1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Malachy, St

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MALACHY, ST (c. 1094–1148), otherwise known as Maol-Maodhog (or Maelmaedhog) Ua Morgair, archbishop of Armagh and papal legate in Ireland, was born at Armagh. His father, an Irish clergyman, the Fearleighlinn, or lector, at the university, was said to have been of noble family. Having been ordained to the priesthood, he for some time acted as vicar of Archbishop Celsus or Ceallach of Armagh, and carried out many reforms tending to increase conformity with the usage of the Church of Rome. In order to improve his knowledge of the Roman ritual he spent four years with Malchus, bishop of Lismore (in Munster), a strong advocate of Romanism. Here he became acquainted with Cormac MacCarthy, king of Desmond, who had sought refuge with Malchus, and, when he subsequently regained his kingdom, rendered great services to Malachy. On his return from Lismore, Malachy undertook the government of the decayed monastery of Bangor (in Co. Down), but very soon afterwards he was elected bishop of Connor (now a small village near Ballymena). After the sack of that place by the king of Ulster he withdrew into Munster; here he was kindly received by Cormac MacCarthy, with whose assistance he built the monastery of Ibrach (in Kerry). Meanwhile he had been designated by Celsus (in whose family the see of Armagh had been hereditary for many years) to succeed him in the archbishopric; in the interests of reform he reluctantly accepted the dignity, and thus became involved for some years in a struggle with the so-called heirs. Having finally settled the diocese, he was permitted, as had been previously stipulated by himself, to return to his former diocese, or rather to the smaller and poorer portion of it, the bishopric of Down. Although the Roman party had by this time obtained a firm hold in the north of Ireland, the organization of the Church had not yet received the sanction of the pope. Accordingly, in 1139, Malachy set out from Ireland with the purpose of soliciting from the pope the pallium (the token of archiepiscopal subjection to Rome) for the archbishop of Armagh. On his way to Rome he visited Clairvaux, and thus began a lifelong friendship with St Bernard. Malachy was received by Innocent II. with great honour, and made papal legate in Ireland, though the pope refused to grant the pallium until it had been unanimously applied for “by a general council of the bishops, clergy and nobles.” On his way home Malachy revisited Clairvaux, and took with him from there four members of the Cistercian order, by whom the abbey of Mellifont (in the county of Louth) was afterwards founded in 1141. For the next eight years after his return from Rome Malachy was active in the discharge of his legatine duties, and in 1148, at a synod of bishops and clergy held at Inis-Patrick (St Patrick’s Island, near Skerries, Co. Dublin), he was commissioned to return to Rome and make fresh application for the pallium; he did not, however, get beyond Clairvaux, where he died in the arms of St Bernard on the 2nd of November 1148. The object of his life was realized four years afterwards, in 1152, during the legateship of his successor. Malachy was canonized by Clement III. in 1190.

The influence of Malachy in Irish ecclesiastical affairs has been compared with that of Boniface in Germany. He reformed and reorganized the Irish Church and brought it into subjection to Rome; like Boniface, he was a zealous reformer and a promoter of monasticism. But perhaps his chief claim to distinction is that of having opened the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, five more being soon afterwards established. Several works are attributed to him, but are all probably spurious. The most curious of these is a Prophecy concerning the Future Roman Pontiffs, which has produced an extensive literature. It is now generally attributed to the year 1590, and is supposed to have been forged to support the election of Cardinal Simoncelli to the papal chair.

St Bernard’s Life of Malachy, and two sermons on his death will be found in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Latina; clxxxii., clxxxiii.; see also Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, ed. J. O’Donovan (Dublin, 1851); G. Germano, Vita, gesti e predittioni del padre san Malachia (Naples, 1670); the ecclesiastical histories of Ireland by J. Lanigan (1829) and W. D. Killen (1875); A. Bellesheim, Geschichte der katholischen Kirche in Irland, Bd. I. (Mainz, 1890); G. T. Stokes, Ireland and the Celtic Church (6th ed., 1907); J. O’Hanlon, Life of Saint Malachy (Dublin, 1859); articles in Dictionary of National Biography and Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie. On the Prophecy, see the treatise by C. F. Menêtrier (Paris, 1689); Marquis of Bute in Dublin Review (1885); A. Harnack in Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, Bd. III.