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Title: The Holy Isle
Author: Ignatius, Father
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Holy Isle" ***

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Transcribed from the 1870 G. J. Palmer edition by David Price, email

                      IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS.

                                   —_Regula_, _S. Benedicti_, _Cap. lvij_.

                  [Picture: Decorative graphic of cross]

                              THE HOLY ISLE;
                        A Legend of Bardsey Abbey.

                           By IGNATIUS, O.S.B.

  _Dedicated_, _without permission_, _to Lord Newborough_, _and to the_
       _Rev. Hugh Roberts_, _Vicar of Aberdaron_, _Carnarvonshire_.

                                * * * * *

                  G. J. PALMER, 32, LITTLE QUEEN STREET,
                          LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS.


                  [Picture: Decorative graphic of cross]

A Legend of Bardsey Abbey.

   I WATCHED the sea waves ebbing,
      Beneath the crimson glow,
   Which sunset light was pouring,
      Upon their soft, sweet flow.
   The wavelets looked liked dancers,
      Upon the sun-lit sea,
   They sung in whispering chorus,—
      I thought they sung to me
   Of fair and far off landscapes
      Beyond that molten tide,
   Of better joys, and gladness
      Beyond those waters wide.
   The wavelets all seemed passing
      On, to some other strands,
   And following the sun’s-glow,
      To ever sun-lit lands.
   But as I thought these fancies,
      Again I raised mine eyes
   And saw the sunset tinting
      The glorious western skies.
   Now ’mid the farewell glories
      “Of Sol’s departing ray,”
   I saw an Island resting
      Upon his golden way.
   There, misty mid the Sunshine,
      The far off Isle appears,
   Right out among the sea waves
      Its rocky coast uprears.
   And as I gaze, the sunset
      Seems lighting up its shore,
   Bathing the isle in glory
      And then is seen no more.
   Sweet, soothing calm fell o’er me
      I watched the Islet still,
   All round me heard I voices
      Which seemed the air to fill.
   Said one, “That Isle is holy,
      For Saints are sleeping there,
   Now lonely and deserted,
      T’was once an Isle of prayer.”
   “O Man! say would’st thou tremble,
      To come away and see,
   In vision, strange, sweet pictures
      Which I can shew to thee?”
   The Angel was so lovely,
      So sweet the Angel’s smile,
   I easily consented,—
      He pointed to the Isle!
   “Then will I bear thee thither,
      One thousand years ago;—
   I speak to aid thy weakness,
      No _time_ can Angels know.
   The present, past, and future,
      All one they are to me,
   I pass along their boundaries,
      Unlimited, and free.”
   A strange, calm change stole o’er me,
      My spirit seemed to rise
   In gentle, tireless motion,
      Just as the sea-bird flies.
   My Angel-guide was leading
      My spirit o’er the sea
   One moment—and we rested,
      Upon the Islet’s lea.
   Soft gloaming filled the air,
      Deep peace lay all around,
   Hushed voices seemed to whisper,
      A wavelike, murmuring sound.
   “Sweet Angel, say, where am I,—
      Say me the Island’s name,
   And tell me why such glory,
      Enwraps it as a flame?
   Say, too, what is that chanting,
      So sweet, so very near,
   The strangeness of this beauty
      It fills my soul with fear?”
   “This Holy Place is Bardsey,
      Jesus, He loves it well,
   ’Tis wrapped in God’s own brightness,
      Safe from the power of Hell.
   Those voices are the Virgins,
      In yonder Abbey Choir,
   Praises to Jesus singing,
      Of which they never tire.
   Hush! mid the shades of evening,
      How restfully they sing,
   Their Vesper praise-wreaths bringing
      To Jesus Christ their King.
   ’Mid lights of sunset glowing,
      St. Mary’s Abbey stands;
   But see! t’is wrapped in glories,
      From far off better Lands.”
   I looked again, and started,
      For lo! another scene.
   The Convent is surrounded
      With Heaven’s own brightest sheen.
   And choirs of Angels hover
      High in the sunset air,
   While th’ holy monks are chanting
      Their peaceful, evening prayer.
   The Monastery is glowing,
      Like heaps of molten gold;
   The walls seem all transparent,
      With majesty untold.
   T’is strange; my spirit enters
      St Mary’s Sacred Shrine,
   I see the cowlèd figures,
      In many a white rob’d line, {6}
   Filling the stalls, but facing
