Weyde

The longest story in the Chronicles of Mann (created c.1262) tells of the wonderful miracle performed by virtue of the staff of Saint Maughold, the patron saint of the parish and of the Isle of Man, who had laboured there some seven centuries before, and whose pastoral staff seems to have survived to this time. 

It would appear that Somerled (1113-1164) was with his troops at Ramsey and was bent upon further attacks and plundering in the vicinity. He had been informed that Maughold church was ‘well replenished with money,’ and was filled with people seeking refuge. One of his chiefs, Gilocolum, suggested to Somerled that they should invade the church and get the treasure.

‘No,’ said Somerled, ‘let it be between you and the saint; I and my army will have no share in your booty.’

Gilocolum assembled his three sons and his men; and, while they were climbing the hill, word was brought to the church that the enemy was coming. Those present had spent the night in supplicating God through the merits of St. Maughold. The women, with dishevelled locks, ran around the church walls crying:

‘Where are you gone, Macutus; where are the miracles which in ancient times you wrought in this place?’

St. Maughold heard their prayers and assigned their enemy to death. He appeared to Gilocolum in his tent, ‘arrayed in shining garments, and holding a pastoral staff in his hand, and addressed him,

‘Why, Gilocolum, should you seek to plunder what is deposited within my sanctuary?’

Whereupon, raising on high the staff that he held in his hand, he stabbed him, transfixing him through the heart. The wretched man, uttering a hideous cry, awoke all who were sleeping in their tents around him; but the Saint stabbed him a second and a third time, causing him to shriek fearfully.

His son and followers ran to him, but he said with a groan,

‘St. Macutus has been here and has thrice mortally stabbed me with his staff’ . . .

When the priests, clerks, and people heard this they were filled with great joy . . . And soon after, a multitude of great flies began buzzing and flying about the plunderer’s face and mouth, that neither himself nor his attendants were able to drive them away. Thus he expired, about the sixth hour of the day, in great and excruciating torture.

His death filled Somerled and his army with such dismay, that as soon as the tide had risen and floated their ships, they left Ramsey port and returned with great haste to their own country.

(source: Island Heritage by William Cubbon (1952); artwork of Celtic saint by Rowena Lewgalon http://bit.ly/12L6RfL; gorse background from google)


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