Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Saints Failbe of Cell Eó, June 30

June 30 is the commemoration of Saint Failbe who is associated in the calendars with the locality of Cell or Cill-Eó. He may or may not be linked to another saint from the same place, Caelán. The Martyrology of Gorman lists 'holy Failbe and Coelán' with the note 'Failbe and Caelán in Cell Eó'.  The two are similarly linked in the later Martyrology of Donegal but in the earlier Martyrology of Tallaght they are listed separately as 'Coelan Dachoe' and 'Falbe of Chill Eó' i.e. 'from Cell Éo'.  Canon O'Hanlon deals with them separately in Volume VI of his Lives of the Irish Saints and places Cell-Eó, which the place names glossary in the Martyrology of Gorman translates as 'the church of the yews', in County Longford:

St. Failbe of Cill-eo, County of Longford.

The published Martyrology of Donegal seems to place this saint, together with St. Caolan, at Cill-eo, for the 30th of June. However, the Irish Calendar,  belonging to the Royal Irish Academy, has a different entry, as we shall see, when treating about St. Caolan. Of this saint, it remarks, that he was of the Clan Ruighre, and that his place was Cill-eo, in the County of Longford.

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Monday, 29 June 2015

Two Ancient Hymns of the Irish Church on St. Peter

Below are the texts and translations of two hymns in honour of Saint Peter, discovered among the manuscripts at the German monastery of Reichenau and republished by Patrick Francis, Cardinal Moran, in one of his essays on the early Irish Church. The status of Reichenau, an island monastery on Lake Constance, as one of the 'Schottenklöster' or Irish monasteries is not as clearly-defined as some of the more famous Irish foundations like Ratisbon, associated with the Blessed Marianus Scottus (Muiredach MacRobertaigh). Reichenau's founder was a Saint Pirmin, and scholars are still unable to say with certainty where this saint was from. In an earlier post here I reprinted a nineteenth-century paper which argued for a tradition that he was an Irishman. In a sense though, the birthplace of the founder is not the defining factor here, for this monastery clearly had links to the Irish cultural world. One of its most famous sons, Walafrid Strabo, who was not an Irishman, wrote the only surviving account of the martyrdom of Saint Blaitmac of Iona, killed by the Vikings as he defended the relics of Saint Columba. A version of Adamnan's Life of Saint Columba found at Reichenau's Library was of such quality and completeness that it was used by Colgan in his Trias Thaumaturga. A ninth-century abbot of Reichenau, Ermenrich, wrote glowingly of Ireland's contribution to Christian mission and learning: 'How can we forget Ireland, the island where the sun of faith arose for us, and whence the brilliant rays of so great a light have reached us? Bestowing philosophy on small and great, she fills the Church with her science and her teaching. ' What a wonderful testimony to the spiritual legacy of the Irish on the continent!

Two Ancient Hymns of the Irish Church on St. Peter, published by Mone.

We are indebted to the eminent German antiquarian, Mone, for two very ancient hymns of the Irish Church, which he discovered amongst the papers of the old Irish monastery of Reichenau, and which he published, from Irish manuscripts of the 8th and 9th centuries, in his invaluable work entitled " Hymni Latini Medii Aevi”. [Friburg, 1855. Vol. iii. pag. 68.]

The first and most ancient poem is an alphabetical hymn on the apostle Peter, the initials of each strophe presenting successively the whole series of the letters of the alphabet. We now give it to the reader, as printed by Mone, and we unite with it a literal translation, for which we are indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Potter, Professor of All-Hallows College, Dublin:


1 "Audite fratres fama
Petri pastoris plurima
Baptismatis libamina
Fundit veluti flumina.
Adsiut nobis sublimia
Sancti Petri suffragia.

2 “Bis refulsit ut fulmina
Sana sanctorum agmina
Flentes duxit ex ordine
Gentes divino carmine.

3 "Celebravit egregia
Evangelii praeconia,
Facta prostrata legia
De Satana victoria.

4 “Dudum elegit dominus
Petrum ut optimum oleum,
Ut obitaret dominum
Essetque pastor ovium.

5 “Elaboravit ubique,
Curae datus historiae,
Fundamentum dominicae
Ecclesiae Catholicae.

6 "Facta crucis martyria
Fecit magna prodigia
Sequutus per aetheria
Christiana vestigia.

7 "Gloriosum apostolum
Deus ornavit gloria
Romse urbis qua in
Vivit cum victoria.

8 "Habundabat justitia,
Plenus divina gratia
Expandit retia sparsa
Per mundi spatia.

9 "Judaeorum malivolas
Vitae formavit animas
Missusque capsit plurimas
Evangelii per sagias.

10 "Kasta librorum legimus,
Petri plenos virtutibus,
Moestas divinis fletibus,
Pastoris summi nutibus.

11 "Luxit ut Phoebus saecula,
Christi secutus opera
Binae legis oracula
(A line wanting).

12 "Mirum pastorem piissimum
Flagitare non desino,
Ne demergar cum pessima,
Intercedas pro misero.

13 "Nunc dignare, apostole,
Aperire cum clavibus
Regnum quod olim quaerimus
Nos instantes prae foribus.

14 "Opus delator sublimis,
Te rogamus assidue,
Recordare martyriae
Et auxilium tribue.

15 "Petri precamur veniam,
Si qua mala peregimus,
Resistentes daemonibus
Nunc evalere legimus.

16 "Qui nostri spiritus aerias
Praesta salutis galeas,
Simon Johannis, audias
Nostras preces, ut audias.

17 "Regis regnum apostolorum,
Precor precamine,
Me morantem in limine
Mortis desolve valide.

18 "Salvat horis in munere,
Mundi ferebat famina,
Cui concessa numina,
Relaxare peccamina.

19 "Turbae sanctorum magister,
Ovem errantem eruat,
Negligenter ne pereat,
Adjutorium tribuat.

20 "Uisitando cum trophaeo,
Fidei tectus clipeo,
Cujus vires ut sapio
Fari omnino nequeo.

21 "Xristi martyrum lucifer,
Legis lator altissimi,
Cui daemones pessimi
Obediebant impiissimi.

22 "Ymno dicto de laudibus
Petri, utcunque fecimus,
Nostris virtutum opibus
Propitiatur precibus.

23 "Zona praecincti placidis
Totis vivamus debitis,
Ut fruamur infinitis,
In angelorum editis."


1 "List, Brothers, whilst our hymn of praise,
To Peter's name we humbly raise;
From whose blest hand the waters ran,
Which life restored to fallen man.
May Peter's love our path attend,
And guide us to our happy end.

2 "Bright as the lightning's glowing sheen,
He, twice, 'mid ranks of saints, was seen;
Whilst nations lost in fear and love,
Hear chants divine from realms above.

3 " With fearless tongue he pleads the cause
Of Christ's divine and holy laws;
And all the baffled hosts of hell
His Master's glowing triumph tell.

4 "In years long past, in by-gone time,
As highest prince, to post sublime
Was Peter chosen to succeed,
And Christ's ne'er-failing flock to feed.

5 "Nor clime, nor space, might bound his zeal,
And pages writ his deeds reveal;
On him, the rock so strong, so sure,
Christ's Church shall ever firm endure.

6 "Fixed to the cross, he closed his days,
And wonders dread proclaimed his praise:
To realms above, to die no more,
He soar'd, as Christ had soar'd before.

7 "And, now, in deathless glory crowned,
The earth doth with his praise resound;
And thou, the first, sweet mother Rome,
His see, his battle-field, his home.

8 "Hence, in God's grace, in justice bright,
And led and guided by their light,
Through all the world, from end to end,
Did Peter's care his nets extend.

9 "E'en cruel Jews, from vice and strife,
Were led to walk the path of life;
And, soon, the Gospel's seine might tell
Of countless souls redeemed from hell.

10 "Historic lore proclaims his fame,
And all the glory of his name;
"Whilst at his nod, from sinful eyes
Tears rise, as incense, to the skies.

11 "Like Phoebus shining o'er the world,
Christ's saving standard he unfurl'd,
And, walking in his Master's ways,
Proclaim'd God's laws through all his days.

12 "That I may be this pastor's care,
Shall surely be my constant prayer;
Oh, Peter, pray, lest I be tost
By angry waves, and, wretched, lost.

13 "Oh deign, apostle, pure and meek,
To guide us to the realm we seek;
We stand, we pray, we faint outside,
Oh, ope to us those portals wide.

14 "With never-failing lips we pray,
Thy aid and help, our hope, our stay;
And, mindful of thy own sad throes,
Grant help and comfort in our woes.

15 "Thy pardon, Peter, we implore,
With hearts resolved to sin no more;
With Satan's hosts fierce war to wage,
And, trusting, all our foes engage.

16 "Then, Simon John, oh, list our cry,
And bear us succour from on high;
And on our brows bind helmets bright,
To keep us harmless in the fight.

17 " With humble cry, with humble prayer,
Apostles' Lord, I crave thy care;
That, trembling on death's awful shore,
Nor sin, nor hell, may claim me more.

18 "As every hour the sinner's cry,
Doth rise in sadness to the sky;
His chains unbound—behold him free,
For God's right hand doth work with thee.

19 "Oh, master of the sainted band,
O'er erring sinners keep thy hand;
And, lest our feet should sadly stray,
Oh, guide us in the narrow way.

20 "With faith's bright shield thy flock enshroud,
And glad them with thy trophies proud;
But mortal tongue may never tell
The saving strength we know so well.

21 "Of martyrs bright the brightest name,
God's people, all, thy praise proclaim;
Whilst demons dread thy awful sway,
And trembling fiends thy power obey.

22 "As best we may, to Peter's praise
This humble song we humbly raise;
May he our cry benign attend,
And guide us to our happy end.

23 "With girded loins, with duty done,
With cheerful hearts, till all be won;
May we, when life's stern fight is o'er,
Be crown'd with bliss for evermore.
Amen."

