When our saint was returning from Rome to France in his way to Ireland he stopped at a religious house in an isle in the Gulf of Genoa, and was entertained for a night by the inmates, whose self-imposed duty was the care of wrecked sailors. He revealed his name and mission, and observed that about half the community were young and fresh-looking, and the rest very aged and infirm. One of the younger brothers surprised him not a little by mentioning that the very old members were their children. "It is," said he, "about a century since I and my companions agreed to live here in community, labour with our hands, and spend a certain time of the day in reciting holy offices. We were all widowers, and children remained to some of us. These are they (pointing to the aged men). One night, it was our good fortune to entertain a stranger pilgrim of a sweet and majestic countenance, and when he was about to quit us in the morning he spoke these words, handing to our superior the staff which he had in his hands:--' In requital for your loving hospitality, I leave you this staff. During its stay with you years shall have no effect on your strength nor appearance. Retain it till my servant Patrick rests here on his way to Erinn for the conversion of its people, and give it into his hands when he quits you.' We all listened with awe, and when the last word was spoken the majestic form was no longer there. Our children entered the community as they grew up, but, the blessing not having been addressed to them, years have had their natural effect. When you depart, bearing the sacred staff with you, we expect our release from fleshly bonds." This or some other staff attended the saint in his many weary journeys through the length and breadth of Erinn; and when he died it was preserved in his cathedral at Armagh. At a later date it was transferred to Christ-church Cathedral in Dublin. [a]
[a] These last two sentences have nothing of a legendary character about them. Our Dublin authorities of the sixteenth century having no opportunities of studying the works of Dr. Todd, Dr. Petrie, or either of our late lamented Irish professors, were little imbued with an archaeological spirit. They broke and burned the Bacal Josa on the High Street, to testify their zeal against image worship.