Beautiful Churches: Saul Church in Northern Ireland

By The Stream Published on May 22, 2016

Saul Church in County Down, Northern Ireland has a deep and powerful history.

Saul Church is called the Cradle of Christianity in Ireland, because it was here that St. Patrick launched his ministry to all of Ireland. Tradition holds that Patrick first landed his boat near here and met a local chieftain named Dichu, who became one of St. Patrick’s first converts. Dichu offered Patrick his barn to hold worship services. The word for barn in Irish was sabhall, from which we get the anglicized word saul, and hence, Saul Church.

From here Patrick traveled extensively sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he is said to have died here on March 17, 461.

For more than three centuries following Patrick’s death there was an abbey on this site until it was plundered and burnt by Vikings. In the 12th century Saul was refounded as an Augustinian Priory, but it also was later plundered in the 14th century by Edward Bruce. One wall of this abbey remains along with an intact monastic cell in the old graveyard.

The present church building, which replaced a very simple building that had been built in 1788, was erected to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the landing of St. Patrick and was opened on All Saints’ Day 1933.

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