      The hallow’d Altar Throne,
   Where Jesus makes His dwelling,
      Untended and alone.
   O peaceful, happy Bardsey,
      Sweet Islet of the Sea!
   I would for ever rest me,
      All joyfully in thee!
   O dear St. Marys Abbey,
      On Bardsey’s northern shore;
   Would I could bide within thee,
      And part from thee no more!
   O happy Monks and Virgins,
      Singing by night and day,
   Your hymnals to Sweet Jesus,
      In dearest, fondest lay!
   How can I speak your glory,
      How can I tell your worth?
   Ye are the Church’s safeguard;
      Ye are the “Salt of earth.”
   Ye live the life of Angels;
      Ye never cease from praise,
   To Heaven your intercedings
      For sinners ceaseless raise.
   Ah! well may throngs of sinners
      Seek this most Sacred Isle,
   Well may ten thousand pilgrims
      Visit St. Mary’s pile.
   Well may’st thou, Aberdaron, {8}
      Loving to Bardsey be,
   And daily turn thy glances
      To the Islet out at sea.
   For Bardsey is the lighthouse
      Of many a shipwrecked soul;
   To many a way-worn wanderer
      Is Bardsey’s Isle the goal.
   The glow of Bardsey’s brightness,
      Illumes wild Cambria’s shores,
   Across the Irish Channel,
      Her Heavenly light she pours.
   And blessed saints in thousands
      Have dwelt on Bardsey’s hill,
   Sending her countless Virgins
      Celestial choirs to fill.
   How Jesus must love Bardsey,
      And prize her sacred soil;
   Here Saints in countless numbers
      Have rested from earth’s toil:
   Have laid aside the burden
      Of poor mortality,
   And entered on the Sabbath
      Of glad eternity.
   While thus I dream, the Organ
      Is pealing forth its wave,
   The Holy Monks are marching
      All slowly down the Nave.
   “Dear Angel! may I follow
      Them, down the Cloister still,
   And join their recreation,
      On yonder mossy hill?”
   The Angel smiled permission;
      I willed myself along,
   Until unseen, I joined me
      To th’ happy, Virgin throng.
   Here, there were boys most lovely;
      And there, old hoary men;
   And youths, and those of mid-age;
      Here joyous boys again.
   I followed one young novice,
      Who held an old man’s hand;
   I listened,—they were speaking,
      Of some dear, distant Land.
   The boy I saw was pointing
      Away, right out to sea,
   Where moonlight made a pathway,
      Of silver radiancy.
   The silver way seemed joining
      Together sea and sky,
   The stars seemed trembling o’er it,
      Like lightlets from on high.
   “Dear Father Cadfan, look now,”
      —Said the bright and lovely boy,—
   “I’m sure that silver roadway
      Leads to our Home of Joy.”
   “No, no, my Son, t’is only
      An emblem of the way,
   Across time’s changing storm-tide,
      To regions of the day.”
   And then the old man turning,
      Towards Cambria’s rock bound shore,
   Pointed the boy to Barmouth, {11}
      But then called Abermawr.
   “My son,” said he, “’tis yonder,
      Long years ago I tried
   To bring poor souls to Jesus,
      Who once for sinners died.
   But there the Druids held them
      In error’s iron chain, {12a}
   They would not hear of Jesus,
      And drove me thence again.
   Yet though at Abermawr I failed
      ’Mid Towyn’s marshes drear, {12b}
   The people bowed before the Cross,
      And sought the Saviour dear.
   My son, one day thou must away,
      If Father Abbot wills,
   And build a Shrine to Christ Divine,
      ’Mid Barmouth’s rocky hills.
   The idols which they worship
      Thou boldly must destroy,
   Promise old Father Cadfan this,
      My brave, my darling boy!”
   The boy’s bright eyes were flashing,
      He grasped the old man’s hand,—
   “Father, I will preach Jesus
      Upon that darkened strand.
   Only, my father, pray for me,
      When thou hast past the sea,
   And reignest with our Jesus,
      In the ‘kingdom of the free.’”
   St. Cadfan smiled, and blessed the lad,
      His heart’s desire seemed gained,
   From idol worship for the Lord
      Should Abermawr be claimed.
   The Compline Bell tolled solemnly
      From out St. Mary’s Tower,
   Calling the Monks to worship
      At day’s last hallowed hour.
   Dubritius, {14} the novice boy,
      Stood meekly in his stall,
   The fathers and the novices
      Chanted the Office all.
   But Father Cadfan was not there,
      Calmly his body lay;
   Upon the mound by Bardsey Sound,
      His spirit passed away.
   His work was done, his prize was won,
      The holy Monk was gone,
   To join the virgin song notes,
      Before th’ Eternal Throne.

