Home / Country Life / Featured Topics / St. Patrick's Day / St. Patrick and Religion

St. Patrick and Religion

Religious artefacts with associations to St. Patrick

Below you will find some examples of the major religious artefacts associated in some form with St. Patrick and on view in Kildare Street, Dublin 2, home of N.M.I. – Archaeology.

Shrine of the Miosach, Clonmany, Co. Donegal. Late eleventh century ad, redecorated in 1534.

This book shrine was originally associated with St Cairneach, patron saint of Dulane, Co. Meath but in the later Middle Ages it was absorbed into the cult of St Columba. The Irish inscription on the front states that it was re-covered for Brian O Morrison in 1534. The main face bears a series of repeating stamped silver foil panels showing the Virgin and Child and three saints, perhaps intended to represent the three national saints Patrick, Columba and Brigid. Like the Shrine of the Cathach, it was used as a battle-standard during the Middle Ages.

Shrine of the Miosach (N.M.I. Collection - 2001.84)

St Patrick’s Bell 

St Patrick’s Bell, or the "Bell of St. Patrick's Will" was one of the great treasures of the medieval church of Armagh.  It is a simple, almost crude hand-bell, formed of two sheets of iron joined by rivets with a handle attached, and coated in bronze.  Whether it was actually used by St Patrick is unknown but it is clearly very early in date. Around 1100AD an elaborate shrine was made to contain this bell, thanks to the patronage of Domhnall Ua Lochlainn, then high-king of Ireland. This shrine is of bronze with silver-gilt frame which originally held 30 gold filigree panels in place, arranged in the shape of a ringed cross. On the front and side are panels of interlace formed of large beasts in figure-of-eight shape, interlaced with small ribbon-like snakes. This is one of the finest examples of the Irish version of the distinctive Scandinavian Urnes art style. 

St. Patrick's Bell (N.M.I. Collection - R4010-11)

Shrine of St Patrick’s Tooth   

The Fiacal Padraig, or Shrine of St Patrick’s Tooth, is a reliquary traditionally said to contain a tooth belonging to St Patrick! It is actually a complex piece made up of portions of different objects of wood, copper alloy, silver, gold and silver filigree and rock crystal and dating between the 12th and 14th centuries. Its purse-shaped form dates to the mid-14th century when it was refurbished at the request of Thomas de Bermingham, Lord of Athenry in Co. Galway.  On the 14th-century front, St John, the Virgin Mary and figures of Irish saints flank the figure of Christ. The shrine was used in the early 19th century for curing sick animals. 

Shrine of St. Patrick's Tooth (N.M.I. Collection - R2836)