Saint Kilian, and Cillian

View from Old Main Bridge in Würzburg towards Festung Marienberg. St.Kilian in front with his golden sword. Date 27 June 2004 (original upload date) Source Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. Author Lutz.marten at English Wikipedia

July 9th is the traditional feast of Saint Cilian, also Kilian (640 – 689), an Irish missionary monk who took the Catholic Faith from Ireland – already well established after the work of Saint Patrick two centuries before – to still-pagan Germany. In the summer of 686, he and eleven companions – a biblical twelve – traveled through Gaul to Rome, to receive the official mandate of Pope Conon to evangelize the Franks, who would soon themselves become bastions of the Catholic Faith under Pepin and Charlemagne. Like Saint John the Baptist, Kilian met his end when he criticized the marital situation of the Herzog (Duke) Gozbert, who had married his brother’s widow, Geilana. The incensed woman ordered his death, and Kilian was beheaded with two of his companions, Colman and Totnan.  Their skulls are still on display in the Würzburg Cathedral, and are paraded through the streets on Saint Kilian’s day. I wonder if that custom still prevails, as Germany, like Ireland, lapses back into its old paganism. Or, rather, as Belloc predicted, adopts a neo-paganism which, like the swept rooms of the Gospels, brings is seven devils far worse than the first. For the early pagans at least had the mitigating factor of never having heard said the Good News of Christ. We pray for Ireland and Germany, that they see that without the Faith, we are lost. To Belloc again: Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe.

A postscript: The au courant actor Cillian Murphy, who played Oppenheimer, shares the name of the saint, which can be spelled with one or two l’s. I know nothing of Mr. Murphy’s personal life, but the scenes in some of his films signify what has been lost, including full el fresco nudity. (And, no, that hyperlink does not lead you to said scenes, but to Eric Sammons’ reasoned defense for why he won’t see Oppenheimer, a position with which I heartily agree – at least, an unexpurgated version). Cillian was raised Catholic but at some point along the way, as with many of those of the Emerald Isle, lost the gift of Faith. According to his Wikipedia page – yes, I know – he claims that the research involved in his role of the scientist who developed the nuclear bomb helped move him from agnosticism to atheism, which is the opposite of what rightly-ordered reason should do. The order and structure of the world signifies a Mind behind that wonderful cosmos, as the Book of Wisdom, Saint Paul, and Saint Thomas, amongst untold others, aver. But the actor says his early Faith still shapes his morality, in some way, one may suppose. May he, and all the rest of our wayward world, build on whatever glimpses they still have or are given, to see the fullness of Truth.