                                * * * * *

   The boy, so beautiful and pure,
      Grew up to manhood’s bloom,
   And ofttimes visited for prayer
      The Blessed Cadfan’s Tomb.
   One night the sun was sinking
      Behind the Western wave,
   Dubritius was kneeling
      Beside St. Cadfan’s grave.
   The Compline chants were over,
      The twilight almost gone,
   The youth was startled by a voice
      Which cried—“My son! my son!”
   A gentle light shone round the grave,
      He raised his eyes, and lo!
   St. Cadfan stood beside him,
      Amid the weird-like glow;
   “My son, make haste, thy solemn vows
      Thou speedily must make,
   Then to the men of Abermawr
      The Cross of Jesus take.
   The Banner and the Gospel,
      With holy Chant and Psalm,
   Straight to the Druid’s Temple go,
      Nor fear, nor feel alarm.
   For Jesus must be Cambria’s God,
      The night must hie away,
   Thyself must be the harbinger
      Of Everlasting Day.”
   The youth sprung forward to embrace
      The friend he loved so well,
   But he was gone; no sound was heard,
      Save the lone ocean’s swell.

                                * * * * *

   How beautiful! how beautiful!
      Is now the Convent Choir;
   All deck’d for some high festival
      In exquisite attire.
   Most precious gems are gleaming
      Upon the frontal fair,
   The Mass Priests too are vested
      In garments passing rare.
   The sacred tapers glisten
      The Altar all along;
   The holy Monks are chanting
      Some sweet—some wedding song!
   And tall white lilies, scenting
      The Incense laden air,
   Are bending down their petals,
      T’wards a novice bow’d in prayer.
   Yes! there before the Altar,
      I see Dubritius bow,
   Pure as the virgin lilies,
      Encircling his fair brow.
   His vows are said—the Cowl is given,
      His live-long promise made;
   All earthly loves are buried now,
      Within the Cloister’s shade.

                                * * * * *

   “Unfurl the sail! unloose the chain!
      That links us to the shore—
   To our own precious Island home
      Which we may see no more!”
   Thus spake Dubritius; and the tide
      Fast wafted him away,
   Out t’wards the rocky Cambrian coast
      Of Cardigan’s fair bay.
   The sea was calmly resting,
      Lit by the summer’s sun;
   In three short hours the Convent boat
      Her little voyage had run.
   Dubritius and his monkish band
      At once pursued their way,
   Reaching the town of Abermawr
      Just at the close of day.
   The evening’s hush was resting
      So peacefully around,
   Alone was heard the shrill sea bird,
      And the waves’ soft murmuring sound.
   When all at once through th’ restful air,
      Dread shrieks of anguish rung
   From the idol temple near the town,
      While Druid choirs sung
   Fierce hymns to their false savage gods,
      Around the kindling flame,
   Prepared for sacrificial rites,
      Too terrible to name.
   A fair young mother brings her babe,
      A warrior brings his boy,
   The Druids bind their victims
      With fierce, fanatic joy!
   The weeping mother hears the wail
      Well from her darling’s breast;
   The father sees the Druids bind
      His boy with savage zest.
   The lad was fair to look upon,
      Ah! must he really die,
   Oh! shall such sacrifice pollute
      That calm blue evening sky?
   The boy, though brave, is trembling now,
      He nears the dreadful fire,
   He feels its scorch, yet gives his life,
      To still the idol’s ire.
   The father’s cheek grows blanched and pale,
      The poor young mother stands,
   Yearning to snatch her precious one
      From the stern Druid’s hands.
   High leaps the flame, loud swells the song,
      From the Druids’ choirs around;
   But suddenly the evening wind
      Fills with another sound!
   ’Tis “Miserere Domine,”
      Sung by the Monkish train,
   “Exurgat Deus Dominus,” {20}
      A grand and glorious strain!
   With Crucifix and banner bright,
      The bold brave monks appear;
   And then among the heathen crowd,
      Christ’s mighty Cross they rear.
   “Cease, cease, ye sons of wickedness,
      This useless wicked rite;
   The God of Heaven has sent me here,
      Of Majesty and Might!”
   Dubritius spoke, and seized the boy
      Straight from the altar’s side;
   And caught the infant from the flame,
      Or ere the darling died!
   While this was done, some novices
      Had hurl’d the idol down;
   “Jesus is God!” the Monks proclaim,
      “Your King with homage crown!
   Ye Druids move not, or we call
      God’s Angels to our aid.
   The hour has come.  By Abermawr
      Worship must now be paid
   To Jesus Christ, and Him alone,
      Crown Him ye people all;
   He bought you with His Precious Blood,
      Prostrate before Him fall!”
   Dubritius, with mighty power,
      Told of the love so free,
   That made God Man to die to save,
      And bring true liberty.
   God gave the Monks the victory,
      The power of Jesus’ Name
   Prevailed among those savage hearts,
      Put out the cruel flame;
   Rescued the boy, and snatched the babe
      From that dread altar’s side;
   Plunged them in gentle mercy’s stream,
      The blest Baptismal tide.
   The days and weeks passed swiftly,
      New converts owned the Lord,
   Ere long, all Abermawr became
      Obedient to the Word.

