Sunday, May 27, 2018

St. Melangell's Lambs

There's a rabbit that keeps hanging around my yard in the late afternoons to cool off; he makes the world more interesting, so it seems fitting to mark today, the feast day of the patron saint of rabbits, hares, and those who raise them, St. Monacella, also known as St. Melangell.

The tale of the saint is this. St. Melangell was an Irish princess who fled Ireland as a teenager so that she would not have to marry; she ended up in Wales, where she lived for about fifteen years as a hermit. One day the Prince of Powys was out hunting hares, and while in pursuit he came suddenly into a thicket and saw an unexpected sight that stopped him short: a beautiful young woman in prayer, holding the hare, while his hunting dogs were whining and barking a few feet away. The prince heard her story, and gave her the land where he had discovered her, so that she might found an abbey there. She lived to a pious old age, and was buried in the small church in the village that had sprung up near the abbey; the village, Pennant, became known as Pennant Melangell, and the church became known as St. Melangell's. The hares in the parish were sometimes called 'St. Melangell's lambs', and for a very long time it was considered wrong to harm any hare within the borders of the parish, because in it they had the right of sanctuary.

Shrine of St. Monacella in Pennant Melangel Church, 1795

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