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learned, and gloried in the law of the covenant of the Lord. And you will also see with what prophetic truth the posthumous fame of the Saint has been described by the Wise Man when he says, " Many shall praise his wisdom, and it shall never be forgotten — the memory of him shall not depart away, and his name shall be in request from generation to generation. Nations shall declare his wisdom, and the Church shall shew forth his praise." I come not to describe to you to-night the life and actions of any great hero of this world. I do not seek to awaken your admiration by describing the exploits of some famous general, or the diplomatic tactics of some celebrated statesman. Mine is no story of blood-red battlefields and glorious victories; my hero shone neither on the field nor in the cabinet; he was not the inventor of a new philosophy, but the obsequious disciple of an old one. We have not heard that he was eloquent, nor does it appear that he was distinguished as a writer; he was not noble nor was he wealthy; his birth was probably obscure, and his life was certainly secluded, and yet, strange as it may appear after the lapse of twelve hundred years, his memory is green in the souls of his posterity, as the grass that still blooms on the " lone little island” which in early life his sainted footsteps trod. "The just man,” says the Sacred Scripture, "shall be in eternal remembrance," and so it was with St. Finbar. His was the heroism of justice, of virtue, of wisdom; his battles were those which he fought against the world, the flesh, and the devil; his victories were those which he gained over that triple alliance of his enemies; his philosophy was that of Jesus the Son of God; his eloquence was the simple but moving eloquence of the Gospel, by which he exhorted to virtue and deterred from vice; his only writing was that by which he unconsciously inscribed his name on the memories of men ; Christianity was his most excellent patent of nobility; and his only wealth and inheritance were the grace of the Almighty during life, and after death that glory which he now enjoys, and which was entailed on him from his Eternal Father, who has said, "They who instruct others unto justice shall shine like stars for all eternity.” We all desire to know something of the great men of olden times, and we are justified in praising them by the example of the Sacred Scriptures; but, to us citizens of Cork, and much more to us members of this Parish, it must be particularly interesting to know something of the life of the great
Saint to whose zeal for religion is justly attributed not only tho blessing of the Christian faith, whose holy light still warmly burns in the breasts of the people, but also the origin and source of the very city in which we dwell, and in which we from year to year commemorate the virtues and glories of him who founded it by his industry, and sanctified it by his teaching and example.
I will be candid enough to inform you that the materials from which we gather the history of our Patron Saint are meagre and scanty in the extreme. After twelve long centuries this is not unnatural. Our Saint lived in the very infancy of a society to which he himself gave birth, and any records that might have been preserved could scarcely have escaped, in subsequent centuries, the ravaging hand of the destroyer — the very language in which his life may have been written by some contemporary historian is well-nigh forgotten, and as we can only trust for information to the vague traditions of those who have gone before us, it is not too much to say that we know but very little indeed of the life and actions of St. Finbar. And even though every facility were afforded for perpetuating the memory of the Saint, such was the secrecy in which he lived, and such the monotonous course of his monastic life, that only few striking events could have elicited the eulogy of the biographer, or enlist the interest of the reader. And in point of fact this steady perseverance in the practice of monastic virtue in an exalted degree was exactly what constituted Finbar a perfect hero. Speak not to me of your heroes who conquer the world and cannot subdue their own pettiest passions; who, gifted by God with souls which might grasp the highest pinnacles of heaven, are content to gain an ascendancy in this little world, and curtail their hopes of immortality to the expectation of living, forsooth, in the memories of men. But hold up to eternal admiration the man who, steeled against the enchantments of a cheating world, plunges into the depths of solitude and there gives glory to his great Creator, who with the passions of the flesh holds a hard struggle, an unceasing warfare, and wins in the end the victor's crown of eternal glory – who enters the arena with Satan, the arch-enemy of man, and vanquishes him who deemed himself not an unequal match to war against the very God who made him. Praise the man who, like his great Master and model is "meek and bumble of heart," and yet silently does more good for his fellow
creatures, and is remembered longer and more affectionately than the proudest and most exalted monarchs, statesmen, philosophers, or philanthropists that have ever been held up by worldings for the love and veneration of mankind. Such was St. Finbar.
The period at which our Saint was born is the subject of one of the brightest pages in all the history of Ireland. Through whole wastes of misery – of degradation from within, and persecution from without - it is the only bright spot on which memory loves to dwell — the period when our native land so justly earned and won the proud appellation of " Island of Saints and Sages.” It was the period when, with the fall of the Roman Empire, the arts and sciences and civilization itself were well-nigh trampled out and extinguished from the face of Europe. The barbarous tribes of the North and the savage marauders of the East, had passed, in furious array, from country to country, effacing every vestige of refinement, demolishing the edifices of learning and religion — a terror to the inhabitants, whose only care was to learn the arts of war, by which they might repel the invader, and rescue even the necessaries of life from the grasp of the despoiler. Amidst the general wreck of civilization and refinement, the Monastic institute alone, like the ark amidst the waters of the deluge, became the depository of learning; but when even that sacred vehicle was threatened with destruction by the waves of persecution, as the dove sallied forth from the window of the ark, so knowledge, quitting its precarious abode, spread its wings over the waters, and, amidst the vast and billowy waste, could find no spot on which to rest its weary limbs but Erin, the emerald Isle of the West. And fondly was the sacred visitant welcomed to the hospitable embraces of the Celtic race; and many a sacred shrine and many a holy fane was erected by the energy and zeal of that glorious people, to cherish the heavenly essence and render it "racy of the soil.” St. Patrick had been gathered to the dust a century and more — religion flourished in the land – suddenly monasteries everywhere sprang, as by the hand of the enchanter, from the earth — to every monastery a school was attached ; these schools, in many instances, swelled to the dimensions of Colleges, and many attained the magnificent proportions and characteristics of Universities – the monastic schools of Kildare, Glendalough, Tuam and Armagh, Derry and Lismore, might well compete with