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Three Months in the Forests of France

Three Months in the Forests of France

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Excerpt from Three Months in the Forests of France: A Pilgrimage in Search of Vestiges of the Irish Saints in France

I now present a second instalment of the series of letters from the continent commenced in 1892, relating to the missions of the Irish Church in the sixth and seventh centuries. The scene has changed from the valleys and heights of the Apennines to those forests on the plains of France where Columban led the first mission from Ireland, and Fursa the second; and to the localities most connected with their memories, whether in the Southern Vosges and Department of the Haute-Saone, or in Picardy and on the borders of the rivers Marne and Oise.

Since the story of St. Fursa's life which appears in the following pages was signed for press, I have met with the following legend of a characteristic incident in his life, the beauty of which will, I trust, prove sufficient excuse for its insertion here at the last moment. There was a young nun who waited on St. Molaisse of Leighlin, who loved and was beloved by a clerical student. She tells her lover to flee from the wrath of her master. "It is enough," she says, "that I should be ruined" (as lor, ar si mu mhudhugudh sa). St. Molaisse curses her, and deprives her of heaven. She dies in childbed, and is buried in a bog outside the church and graveyard. Her lover devotes himself to saving her soul from hell. He builds a hut by her grave, and every day he recites seven times the Beatus and the Psalms, and he performs a hundred prostrations.

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