Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Life of St. Declan of Ardmore (Author: Patrick Power)

chapter 20

Declan next returned to Ait-mBreasail where, in a haven at the north side, were the shipping and boats of the island, plying thither and backwards. The people of the island hid all their boats not willing that Declan should settle there; they dreaded greatly that if Declan came to dwell there they themselves should be expelled. Whereupon his disciples addressed Declan:—‘Father,’ said they, ‘Many things are required (scil.: from the mainland) and we must often go by boat to this island and there will be crossing more frequently when you have gone to heaven and we pray thee to abandon the place or else to obtain from God that the sea recede from the land so that it can be entered dry shod, for Christ has said:—‘Whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name He may give it to you’; the place cannot be easily inhabited unless the sea recede from it and on that account you cannot establish your city in it.’ Declan answered them and said:— 'How can I abandon the place ordained by God and in which He has promised that my burial and resurrection shall be? As to the alleged inconvenience of dwelling


therein, do you wish me to pray to God for things contrary to His will—to deprive the sea of its natural domain? Nevertheless in compliance with your request I shall pray to God and whatever thing be God's will, let it be done.' Declan's community thereupon rose up and said:—‘Father, take your crosier as Moses took the rod and strike the sea therewith and God will thus show His will to you.’4 His disciples prayed therefore to him because they were tried and holy men. They put Declan's crosier in his hand and he struck the water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost and made the sign of the cross over the water and immediately, by command and permission of God, the sea commenced to move out from its accustomed place—so swiftly too that the monsters of the sea were swimming and running and that it was with difficulty they escaped with the sea. However, many fishes were left behind on the dry strand owing to the suddenness of the ebb. Declan, his crosier in his hand, pursued the receding tide and his disciples followed after him. Moreover the sea and the departing monsters made much din and commotion and when Declan arrived at the place where is now the margin of the sea a stripling whose name was Mainchin, frightened at the thunder of the waves and the cry of the unknown monsters with gaping mouths following the (receding) water, exclaimed:—‘Father, you have driven out the sea far enough; for I am afraid of those horrid monsters.’ When Declan heard this and saw the sea standing still at the word of the youth it displeased him and turning round he struck him a slight blow on the nose. Three drops of blood flowed from the wound on to the ground


in three separate places at the feet of Declan. Thereupon Declan blessed the nose and the blood ceased immediately (to flow). Then Declan declared:—‘It was not I who drove out the sea but God in His own great power who expelled it and He would have done still more had you not spoken the words you have said.’ Three little wells of clear sweet water burst forth in the place where fell the three drops of blood at the feet of Declan, and these wells are there still and the colour of blood is seen in them occasionally as a memorial of this miracle. The shore, rescued from the sea, is a mile in width and is of great length around (the island) and it is good and fertile land for tillage and pasture—lying beneath the monastery of Declan. As to the crosier which was in Declan's hand while he wrought this miracle, this is its name—the Feartach Declain, from the miracles and marvels wrought through it. I shall in another, subsequent, place relate some of these miracles (narrated).