By Betty B. Gray
In 2002 my best friend and I had the chance to visit Ireland. It was a week of seeing many sites and also a time for me to visit the land of my ancestors. We kissed the Blarney Stone, explored castles, and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery of the countryside with its lush green fields.
But one sight I had always wanted to see was St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. I was awed at this beautiful cathedral with its stained glass windows. But the main reason I wanted to see it was the stories I had heard through the years involving the Door of Reconciliation.
There is an old Scottish saying, “chancing one’s arm.” It comes from the following legend:
In the cathedral there is a door with a rectangular hole hacked out of the center. In 1492 two very prominent Irish families, the Butlers of Ormonde and the FitzGeralds of Kildare, engaged in a bitter feud. It was evident that the Earl of Kildare was winning, and the Earl of Ormonde had to flee for his life. He and his family and staff took refuge in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and bolted the door for safety.
The siege wore on, and the Earl of Kildare began to reason that this feud was foolish. Here were two prominent families who attended the same church, worshipped the same God, and lived in the same country, yet they were trying to kill each other.
So the Earl of Kildare asked the Earl of Ormonde to come out of the cathedral and make peace. The Earl of Kildare said he did not desire to take revenge and would not kill them. But the Earl of Ormonde thought it was a trick and refused to come out.
So the Earl of Kildare ordered that a hole be cut in the door. He “chanced his arm” by putting it through to try and shake hands in peace. There was silence and a tense moment until a hand inside the cathedral grasped the extended hand, and they shook through the door. The Earl of Ormonde emerged and the two families made peace.
Have you taken a chance on reconciliation?
Betty B. Gray is the director of Encourage Me Ministries and nationally performs living dramas of women of the Bible and great women of the faith. Betty is a widow with two daughters, five grandsons, and two great-grandchildren.