Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent
March 30, 2023

Today’s Lenten reflection focuses on the patron saint of the Isle of Man, Saint Maughold (also known by the names Macaille, Maccaldus, Machalus, Machaoi, Machella, Maghor, Mawgan, Macull, and Macc Cuill). He likely lived in the fifth century. One local legend relates that Maughold, who was originally from Ireland, tried to play a practical joke on Saint Patrick. According to this story, Maughold placed a living man in a burial shroud and told him to lie down and be still. He then called for Patrick to try to revive the allegedly dead man. Patrick came, placed a hand on the shroud, and left. When Maughold and his friends opened the shroud, they found the man had died in the interim. One of Maughold’s friends, a fellow named Connor, went over to Patrick’s camp and apologized to him. Patrick returned and baptized all of the men assembled. He then blessed the man who had died, who immediately returned to life, and was also baptized. Patrick then criticized Maughold, saying he should have been helping his men to lead good lives rather than spend his time in pranks and mischief, and told him he must devote himself to a holy life to make up for his evil.

As penance for his previous crimes, Patrick ordered Maughold to abandon himself to God in a wicker boat without oars. Alone on the Irish sea, Maughold must have devoted himself to prayer and would have had a lot of time to contemplate his mistakes; he might have prayed a version of the prayer, below, which asks for God’s protection on the open water (“The soul-shrine”). He drifted to the Isle of Man, where two of Patrick’s disciples, Romulus and Conindrus (Romuil and Conindri), were already established. Tradition says he landed on the northeast corner of the Isle near Ramsey, at the foot of a headland since called Maughold Head, where he embarked on a life of monastic service as a hermit in a cave on the mountainside. He is said to have been chosen by the Manx people to succeed Romuil and Conindri as bishop, thus making his conversion from prankster to servant of the church complete. Maughold is today best remembered on the Isle of Man for his kind disposition toward the Manx natives and his willingness to serve them in Christian humility. Several places on the island, including Maughold Parish, St Maughold’s Well, and St Maughold’s Chair are named after him.

Prayer: “The soul-shrine”

Thou angel of God who has charge of me
From the beautiful Father of Mercifulness,
The gentle encompassing of the Sacred Heart
To make round my soul-shrine this night,
Oh, round my soul-shrine this night.

Ward from me every distress and danger,
Encompass my course over the ocean of truth,
I pray thee, place thy pure light before me,
O bright beauteous angel on this very night,
Bright beauteous angel on this very night.

Be Thyself the guiding star above me,
Illume Thou to me every reef and shoal,
Pilot my barque on the crest of the wave,
To the restful haven of the waveless sea,
Oh, the restful haven of the waveless sea.