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St Patrick

46 47 relIcs sacred remains Inevitably Patrick relics were cherished. His insignia still existed circa 640, Trechn knew of a tooth and a vestment, his satchel was in Meath, a bishop had his tiny shrine hanging round his neck and his cloth was stolen by the Vikings. Trechn talks of the many ecclesiastical objects Patrick brought, and of fifty bells that he took across the Shannon. One of these got a lavish shrine from a high king and the abbot of Armagh, another has PATRICI engraved on it, the bell from the Reek is appropriately battered, and a contender for the MacDonnell chieftaincy was cursed with one in 1602, but none is in fact earlier than the ninth century. The Normans eagerly identified Patricks tomb at Downpatrick, captured his crosier, formerly Jesuss staff, which God gave Patrick as he set out for Ireland, and kept it in Dublin with his portable altar, where it was burnt by Tudor reformers. A king of Connacht gave the tooth a shrine which a Norman embellished, another was made for a hand and an Earl of Ormond ordered one for a piece of Patricks skull. This relic cult continued more modestly under English Protestant rule. In the late 1600s a silver container was made for Patricks jaw, and another was commissioned for his thumb in 1737 by a Catholic archbishop of Armagh, who gave it to nuns in Drogheda.
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