We could not desire a fuller exposition of the prerogatives of St. Peter than is contained in this poem; he is the apostle divinely chosen "to hold the place of Christ and feed his sacred fold;" he is "the foundation of the Christian universal church" (fundamentum Dominica Ecclesiae Catholicae); he is "the master of the choir of saints;" " the prince of the martyrs of Christ; "the legislator of the Most High," and moreover, he is adorned "with the aureola of Rome, in which city he is destined to reign with an ever-enduring triumph."

The second poem is equally explicit; it styles the apostle the key-bearer of the heavenly kingdom, not for a while only, but throughout all time; he is the pontiff of souls, the prince of apostles, the shepherd of all the fold of Christ. We now give it in full, with a literal translation:

1. "Sanctus Petrus, apostolus,
Quondam piscator optimus,
Altum mare cum navibus,
Temptabat remis, retibus.

2. "Qui de profundo gurgitum
Magnam raptor fluctivagam
Jactis nave reticulis
Praedam captabat piscium.

3. “Christum vocantem sequitur
Sponte relictis omnibus
Dignus erat apostolus
Factus piscator hominum

4. "Sancto Petro pro merito
Christus regni coelestium
Claves simul cum gratia
Tradidit in perpetuum.

5. "Animarum pontificem,
Apostolorum principem
Petrum rogamus omnium
Christi pastorem ovium.

6. "Ne mens gravata crimine
Nostra torpescat pectore
Reddamus Christo gloriae
Cantemus in perpetuum.

Amen.

1. "Great Peter, saint, apostle blest,
In fisher's lowly garb once drest,
With ship and oar did brave the deep,
Whilst searching nets the billows sweep.

2. "Full oft where surges wildly play,
Where, heedless, sport the finny prey;
His fish he takes, in seine or weel
Wide spread beneath his trusty keel.

3. "But, lo, he hears the Master's call,
With joyful heart abandons all;
And, office dread, unheard till then,
Is fisher made of ransomed men.

4. "The keys which open the portals blest,
That lead the way to endless rest,
To him Christ gives, with grace to tend
And guide his flock safe to the end.

5. "Great Pontiff of Christ's chosen band,
Apostles round thee humbly stand!
O'er Christ's true flock strict watch still keep,
Still guard His lambs still guard His sheep.

6. "Ne'er may our souls, with crime opprest,
Find rest or peace within our breast;
May we to Christ, glad songs of praise,
In realms of bliss, for ever raise. Amen.

Essays on the The Origin of the Irish Church by the Rev. Dr. Moran (Dublin, 1864), 81-87.

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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Saint Cruimín of Leacan, June 28

June 28 is the commemoration of a saint with Patrician associations - Cruimín of Leacan. In his account below, Canon O'Hanlon gives a good description of the church site associated with the saint and of the holy well dedicated to him. Popular devotion survived here until the second decade of the nineteenth century, although the noting of the occasion as the day after the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul seems to be a mistake as June 28 is the day before the apostles' feast. Saint Cruimín was supposed to have attained a great age and Canon O'Hanlon quotes a quatrain which alludes to this:

" Three score years thrice over
Was the age of the pious Crummain;
Without infection, without disease, he changed colour,
After Mass, after celebration."

You will also see that there are at least half a dozen different ways of transliterating the name of the saint, I have followed Professor Ó Riain's usage of Cruimín, but in the entry below from the Lives of the Irish Saints he is variously described as Crumine, Cruimmen, Crummain, Crumanius, Cruimminus etc.

ST. CRUMINE OR CRUIMMEN, BISHOP OF LEACAN, OR MOYGISH, COUNTY OF WESTMEATH.

[FIFTH OR SIXTH CENTURY.]

THROUGH the devoted ministry of St. Patrick, it is generally supposed we owe the call of this his disciple to the priceless gift of Divine Faith. However it may be, we should above all things be careful to guard and preserve this precious treasure, which God has so bountifully bestowed on our ancestors, and which as an invaluable heirloom has descended unimpaired to our time. The Martyrology of Tallagh, at this date, simply enters the name Crumine, in Leacan, of Midhe. From all we can glean, he seems to have flourished, at a very early period in our Irish ecclesiastical history. An inference may be drawn, with some degree of probability, that he might have been one of those missionary companions, that originally accompanied St. Patrick to Ireland; if it be true, that on the mother's side, he had been a nephew to the great Irish Apostle. The account of his origin and descent, however, is both confused and unsatisfactory. According to one statement, Crummain, of Lecain, was son to Corbmac, son of Baedan, and sprung from the race of Tadhg, son to Cian, son to Oilioll Olum. According to another statement, Conis—whom it is difficult to identify with the Irish name Corbmac— was this saint's father. On such statements, however, we cannot rely, with any great degree of certainty. According to a Tract, ascribed to St. Aengas, Darerca, sister to St. Patrick, is said to have been his mother, as also the mother of fifteen sons, who were bishops—besides two others —as  also the mother of two holy virgins. Yet, it is thought, there may have been  several interpolations in that Tract. Some critics consider, moreover, it is not the genuine composition of St. Aengus.

Besides the supposed relationship of uncle and nephew, St. Crumanius is numbered among St. Patrick's disciples, while he is classed also among the bishops of the early Irish Church. It is stated, that when St. Patrick came to that part of Meath, commonly called Leaccuin, he built a church. This was not very distant from Forgny, where he installed Munis, a disciple and a nephew on his sister's side. In the former church, he left St. Cromanius, otherwise named Cruimminus, while he bestowed some relics, which afterwards seem to have been there preserved.

A certain holy man, named Cruemus—more correctly Cruminus—had a vision, regarding the birth of St. Fechin, Abbot of Fore and of his place. That holy man called Cruemus is supposed to have been identical with the present saint; while Fore is situated eastwards, and within the distance of six or seven miles from Leckin. It is likely, moreover, that a monastic institute of some sort had been established in connexion with the church of Lecain, as St. Patrick is stated to have left some of his disciples at that place with St. Cromanius. No doubt, as guardian, he ruled over this small community, he being also rector of the church. In the Feilire of St. Aengus, at the 28th of June, the festival of St. Crumine is noted ; while, he is characterized as a distinguished personage, in connection with Leccan, of Meath. In a comment appended, Leccan is described as being in Ui-Macc Uais Midhe. It is not, however, in the modern barony of Ui-Mic-Uais, or Moygoish ; but, it lies a short distance from its eastern boundary, in the adjoining barony of Corkaree. This shows, that in the formation of baronies, the exact boundaries of our ancient territories were not always observed.  The Ui Mac-Uais were a tribe, descended from Colla Uais, monarch of Ireland in the fourth century.

The place of St. Crumine is now known as Leckin, a parish in the barony of Corkaree, and county of Westmeath. According to the Ordnance Survey Index Map of Westmeath County, the parish of Leckin is bounded on the north, by the River Inny, which separates it from the parishes of Russagh and Street, and which connects Lough Iron and Lough Derravaragh; on the east, by a portion of the latter Lough, and by the parish of Multyfarnham; on the south and west it is bounded by the parish of Leny. In the country of the Radii or Nepotes Radii —the present Corca-Ree—we learn that St. Patrick built a church, and he placed over it St. Cromeen, of whom very little is now known. It should be a curious subject for enquiry to find, if this holy person had been descended from the Fiacha Raidhe of this territory.

It has been said, as we have seen, that St. Patrick founded this church, and left holy relics at Lecain, of Meath, as also a party of his people with Crummaine. Although in some instances, Dr. O'Donovan has placed the ancient territory of Ui-Mac-Uais-Midhe, as being in East Meath, and to the south-west of Tara; yet, in other passages, he states, it is believed to have been identical with the present barony of Moyguish, in the county of Westmeath. It is suspected, however, that the present saint did not live  in the time of St. Patrick; but, that he was rather contemporaneous with St. Fechin of Fore, who died A.D. 664. Such is the opinion of Archdall; but, it seems to be unfounded, nor is it borne out by the authority to which he refers.There is an old church still to be seen at Leckin, near Bunbrusna.

This church, it is said, had been built by St. Cruimin, whose festival was formerly celebrated here, on the 28th of June.He is said, also, to have been a contemporary with St. Fechin, of Fore; but, it seems more than probable, that he lived fully a century, before the time of the latter. The old church at Leckin is of very considerable antiquity, and it is said to have been built, much in the style of St. Fechin's church at Fore, although not with like massive stones. The neighbouring quarries do not furnish large blocks, and the chief materials to be extracted from them are limestone flags. The lintel which covers the doorway heading is a thin light flag. The only remains of Leckin old church, existing towards the close of 1837, were the doorway, a small window of beautifully chiselled limestone—exactly similar to that in the east gable of St. Fechin's church—and a semicircular arch similar in style and position to the one in Dungiven old church. These features were to be seen, in a part of the south side wall, the only portion of the old church then existing. From its present remains, it is not easy to form any idea regarding the exact extent of this church when perfect. Opposite the doorway, and close to the south wall, a tombstone, shaped like a coffin, was to be seen. It bore an inscription in raised letters, but not in the Irish character. This tomb was well cut and ornamented, and was found some years before 1837, at the bottom of a grave. At Leckin—or as the people more generally pronounce it, Lackan—the old church measures 45 by 19 feet. The chancel remains in a fair state of preservation. Here was a holy well, dedicated to St. Crumin,  and situated in the south-east end of Leacain townland. The day after SS. Peter and Paul's great Festival was traditionally held to have been that for the local saint's celebration ; and, until the year 1822, a vast concourse of people visited their Holy Well for devotional purposes. The Ui-Mic-Uais-Breagh, a tribe seated in East Meath, and to the south-west of Tara, must be distinguished, as we are told, from the Ui-Mic-Uais-Teathbaa, who gave name to the present barony of Moygoish, in the north-west of Meath County.

