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Saul Church
 

County

Down

Coordinates

N 54° 20' 36.36"   W 005° 40' 46.2"

Nearest town

Downpatrick

Grid Ref.

J 50873 46344

Map No.

21

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

53

Date of visit

Wednesday 29 May 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

4
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The modern church built to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the landing of St. Patrick to Ireland, and opened in 1933.


This church was built on the site of the earliest place of Christian worship in Ireland, founded by St. Patrick in 432.

It is said that Patrick arrived to Ireland by boat. He landed at the Slaney River, near Downpatrick. Here, he received a barn from Díchu, the High King's brother. The Irish term for a barn is sabhal, from which the place takes its name.
A few centuries later an abbey was erected on the site of the first shelter of St. Patrick, but it was destroyed by the Vikings around the 10th century. It was refounded as an Augustinian Abbey in the 12th century, but it was plundered by Edward the Bruce in 1316 who largely destroyed it. Only a short segment of a wall of this church can be seen today.
The present building was erected to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the landing of St. Patrick and opened in 1933.

North of this church is an ancient mortuary house, a building where the relics of a prominent religious person were placed. The rectangular building is 1.55 metres wide and 2.30 metres long, with a high-pitched roof, a small square window in the south (170°) wall and a small doorway in the east wall. Inside, in the north wall, there's a square recess.
Next to the mortuary house, to the southwest, there's a cross base concealed in the grass. The square socket measure 20 centimetres.

To the west of the church there's a small modern building called Prayer Place. Inside this building, on the west wall, there's a wonderful grave slab very likely found in the surrounding graveyard. It's about 1.75 metres high, 38 centimetres wide and 18 centimetres thick. It's finely decorated along its edges and has an elaborate cross carved in bas-relief, with a rhomboidal hole in the centre of the head.


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