Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2007
St. Kevin's healing presence permeates secluded Irish valley
A monastic community's stone ruins hint at a time of spiritual peace
St. Kevin – June 3
By TED FITZGERALD
A great variety of legends evolved around the saint, particularly in the areas of healing people and relating to the animals in his life.
Few sites in the monastic city can be directly associated with the place's founder, many being built after Kevin's passing in 618. One of the more prominent and best-preserved structures and one obviously much-visited is known as St. Kevin's Church.
Experts suspect that the much-modified building may have been constructed after the saint's death and was in fact a kitchen with a chimney suggestive of a bell tower.
The cathedral, a large contemporary Irish church, although said to have been frequented by Kevin, may also date from the ninth century.
Naturally, the impressive round tower, a mainstay of early Irish monastic communities, is another much-photographed feature of Glendalough. It served as a bell tower and symbolic heaven-pointing spire as well as providing a refuge for the monks during the many Viking attacks on the site.
High point of Glendalough as a centre of Christian learning and erudition came just before 1214 when it was made a part of the nearby Diocese of Dublin, which soon became the focal point of religious activity in this part of Ireland. After destruction in 1398 by the English, Glendalough lay abandoned, but over the years became the objective of large pilgrimages until these were suppressed by the Church in 1862 because of undue rowdiness.
More recently of course, the Vale of the Lakes has become one of the country's most visited pilgrimage sites and focus of many religious activities and celebrations.
For the visitor or pilgrim wandering among the ruins it's not possible to avoid the powerful aura of timelessness and sanctity that pervades this fascinating place of past religious activity.
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