Legend of the Church of the Seven

After a dreadful tempest, seven dead bodies, six of which were male and one female, were found upon the western shore of the island, with a stone curragh and paddle beside them: both the latter had been broken against the rocks. The inhabitants speedily collected, and a consultation took place as to the manner in which the bodies of the unknown strangers should be disposed of. The opinions of the islanders were divided: some proposed that they should be interred, others contended that they should be committed to the waves again; but it was unanimously resolved, that on no account should they be buried in the churchyard, as they might not have been true Catholics. To bury was the final determination. A grave was accordingly prepared, the seven corpses were indiscriminately thrown in, and the trench closed up.

Next morning, to the great surprise of the islanders, the body of the female was found separated from those of her unfortunate companions, and lying on the surface of the ground. It was believed that the lady had been disinterred by that party who had opposed the bodies being buried on the island, and the corpse was once more returned to its kindred clay, and the grave securely filled up.

The second morning came, and great was the astonishment of the inhabitants when it was ascertained that the same occurrence had taken place, and the grave had surrendered its dead. The body was inhumed once more, and, to guard against trickery, and secure the corpse from being disturbed, a watch was placed around the grave.

But when the daylight broke on the third morning, lo! the body of the unknown had again burst its cerements, and lay once more upon the surface of the ground. The vigilance of the guard had proved unavailing, and the consternation of the islanders was unbounded. A grand conclave assembled, and, after much consideration and debate, it was decided that the departed female had been a religieuse; and, that as she had eschewed all communion with the coarser sex while living, so, true to her vows, even after death she had evaded the society of man. Believing her to be a gentlewoman of extra holiness, who had departed "in the pride of her purity," it was shrewdly conjectured that there was nothing to prevent her from working miracles. The sick were accordingly brought forward, and a touch from the blessed finger of the defunct nun—for such she proved—removed every malady the flesh is heir to, and left the island without an invalid. To atone for the irreverential mode in which the lady had been treated on former occasions, a magnificent funeral was decreed her; a stone monument was erected over the sainted remains; and, that posterity should not be excluded from the virtues of her clay, an opening was left in the south side of the tomb, whence the faithful could obtain a portion of her ashes, and the sick be cured of their ailments. It being considered that one so particular after death would not, when alive, have ventured upon sea with any but the servants of religion, the other six bodies were honourably interred, and a tomb raised to their memory, while "the Church of the Seven" was built to their joint honour, and dedicated to the whole.

To this day the sanctity of the lady's grave remains unimpaired. The ashes retain their virtue; the pious resort thither to pray, the sick to procure relief from their sufferings. When it is necessary to obtain the holy dust for devout or medicinal purposes, application is made to the oldest member of a particular family, who have enjoyed from time immemorial the blessed privilege of dispensing the saint's clay. The name of the family is Doogan; and the reason why this high prerogative rests with this favoured lineage is, because their ancestors were the first converts of St. Colomb Kill, and the first of the islanders who received baptism at his hands.