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St. Dichu

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The son of an Ulster chieftain, was the first convert of St. Patrick in Ireland. Born in the last decade of the fourth century, he succeeded to the petty kingdom of Lecale, which included Saul, in the present County Down. On St. Patrick's arrival at Tubber Slain (the estuary of the Slaney near Loch Cuan or Strangford Lough), in 432, Dichu, then a pagan, strongly opposed his landing, and even attacked the saint, but was miraculously touched with Divine grace and embraced the Faith of Christ. Thereupon Dichu, after baptism, presented St. Patrick with the Sabhall (Saul), for a church, and thus Saul became the first Irish foundation of the national apostle, being afterwards known as Sabhall-Padhraic. Saul was a particular favorite with St. Patrick, and he frequently sought a resting-place there during his arduous missionary labors. St. Dichu, from the day of his conversion, was a model of sanctity and, from a man of warlike proclivities, became a man of peace. The details of his later career are obscure, but we know that two of his sons, who had been detained as hostages by Laoghaire, King of Ireland, were released at the prayer of St. Patrick. His feast is noted in the "Martyrology of Donegal" as "Diochu of Sabhall", under date of 29 April. As is well known, it was at Saul that St. Patrick died, and this monastery became in afterdays a famous abbey, under the rule of the Regular Canons of St. Augustine.

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