Thursday 4 October 2018

HistoScotInktoberfest, Day 4: Ninian at Galloway, ca. 397 AD

Ninian of Galloway,
homage we fondly pay
and tribute bring;
Saint by our church proclaimed,
Scotland’s apostle named,
Thy praise we sing,
thy praise we sing.  

Born of our Scottish race, 
God led thee forth by grace 
to find in Rome 
That pearly so richly priced, 
that faultless creed of Christ, 
And bear it home, 
and bear it home.  

Softly the Christian morn 
dawned o’er the lone Whithorn 
Like kindly sun; 
Nobly thy loyal band, 
led by thy sure command, 
Our kingdom won, 
our kingdom won.  

Where once thy footsteps trod, 
unquenched, the fires of God 
Await thy hand;
 Renew thy fervent care. 
Tender to God thy prayer 
To bless our land, 
to bless our land.

 - Ninian of Galloway: words, Rt Rev J McHardy; music, Francis Duffy

It has been almost two centuries since Severus marched his legions north of Hadrian's Wall. Beleaguered by corruption within and invasion without, it is the last days of the Western Roman Empire: only a few decades remain before the last legions depart from Britannia forever. The void left behind would become known as the Dark Ages - a misleading term borne of poor understanding - where it seemed the lands of Europe were torn by war.

Nonetheless, while the legions were on their way home, another Mediterranean institution was making its way out. Christianity had enormous influence on the history of all the lands of Western Europe, even the farthest reaches of the continent - even what is now Scotland.

Little is known for certain about the earliest Christian missionaries to Caledonia, and St. Ninian is one of the most mysterious of all. Tradition holds that St. Ninian was a Briton educated in Rome who established one of the earliest churches at Whithorn in Galloway: a cave nearby is said to be a place of deep reverence to the saint. Unfortunately, there's precious little archaeological information from that period... for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment