Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Saint Sedrach, August 22

Another obscure name is found on the Irish calendars at August 22 - Saint Sedrach. Canon O'Hanlon records that the Martyrology of Tallaght describes him as a bishop, but otherwise has no other information to offer:

St. Sedrach, Bishop.

The published Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Donegal register Sedrach, at the 22nd of August. The former Calendar designates him as a bishop, and this is found, likewise, in that copy of the Tallagh Martyrology, contained in the Book of Leinster, at this same date. The see over which he presided is not known, nor the date for his episcopacy.


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Monday, 21 August 2017

Saint Uncan, August 21

On August 21 Canon O'Hanlon brings yet another obscure saint to our attention - Saint Uncan:

St. Uncan or Unchan Tughneda.

No doubt, from his early days, the ambition of this saint received a right direction. Yet those and his subsequent years are buried in obscurity. According to the published Martyrology of Tallagh, veneration was given to Unchan Tughneda, at the 21st of August. It seems a difficult matter to identify his place, at present, or to find the time when he flourished. The simple entry, Uncan, appears in the Martyrology of Donegal, at this same date. In life, he must have been respected, and his time must have been greatly spent in prayer for himself and others.


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Friday, 18 August 2017

Saint Rónán, August 18

August 18 is the feast of Saint Rónán, a name borne by a number of Irish holy men, most of whom are obscure. Pádraig Ó Riain's Dictionary of Irish Saints records that the name is derived from rón, a seal. Canon O'Hanlon, in his account below, covers the dearth of information about the August 18 Rónán by diverting us to the island of Iona. As he so often does, however, he builds us up to embrace a possible Scottish connection only to let us down by admitting that there is no actual evidence to connect our saint of the day with the Rónán commemorated on Iona. We do get a charming sketch as compensation though:




St. Ronan.

There are several saints bearing this name, included in the Irish Calendars; but of most, we have nothing left to determine their identity or period, or even the localities with which they were respectively connected. At the 18th of August, the Martyrology of Donegal registers a festival in honour of Ronan, having in like manner, no further designation. In Scotland, also, this name appears to have been known, and it is found as a compound word in local denominations. On the east side of Iona, there is an old church, Tempul Ronain, and a village at a landing place, called Port Ronan, a little to the south of the cathedral and chief group of antiquities there. Tempul Ronain was formerly a parish church, dependent on the Monastery of Iona. It had a nunnery connected, in which several prioresses are said to have been buried. Towards the close of the last century, the nunnery church was quite entire, one end of it being arched and very beautiful; then also stood the parish church entire, but tottering. This was a building about the size of St. Oran's chapel, and north-east of the nunnery, but inside of its enclosures. It is not known, however, to which of the saints named Ronan, this place had been dedicated.


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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Saint Eóin of Saint John's, August 17

Today is the feast of a County Down saint whose church site I have visited a number of times, most recently in June whilst on a day tour of ecclesiastical sites with the Down County Museum. It is a site well worth visiting, the church ruins are situated on the coast and have the company of the nearby Saint John's Point Lighthouse. I have previously posted on the elusive Saint John here and now bring the account from Volume 8 of Canon O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints. In the absence of any substantial information on the man, O'Hanlon tells us instead of his church. He doesn't mention the holy well and bullaun at the entrance to the site, but does say that the eighteenth-century writer, Walter Harris, claimed that the church was intact in his day. I am also interested by the fact that a church which appears to have started out as being associated with a local saint was later called the Chapel of Saint John of Jerusalem:




St. Eoin of St. John's, County of Down.

It should be understood, that the proper name Eoin, in Irish, is equivalent to the English name John. The Martyrology of Tallagh records a festival at the 17th of August, to honour St. Eoani mic Carlain. In the beginning of the fourteenth century, his place seems to have been known as the Chapel of Styoun, now St. John's Point. This is a detached townland in the parish of Rathmullan. At this same date, the name occurs in the Martyrology of Donegal, Eoin, son of Carlan, of Tigh-Eoin, in Uladh. This place has been identified with St. John's, in the County of Down. In the year 1183, it would seem to have been designated Stechian, in the time of James I. Stion, and at the time of the Dissolution, it was called the Chapel of St. John of Jerusalem. This ancient chapel belonged to a very antique class of ecclesiastical buildings. It measured only 20 by 13 feet, in the clear. Better than a century ago, the walls were entire. But now, the east wall has been demolished to the foundation, and with it the east window, small and narrow, terminating in an acute angle, formed by two inclined flags. The doorway, in the west wall, is 5 feet, 6 inches, high; 2 feet, 1 inch wide, at the top, but gradually dilating to the threshold, where it is 3 feet in breadth. In the south wall, near the south-east angle, there is a window 2 feet, 5 and a half inches high; 1 foot, 4inches wide, at top, and 1 foot, 9 nine inches, at bottom. In both instances, the aperture is surmounted by a single flag, instead of an arch.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Saints Marinus and Anianus, August 16