                                * * * * *

   Seventy long years had flown away,
      See! Aberdaron weeps;
   Forth from her Church beside the shore, {23a}
      A long procession sweeps.
   See crowds of pilgrims waiting
      From all Carnarvon round,
   The hushing of the sea roar,
      To cross the dangerous sound. {23b}
   The Church at Aberdaron
      Is wet with mourners’ tears;
   Dubritius has entered
      Upon the Eternal years.
   His body rests so calmly
      Before the Altar high,
   The Priests are softly wailing
      The mournful Requiem’s sigh.
   Upon the Altar glisten
      The waxen tapers tall,
   And summer flowers are lying
      Upon the snow-white pall.
   Sweet Incense clouds are rising
      Around the hallowed bier;
   From many an eye is falling
      The sad, the loving tear.
   Dubritius left Bardsey,
      His lov’d—his peaceful home,
   For fifty years mid war-strife,
      This valiant Saint did roam.
   But now, in peace, he cometh,
      In Bardsey’s Isle to rest,
   His spirit calmly dwelling
      In regions of the blest.
   Lower your crest, ye foam waves,
      Wail adverse winds no more,
   Dubritius must pass over
      To Bardsey’s sainted shore.
   ’Tis evening, and the sun glow
      Is lighting up the sea:
   The tiny waves are dancing,
      For merriment and glee.
   They bore Dubritius to toil,
      To the fight at Abermawr,
   And now they sing his lullaby,
      And hush their noisy roar.
   The boats are filling quickly
      At Aberdaron’s quay,
   The Bardsey bells are pealing,
      Across the crimson sea.
   The Aberdaron Canons {25}
      Are chanting their sweet Psalm,
   The blessed Saint is passing
      Across those waters calm.
   The Bay of Aberdaron
      Seems full of peace and life,
   Dubritius the Warrior,
      As victor from the strife,
   Is coming full of glory,
      To his Island Home again;
   The welcome bells are ringing,
      Athwart the calm blue main.
   Hark! how the chant is rising
      From a hundred boats and mo’,
   Mingling its soft sweet requiem,
      With the murmuring wavelet’s flow.
   And now the fleet of mourners
      Reaches the haven still,
   And th’ Monks’ slow, sad procession
      Is winding down the hill.
   The sacred banners waving,
      In th’ restful evening air,
   Borne by some weeping novices,
      Wrought in devices rare.
   And Incense-clouds ascending,
      And many a taper’s light,
   Burst on the pilgrims’ vision,
      A fair and holy sight.
   “Requiem æternam,”
      The aged Abbot sings;
   “Dona ei Domine,”
      The loud response-note rings.
   He comes! he comes! the victor!
      We’ll welcome him with song;
   Another Saint now perfect,
      To Bardsey doth belong!
   The dread Pelagian heresy
      He trampled from our land, {27}
   And drove the Druid’s tyranny
      From Cambria’s noble strand.
   He joined his Alleluia
      With countless thousands more,
   And drove the heathen foemen,
      The Holy Cross before.
   “Now that thou reign’st with Jesus,
      A glorious Saint above,
   O pray, dear St. Dubritius,
      For the island of thy love!”
   The Abbey Church was glistening
      With incense, lights, and gold,
   The organ’s peal of welcome,
      Through aisle and choir rolled.
   The hooded Monks are bearing
      Slowly the bier along,
   The choristers are chanting
      A glad triumphant song.
         “Rest for thy toil is o’er,
         The battle’s shout no more
         Shall break thy spirit’s calm,
         Or mar thy peaceful Psalm;
         Of praise to Christ the King,
         Whose beauty thou shalt sing,
         Throughout the ages long,
         In one unbroken song.
         For ever, and for aye,
         In everlasting Day.”

