Oil dedicated to St Cathald of Taranto on prayer cloth
The Oil dedicated to St Cathald of Taranto on prayer cloth is in honour of the Irish monk from the 7th century. He is patron for plagues, drought and storms.
His monastery was in Lismore, Co Waterford. His desire for a life of solitude saw him venture off to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage.
On his return home his ship was wrecked off the Italian coast, near the city of Taranto. The people here appear to have encouraged the monk to become their bishop. Also, he rose to become their archbishop. Some of the miracles claimed in Catald’s name include protecting the city against the plague. He also protected them against floods in neighbouring areas.
When his coffin was reopened it allegedly contained a golden Celtic cross. Also, there was a stick carved from Irish oak featuring Celtic design. This became Catald’s emblem.
The Italian towns of San Cataldo are believed to have been named in his honour. His feast day is 10 May. Also, there is such a town in Sicily. And a modern sea resort in the Apulian Province of Lecce.
Saint Cathal was the patron of the Sicilian Normans.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.