At what exact time St. Crumine commenced his foundation here, or in what exact capacity he acted, and whether as Abbot or Bishop, is not known. According to an ancient tradition, he lived to be extremely old; but, we find no date for his death in our Annals. It had been thought, by Mr. O'Donovan, that there was a well named after this saint, in the parish of Kilbixy. We find his name entered, in the Martyrology of Donegal, at this same date, as Cruimmin, Bishop, in Lecain, of Meath, i.e. in Ui-Mac-Uais. Under the head of Leacan of Meath, Duald Mac Firbis likewise enters, Cruimin, bishop, at June 28th. St. Crumin is still held in great veneration throughout Westmeath, and his name is very familiar to the people. The foot-prints and traces of the saints should never be effaced; and, yet how many of our early holy ones have been forgotten, although the memory of good men ought always be preserved, as a light to guide and encourage others on their journey over the wilderness. The world gives us no better memorials; yet, have we to regret a total loss of the intellectual accomplishments and mental characteristics of so many, who doubtless in their day, gave lustre and example to their contemporaries. Those virtues have had their reward, although we may be unable, to present them in an exact order and review, for the edification of persons who survive in the present generation.

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saint Senic, June 27

I found myself intrigued by the enigmatic reference to the name of Senic, commemorated on June 27. Canon O'Hanlon writes precisely two lines on him, including the detail that his name is Latinized to Seneca. I can add only two further details - first, his name does not appear on the earlier Martyrologies of Tallaght and Oengus and secondly, he is not the only saint of this name to be commemorated on the later Irish calendars. There is also a feast of Saint Senic recorded on November 10 in both the twelfth-century Martyrology of Gorman and subsequently in the Martyrology of Donegal. Whether this is a secondary feast for today's holy man or whether there was another saint of the same name whose feast fell in November, I have no way of finding out. I also found a reference to a Senic Óg in the Annals of Loch Cé in 1407 and this note:
Senic (or Senicin) the Younger. He was apparently the son of Senicin (Jenkin) Savage who was slain in 1374, as above recorded.
So I am left with some questions about the origins of this name. It sounds from the above note that it may be a Norman name, which might explain why it does not occur in the earlier Irish calendars. Canon O'Hanlon's brief account below cannot help to shed any further light on this elusive saint:

St. Senic.

A festival in honour of Senic is found entered in the Martyrology of Donegal, at the 27th of June. His name is also rendered Seneca, in the table appended to this work.

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Friday, 26 June 2015

Saint Duthac, June 26

Canon O'Hanlon has examined the Scottish calendars at June 26 to bring us the name of Saint Duthac. There is a relatively well-known eleventh-century saint of this name commemorated on March 8, Saint Duthac of Ross, whom the sources do seem to link to Ireland. Whether June 26 is a secondary feast of the patron of Ross or whether he is another saintly bishop of the same name is not made clear in the few lines that Canon O'Hanlon contributes, for his main aim is to stake a claim to him for the original Scotti - the Irish:

St. Duthac.

In the Scottish Kalendar of Hyrdmanistown, and in that of Nova Farina, we have a festival entered, at the 26th of June, for St. Duthac, a Bishop and Confessor. We know not whether by birth he belonged to Ireland or to Scotland; however, in this, as in many similar cases, we desire to include his name among our Celtic saints.

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Daughter of Mionghar, June 25

The name of one of the many obscure Irish female saints is found on the earliest of the surviving Irish calendars at June 25. This holy lady is even more enigmatic than most, given that we do not have her Christian name, only that of her father. Canon O'Hanlon can only bring us a couple of lines:

The Daughter of Mionghar.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, we find the entry, Ingena Ninguir, at this date. The daughter of Mionghar was venerated at the 25th of June, as we find recorded, in the Martyrology of Donegal.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Saint Cormac of Senchoimhet, June 24

On June 24 the Irish calendars commemorate a Saint Cormac of Senchoimhet, but details of his name  and locality seem to be the only record of him, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Cormac or Corbmac, of Senchoimhet.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, a festival is mentioned in honour of Cormac of Sencometa, at the 24th of June. He is named Corbmac, and his place is called Senchoimhet, in the Martyrology of Donegal. When he lived is unknown, nor has the locality been identified.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Saint Faelan and the Daughters of Moinan, June 23

Canon O'Hanlon has an interesting notice of a Saint Faelan and the Daughters of Moinan at June 23. They are mentioned together in the Martyrology of Tallaght, yet mention of the holy ladies disappears from the later calendars. Nothing much seems to be known of any of the parties, although reference is made to a Saint Brigid, daughter of Monan in the Martyrology of Oengus and in Keating's History of Ireland, published in the seventeenth century:

St. Foelaine, or Faelan, and the Daughters of Moinan.

Such is an entry found in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 23rd of June. Nothing more is known, regarding this St. Foelaine and Moinan's daughters. There is a St. Brigid, said to have been daughter to Monan or Moenan, according to Aengus the Culdee, and Dr. Jeoffry Keating. Whether she was one of the daughters to the Moinan here mentioned must be altogether conjectural and uncertain. In the latest of our great Calendars—that compiled by the O'Clerys—we have no entry regarding these religious ladies, who are noted on the 23rd of June. But, at this same date, in the Martyrologies of Marianus O'Gorman, and of Donegal, merely the name Faelan or Foilan occurs.

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Saint Guaire Beg, June 22

Another of the many Irish saints, known only for the recording of his name in the Irish calendars, is recorded at June 22. Canon O'Hanlon can only bring us a few lines on Saint Guaire Beg:

St. Guaire Beg or Bic, also called Guairius.

We find the name, Guaire Bic or Beg, mentioned, at the 22nd of June, in the Martyrology of Tallagh. Allusion is made to this St. Guairius or Guairenus, likewise, by Father John Colgan,as having had veneration paid to him, on this day, in the Irish Calendars. Little knowledge of his period or locality  has been obtained. In the Martyrology of Donegal, the record of Guaire Beg, as having been venerated at the 22nd of June, is to be found.

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Saint Corbmac of Durrow, June 21

June 21 is the commemoration of one of the abbots of Durrow, the most famous of the monasteries of Saint Columcille in Ireland. Like many of the Irish abbots, Corbmac Ua Liathain was an aristocrat, related to one of the Munster royal families. In his account of Saint Corbmac's life, Canon O'Hanlon also brings us to the Orkney and Shetland islands on an interesting historical excursion.

ST. CORBMAC UA LIATHAIN, ABBOT OF DEARMAGH, NOW DURROW, KING'S COUNTY.

[SIXTH CENTURY.]

For sake of the comfortless manger, and the still harder cross, our ascetics have loved the unplastered cell, or the exposed cave. In the east, it was customary, during the five first centuries of Christianity, to find a number of separate cells, inhabited by single hermits or anchorites. Such monastic institutions are called laura, by early ecclesiastical writers. They seem, too, as having been contradistinguished from the coenobia, which were convents or monasteries, where the monks lived together, in one building, under the rule of a superior. Such varieties of monasticism were probably known, but with many modifications of practice, in our early Irish Church, and the present holy man appears to have lived as an anchoret, at least for a time, while he was also superior over a flourishing monastery.

Veneration was paid to Cormac H. Liathain, in Dermaigh, at the 21st of June, according to the Martyrology of Tallagh. He is also mentioned, in terms of commendation, in the Feilire of St. Oengus, at the same date. On this, too, are some remarks of a scholiast. His pedigree is given, in the Book of Lecan. He was son of Dima, son to Coman, son of Cudumaig, son to Congal, son of Cairbre, son to Sionach, son of Eochaidh Liathain. The pedigree of Mac Firbis is incorrect, however, in making his grandfather, Daire Cerb. Eochaidh Liathain or Liathenach was a Munster chief, the sixth in descent, from Oilill Olum, King of Munster, a.d. 234. Eochaidh Liathain was uncle to Crimthainn Mor, who ruled as monarch of Ireland, from 366 to 378. From Eochaidh Liathain, who flourished about the middle of the fourth century, the territory of Ui Liathain, in the south-west of the county of Cork, was named. This ancient territory is now nearly represented, by the baronies of Barrymore and Kinnatalloon; and it was not, as has been represented, in the barony of Decies, county of Waterford. By his great master, St. Columkille, this Corbmac is styled, "Offspring of Liathan,” in allusion to his remote descent.

This saint, whose festival is celebrated, at this date, was born, probably, about or after the beginning of the sixth century. Of his early career, however, we have few or no records. From his youth, Corbmac seems to have embraced a religious life. He was a disciple of the great St. Columkille, at least, during the chief incidents of his career. This celebrated saint was a person of great enterprise and daring. He had almost a passionate love for maritime exploration. He ventured his life on the high seas and sailed over trackless wastes of water, to spread the faith of Jesus Christ among the pagans. This occurred apparently after he had entered into the religious state, but in what part of Ireland is not stated. His first voyage proved to be a failure, and after a vain effort to find a distant land in the Atlantic Ocean, it seems he was obliged to return after great toil had been endured to his native country. But, a second time, he had resolved on another voyage. Desirous of discovering a desert land, he set out from that territory called Erris Domno, near the River Moy, and now known as Erris, without asking leave from the Abbot underwhom he lived. Owing to this act of disobedience, Cormac did not find the land he sought. St. Columba had an intimation of this adventure, and he prophesied Cormac's failure. He tried this nautical voyage no less than three times, yet always to be disappointed. Probably he was in quest of St. Brendan's Land of Promise.

It is more than likely, that Cormac Ua Liathain had early attached himself to the rule and discipline of that great master of monasticism, whose fame had become extended throughout Ireland, about the middle of the sixth century. The place, with which our saint was connected, is now known as Durrow, a parish partly in the barony of Moycashel, in the barony of Ballycowen, King's County. Anciently, this agreeable site was denominated Druim-cain, or "the beautiful ridge." Afterwards, it was known as Dairmagh, and there St. Columcille established a famous religious institute, in which he appears to have dwelt for some time, probably about the year 553. Durrow was among the earliest and most important, yet not the most enduring, of Columkille's Irish foundations. An old Irish Life calls it the "abbey-church." It also mentions the name of Colman Mor, the second son of King Diarmait, in connexion with it. This establishment was one of the three places in Erin most dear to St. Columba, and even he had visions of what occurred there, while absent from it. In an Irish poem attributed to him, the great cenobiarch celebrates the beauty and agreeable accessories of its situation. It seems probable, that St. Cormac became Abbot of Durrow, by appointment of St. Columba. His energetic and courageous character peculiarly endeared him to the holy founder. There is an ancient Irish poem, which professes to have been composed by St. Columkille, on the occasion of his leaving Durrow, for the last time. Thus, it refers to the seven disciples, who remained after him, to guide and govern his community. Among these Cormac, the son of Dima, is first named, while all are alluded to in terms of the highest eulogy. According to a gloss on a copy of the Martyrology of Marianus O'Gorman, and belonging to the O'Clerys, this St. Corbmac was an anchorite.31 Moreover, the glossographer states he was a bishop, but we are not informed over what See he had been placed. Again, he is said to have founded a monastery, yet history appears to be silent, as to its name and site.

Afterwards, Cormac appears to have relinquished his charge in Durrow, at least for a time, and to have gone on a visit to St. Columba, at Iona. There is an account of his having been present, with three other celebrated Irish Saints, and all holy founders of monasteries, who sailed with him from Scotia or Ireland. These are named as Comgellus Mocu Aridi, Cainnechus, Mocu-Dalon, and Brendenuss Mocu Alti. All of these are noticed, as having visited the great Caledonian Apostle, in the Island of Hinba and as having assisted there in the church, while St. Columba consecrated in the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

After this visit, it seems likely, that Cormac took charge of a mission to the Orkney Islanders, who were then pagans. He had been recommended to the king or chief of these people, in the presence of King Brudeus, while St. Columba had been staying in Drum Alban. Brudeus held hostages of the Orkney ruler—who seems to have been subordinate to him—at that time. Then Columba stated, that Cormac and some companions had sailed away in quest of a desert in the ocean, and that if they happened after their long voyage to touch at the Orkneys, he desired a guarantee, that they should there receive no injury. St. Columkille had a foreknowledge, likewise, that after a long and toilsome navigation, Cormac should be driven to the Orkneys through stress of weather. This event actually took place, accordingly, while Cormac and his companions received protection from the Orkney king, when they landed on his shores.

In early times, it is stated, that the Fir-Galeoin — a tribe of the Firbolgs — inhabited those Islands, and that subsequently the Picts became possessors. Their occupation continued probably, until the close of the sixth century. With these appear to have been some Irish fathers, called Papae, who are supposed to have followed the rule of St. Columkille; nor is it at all unlikely, that St. Cormac Ua Liathain had there formed a first establishment, and had thus helped to introduce Christianity. However, he does not seem to have remained long in this field of labour, nor to have left behind him any Culdee missionaries. Afterwards, the Papae were found in part possession with the Peti or Picts, when the Northmen formed their settlements in those Islands. The Orkney and Shetland Islands were invaded by the celebrated Norwegian King Harold Harfager, or the Fair Haired, in 876, and they were subjected to his rule. On returning to Norway, he left Ronald or Rognovald, Count of Merca, as their administrator. There are yet many curious legends and ballads, recited in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and which some writers suppose to be of Scandinavian origin. In 920, Sigurd, the brother of Ronald, became Orcadian King. The secular history of the Orkneys is traced, through the Earldoms of the respective lines of the Norse Angus, Stratherne, and Clair. The antiquarian remains found in the Orkney and Shetland Islands are very interesting…

Under the influence of Olaf, the first Christian King of Norway, it is thought, that Christianity had been introduced among those northern islanders. In 996, Sigurd, who married the daughter of Malcolm II., King of Scotland, succeeded to the rule of the Orkneys, and to some territories on the north coasts of Scotland; but, this warlike Jarl fell in the celebrated battle of Clontarf, fought against Bryan Boroimhe, King of Ireland, a.d. 1014. Einar and Torfin, the sons of Sigurd, were his successors, and the latter was a renowned sea-rover. Those who followed them were redoubtable foes, and loved to indulge in maritime adventures, epecially against the British shores. Swein Aslief was a distinguished Orkney Viking of the twelfth century, and his life was full of adventure. About the year 1325, the male line of Ronald's descendants failed in the person of Magnus V. The succession of the Scandinavian Jarls is carried down to its close, when a new current of possessors and events had place. The Orkney and Zetland Islands became subject to the crown of Norway, until they were annexed to the kingdom of Scotland, in the year 1468.

In an ancient Irish poem yet preserved, there is a Dialogue between Columcille and Cormac in Hy, after escaping from the Coire Brecain. According to the allusions in it, we are to infer, that at this time Cormac had returned from a voyage —probably his third great maritime enterprise— which lasted for two years and a month, during which time he had been wandering from port to port, and over the wide ocean. He had reached, likewise, regions of intense cold. It also conveys an intimation, that Cormac had greatly desired to end his days, in the distant imaged land of his long search. In a spirit of self-sacrifice, he seems to have desired, that his labours should be crowned with a successful result, so that he might become an exile from Erinn. However, St. Columcille predicts, that his last days must terminate in Durrow, where his kindred of the Clann Colman should protect him. There is also a glowing description of the church and establishment of Durrow, as a "devout city with a hundred crosses." On Ellanmore Island in the parish of North Knapdaill, deanery of Kintyre, stood an ancient church, dedicated to St. Charmaig or Cormac, of which several ruins still exist. There, too, is shown M'Cormac's grave, but whatever connexion our saint had with the place—and probably during his lifetime he may have lived there—it does not appear to be probable, that he was there buried. It is likely, St. Cormac Ua Liathain conformed to St. Columkille's request, and returned to Durrow; where, according to tradition, the close of his life was religiously spent. A curious object of art, called the Crozier of Durrow, still exists; but, unfortunately, only as a fragment. It is considered to be the oldest of its kind we now possess, and that it belonged to the great St. Columkille himself, the founder of the church at Durrow. It was presented by him to St. Cormac, his dear friend and successor in that monastery. St. Cormac Ua Liathain died most probably, towards the close of the sixth or beginning of the seventh century. Besides this account, the Martyrology of Donegal, records him at the same date, as Corbmac Ua Liathain, Abbot of Dearmagh. Under the head of Darmhagh, Duald Mac Firbis enters Cormac Ua Liathan, abbot of Darmhagh, bishop, anno Christies at June 21st. Not many miles away from Durrow, and north-west of the brewery of Frankfort, in the King's County, there was a holy well, called St. Cormac's Well. It may have been dedicated to the present saint. In the parish of Kilcormick, barony of Gorey, and county of Wexford, there is a St. Cormac's well, and here a patron was formerly held, on the 22nd of June. Possibly, the present saint was patron of that parish, as no other person bearing the name is to be found in our Calendars, at the date just given. The church of St. Charmaig or M'Charraaig—identified with St. Cormac Ua Laithian—in the parish of North Knapdale, Scotland, belonged to the monks of Kilwinning, in Ayrshire.

Brief as are the notices of this holy and enterprising saint, they throw notwithstanding a considerable light on the history, manners and pursuits of our countrymen, in that remote age when he lived. The traces which remain, regarding our Irish saints, are oftentimes very few and fragmentary; but, nevertheless, they are remarkably interesting and suggestive. Personal danger was disregarded by St. Corbmac and by his brave companions of the sea, when there was a probability of reaching the great western world beyond the Atlantic —then in Ireland well known to exist—and to gain souls for Christ, their chief impelling motive. How much nobler and more heroic such purpose and action, than were those adopted by the avaricious and cruel despoilers in many succeeding centuries, when the native races of America were subjected to the shocking brutalities of European adventurers and conquerors, whose crimes must be held in horror and detestation by every true Christian and friend of humanity! History ever preserves and contrasts the differences between real and false glory, as also between the virtues and vices of men.

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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Saint Gobanus of Saint-Gobain, June 20

June 20 is the commemoration of a seventh-century Irish saint and martyr, Gobanus or Gobain, who flourished in France. In his account of Saint Gobain, a disciple of Saint Fursey, Canon O'Hanlon has accessed many of the sources for his life, death and miracles:

ST GOBANUS OR GOBAIN, PRIEST AND MARTYR, PATRON OF SAINT-GOBAIN, DIOCESE OF LAON, FRANCE.

[Seventh Century]

When our Lord Jesus Christ sent his Apostles to all parts of the world, and with a mandate to preach the Gospel for every creature; the Island of Hibernia was comforted far away in the ocean, by those holy missionaries, who first announced to her the glad tidings of salvation. Soon were the flowers seen to blossom, and the fruits to ripen, in the hearts of men. At home and abroad, the harvest was gathered by willing and laborious gleaners. Among those who chose his field of labour far off was the present holy saint, whose life and toils were crowned with the martyr's laurel.

From times remote, the Acts of this holy man appear to have been written, and they are still preserved in ancient Manuscripts. The old Latin Acts of St. Gobanus or Gobain, Priest and Martyr, are set down in the Bollandists' great collection. There is a precious commentary in seven sections. The Rev. Alban Butler has some account of this saint, at the same day. This holy martyr's festival, at this date, is marked in Les Petits Bollandistes, as also in the Rev. S. Baring-Gould's work.

The name of this holy man indicates his Irish origin. He was of noble birth, and in our Island, he served God from his childhood. His old Acts relate, that he was a boy of elegant appearance, and that he was early addicted to studious habits. But, the dispositions of his soul were still more admirable, and he knew that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The eight Beatitudes, recommended so convincingly by our Divine Redeemer, were exemplified in his person. His chaste character and conversation marked him out as a vessel, into which heavenly graces might be stored. His love for the practice of holiness gave edification to all who knew him. He watched carefully, to prevent every irregular desire, and he spent nights of holy vigil. He cared little for the concerns of earth, and his bestowal of alms on the poor commenced at an early age. Like a true servant of God, he progressed from virtue to virtue.