                                * * * * *

   The lichens and the ivy
      Are creeping up the wall,
   And growing round the casements,
      And o’er the towers tall.
   The Abbey hath grown hoary,
      With centuries of age,
   St. Mary’s Abbey stories
      In many an ancient page.
   And yet her grand old praise notes
      Linger in her choir,
   For of the praise of Jesus,
      Her Monks can never tire.
   Now round the hallowed precincts
      Saint’s ashes crowd her sod,
   Here thousands, and ten thousands
      Have passed away to God. {30}
   Men call the Holy Island
      “The Gate of Paradise,”
   And crowd her shores with pilgrims,
      Who offer Sacrifice,
   In Holy Eucharist, and tears,
      And penance for their sin,
   And pray that through sweet Jesus
      God’s pardon they may win.
   A pilgrimage to Bardsey,
      If faithfully _twice_ made,
   Brings blessings all as gracious,
      As if to Rome _once_ paid.
   So thought the Faithful in that day,
      Of Bardsey’s Sacred Isle,
   And sought her weal devoutly,
      For Jesu’s sake the while.

                                * * * * *

   A maiden fair was weeping;
      Her warrior lover gone,
   Yet not for noisy war-strife,
      He leaves her thus alone.
   Valiant in battle—bravely
      The gory plains he trod,
   Nor feared the deadly sword-thrust,
      Nor th’ battles death-strewn sod.
   And ofttimes ’mid the strife-clang,
      He thought of his fair bride;
   Whom he should press in triumph,
      So closely to his side.
   When all at once he altered,
      He laid his armour by,
   He said, his eyes were opened
      To see earth’s vanity.
   Eternity seemed opening
      Her vista to his view,
   He trembled at the prospect,
      Graver he daily grew.
   Men tried their skill all vainly
      To dissipate his fear;
   But Rudolph only answered—
      “Eternity is near!
   They say this life is joyous,
      ’Tis all too short for me,
   I must seek joys that fade not,
      Throughout Eternity.
   All—all of earth I’ll banish,
      Its hopes, its loves, its smile;
   And live alone for Jesus,
      In Enlli’s {33} sainted isle.”
   This stern resolve all firmly,
      Rudolph right soon did make;
   And parents, lover, glory,
      For Christ he did forsake.
   “These things for money promptly,
      Earth’s servants oft forego,
   Then I, for years eternal,
      Relinquish _all_ below.
   I’ll live alone for Jesus
      In the Monastic Life,
   And in the sacred cloister
      I’ll wage the wondrous strife
   With Satan, like our Master,
      Amid the desert wild,
   I’ll give my will to Jesus,
      Just as a little child,
   That thus I soon ‘may enter
      The Kingdom’ of the Lord,
   As said our Saviour Jesus,
      In His own Holy Word.”
   But Mabel pines; young Rudolph,
      She pineth sore for thee;
   To thee her troth she plighted,
      In love’s first purity.
   Within her bower she waiteth,
      Her eyes with weeping sore,
   They cannot stay her sorrow,
      She mourneth more and more.
   “Go, tell her,” said young Rudolph,
      “Go, tell the lady fair,
   That I have found a Lover,
      Of Beauty wondrous rare.
   Yes, tell her He is chiefest
      ‘Among ten thousand’ too,
   Yea, ‘altogether lovely,’
      His Love is ever true.
   Tell her, my Love is Jesus,
      The Prince of Peace—the King,
   Whose Beauty all the Angels
      Eternally do sing.”
   But Rudolph, list! she pineth,
      Oh, canst thou break her heart?
   Wilt thou prove false to Mabel,
      So cruelly thus part?
   Her rosy blush is waning,
      Her cheek is growing pale,
   Her maiden heart is breaking,
      Soon will her young life fail.
   As Rudolph listened, tear drops
      Flashed in his dark blue eye,
   His manly breast was heaving
      A deep, a piercing sigh.
   Oh! tell her, brother, tell her,
      She must not weep for me;
   Say that I long to meet her
      Where parting may not be.
   My love is all unaltered,
      But the eternal years
   Have stole my heart from Mabel,
      And earth’s sad vale of tears!

                                * * * * *

   And now a boat is waiting
      The resting of the tide,
   One hour—Rudolph is landing
      On Bardsey’s southern side.
   And quick his steps are seeking
      The Abbey’s quiet shade;
   Three months—the princely Rudolph
      His novice vows had made.

