Nov 10, 2010
When Saint Patrick first came to Ireland as a missionary, he landed at Saul where he converted the chieftain Dichu. Dichu then gave him a barn to hold services (in Gaelic, which became Saul). In 1933 the church above was built to commemorate Saint Patrick's first church. It is a Church of Ireland (Episcopal) and service is held there still on Sunday mornings.
Saul is also supposed to be the site of Saint Patrick's death on March 17 in the year 461 AD.
These pictures are from inside the church.
Below I'm signing the guestbook.
The feeling I experienced when I walked inside the church is hard to explain--peaceful, calming. It was almost as though I could sense the centuries of worshippers who came to that place.
Saul is near the ruins of Saint Tassach's church at Raholp. Tassach was a disciple of Saint Patrick, and was supposedly the one who was with Patrick when he died at Saul. This is supposed to be one of Ireland's earliest Christian buildings, although I haven't yet discovered just old it is supposed to be. The earliest churches were probably built of wood and thus did not survive.
The church at Saul, like so many of the holy sites, is built atop a wind swept hill with a magnificent view. The picture below takes in part of that view. In the distance you can see the gigantic statue of Saint Patrick. (It's the stick like thing sticking up on the hill far in the distance.) You can read more about that statue here. We did not visit this time, but it's on our list for next time.
If you get to Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, be sure to visit the church at Saul.