It would appear, that Goban lived in a district of Ireland, where the great St. Fursey exercised the office of a bishop. The latter had desired to select worthy subjects for the ministry from the young men of his district. The holiness of Goban pointed him out as a destined candidate for holy orders. Accordingly, he was ordained priest by St. Fursey, and with him were eleven others, whose names are thus given, viz.: Nervisandus, Foillanus, Gislenus, Etho, Vincentius, Adelgisus, Mommolenus, Eloquius, Godelgerus, Guillebrodus, and Moelboenus. Having been invested with priestly orders, these young men went to their respective homes. St. Gobain was one of those who accompanied St. Fursey into England, A.D. 637, and who remained at Crobheresburgh, now Burghcastle in Suffolk, after his great master went to France. Here, as we have already seen in the Life of St. Fursey, he assigned to his brother Fullan, as also to the priests Gobban - the present holy man—and Dichul the care of his monastery and of his missions, when with his brother Ultan, he desired to lead the life of an anchorite. This lasted an entire year, while he was favoured with heavenly visions.

While glowing with religious fervour, and while the sweet odour of his new graces were fresh upon him, Gobain being on his way homewards, the fame of his holiness had brought to him a blind man, who earnestly entreated, that prayers might be offered, so that his sight should be restored. Through humility, the saint at first refused, as deeming himself unable to procure such a miracle. Yet, as the blind man persisted in his request, moved through compassion for his case, Goban prostrated himself on the ground, and earnestly besought the Lord to hear his prayers. Then rising from prayer, he made the sign of the cross over the eyes of that blind man, who immediately was restored to the power of vision. This soon became known to his parents and neighbours, who praised the Almighty, as having wrought such a miracle in consideration of his servant Goban. His ardent desire to serve Christ more perfectly, induced him to leave his native country; and to adopt this course, he was further urged, by a vision all the ordained had on a certain Sunday night, when they lay down after a day of labour. Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to them during sleep, and spoke these words: "Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you." Wherefore, all arose from sleep, and after mutually communicating to each other what had severally happened, they resolved to seek St. Fursey in a body, and relate to him such a remarkable occurrence. When they were assembled together in his presence, St. Goban spoke in the following terms: "Brethren, while lying on my bed and asleep, our Lord Jesus seemed to address to me these words, 'come, blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.'" All his companions stated, that they had heard the very same words, and that the circumstances were precisely the same in each individual case. Wherefore, on taking counsel together, and remembering the words of Christ, "If any one come tome, and do not leave father and mother, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple;" they finally resolved, as if inspired by the Holy Ghost, that all should set out in company for the shores of France. To St. Fursey, who sought an issue of this affair, they said: "This vision certainly admonishes us to leave our country, and to go on a pilgrimage beyond the sea." Wherefore, they began to prepare every requisite necessary for their journey, so that leaving parents, relations and neighbours, as also their houses and lands, the pious missionaries at once hastened to the sea-shore.

However, while they were there awaiting embarcation, a great tempest arose, and the waves began to swell mightily; when fearing to venture from land in such a storm, they fasted for three days. Then, the rest of his companions approached Goban, and requested he would celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, as the Lord had graciously restored sight to the blind, owing to his merits. Again, his humility was alarmed, as he found they all had an idea of his extraordinary sanctity, and he wished to forbear; notwithstanding, he yielded in fine, to their pressing remonstrances. Assuming the sacerdotal vestments, and asking a blessing from the whole company, he began to celebrate, and having reached the secret prayers of the Mass, the storm was entirely lulled. Whereupon, all went on board to prosecute their destined voyage, when they had a swift and favourable passage to the shores of France. It has been supposed, that he left East Anglia, in consequence of the irruptions of Penda, King of the Mercians. This happened most probably, after A.D. 634 when the first invasion of Penda took place.

The port where those pious missionaries landed has not been mentioned in the record; but, it seems altogether probable, it was somewhere on the northern coast of France. They afterwards journeyed on for three days. They sought out and stopped at Corbeny, it is stated, in the first instance; but, at the time, there was no monastery in that place, although the Acts relate it otherwise. There, as we are informed, the pilgrims were very hospitably received by the inhabitants. Having severally chosen the places in which each desired to serve God, the companions separated, giving each other the kiss of peace, according to the religious usage of those times.

Thence St. Goban went to Laon, where there was a place known as Eremi-Mons, or Le Mont d'Hermitage. When he had arrived, being fatigued with his journey, he fixed his staff in the ground, and placing his cape under his head for a pillow, he lay down to sleep. However, he cautioned his attendant to watch while he slept. Meantime, the holy man apparently unconscious of his act began to sing the whole Psalter to the Psalm, "Memento Domine David," and he followed on with the versicles, until he came to these words: "Haec requies mea in seculum seculi, hic habitabo quoniam elegi eam." When Goban awoke from his sleep, a full flowing fountain of water was running from that spot, in which the staff had been fixed. From all this he inferred, that it was providentially destined, he should there take up his dwelling, as he found it in every way suitable for his hermitage. This intention he expressed, likewise, to that disciple who had accompanied him into the solitude. When he had rested for a few days in that place, Goban was induced to visit Laon, that he might pray there in a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. He came to the mountain, formerly called Bibrax, and with meekness and reverence, he entered the fortifications of Laon, where he found two afflicted persons, one blind and the other mute, sitting in a porch of the great church. Moved to compassion, he implored our Lord for them, and both were relieved; one recovered his sight, and the other the use of his tongue. The fame of these miracles soon spread abroad, and even reached the king, who greatly desired to see the holy stranger. Accordingly, Goban went to visit the monarch, who thus addressed him: "O my brother, whence have you come, and to what race do you belong?" The holy man answered: "I have come from the province of the Hibernian Island, and I belong to the race of the Scots; for the love of Christ, I journeyed hither, and now I implore your majesty, that you would graciously grant me a small place in the desert of this city." The king immediately replied: "Whatever spot you deem to be suitable for God's service and to be pleasing for yourself, 1 shall most willingly grant you for ever." Then, the monarch directed one of his household to return with the saint, and to confirm by royal charter the perpetual gift which he desired to offer for God's sake.

He had entered a great forest, which was near the River Oise, and there with his own hands, he resolved on establishing his humble dwelling. About two leagues from that river, he built a cell. It was about equidistant from La Fere and from Prémontré. The site had been given by Clotaire III., who ruled over Neustria and Burgundy. So long as he lived, that king never ceased greatly to honour our saint, who in turn never failed to pray for his sovereign's good estate. There aided by the people, he built a church, which was dedicated to St. Peter; and, which afterwards bore the name of its holy founder.

In prayer, in vigils and by fasting, the holy man served God, in his retirement at this place. Again, he preached to and instructed the people. He laboured especially for the conversion of sinners, for at that time, and in that part of the country, wickedness greatly prevailed; while the morals and manners of the inhabitants were deplorably uncivilized and un-Christian. Often in prayer he earnestly cried out: "Remove, O Lord, this guilt from them, or if Thou dost not, remove me from this life." At length he heard these words in a nightly vision: "My servant Goban, the world indeed rejoices, while you sadly wail and pray; yet, wait awhile, and your mourning shall be changed into joy; for you have unceasingly importuned to pardon those people; wherefore, I shall bring upon them temporal calamities, that being chastised, they may not perish forever. Within a few days, barbarous men shall come, and these shall prove more fierce than the older Vandals; for, deriding thy words, they shall crown thy labours with the laurel of martyrdom." These words comforted the servant of Christ, who, for His sake, had left father and mother, and who had even renounced his own convenience, to become a true disciple.

A horde of barbarians, coming from the north of Germany, ravaged the whole adjoining country. About this time, moreover, other people appear to have been associated with them, and they penetrated so far as Mons Eremi. Disrespecting the contemplative state of life embraced by St. Gobain, their hatred was greatly excited against him. They found him engaged in the exercise of prayer. With fierce violence, they set upon the holy man, and he was beheaded, by those barbarians. At that place, formerly known as the Mount of Hermitage, the holy man suffered martyrdom. Afterwards, his sacred remains were waked with religious ceremonies in the church of St. Peter the Apostle, and which he had built. There, too, they were buried. Long after his happy release, pilgrims came in crowds to his sepulchre, where many miracles were wrought; the lame were restored to the power of walking, the blind saw, and the deaf recovered hearing, through his great merits before God. This locality afterwards obtained the name Saint Gobain, from the founder. In the sequence to an ancient Mass, a summary of this holy Martyr's career is versified in Latin.

The head of this holy Martyr was long preserved in the sacristy of the large church. A large stone sarcophagus or tomb was also there, in which the body of the saint lay for many centuries. However, during the wars of the sixteenth century, it was found necessary to remove these remains from place to place for concealment, and at present no clue has been left, which might lead to their discovery. It is much to be regretted, that St. Gobain's body appears to have been irrecoverably lost, owing to the confusion arising from those civil wars, excited by the Calvinists.

Two chief festivals of St. Gobain were celebrated in his church one on the 20th of June, which is supposed to have been the anniversary date for his Martyrdom; the other is on no fixed day of the month, yet, it is kept on the Wednesday within the Octave of Pentecost, and it is held to have been commemorative of that for the Translation of his remains. Formerly, the first festival was celebrated with an Octave, in which religious solemnities were carried out by the monks of St. Vincent of Laon. Thus, an ancient Lectionary or Life of the Saint, in seven Lessons, one for each day of the week, is extant. His proper Mass with its sequence was sung likewise, during that week. Also, in the new Processional of Laon, mention is made of St. Goban, who is there invoked with other saints of Laon Diocese. In the Rev. Alban Butler's Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and other principal Saints, at the 20th of June, the festival of St. Gobain is set down. The feast of St. Gobain occurs, likewise, in the Circle of the Seasons.

Famous as Ireland was for the learning and sanctity of her teachers, her many holy missionaries were no less distinguished for that generous liberality, with which they dispensed to other countries the blessings of religion, of civilization, and of education. The unwearied labours of those countless missionaries, who went forth from their home schools to foreign nations, are well known to the world. Like the present holy man, they were not satisfied to leave the seeds of self-seeking in their hearts, but they resolved to remove the roots with the weeds. They were addicted to severe fast, long vigils, and earnest prayer. They thirsted for the living waters, and buried themselves in the world; they were even willing to surrender life, so that after a course of purification and martyrdom, they might live forever with our Lord Jesus Christ in the happy company of his glorious Martyrs and Saints.

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Saint Colman of Drumlease, June 19

At June 19 we commemorate one of the many Irish saints who bear the name of Colman but about whom nothing is known. This one is associated with Drumlease, County Leitrim, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

ST. COLMAN, OF DRUIM LIAS, NOW DRUMLEASE, COUNTY OF LEITRIM.

ON this day, veneration was given to Colman, of Dramlias, said to have been in Luighne, by Marianus O'Gorman. This we read, also, in the Martyrology of Donegal. In the Table appended, the Carthusian Martyrology is quoted, after the entry of this saint's name and place. The latter is now known as Drumlease, and there is an old church now in ruins, near the eastern extremity of the beautiful Lough Gill. It is situated in the barony of Dromahaire, and in the county of Leitrim. The monastery at this place was burned, in the year 1360. It lay in West Breifne. There is also a village of Drumlish, in the parish of Killoe, in the barony and county of Longford. A Manuscript Calendar, which belonged to Professor Eugene O'Curry, enters a festival for St. Colman of Druim Lias, at the 19th of June.

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Blessed Aidus Hua-Foirreth, June 18

On June 18 Canon O'Hanlon brings a brief account of a tenth/eleventh century cleric of Armagh, Aidus Hua-Foirreth. He is distinguished from most of the other holy men who appear on this blog in that his name is not recorded on the calendars of the Irish saints but rather in the Irish Annals. The Annals of the Four Masters record:

The Age of Christ, 1056. Aedh Ua Foirreidh, chief lector and distinguished Bishop of Ard-Macha, died on the 14th of the Calends of July, in the  seventy-fifth year of his age, as is said:
Of brilliant fame while he lived was 
Aedh O'Foirreidh the aged sage ; 
On the fourteenth of the Calends of July, 
This mild bishop passed to heaven.


Canon O'Hanlon cannot add much more detail except to acknowledge the role played by the great seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, in flagging up the memory of this learned bishop:

The Blessed Aidus Hua-Foirreth. [Tenth and Eleventh Centuries]

In his Appendix to the Acts of St. Patrick, Colgan has introduced the name of the Blessed Aidus Hua-Foirreth, chief scholastic, and bishop of Armagh, or rather suffragan, who died on this day. But that  writer adds little more, which might give a clue to his identity, except that he died A.D. 1056, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. The Bollandists, following Colgan's statement, notice him, at the 18th of June.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Saint Moling and the Two Suffering Men

June 17 is the feast of Saint Moling Luachra and below is an account of one of his many miracles:

Two men, affected with excessive pain of the emblena [belly], and in the whole body, caused by great dropsical swelling, were brought to St. Molyng, that in the name of Christ, he might cure them. At that time, the holy senior Molyng was out in the open air, and digging the earth in a field along with the brethren. Seeing their affliction, the venerable man said to them: "Chew some of the clay of this earth, I have just now dug". Unwilling to taste it, one of them reproved the holy man, saying that for no good end could he bid men to eat earth. The other man, however, humbly chewed it, and he was healed from his infirmity. He arose strengthened, and he gave thanks to God. Then, he walked home to his own people. Unwilling to return, the proud man died and was there buried. In both, the words of the Sacred Scriptures were fulfilled. In the case of the humble man, those words, "Thy faith hath made thee whole", and in the case of the proud man, "He who exalteth himself shall be humbled,"were verified. On account of this miracle, many were confirmed in Christ.

Rev. John O'Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints, Volume VI (Dublin, n.d.), 715.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Saint Séadna, June 16

On June 16 we commemorate Saint Séadna (Setna), one of at least a dozen saints who bears this name and most of whom are obscure figures. This one, however, was associated with Saint Patrick, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Setna, Son of Tren, Bishop.

According to the Martyrology of Tallagh,  Setna MacTreno, a Bishop, had a feast on the 16th of June. Marianus O'Gorman also notices this Setna Mac Tren. The feast of this holy man has been assigned to the 16th of June, by Colgan. At the present date, that writer promised to treat more at large about the present saint. In the Acts of St. Patrick, we have a narrative regarding the cruel disposition of Tren or Trian, the son of Fiec, and a remarkable visitation of God which overtook him. He is said to have been cruel to his workmen, and the holy Apostle, having remonstrated with him in vain, at length declared, that a visible judgment of God should come upon him. This denunciation he disregard. However, the saint's prediction proved to be true. Ascending his chariot, the horses ran headlong into a lake. Owing to this circumstance, it was afterwards known as Loch Trena or the Lake of Trian. The wife of Trian, moved by this catastrophe, asked the saint's forgiveness, and obtained a blessing for herself, and for the children, she then bore in the womb. Two sons were afterwards born, at the same time. One of these was called Jarlath while the other was named Setna or Sedna. This event is said to have occurred in Mudornia, in the province of Ulster. The latter was baptized by St. Secundin, the disciple of St. Patrick. St. Setna and his twin-brother, St. Jarlath, were born at Rath-Trena, of the noble and ancient family of the Dal-Fiatach. Their country was in the present county of Down. The name of the district, in which it had been situated, was Uachthar or Uachthar-Thire, which extended so far west as Slievenaboley. Jocelyn states, that St. Jarlath was born in Midernia, which Colgan corrects to Mudorna. In his edition of Ware's Bishops, Harris writes, that it was the barony of Mourne, in the southern part of the present county of Down. However, Dr. O'Donovan states, that barony did not obtain such a name, until the twelfth century, and that St. Jarlath was born in Cremorne, or Crich-Mudhorna, in the present county of Monaghan. St. Setna was elevated to episcopal rank, but his See does not appear to be known. According to the Martyrology of Donegal, veneration was given on this day, to Setna, son of Tren, Bishop. In the Irish Calendar, belonging to the Royal Irish Academy, and compiled for the Irish Ordnance Survey, at the xvi. of the July Kalends, or June 16th, his feast is entered.

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Saint Vouga of Carn, June 15

June 15 is the commemoration of a County Wexford saint with a reputed Breton link, Vouga or Beoc. I have already reprinted a paper on this saint by the 19th-century scholar Margaret Stokes here, but Canon O'Hanlon, drawing on the work of the 17th-century cleric, Albert le Grand, has plenty of additional information to bring us below:

ST. VOUGA, VIE, OR VAUK, BISHOP, IN BRITTANY, FRANCE, AND PATRON OF CARN PARISH, COUNTY OF WEXFORD.

[SIXTH CENTURY.]

Of a very unsatisfactory character is the information we are permitted to communicate regarding the present ascetic man, the greater part of whose life and actions appears to have been concealed from men and known only to the Almighty. The notices regarding this saint, which have been compiled by Albert le Grand, were taken from an ancient British Manuscript Chronicle, and from an old legendary parchment manuscript, which had been kept in the monastery of St. Matthew, in the diocese of Leon; besides, he made use of certain collections, belonging to the church of Leon, and compiled in the fifteenth century; also, an old choral legendary, belonging to the church of Leon, and some memoranda from the church of Armagh, in Ireland —said to have been authentic, and communicated by Rev. Father Vincent du Val a S. Maria, Vice-Provincial of the Dominicans in Ireland—these were employed in drawing up his account. To those notices, Albert le Grand adds various conjectures of his own. The Bollandists have published Acts of St. Vouga or Vio, at the 15th of June, in eight paragraphs. These have been collected from various sources. We are doubtful, if Vouga had been the Irish name for this saint. He flourished, as has been supposed, about the sixth century; but, his parentage and the exact place of his birth have not been recorded.

He was a bishop, it is said, before he left the country of his birth, but his name is not to be met with in the records of any Irish See. A rather late Life of this holy man, and that founded on popular tradition, seems to have been the chief authority for the legends regarding him. We are told, by Albert le Grand, that the venerable man Vouga lived in Ireland, and that owing to his innocence and uprightness he was ordained a priest, becoming a canon in the church of Armagh, and afterwards its Archbishop, and the Primate of Ireland. For these latter statements, however, there are no historic grounds, and they must be dismissed as altogether misleading and inaccurate. It is related, furthermore, that having received those honours with great reluctance, he soon desired to be released from such a weight of responsibility, and therefore he importuned God with prayers, that he might be permitted to seek some monastery or desert place, where his life should be wholly devoted to heavenly contemplation. The Almighty heard his petitions. He was inspired to sail over the ocean, and to a country where he was destined to find rest, as also to gather great fruits. Vouga then returned thanks to the Almighty, for thus manifesting his divine approval.

Leaving his See of Armagh and its residence by night, he sought the sea coast, where, however, he found no vessel to carry him away. There were some large rocks beside the shore, and these were to furnish a means for transit. One of the legends concerning him states, that he mounted on a huge stone, which he wished to serve as a ship, and that it should move to whatever place had been allotted for his residence. He sailed across the sea on it, until after a voyage of nearly twenty-four hours, he was wafted towards Armoric Britain. He entered the port of Cornuaille, known as Penmarch or Penmarck. Fables have been added to this voyage, which probably had been undertaken in an ordinary sailing vessel of the time. The arrival of St. Vouga, with many other holy men, who came from Great Britain, into Brittany, has been ascribed to before 523, while Hormisdas was Pope, while Justin Augustus presided over the Empire, while Hoel II. ruled in Upper Armorica, and while Jugduvale governed in Lower Armorica. Having left his friends and native country, Vouga resolved on leading an eremitical life in Little Britain. He is said to have received a public welcome from the people of Penmarck, who provided for him a place and house in which to reside. There he preached the Word of God, and he worked many miracles. Afterwards, Vouga erected a hermitage for himself, about one-half mile from Penmarck, so that he might devote himself to a contemplative life. However, his reputation for sanctity having spread throughout all that part of the country, the people flocked to him in crowds, to be healed of fevers and other disorders. Among other miracles recorded is one of his having restored a woman to life.

