Friday, July 27, 2012

Colcu Ua Duinechda's Scúap Chrábaid

The prayer of Colcu
RIA MS 23 P 16, p74

Colcu Ua Duinechda (d. 794) is recorded in the Irish Annals as a famous scholar at the monastery of Clonmacnoise in Co. Offaly. An old Irish prayer attributed to him is known as the Scúap Chrábaid, it is preserved in several manuscripts in Ireland, Britain and Belgium.

The prayer is in the form of a litany and contains several interesting insights into Colcu’s theological training (such as a succinct summary of the hypostatic union) and also some typically Irish idiosyncrasies, such as describing the OT prophets as manchu (monks) and the apostle John as the foster-son of Jesus (this related in typically Irish terms how John was the disciple that Jesus loved).

Interestingly he lists the Apostolic Sees in the order Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome and Antioch. The first bishops of Rome are listed by him as Linus, Cletus and Clement. This is probably traced back to Irenaeus who names Linus as the first Bishop of Rome (Adversus haereses 3.3.3). The first bishop of Jerusalem is said by Colcu to have been Iacob ngluinech (James of the knees). This tradition is taken from Jerome’s De Viris Illustribus 2, which says of James that he spent so much time kneeling in prayer, “that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels’ knees.”

Overall the prayer stresses the need for God’s grace to live the Christian life and the impossibility to live without it. Here is an excerpt,

“Grant, give and bestow on me your holy grace and your Holy Spirit to protect me and shelter me from sins, present, past and future, and to kindle in me every righteousness, and to sustain me in true purity and in uprightness to the close and end of my life…for it is not possible for me unless it comes according to the word of Paul, who said, who will rescue me from this body of death? Only your grace, Jesus Christ, you who rule forever!”

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