Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. I hope you are wearing green!
This is one of the most interesting relics of which I have heard: Saint Patrick’s Bell of the Testament. This is the outer reliquary that covers the ancient bell:
And here’s the actual bell of Saint Patrick from within the jeweled covering:
Saint Patrick died in AD 493. According to the “Book of Cuanu” dating to AD 552, Saint Columcille acquired three relics from Saint Patrick’s tomb:
1. Saint Patrick’s Chalice
2. Saint Patrick’s Gospel book (called the Angels Gospel)
3. Saint Patrick’s Bell of the Testament
These three items were signs of Saint Patrick’s office as a Catholic bishop. The bell in particular became an important Irish relic. The bishop would be rung to announce the activities of Saint Patrick, in particular his famous preaching.
The bell itself is simple in design, hammered into shape with a small handle fixed to the top with rivets. The bell was forged from iron and plated in bronze.
King Domnall Ua Lochlainn placed the bell in a reliquary sometime between 1091 and 1105. The reliquary is an example of Viking-influenced Celtic art as you can see in the photo above.
Saint Patrick, pray for us.