The Book Of The Angel

The Book Of The Angel

Another document from the Book of Armagh, probably written before Muirchan’s Life and Tirechan’s Memoirs, is the Book of Angel. The Book opens with a conversation between an angel and Patrick. The scene is a well close to the city of Armagh. Patrick has been baptising, teaching and healing crowds who have come to him.

While he was waiting for more to come ‘from everywhere for the knowledge of the faith’, Patrick fell asleep.

An angel woke him with a gentle touch. ‘Have I done anything wrong?’ the startled Patrick asked.

‘No.’ said the angel, who appreciated all the hard work Patrick had undertaken. ‘The Lord your God’, the angel went on, ‘knows that your present place which we see before us, placed high on the hill, is narrow and has only a small church, and is also hemmed in by some inhabitants in the neighbourhood and the surrounding territory is not sufficient to give shelter to all.

‘Therefore a vast piece of church land [terminus] is being established by the Lord for the city of Armagh, which you have loved more than all the lands of the Irish … and, further, the Lord God has given all the tribes of the Irish as a parucha [a kind of diocese] to you and to this city, which in Irish is named ArddMachae.’

The writer of the Book of the Angel continues: ‘Let us now speak of the special reverence for Armagh and of the honour for the bishop of this same city.

‘Now this city has been established by God as supreme and free and has been specially dedicated by the angel of God and by the apostolic man, the holy bishop Patrick. It therefore, his precedence, by a certain privilege and by the heavenly authority of the supreme bishop, its founder, over all churches and monasteries of all the Irish.’

‘Between holy Patrick and Brigit, pillars of the Irish church, there existed so great a friendship of charity that they wereof one heart and one mind …

‘Patrick said: ‘O my Brigit, your paruchia will be deemed to be in your province in your dominion, but it the eastern and western part it will be in my domination.’