Barrett/Scottish Saints/St. Blaithmaic

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Dom Michael Barrett


January 19 – St. Blaithmaic, Martyr, 8th or 9th century.

This saint was of princely birth, and a native of Ireland. In early youth he renounced all the attractions of wealth and honour and entered a monastery. Here for his many virtues he was chosen abbot, and ruled his flock with wisdom and prudence. But from his youth he had longed for martyrdom, and though he had often begged leave from his superiors to preach the Faith to unbelievers, he could never obtain it. Being at Iona, where he had entered the community as a simple monk on renouncing his charge in Ireland, he announced one day to the brethren in the spirit of prophecy that an irruption of pagan Danes was about to take place. He exhorted those who felt themselves too weak for martyrdom to seek safety in flight. They concealed the shrine of St. Columba's relics, and many of the monks betook themselves to the mainland.


Next morning, while Blaithmaic was at the altar, having just offered the Holy Sacrifice, the pagans rushed upon him and the few companions who remained, and slaughtered all except Blaithmaic. They offered him life and liberty if he would show them the shrine of St. Columba with its treasure of gold and gems. But the intrepid martyr refused to betray his trust and was hewn down at the altar. He was buried at Iona on the return of the monks from their place of safety. There is some doubt about the date of his death, some writers place it as late as A.D. 828.

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