Roadside Saints

They didn’t just go to church on Sunday and call it good. The sacred was woven in their lives and landscapes – with them each day through task and travel. A heritage that is very much alive today.

Driving Ireland’s more rural roads, it’s common to see a roadside shrine for Mary. They are ubiquitous. There are also shrines for St. Brigit. Yet until we wandered the roads of St. KieranDonegal, I had not encountered a shrine for a male saint. And surely didn’t expect this one. Of course he is located just a field away from some of the areas most magnificent megaliths. So many Catholic sites are located near or with the ancient sacred sites.

The fresh flowers, rosary beads, and over turned ceramic mugs at the nearby well are evidence that St. Kieran is still visited. His folk art countenance suggests that he is no Church sanctioned statuary but a product of dedication and reverence by the local people. The tattered sign leaning against him gives instruction on how to observe the holy pattern of this place.

And I wonder what these people would say about a modern culture that reserves sacred encounter for Sundays and churches. They might not say much. But their actions at places like St. Kieran’s shrine and holy well speak volumes.

And I wonder what might be different if we had roadside saints.

Judith –