Malachy (1094 – Nov. 2, 1148) was born in Armagh in Ireland, where he rose to become Archbishop. His native name is Máel Máedóc Ua Morgair. He became Ireland’s first native-born saint to be canonized.
He died in the arms of his more famous soulmate, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
Their monastic communities honored the male couple as “two stars of such surpassing brightness” and a “two-fold treasure.” Bernard showered Malachy with kisses during his lifetime and they are buried together, wearing each other’s clothes. Malachy’s feast day is Nov. 3.
Malachy is also the attributed author for the “Prophecy of the Popes,” which predicted that there would be 112 more popes before the Last Judgment. Most scholars dismiss the document as an elaborate 16th-century hoax. Still it’s sobering that the 112th and final pope in the prophecy is the current pontiff, Pope Francis. The prophecy remains popular with doomsday fanatics.
He was primate of all Ireland when he first visited the French monastery at Clairvaux around 1139. The abbott in charge was Bernard (1090-1153), a mystical author, advisor to five Popes and a monastic reformer who built the Cistercian order of monks and nuns. Bernard is considered to be the last of the Church Fathers.
They soon became devoted, passionate friends. Malachy even asked the Pope for permission to become a Cistercian, but the Pope refused.
Malachy traveled to see Bernard again in 1142.
They were so close that Bernard covered him with kisses in a scene that is described well by Orthodox priest Richard Cleaver in “Know My Name: A Gay Liberation Theology”: “Bernard’s account makes deeply romantic reading for a modern gay man. “Oscula rui,” Bernard says of their reunion: “I showered him with kisses.” Their relationship had lasted almost a decade when Malachy reunited with Bernard for the third and final time. Malachy fell sick when he arrived in Clairvaux in 1148. He died in Bernard’s arms on All Soul’s Day, Nov. 2.
Again Cleaver tells the details based on accounts by Geoffrey, Bernard’s secretary and traveling companion: “Geoffrey of Auxerre tells us what happened later. Bernard put on the habit taken from Malachy’s body as it was being prepared for burial at Clairvaux, and he wore it to celebrate the funeral mass. He chose to sing not a requiem mass but the mass of a confessor bishop: a personal canonization and, incidentally, an example of using liturgy to do theology. Bernard himself was later buried next to Malachy, in Malachy’s habit. For Bernard, as for us today, this kind of passionate love for another human being was an indispensable channel for experiencing the God of love.”
After Malachy’s death Bernard lived on for another five years. During this time he wrote “Life of Saint Malachy of Armagh,” which is his idealized tribute to the man he loved.