                                * * * * *

   ’Twas the Corpus Christi Spring Feast,
      That now was hard at hand,
   And Pilgrim crowds are waiting
      On Aberdaron’s strand.
   The sea was gaily sparkling,
      Beneath the May-day sun,
   The Aberdaron boatmen
      A race to Bardsey run.
   Now, in all haste the pilgrims
      Are landing on the isle,
   For crowds at Aberdaron
      Are waiting all the while.
   The boats return to fetch them,
      Across the sparkling bay,
   In time for the First Vespers
      Of Corpus Christi Day.
   The grand old Abbey Temple
      Was throng’d both aisle and nave,
   The Vespers from the choir
      Roll’d forth their choral wave.
   And then a grand procession,
      With lights, and incense, came
   From out the choir; the old Church
      Seem’d one bright blaze of flame.
   For all the congregation
      A lighted taper bore,
   In honour of the Victim,
      Once slain in days of yore.
   But now with solemn worship
      Borne in procession long,
   Mid incense-clouds, and tapers,
      And bursts of triumph song.
   The Fathers and the Novices
      Came first in order due,
   Then choir-boys with banners,
      All marching two and two.
   The people fall back reverently,
      As th’ holy Monks draw near,
   One maiden there is trembling,
      As if for very fear.
   Or p’r’aps it’s her devotion
      That palsies all her frame,
   But then she would most surely
      Be bow’d for virgin shame.
   It is not thus, for, see now,
      She pushes through the crowd,
   Close to the Monks’ procession,
      She kneels and sobs aloud.
   She marks young Brother Rudolph,
      And wails a long deep cry;
   He knew her voice, but turns not,
      Nor lifts his downcast eye;
   He chants his grand old love-song
      To Jesus Christ the King,
   Borne in the slow procession,
      As the glad joy bells ring:—
      “Tantum ergo Sacramentum,
         Veneremur cernui;
      Et antiquum documentum,
         Novo cedat ritui;
      Præstet fides supplementum,
         Sensuum defectui.”
   “O Jesus! my sweet Jesus!”
      The warrior-monk doth pray,
   “Shew her Thine Own great Beauty,
      Make her Thine Own to-day;
   Be Thou her glorious Bridegroom,
      Be Thou her only Choice,
   Ravish her with Thy Beauty,
      Make her to hear Thy voice.”
   But as the long procession
      Did wind its joyous way,
   Making the evening twilight
      Almost as bright as day,
   The countless tapers glittered
      Like hosts of meteors round,
   And sent a glow of radiance
      Athwart the Bardsey Sound.
   Right round the Islet pealing,
      The gladsome songs ascend,
   And with the evening breezes
      The clouds of incense blend.
   But what was Mabel doing,
      Where was the maiden now?
   O joy! at Mary’s altar,
      She plights another vow!
   Yes! while the girl was weeping,
      Her Rudolph lost and gone,
   The Sacred Host drew near her,
      There from strange glory shone.
   And there as if in vision,
      All wondrous, and most clear,
   Mabel beheld the Saviour,
      His voice fell on her ear.
   “Arise, my love, my fair one,
      Arise, and come away;
   The winter’s past, the rain gone,”
      The sunbeams strew thy way.
   In lily vales the virgins
      Are waiting now for thee,
   “Arise my love, my fair one,
      Arise, and follow Me.”

                                * * * * *

   Hush! softly in the distance,
      I hear the nuns’ sweet song,
   ’Tis floating through the Cloister,
      Its fretted roofs along.
   And mingling with the echoes
      Of nature’s own sweet praise,
   Which the lowing herd, and the sweet song-bird,
      With insects hum doth raise.
   How peacefully, how restfully,
      Such sounds as these combine
   To soothe the weary spirit,
      A weary one like mine.
   But now my spirit wanders,
      Woo’d by that distant hymn,
   Through the hallow’d door, o’er the storied floor,
      To the steps of the chancel dim.
   The nuns’ sweet hymn was dying
      In faintest tones away,
   While prostrate at the altar,
      A maiden’s figure lay.
   Two years had pass’d since Mabel
      Had heard the Bridegroom’s voice,
   In Bardsey’s Holy Island,
      And made her happy choice.
   And now before His Altar,
      She lays her young life down,
   And from the hands of Rudolph
      Receives the virgin crown!
   Yes! Father Rudolph blesses,
      The Virgin-Crown and Veil
   Adorn the brow of Mabel,
      With wreaths of lilies pale.
   Her vows, like his, are plighted,
      For ever and for aye,
   To One Whose Love and Beauty
      Can change not or decay.
   O happy youths and virgins!
      In cloister homes that dwell,
   For ever and for ever
      Your joyous songs shall swell—
   Upon the soft sweet breezes
      Of Zion’s sun-lit lands—
   Upon the lily hill-slopes,
      With all the virgin bands.

