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‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’


Station Island, Lough Derg, Pettigo, County Donegal, Ireland
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Station Island, Lough Derg, Pettigo, County Donegal, Ireland
This enormous religious complex of dorms & churches etc is named ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’. Built on an ancient pilgrimage site isolated on this small island on ‘Lough Derg’ meaning (Lake of the Cave). For over 1500 years pilgrims have been visiting the Lough Derg shores to find peace & pray for loved ones. Visitors to this monastery starve themselves for 3 days & nights, pray continuously & walk barefoot on sharp rocks amongst the cold & biting midges. This is all part of the pilgrimage here that is said to be one of the toughest to complete in the world!
Lough Derg means Red Lake, this name mainly derived from the fact that it’s surrounded by blogland that stains its waters red. However in early local folklore, this water was turned red by the blood of a huge worm that ate the cattle and was slain by Conan. The ancients believed that the Sun setting in the West had its final portal in Lough Derg and the entrance to purgatory for their souls.
According to legend this Island site dates from the fifth century, when ‘Jesus’ showed ‘St Patrick’ a cave on Station Island. This cave was supposedly an entrance to ‘Purgatory’ that ‘St Patrick’ had visions in from the otherworld, hence the name “St Patrick’s Purgatory”. The cave that started it all has been closed since 1632 and covered over by the Basilica to protect others & welcomes people from all over the world to visit & pray over the gateway for all time ?

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