Finding that this intercourse with worldings tended to distract his pious meditations, he soon resolved on leaving that place. He went from Lanveoc to Brest, but still he could not find a place for rest; until passing through the city of Leineven, he sought a dense wood. There he erected a small oratory with a hut near it. Afterwards, he associated with some religious, in the exercise of meritorious works, until it pleased the Almighty to call him away from the labours of this life to his eternal reward. He died it is stated, on the 15th day of June, about the year 585. Particulars regarding his Acts, because they do not appear to rest on very reliable authorities, are omitted, by Bishop Challoner. His disciples buried him under the altar of his chapel. Thither flocked the faithful, afterwards, and many miracles were wrought through his intercession. At length, some wood was cut down, and a church was there built, which was dedicated to him. This, St. Tenenanus, Bishop of Leon, erected into a parochial church. There, too, the venerable relics of St. Vouga were preserved for a long time, and until the Invasion of the Normans, when it was found necessary to remove the greater part of these to a place of greater security. However, a Missal belonging the holy man was there preserved, and feverish patients often found relief by kissing it. His other relics were brought to a chapel, erected about one mile from Penmarck, on the shore of the sea, and in the diocese of Quimper. At this place, called Treguenec, St. Vie is held in special veneration. There, his relics are said to have been preserved, and the chapel has been dedicated to him. Persons suffering from fevers have often been restored to health through pilgrimages to it, when the saint's intercession was implored. Divers churches are dedicated to him, in Brittany, which proves that he had a public veneration in that province. Thence, too, appears to have spread the fame of his miracles and virtues to Ireland, his native country, and probably it was propagated there by the Anglo-Norman invaders, who first settled in the southeast quarter.


In St. Vogue's townland, Carn parish, barony of Forth, and county of Wexford, we find, there are dedicated to St. Vauk or Vaak a church and a well. A patron was formerly held there, on the 20th of January. It may be possible, this saint was identical with the St. Vouga, Bishop, venerated at the 15th of June. From its existing features, the ruined church of St. Vauk does not appear to have been very ancient. It rises within a graveyard, at the extreme southeastern point of Ireland, and standing not far from the sea-shore. In the Gallican Martyrologies, St. Vouga is commemorated at the 15th of June. His name is missing altogether from our ancient Irish Calendars and records. According to the Rev. Alban Butler, on the 15th of June, St. Vouga or Vio is honoured in Lesser Britain.

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Saint Cumman Beg of Cill Cuimne, June 14

We can add another name to the list of obscure Irish holy women at June 14, Cumman Beg of Cill Cuimne. She is yet another saint for whom the only record we have is the listing of her name on the Irish calendars. As is so often the case, it is difficult to be definitive about the exact locality in which she flourished, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Cuman Becc, or Cumman Beg, Virgin, of Cill Cuimne.

The name of Cuman Becc of Tamnaigh, is entered in the Martyrology of Tallagh, as having been venerated, at the 14th of June. There was an old church, now uprooted at Kilcumney, in the deanery of Mullingar, and county of Westmeath. The Rev. Dr. Kelly appears to identify the place of this virgin with Rathdowney, a village and parish in the southern part of the Queen's County. It signifies, as the denomination now stands,"the fort of the church ;" but, the correct name should be Rathdowney, representing the Irish Rath-tamh-naigh, "the fort of the green field." This is said to have been the old pagan name. There was a Tamhnach-an-reata, now Tawny, in the parish of Derryvullan, in the barony of Tirkennedy, and county of Fermanagh. There is also a Tawny or Taney, a parish in the county of Dublin. In the Martyrology of Donegal, this saint is recorded, at the same date, as Cumman Beg, Virgin, of Cill Cuimne, at Tamhnach.

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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Saint Damhnat of Sliabh Betha, June 13

On June 13  we remember Saint Damhnat of Sliabh Betha. As with so many of our holy women, not a great deal is actually known of her life, and in particular there is some confusion around Damhnat's relationship to Saint Dymphna of Gheel. I am currently doing some more research into this but can introduce the saint with Canon O'Hanlon's account below, which mentions the relics associated with her:

St. Damnat or Damhnat, Virgin, of Sliabh Betha.
[Fifth or Sixth Century.]

The Martyrology of Tallagh enters a festival, at the Ides or 13th of June, in honour of Damnat Sleibe Betha. Her mother is said to have been Bronach, the daughter of Milchon, St. Patrick's master, and she was the mother of many saints. She seems to be distinguishable from another known as St. Dympna. Colgan states, that St. Damnoda or Dymna, surnamed Schene, or "the fugitive," was the daughter to Damen, son to Corpre, surnamed Damh-airgid, son to Eochod, the son of Crimthann, son to Fieg, &c, of the Colla Dachrioch race. He says, that her feast was held on the 13th of June, in Ireland, according to our native Martyrologies, while in Belgium it was celebrated on the 15th of May. He also remarks, that in some Manuscripts, this saint's name is found written, "Damand-Scene, mac Daimhen," &c, which means, "Damand, the fugitive, the son of Damen." It is thought, that two errors have crept into these Manuscripts, at this particular passage. The first was, the transposition of a letter, which converted Damnad, into Damand. For, there was a very celebrated virgin, of the Oirgiell race, called Damnad, who was venerated as patron of Orgiell; whilst there is no saint, male or female, in Irish Martyrologies or Annals, whose name was Damand. The second error appears to. have been, that instead of these words, "Mac-Daimen," we should read, "Ingen Daimhein," or "Ingen mhic-Daimhein," which would mean, "the daughter of Damen," or "the daughter of Damen's son." Both Drs. George Petrie and John O'Donovan thought, however, there was much reason to doubt Colgan's opinion, that the St. Davnet, venerated in Ireland on the 13th of June, and the St. Dympna, whose feast was on the 15th of May in Belgium, could have been one and the same person. Nor do we feel inclined to believe, that the Damnat of Sleibhe Betha, venerated on the 13th of June, and alluded to in the Martyrology of Tallagh, can be fairly identified with St. Dympna, patroness of Gheel. In the year 1835, while Mr. O'Donovan was travelling in the county of Monaghan, he suspected, that the name of this parish must have been derived from a St. Damhnat, whose habitation had been there. Then a popular tradition prevailed among the old inhabitants, that a St. Davnet was the first founder of the old church in their parish. They had no idea, however, regarding the age in which that female saint lived, but they thought it was a long time after the introduction of Christianity. On being furnished with extracts from the Irish Calendar, he identified Tedavnet with the St. Damhnat, whose feast occurs at this date. Slieve Beagh lies to the north-west of the parish of Tedavnet, which is within the barony and county of Monaghan. That mountain range—forming about one-fourth part of the parish—stretches towards Tyrone. There was an old church, formerly in the parish, which is now utterly destroyed. This ruined church only presents a fragment, about six feet by four, at the present time, and it has been made to serve as a monument for the Robinson family. This place, Anglicized "Bith's Mountain," is situated on the confines of the counties of Monaghan and of Fermanagh. In the parish of Tedavnet was kept a crozier of the saint, called Bachall Damhnait which remained in possession of a man, named Lamb. He stated, that this relic had been in his family from time immemorial, having descended to him as an heirloom. Some eight years before he had been accustomed to send it as far as Newry and Dundalk, for the use of persons, who swore on it. Deponents were said to be in great danger, if they swore falsely. Some fearful change of their features was an apprehended result; but, the most usual alteration was said to be their mouths turning awry, or towards the ear. Many persons, when accused of theft by their neighbours, and when threatened, that the Bachall Damhnait should be sent for, frequently came and acknowledged their guilt; for, they feared the result of a false deposition on this relic. In the Martyrology of Donegal is Damhnat, virgin, of Sliabh Betha, at the 13th of June. In the Irish Calendar, belonging to the Irish Ordnance Survey, there is an entry of St. Damhnat's festival, at the Ides—or 13th—of June. At this date, in the Rev. Alban Butler's work, we find notices of St. Damhnade; and, in the Circle of the Seasons is mentioned Damh a-nade, Virgin, in Ireland. In the Manuscript of Trinity College, Dublin, classed B. 3, 12, we find at June 13, Ides, Damnate, Virgo.

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Saint Tommen mac h Birn, June 12

Another name for our ever-growing list of obscure Irish saints is recorded at June 12 - Saint Tommen mac i Birn. Although the calendars preserve both a patronymic and a place name in connection with Saint Tommen, neither are of any help to Canon O'Hanlon in identifying him:

St. Tommen mac h Birn, Ailithir, Locha uane.

At this date, a festival is recorded in the Marytrology of Tallagh, in honour of Tommen mac h Birn i Ailithir, Locha uane. The latter spelling is probably intended for Loch-Uamha, which is situated in West Breifne.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Saint Tocomracht of Conmaicne, June 11

At June 11, Canon O'Hanlon has a notice of a female saint, Tocomracht, immediately followed by that of a saint Tochumra. He suspects that they may be one and the same person. Butler's Lives of the Saints records that the intercession of this saint was sought by women in labour:

Tocomracht, Virgin.

The Martyrologies of Tallagh, and of Donegal, mention that Tocomracht, Virgin, of Conmaicne, had veneration paid her, at the 11th of June. The latter Calendar only gives the territory, with which she had been connected; but, as this territorial designation is applied in composition with different localities, it is not so easy to determine where the present saint lived. At this date, also, in the Rev. Alban Butler's work, and in the Circle of the Seasons, St. Tochumra, Virgin, is found entered.

St. Tochumra. Virgin.

