St. Maughold of Man, Bishop
(Macaille, Maccaldus, Machalus, Machella, Maghor, Maccul)
Died c. 488. Saint Maughold was an Irish prince and reputedly a captain of robbers who was converted by Patrick. Upon his conversion, he became a new man by putting on the spirit of Christ. One version of the legend says that Patrick told him to put to sea in a coracle without oars as a penance for his evil deeds. Another says that he set sail in order to avoid the temptations of the world. In both stories, he retired to the Isle of Man (Eubonia) off the coast of Lancashire, England.
Earlier Patrick had sent his nephew, Saint Germanus, as bishop to plant the Church on the island. Germanus was succeeded by Saints Romulus and Conindrus during whose time Maughold arrived on the island and began to live an austere, penitential life in the mountainous area now named after him Saint Maughold. After their deaths, Maughold was unanimously chosen as bishop by the Manks.
In one of the 18 parish churchyards on the island can be found Saint Maughold’s well. The very clear water of the well is received in a large stone coffin. Those seeking cures of various ailments, particularly poisoning, are seated in the saint’s chair just above the well and given a glass of well-water to drink. Maughold’s shrine was here until the relics were scattered during the Reformation.
Maughold, commemorated in both the British and Irish calendars, is described in the Martyrology of Oengus as
a rod of gold, a vast ingot, the great bishop MacCaille. Many topological features on the Isle of Man, which he divided into 25 parishes, bear Maughold’s name. A church at Castletown, Scotland, is dedicated to him. William Worcestre said that he was a native of the Orkneys, and that his shrine was on the Isle of Man (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth, Montague).
St. Machald of Man (Manghold or Machaldus) (498)
There are very many ways of spelling his name from MacCaille, through Maccul and the Latin Machaldus, to Maughold, as he is called in the Isle of Man. In the life of St. Patrick, we meet him as the leader of a band of brigands, who preyed on travellers and had no respect for either this missionary bishop or the God whom he proclaimed. When Patrick was at Saul, Machald and his desperadoes hatched a little plot. One of them, named Garban, would pretend to be dead, be covered with a cloak, and would lie by the side of the road. When Patrick came by, Machald would beg him to pray over the corpse, and as he uncovered the body, the whole band would set upon him.
The stratagem did not go as they had planned. When the cloak was raised Garban was really dead. The shock to the robbers was immense, and they fell before the good bishop, confessing their guilt and beseeching him for their comrade. St. Patrick prayed over them and Garban was restored to life. They were ordered to return their ill gotten gains to their rightful owners, and Machald, who had asked for a more severe penance, was told to chain himself to a boat, row out to sea and, having cast away the oars and the key of his fetters, allow himself to be driven to whatever land God should choose.
Machald obeyed, and he was washed up in a bay on the Isle of Man, where two Christian missionaries, Conindrus and Romulus, had their settlement. Previously that day, they had caught a fish, in which was the key that could unlock Machald’s manacles, so he shared the holy men’s abode and became their servant. They taught him letters, and eventually he was ordained a priest. When Germanus, whom Patrick later sent to evangelise the island, died, Conindrus became Bishop of Man, and Machald succeeded him as third bishop. To him is ascribed the division of the island into seventeen parishes, and he is reputed to have visited Scotland and Wales, although he never returned to Ireland. He died ten years after St. Patrick and was buried at the church that bears his name, where there is still a great Celtic Cross. In the churchyard there was, for many years, a stone coffin, which held crystal clear water, which was much prized by the islanders for healing various diseases but it was later destroyed by the Danes.
The Chronicles of Man, written by the monks of Rushen Abbey on the island, and now in the British Museum, records how once a Viking, after a battle at Ramsey, planned to rob the church, but that night was visited by St. Machald, who struck him three times on his chest with his staff. He died from a heart attack, and his companions sailed away hurriedly. The ancient arms of the diocese used to portray a bishop standing in a boat, with a star and key above him. St. Machald is revered as the main patron of the Isle of Man (Baring-Gould1882, Bowen).
Antient and Authentic Documents
Ecclesiastical History of the Isle of Mann
Isle of Man web site
The Manx Crosses