"Of all our Acquo Sanctificato, Lough Derg is the most celebrated"

Dublin Core


"Of all our Acquo Sanctificato, Lough Derg is the most celebrated"


Lough Derg--Fiction--Account--Pilgrimage


Anecdotes about the pilgrimage to Saint Patrick's Purgatory


Lady Sydney Morgan (AKA Sydney Owenson), 1781-1859


Lady Sydney Morgan, The Wild Irish Girl, Vol. I and II: A National Tale, In Two Volumes, Letter XX


P. M. Haverty: New York




Project Gutenberg


Public domain


Epistolary Novel








54.6083, -7.8714



Text Item Type Metadata


" LETTER XX. TO J. D. ESQ., M. P. ... While we spoke, we observed a figure emerging from a coppice towards a small well, which issued beneath the roots of a blasted oak. The priest motioned us to stop, and be silent—the figure (which was that of an ancient female wrapped in a long cloak,) approached, and having drank of the well out of a little cup, she went three times round it on her knees, praying with great fervency over her beads; then rising after this painful ceremony, she tore a small part of her under garb, and hung it on the branch of the tree which shaded the well.

'This ceremony, I perceive,' said the priest, 'surprises you; but you have now witnessed the remains of one of our ancient superstitions. The ancient Irish, like the Greeks, were religiously attached to the consecrated fountain, the Vel expiatoria; and our early missionaries, discovering the fondness of the natives for these sanctified springs, artfully diverted the course of their superstitious faith, and dedicated them to Christian saints.'

'There is really,' said I, 'something truly classic in this spot; and here is this little shrine of Christian superstition hung with the same votive gifts as Pausanius informs us obscured the statue of Hygeia in Secyonia.'

'This is nothing extraordinary here,' said the priest; 'these consecrated wells are to be found in every part of the kingdom. But of all our Acquo Sanctificato, Lough Derg is the most celebrated. It is the Loretto of Ireland, and votarists from every part of the kingdom resort to it. So great, indeed, is the still-existing veneration among the lower orders for these holy wells, that those who live at too great a distance to make a pilgrimage to one, are content to purchase a species of amulet made of a sliver of the tree which shades the well, (and imbued with its waters,) which they wear round their necks. These curious amulets are sold at fairs, by a species of sturdy beggar, called a Bacagh, who stands with a long pole, with a box fixed at the top of it, for the reception of alms; while he alternately extols the miraculous property of the amulet, and details his own miseries; thus at once endeavouring to interest the faith and charity of the always benevolent, always credulous multitude.'

'Strange,' said I, 'that religion in all ages and in all countries should depend so much on the impositions of one half of mankind, and the credulity and indolence of the other. Thus the Egyptians (to whom even Greece herself stood indebted for the principles of those arts and sciences by which she became the most illustrious country in the world) resigned themselves so entirely to the impositions of their priests, as to believe that the safety and happiness of life itself depended on the motions of an ox, or the tameness of a crocodile.'

'Stop, stop,' interrupted Father John, smiling; 'you forget, that though you wear the San-Benito, or robe of heresy yourself, you are in the company of those who——'

'Exactly think on certain points,' interrupted I, 'even as my heretical self.'

This observation led to a little controversial dialogue, which, as it would stand a very poor chance of being read by you, will stand none at all of being transcribed by me.

When we returned home we found the Prince impatiently watching for us at the window, fearful lest the dews of heaven should have fallen too heavily on the head of his heart’s idol, who finished her walk in silence; either, I believe, not much pleased with the turn given to the conversation by the priest, or not sufficiently interested in it."

Original Format

Project Gutenberg eBook


Lady Sydney Morgan (AKA Sydney Owenson), 1781-1859 , “"Of all our Acquo Sanctificato, Lough Derg is the most celebrated",” Digital Derg: A Deep Map, accessed July 16, 2024, https://digitalderg.eu/items/show/611.