My friend Fr John McKeever, curate in the cathedral in Armagh, has been working very hard in the last few months promoting devotion to St Malachy (1094-1148), great Archbishop of Armagh and best friend and soul mate of St Bernard of Clairvaux. At the moment he is leading a novena to the Saint in the Church of St Malachy in the cathedral parish - it's a great success, thank God. The church is beautiful and contains a relic of the Saint.
St Malachy was born in city of Armagh itself, not far from the church dedicated to him. He was of noble birth, but chose to devote his life to Christ rather than pursue the life of the elite. He was ordained priest by St Celsus, the great reforming Archbishop of Armagh, in 1119. He spent two years studying liturgy before he was elected the abbot of the monastic community in Bangor in 1123. His great ability and holiness was obvious, and this led to his appointment as Bishop of the Diocese of Connor in 1124.
He was not destined to stay in Connor: in 1132 he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, successor of St Patrick and Primate of All Ireland. He was reluctant to take the position, but he accepted it as the will of God. Thanks to difficulties - mostly political, he could not take possession of his See for two years, but when he did, following in the footsteps of St Celsus, he was a reforming Archbishop, leading a great renewal in Ireland, reorganising the structure of the Church in Ireland and bringing it into line with Rome. As Archbishop he saw that communion with Peter was vital. He was also keen to rid the Church in Ireland of laxity and various abuses. All of this, however, raised the shackles of many, and so he soon found himself with resentful enemies.
All of these reforms took three years, and once they were underway, Malachy felt it was time to resign his See and devote his life to prayer. He was a great friend of St Bernard - he had already brought the Cistercians into Ireland, and he longed to be one himself. He remained as Bishop of Down, and was appointed Papal Legate to Ireland. He travelled a great deal, and often visited Bernard in Clairvaux. It was during one of these visits that he fell ill and died in the arms of St Bernard on the 2nd November 1148. He was buried in the abbey church of Clairvaux, and four years later his friend Bernard was buried with him in the same grave. Today their relics, intermingled, are preserved in the Cathedral of Troyes in France. His feast day falls on the 3rd November. He was the first Irish Saint to be formally canonised by a pope.
It is obvious that St Malachy is very much a Saint for these times, particularly for us in Ireland. I hope that devotion to him is renewed in the Church in Ireland. We need another Malachy today, a heroic figure who will courageously initiate the reform we badly need - a heroic figure who will not crumple under the attacks of the media and the hysteria of (ill-)liberal bishops, priests, nuns and laity who want to break with Rome and establish a secularist, relativist and New Age church. Their efforts, ungodly influence in the Church in Ireland, and the good old fashioned laxity which plagued Malachy, have created serious bulwarks here to prevent real renewal. So, we need Malachy's intercession.
So, I have a suggestion: too late to begin the novena in time for the feast, but we can pray a Triduum. Please find below the beautiful prayer composed by my friend Fr John, the official prayer for the novena, and we can pray it for three days. Please remember Ireland as you pray it. Also ask for graces - if the Lord wants renewed devotion to this great Saint, he will grant miracles and favours to promote it.
Triduum Prayer to St Malachy
Glorious Saint Malachy,ardent yet gentle shepherd of God’s people,we come before you seeking yourintercession and protectionin this time of trial.
Malachy, angel of peace,who brought those in conflictto be reconciledin the name of Christ,grant lasting peace and reconciliationto our country.
Mighty pillar of the Church,who banished errorby the truth of your preaching,obtain for each of us the graceof sincere repentance and renewalthat we may serve the Lord in holinessall our days.
Most fatherly Archbishop of Armagh,enkindle the hearts of bishops and prieststhat, aided by your patronage and example,they may labour to form a holy peoplestrong in faithconstant in prayerabounding in charitydevoted to the Sacramentsand loyal to the See of Peter.
O saint rich in mercy and compassion,look upon all who are suffering or in needand obtain for them support, healing and hope.
St Malachy, ablaze with heavenly fire,be a light to guide us on our pilgrim wayto the
. Kingdomof HeavenThere may we be united with youin singing the praises of Godfor ever and ever.Amen.