NCBI service users in Carlow took part in a service on Thursday 12th. October in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow, in honour of Saint Willbrord, a seventh century Anglo-Saxon monk whose relic is now housed in the Cathedral which was visited by NCBI’s Judith Martin and her service users.
St Willibrord was born near York in England but trained and was ordained in the townland of Garryhundon, Co. Carlow — commonly referred to as Killogan, Rath Melsigi (Rathmelsh) or Clonmelsh Graveyard. During the seventh and eighth centuries this site was an important Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical settlement in Ireland. It was here from 678AD to c. 720AD that Willibrord and his countrymen were trained for the continental mission. He is the Patron Saint of Luxembourg and is buried in the Basilica of Echternach there, part of his monastic foundation. As part of the Anglo Saxon mission to the Lowlands, he was responsible for the destruction of many Pagan sites and rituals. From his base at Echternach Willibrord orchestrated missions to adjacent countries until his death, at age 81, in AD 739. He is relatively unknown in Ireland, but religious festivals are held in his honour in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. The most famous is the annual hopping procession, a dance that dates back to the earliest times and probably predates his lifetime. The hopping procession takes place annually on the Tuesday after Pentecost Sunday.
St. Willibrord’s signature is the oldest datable signature of an English person. The oldest datable use of Anno Domini (A.D.) dating is attributed to him. Both are contained in a book possibly written in Carlow before his continental mission. It is known as the ‘Calendar of Willibrord’ and is housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, at Paris. It is a listing of saints’ feast days that were honoured in his day.
Our service users enjoyed being part of the celebration and got to touch the relic, before enjoying tea and coffee in the Parish Centre. If you are in Carlow it is worth paying a visit. — Frank Callery.