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Lay for the Day 11th February


The feast day of St Gobnait, an early Irish saint who is one of the patrons of beekeeping (see 13th February, the feast of St Modomnoc). A number of magical stories are related about her. She was told by an angel that she would find “the place of her resurrection” where she saw nine white deer together, and she travelled along the southwestern coast of Ireland looking for this place – and founding religious sites as she went – until she saw the sign at a place called Ballyvourney in County Cork. Here she established a monastery.
She is said to have driven away invaders by loosing her bees on them, and to have prevented an undesirable intruder from building his castle in the neighbourhood by each night throwing a round stone across the valley at the building, which would knock down the walls and then bounce back to her. This round stone is said to be visible still, embedded in the wall of her church.
One calendar on the internet calls her the “patron saint of sacred stones”, but I could find no other reference to this.
From the book of Praises:


73. Of a Stone

Featureless sea-flint
picked off the levels,
once sea-bed, where sheep bleat;
a talisman rubbed
and revolved for a mile
left-handed, revealing a landscape,

then tossed across the grasses’
lengthening shadows,
spinning in idleness further
in fifteen minutes than the tides’ labour
would take it in a year.
And yet, as the broken breakwaters,
sanded smooth and green with weed,
that try to control the beach can prove,
it’s the breathing tides always win,

pushing their booty up the coast,
taking the coast itself away captive,
throwing up their spume of waders
that turn in the light a moment
and fall as the lightest of bones,
a turning feather, the driest of sand.

Where the goose-flocks grazing
have strewn the ground with preened-out plumes,
the leathery oar-weeds were waving,
coral insects castled
and forests sank since flint was born;

but the dunlins and I, many-memoried,
will be blown about together
before the span of this dumb
simple round is broken.

 

John Gibbens
from Collected Poems

 

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