The Saul Church is an Irish church in County Down in Northern Ireland. Charming, it is said to be a replica of an ancient church that was once occupied by the legendary St. Patrick, the patron saint of the Irish! This is where the saint would have celebrated his masses and lived until the end of his days. The present church and its adjoining round tower are faithful replicas of the old building, which could not withstand the centuries.
The history of Saul’s church is pretty unique. As St. Patrick traveled across Ireland to convert the population to Christianity, the saint met a local clan chief named Dichu.
The latter was so fascinated by the Saint’s discourse that he eventually adhered to the religion and decided to give him a barn (a “Sabhall” in Irish Gaelic, from which we get the Anglicized word Saul).
From then on, the Saul Church was born. St. Patrick accepted the building to live in and to hold his religious services. He died there many years later, on March 17, 461.
The barn, which was converted into an official church, lasted more than 3 centuries after the saint’s death. Nevertheless, it was looted and burned by the Vikings.
It was not until the 12th century that the Saul Church was re-founded as an Augustinian priory. Nevertheless, the present building was built in 1788 to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the landing of Saint Patrick in Ireland.
Since then, the church is still in operation, and you can still visit it. High place of pilgrimage, the Church Saul is as much a religious building as it is a real tourist site: no problem to enter it even to discover it!
Don’t hesitate to visit it: the setting is pleasant and bucolic, lost in the middle of Irish nature! A Mecca of Irish history!