June 24, 2024

True Orthodox Diocese of Western Europe

Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC)

St. Machalus Bishop of the Isle of Man – April 27

3 min read

St. Machalus (Maughold, Machalus, Maccul, Maccaille) was first the leader of a band of robbers, who then preyed on travelers.  When St. Patrick was traveling, the group made a plan to trick him by putting one of their gang, named Garban, under a cloak by the side of the road, pretending that he was dead.  When St. Patrick came by, Machalus would beg him to pray over the corpse, and the whole gang would set upon him.  But when they raised the cloak on Garban, he was dead.  They fell before Patrick and confessed their guilt. 
St. Patrick prayed and restored Garban to life, and he ordered that they return their booty, but Machalus asked for a more severe penance.  Patrick told him to chain himself to a boat, row out to sea, throw away the oars and the key to his chains, and float to wherever God chooses.  Machalus obeyed, and he was washed up on the Isle of Man, where two missionaries had settled.  That day they had caught a fish that swallowed the key, and they unlocked Machalus’ chains.  He became their servant. 
At first, St. Machalus lived in a cave on a mountainside as a hermit, praying to God and shedding tears, repenting of his past misdeeds. Later, he was ordained a priest, and then eventually the third bishop of the Isle of Man.  He is known for the division of the island into seventeen parishes.  He is buried at the church that still bears his name.  At that site, there was for many years a stone coffin, which held crystal clear water known for healing various diseases.  Sometime later, a Viking planned to rob the church, but St. Machalus appeared and struck him three times in the chest with his staff.  The Viking died, and his companions fled.
In the Martyrology of St. Oengus the Culdee of Tallacht (late eighth – early ninth centuries) St. Maughold is referred to as “a rod of gold, a vast ingot, the great bishop MacCaille.” 
He fell asleep in the Lord in 488 or 498.
Today the saint is mentioned on the Isle of Man at the Celtic Monastery of St. Maughold, his parish church (Kirk Maughold) with a graveyard, and a healing holy well.
Additionally, there is a ledge of rock by the holy well named “St. Maughold’s Chair” on which in past times pilgrims would sit, meditate and call on the saint’s name. There is a purpose-built “cross house” next to the church which has forty-five ancient crosses from various parts of the island, some of which came here from this churchyard. Some of the crosses carry inscriptions in Hiberno-Saxon and even Greek. The most famous of them is the fine Pillar Cross, which contains a carving of the Crucifixion of Christ along with a symbol of Manannan, the legendary 3-legged pagan wizard-ruler of the Isle of Man and local pre-Christian hero, reputedly vanquished by St. Patrick. The church itself is of the eleventh century with later additions, and originally a church or chapel was erected by Maughold himself on this spot.

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