There is apparently another St. Tochumra, Virgin, whose feast occurs at 11th of June, in Butler's Lives of the Saints, where we are told, she belonged to the diocese of Kilmore, and that she was much honoured in Ireland, being invoked by women in labour. Colgan could discover no Acts of her. Likewise, in the Circle of the Seasons, we have the name of this St. Tochumra entered. It is likely, she is not a different person from the preceding Tocomracht.

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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Saint Ainmire of Aileach, June 10

We commemorate a saint of County Donegal on June 10, Ainmire of Aileach. Canon O'Hanlon has a brief account of this holy man of the Inishowen peninsula:

St. Ainmire, or Ainmirech, of Aileach, County of Donegal.

Veneration was given on this day, 10th of June, to Ainmirech of Ailich, according to the Martyrology of Tallagh. This place, formerly very celebrated, is now known as Elagh, in the peninsula of Inishowen, and in the county of Donegal. The Irish word Ainmire is said to have an identical meaning with the Latin word Animosus. Again, in the Martyrology of Donegal, the name Ainmire, of Aileach, is entered at the same date.

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Monastic Life and Miracles of Saint Baithen

On June 9 both the monastic founder of Iona, Saint Colum Cille and his immediate successor and kinsman Saint Baithen are commemorated. Canon O'Hanlon has provided details of the miracles of Saint Baithen (Baoithen, Latin Baitheneus) recorded in his various Vitae. As ever, they give us a glimpse into the monastic life and the virtues of a life of prayer, fasting, humility and obedience:

The Spirit of Saint Columba Comforts Baithen and the Brethern

At Iona, Baoithen appears to have been appointed the dispensator, or economus, or steward, of that foundation, and he superintended the labours of the monks in the field. On such an occasion, the monks once noticed a most fragrant odour, as if flowers, at a spot on the Island called Cuuleilne, and they asked the cause from Baoithen, who declared it was the spirit of their Abbot, who thus desired to refresh and comfort them, although he was not bodily present.

The Sea Voyages of Saint Baithen and Columbanus the Priest

When St. Columba had established a religious foundation in Tiree, he appointed Baoithen superior of the dependent Monastery there at Magh-Lunge. His journeyings thither by sea are recorded in St. Columba's Acts, and on occasion of setting out, he was accustomed to invoke the great Abbot's blessing. He also defended that Island from an invasion of evil spirits. Thence, too, he occasionally visited Hy. It is related, that on a particular occasion, Baithenus and Columbanus, son of Beognus, came to St. Columkille, and entreated him to obtain next day from God a prosperous wind for them, as they intended to set out on the sea, yet in contrary directions. The saint answered:'Baitheneus sailing from the port of Iona in the morning shall have a prosperous wind, until he arrives at the haven of Lungefield." This God granted him, according to the saint's words ; for, Baitheneus crossed over the sea to the land of Ethica, and with flowing sails, on that day. Then, at nine o'clock, St. Columba sent for Columbanus the Priest, and bade him make ready; as he told this voyager, that the south wind which favoured Baitheneus should turn to the north, and this was accordingly effected. So Columbanus embarked for Ireland, in the afternoon, and he made the voyage with full sails and favourable winds. This miracle was wrought by virtue of St. Columba's prayers, because it is written: 'All things are possible to him that believeth.' After Columbanus' departure on that day, St. Columba pronounced this prophecy regarding him: "The holy man Columbanus, whom I have blessed on departing, shall never more see me in this life. So indeed it fell out, for St. Columba departed to our Lord that very same year.

The Spear Blessed by Saint Baithen

While living in Iona, Baithen blessed a spear, over which he marked a sign of the cross. Thenceforth, it could hurt no person, and it could not even pierce the skin of any animal. Wherefore, its iron was taken to a smith, and mixed with other iron.

The Staff of Saint Baithen Protects A Monk

At one time, Lugbeus his monk happened to hold the staff of Baithen in his hand, when it was slightly gnawed by a dog. Having the same staff with him, while travelling among the Picts, he came to one of their houses, when a furious dog rushed out barking at him. That animal seized the staff of Baithen with his teeth, but immediately fell dead, and thus the monk escaped his meditated violence.

The Cure of the Monk Trenanus

Many sick persons were cured by St. Baithen, and among these was one of his monks, named Trenanus, who had been dropsical. But, he was commanded not to reveal this cure to any person, so long as Baithen lived. Our saint also prophesied, that a few days before his death, the patient should undergo a similar cure, and this was fulfilled a very long time afterwards.

The Judgement on Beoanus the Sinner

A story is told of one Beoanus—living beyond the Island Strait—who was an impious persecutor of the Church and a scoffer of the monks, and who had sent a messenger in derision to ask for the remains of their dinner. Then Baithen ordered the milk, which each of the brothers had left, to be poured into one vessel, and to be given to the messenger of Beoanus. No sooner had this unhappy man tasted it, than he felt a grievous internal complaint, and he found that death had already seized on him. However, he recognised in this intolerable anguish, that a just judgment had fallen upon him; and he had the grace of becoming contrite, while he died after being reconciled to God.

Saint Baithen Casts Out Demons

St. Baoithen also had the gift of casting out devils. Just at the time when he had succeeded the founder St. Columba, and while seated at table, he observed a foul demon looking in through a window. Raising his hand to make a sign of the cross over his monks, that evil spirit instantly vanished. The community afterwards inquired from him, for what reason he had signed in token of benediction, when he replied :" My brethren, the devil had looked in through the window at this very hour for dinner, to find if he could discover any of you negligent, either in making the sign of the cross, or in offering thanks to the Almighty. Understanding his craft, however, and having made that sign of the cross, he was overcome and he vanished as smoke." At one time, a monk of his order had been possessed, and so violent did he become, that manacles were applied, to prevent the maniac from tearing himself and others. Baithen was appealed to, that he might effect a cure, but through humility he distrusted any good result from his own merits. However, he selected some of his monks to take their maniac brother to Ireland, and there to seek the prayers of holy men, at its various churches. The result still continued to be unfavourable. At length, taking courage and offering up the Holy Sacrifice for that object, Baithen ordered the afflicted person into the church. There, in the presence of all the religious, the sufferer was restored to a sound state. Another monk, who dwelt in the monastery of Meagh Lunga, which St. Columba had founded in Heth, had been in like manner possessed. St. Baithen appeared, and pronounced these words in his presence: "You know, O demon, that between you and me, no compact has existed or can exist and therefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, depart immediately from this possessed man." Wherefore the demon vanished, and that brother was restored to health.

Even his garments were effective for similar purposes. On a certain occasion, one Fedgenus—perhaps Fechinus should be read—who was brother to the Abbot Virgnous, desired to visit his kindred in Britain, and he brought with him a habit belonging to Baithen, believing that it should protect him from every danger and extricate him from every difficulty he might experience along the way. When he visited that province, he entered a house, in which he found a man possessed. The pilgrim at once placed the habit of Baithen over him, and instantly the demon disappeared, the man being restored to perfect health.

The Vision of the Three Grand Chairs

To Baoethin, it was permitted to see the three grand chairs in heaven empty, and awaiting some of the saints of Erin, viz., the chair of gold, and a chair of silver, and a chair of glass. He told Colum Cille, at Ia or Iona, the vision which was shown to him. Then Colum Cille gave the interpretation to him of what he had seen, for he was a famous prophet. St. Columba said: " The chair of gold, which thou hast seen, is the chair of Ciaran, son of the carpenter, the reward for his sanctity, and hospitality, and charity. The chair of silver, which thou hast seen, is thine own chair, for the brightness and effulgence of thy piety. The chair of glass is my own chair, for although pure and bright, I am brittle and fragile, in consequence of the battles, which were fought on my account." After this event, St. Colum Cille is said to have resolved upon the celebrated abstinence, i.e., to take nettle pottage as food for the future, without drippings or any fat whatever.

The Asceticism of Saint Baithen

Among the legends, relating to St. Baoithin, is the following story. In consequence of his abstemiousness, the impression of his ribs through his woollen tunic was seen in the sandy beach, which is by the side of Iona, where he used to lie on it at night. This saint was a most perfect pattern of all virtues, especially of devotion and humility; he was favoured, also, with the gift of prophecy, and of miracles.

Saint Baithen Fasts Under the Oak

At one time, St. Columba sent him to excommunicate a certain family, that lived in a place called Druym-Cuill.That night he remained fasting under an oak tree. To those sitting around Baoithen said: I feel unwilling this time to excommunicate that family, until I learn whether or not they shall become penitent. Therefore, let the weight of our judgment to be visited on them fall rather on this tree before the year closes." After a few days, lightning came from Heaven, and struck that tree, completely stripping off its bark; while, at the same time, a mighty wind laid its trunk prostrate on the earth, where it finally withered.

Fintan the Wise Testifies to the Learning and Humility of Saint Baithen

It is related, moreover, that no other person on this side of the Alps was comparable to Baoithen in scriptural and scientific knowledge. Such was the opinion expressed by one Fintin, the wise, son of Luppan, and when some who were near him asked, if Baoithen were wiser than his master St. Columba, Fintin answered :" Know you not that I did not compare his alumnus to St. Columkille, full of the gifts of wisdom, but to other men ? For the latter is only to be compared with the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles of God, in whom the Holy Ghost, the fountain and source of wisdom and Divine prophecy, truly reigns ; who according to the Apostolic sentence, becomes like—although there be dissimilar degrees —for through the choice of Heaven, he is made to bring salvation upon all. Yet, he is wise among the wise, a king among kings, an anchorite among anchorites, a monk among monks, and although popular among seculars he needlessly lowered himself; he was poor of heart among the poor after the manner of the Apostles, owing to the wealth of charity which glowed within his breast, rejoicing with the glad souls and weeping with those who lamented. But among all these gifts of Divine bounty, the true humility of Christ strongly reigns in him, as if it had been naturally implanted." When that pious man had borne testimony to the wisdom of both the master and the disciple, all who heard him were quite ready to adopt his opinion as incontrovertible.

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