                                * * * * *

   And so Carnarvon Convent
      Enclosed another bride,
   For Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom,
      The Virgins Joy and Pride.

                                * * * * *

   It was a calm sweet festal,
      In joyous, summer time,
   And Bardsey’s Abbey bell-notes
      Rang out a merry chime.
   The Island seem’d rejoicing,
      With holy joy and mirth,
   The Monks are going to honour
      St. John the Baptist’s birth.
   For John shines forth as Primate
      Of Monkish Choirs above,
   On earth he dwelt in deserts,
      And knew no earthly love.
   The poor, the sad, the orphans,
      All love St. Mary’s shrine,
   And venerate her Cloister,
      Fill’d with the Love Divine.
   The Fathers, and the Novices,
      They count as loving friends,
   Whom Jesus in His Mercy,
      The poor and helpless sends.
   They teach their children sweetly,
      The Gospel’s glorious tales,
   And tend their sick and dying
      With care that never fails.
   No poor’s rates, and no workhouse,
      Were needed in those days,
   The monks were all they wanted,
      They work’d for Jesu’s praise.

   The Holy Mass was over,
      The Abbot seeks his cell,
   His heart is strangely trembling,
      Wherefore he cannot tell.
   ’Tis some foreboding sorrow
      That makes his spirit sad,
   Though all around is sunshine
      And everything seems glad.
   A strange, a chill forewarning,
      Shakes the old man with fear,
   Some dread, some dire affliction,
      Too surely must be near.
   That night, ere hushful Compline
      Had closed the sacred day,
   Two boats the Point were rounding,
      Of Aberdaron’s Bay.
   In one brief hour there landed,
      On Bardsey’s holy shore,
   Ten men from Windsor, bringing
      Tidings most sad and sore.
   They seek at once admission,
      Telling the news they bring,
   The Monks must, ere the morrow,
      Surrender to the king
   The Abbey and its treasures,
      Its Church, its relics rare,
   Its Vestments and its Chalices,
      Its Shrines with jewels fair.
   The Monks _must_ sign surrender,
      Acknowledge many a sin
   They never could have dreamt of,
      If they would safety win.
   And call the tyrant merciful,
      For driving them away,
   Making them leave their Abbey
      To ruin and decay. {48}
   The Compline Bell was tolling
      Its last dear Compline call,
   To-morrow death-like ruin
      Would o’er the Convent fall.
   That night the holy Fathers
      Held consultation long,
   And all agreed—Surrender
      Would be unjust and wrong.
   “Then die we at God’s Altar,
      Sooner than yield the right
   Which God Himself has given us,
      To sacrilegious might.”
   And true to their confession
      The holy Monks remained,
   And with their virgin life-blood
      The Altar-steps are stained.
   The poor arose right bravely,
      Their much-loved Monks to aid,
   And many thus right gladly
      Their lives a forfeit made.
   Now having done all thoroughly,
      Their work of cruel wrong,
   They left the Island weeping,
      All hushed the Holy Song,
   Which for so many ages,
      By night as well as day,
   Had praised the Love of Jesus,
      In one long ceaseless lay.
   And now the poor are seeking,
      Among the ruins drear,
   The bodies of the Martyrs,
      So holy, and so dear.
   Ah! there before the Altar,
      The brave old Abbot lies;
   And there, too, Father Rudolph,
      With fixed and glassy eyes.
   But oh! a calm serenest
      Enfolds the Martyrs blest,
   Strange joy lights up their faces,
      Their spirits are at rest.
   The dear old Abbey crumbles
      All swiftly to decay:
   Oh! for its restoration!
      Cadfan! Dubritius! pray!
   Ye thousand Saints of Bardsey,
      Lift up your pleading song,
   That Jesus may avenge you,
      Of this most cruel wrong!

