Archive for June 21st, 2010

Black marker with "In Loving Memory of the Babes Buried Here" and a cross on it

We saw this marker in Ireland among the cliffs and mountains on the Ring of Kerry. Our guide told a story that explained the amalgamation of Roman Catholicism and mythology that combined to create it. Here is how he explained it:

According to some Celtic myths, fairies were a race of people who left this world and went to live in the Otherworld when humans invaded their homes. Fairies could still enter our world at fairy rings, fairy trees (hawthorn), and other places associated with the mystical and supernatural. Irish myth treated fairies with a mixture of fear and respect. Even today, our guide told us, the Irish will laugh and tell you that they don’t believe in fairies, but they also won’t let you disturb a fairy ring or cut down a hawthorn tree. We drove on a highway that was diverted around a hawthorn.

Before the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), the Catholic church in Ireland taught that infants who died before baptism went to limbo and were ineligible for burial in consecrated ground. Distraught Irish parents, unable to bury their babies in the churchyard, entrusted them to the fairies, interring them in places where the fairies were supposed to be, like under fairy trees.

After the church altered its teachings on limbo and reversed its position on burying the infants, the local priest and families came up to this spot, blessed it, and erected this memorial to these babies.

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