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Monday, April 16, 2007

St. Magnus, Earl and Martyr, Patron of the Orkney Islands, 1st Class Feast day

St. Magnus was born in the Orkney Isles of noble parentage. His father was Earl of the islands, and his mother was likewise of noble blood. While nobility of birth is frequently joined to ignobility of mind, such was not the case with St. Magnus, who from his tenderest youth was taught that the grandeur of virtue excels that of blood. Even in his childhood, he had the bearing of an adult: he was candid and open, amiable and affable, modest and grave; and thus his innocent conduct was pleasing to all.
After the death of his father, the earldom was divided in two between Magnus and his cousin, Hakon. The latter, however, eager to possess control of all the isles, plotted with his henchmen how to kill Magnus. It was decided to lure him to the isle of Egilsay on the pretext of a meeting with his cousin during which they might discuss a peaceful issue to the conflict concerning the rule of the islands.
St. Magnus accepted this plan, and arrived on Egilsay with two longboats, suspecting nothing of his cousin’s treachery. While waiting for Hakon, Magnus went to the church to attend Holy Mass. Meanwhile, his cousin arrived with seven or eight ships, and proceeded to the church where Magnus was praying. Four of Hakon’s hencemen broke into the church while Mass was still being offered, and the just Magnus was dragged outside to meet his cousin Hakon.
Hakon would be satisfied with nothing less than the death sentence for his holy cousin. Magnus however received the sentence with such joy of soul that, after having offered a few prayers to God for his people, he willingly offered himself to death. Two strokes of the axe fell upon his skull, and his soul flew to Heaven. St. Magnus received the crown of martyrdom on 16 April, 1104
The relics of the Patron of the Orkneys, including his skull, are preserved in the Cathedral dedicated in his honour in Kirkwall, on Mainland Orkney. Some of his other bones, however, were later taken to the Continent; and his shoulder bone was given by Emperor Charles IV in 1372 to the Metropolitan Church of St. Vitus in Prague, now the capital of the Czech Republic.

Relics of St. Magnus, Patron of the Orkney Islands
Versiculi ad Vesperas

Magne Dei miles, tua festa tuere colentes:
Orcades alme Comes, digne rege te venerantes.
Pelle, Pater, pestes: nostra pius ablue sordes.
Funde preces, tecum regnemus ut omne per aevum.

Versicle at Vespers

O St. Magnus, soldier of God, defend us who celebrate thy feast.
O holy Earl of Orkney, deign to rule us who venerate thee.
Put to flight all dangers, Father Magnus. Deign to cleanse us of our sins.Pour forth thy prayers to God, that we may reign with thee forever in Heaven.

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