                                * * * * *

   A hundred years are over,
      Two stranger pilgrims steal,
   To Bardsey’s Abbey ruins,
      To pray for Bardsey’s weal.
   The night was stormy, darksome,
      No moonlight’s silver ray
   Lit up the desolation
      That all around them lay.
   The hour was lonely midnight,
      See! now beside the tomb,
   Where holy Cadfan resteth,
      A light steals through the gloom,
   And ’mid the light a figure,
      In holy Monk’s attire,
   And smiling sweetly, brightly,
      Points to the ruined choir.
   “Pilgrims faithful, Pilgrims true,
   List to that I tell to you.
   Years three hundred shall not end,
   Ere the King of Heaven shall send,
   Saints to rear this sacred fane,
   And restore her walls again.
   Saints above cease not their cry,
   Unto Christ the Lord Most High,
   That His ceaseless praises may
   Here arise by night and day.
   Newborough’s Lord shall own this soil;
   Ere he resteth from life’s toil,
   Jesus, for His servants’ sake,
   Bids him restoration make.
   And if Newborough’s Lord obey,
   That which Jesu’s servants say,
   He shall gain a blessing bright,
   In the realms of Morning Light.
   If he do not grant their prayer,
   He shall lose a blessing rare,
   When he lies on his last bed,
   Sad regret shall crown his head.
   To his son shall then be given, {52}
   Choicest blessings from High Heaven,
   For he shall restore to God,
   Through the Monks this sacred sod.”
   Saying thus he sought repose,
   In the tomb whence he arose.

                                * * * * *

   The Angel shewed me these things,
      In pictures bright and true;
   I woke!—my eyes were resting
      Upon the waters blue.
   But oh! the waves seem sighing
      For sorrow at my tale,
   The sea-birds floating o’er them.
      Sent forth a piteous wail.
   Oh happy waves! no tyrant
      Can hush _your_ endless song.
   May ye again comingle
      With Bardsey’s chants ere long.
   Then Heaven, and Earth, and Nature,
      In unison shall raise,
   One grand joy-peal of gladness,—
      One mighty shout of praise!

_Written at Barmouth and Aberdaron_, _off Bardsey Isle_, _February_,

                                * * * * *

                 [Picture: Decorative graphic of a cross]

                                * * * * *

                          LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS.


{6}  The Bardsey Monks, at this time (the eighth century) doubtless wore
the black habit, but assumed the white habit of the Premonstratensians
some hundreds of years later.

{8}  Aberdaron is situated on the mainland of Carnarvonshire, just five
miles from Bardsey Island, in its own snug bay shore, just round the last
point of the Promontory of Lleyn.  It was the starting place of the
pilgrims for the Holy Isle.

{11}  Barmouth is nearly thirty miles due east of Bardsey, across
Cardigan Bay, and quite visible on a clear day.  It is a seaport of

{12a}  This may seem an anachronism, but it should be remembered that
Druidism lingered a long time in Wales, after it was fairly driven from
the rest of Britain.

{12b}  The Church here is dedicated to St. Cadfan.

{14}  St. Dubritius spent much of his early life in Bardsey, and was
buried there.

{20}  Psalm lxviii.

{23a}  The Church of Aberdaron is still standing close to the sea shore,
and was roofless and going to decay, until a few years ago the present
good vicar re-roofed the holy place, which might easily be restored for
worship were £500 collected for the purpose.  The parish and vicar are
too poor to do any more.  I had the privilege of preaching in this holy
old temple to a large crowd of peasants last Quinquagesima Sunday.

{23b}  I and a friend waited a whole week at Aberdaron this spring, but
in vain, waiting for a quiet sea, in order to visit the Holy Isle; which
is separated from the mainland by a most dangerous current.

{25}  Aberdaron Church was Collegiate in after years, and served by
secular Canons.

{27}  St. Dubritius attended the Council at Verulam with St. Germanus,
and is also said to have been present at the “Alleluiatic Battle.”

{30}  It is said by the historians of Bardsey, that 20,000 Saints are
buried there.  A Bardsey man told me the other day when I was at
Aberdaron, that he has seen perfect skeletons of tall fine men lying
perfect, in five separate layers one above another, which were exposed
near the shore of the Island, by the wind and waves.  He said, too, that
he believed bodies were buried all over the Island.

{33}  Ynys Enlli is the old British name for Bardsey, and means “The
Island in the _Flood_.”

{48}  See Collier’s Eccles. History, Vol. ii., where an exact parallel to
this may be found.

{52}  Lord Newborough is the present owner of the Holy Island.  Its
present inhabitants are without a Church or Clergyman.  I have written to
him to ask him to give us the Abbey Ruins, promising in return to try and
build a little Church and School there, which we would take charge of
free of expense to anyone.  The good Priest of Aberdaron was much pleased
with our proposed plan.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Holy Isle" ***

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