At August 16 in Volume 8 of his Lives of the Irish Saints, Canon O'Hanlon mentions that the seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, had intended to publish an account of a saintly duo, Marinus and Anianus on this date. Sadly, he died before he could do so. Canon O'Hanlon did not know of this pair, which is surprising since his Anglican contemporary, the scholarly Bishop William Reeves, with whose work O'Hanlon was certainly acquainted, delivered a paper on them to the Royal Irish Academy in 1861. Their accepted feast day is November 15 so on what basis Colgan assigned them to August 16 is not clear. The pair were seventh-century missionaries to Bavaria, Marinus, a bishop and his companion Anianus of a lesser ecclesiastical rank. Both were martyred, there is some interesting speculation on the identity of their 'Vandal' attackers here. I will, however, hold over the Reeves paper until November 15, he too has some interesting speculations to offer on the original Irish names that might lie behind the Latinized forms in which they have come down to us. For now, Canon O'Hanlon has to admit defeat:

Saints Marinus and Anianus.

At the 16th of August, Colgan intended to have published the Lives of Saints Marinus and Anianus, as we learn from the posthumous list of his Manuscripts. Elsewhere, I have not been able to find any account, that might serve to explain their connection with Irish hagiology.



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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

'The Clouds are Her Chariot' - The Feast of the Assumption, August 15


August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and below are a couple of brief quotations relating to the feast connected with the monastery of Bobbio. Bobbio was, of course, founded by the Irish Saint Columbanus. In the late seventeenth century, a visiting Benedictine monk, Jean Mabillon, visited Bobbio and discovered in its library a wonderful codex dating from a thousand years earlier. The 'Bobbio Missal', as the codex is now known, has been described as 'one of the most intriguing liturgical manuscripts that were produced in Merovingian Francia'. Earlier generations of scholars were keen to assert a firm Irish provenance for this seventh-century Gallican liturgy, but modern scholars have failed to prove any direct Irish link, apart from the manuscript's location at Bobbio. In her 1938 historical account of Irish devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Helena Concannon quoted some snippets from it relating to today's feast:


From the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption found in the Bobbio Missal:

"...her soul is wreathed with various crowns; the apostles render sacred homage to her, the angels intone their canticles, Christ embraces her, the clouds are her chariot, paradise her dwelling, where, decked with glory, she reigns amidst the virgin-choirs."

From a Sermon on the Assumption Preached at Bobbio:

“Celebrating today (the preacher says) the Assumption of the Holy Mother Mary, dearest Brethern, it behoves you to rejoice in spirit, in that God has willed for your salvation to raise her from the earthly dwellings to the heavenly mansions. The Mother of Our Lord is assumed today by God, the Creator of all things, to the heavenly kingdom, and she who by her chaste child-bearing brought life to the human race, today ascends to Heaven to pray to God at all times for us. Let it be our prayer, whilst we keep the day of the Assumption, that she may assist us by her merits, and may protect us from the snares of Satan, that so through her we may deserve to attain the joys of Paradise.”

The Queen of Ireland – An Historical Account of Ireland's Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by Mrs Helena Concannon (Dublin, 1938), 41-42.


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Sunday, 6 August 2017

St. Lughaidh of Cluain Fobhair, August 6

August 6 is the feast of an Irish saint with an ancient name - Lughaidh. He is associated with a locality called Cluain Fobhair. Despite the fact that he appears on the earliest calendars and that the seventeenth-century hagiologist,  Father John Colgan, intended to include him in his work, both the man and the place are impossible to identify with any certainty, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Lughaidh, of Cluain Fobhair.

The present saint most probably flourished before the tenth century, for his name is commemorated at this date, in our most ancient Irish Martyrologies. It seems to have been Colgan's intention to have edited the Acts of St. Lughidius, on this day, as would appear from the posthumous list of his MSS. He was connected with a place, designated Cluain Fobhair. There is a townland called Cloonfoher, in the parish and barony of Burrishoole, in the County of Mayo; a Cloonfore, in the parish and barony of Rathcline, in the County of Longford; a Cloonfower, in the parish of Termonbarry, barony of Ballintober North, and County of Roscommon, as also a Cloonfower, in the parish of Kilkeevin, and barony of Castlereagh, County of Roscommon. Those denominations are all equivalent to Cluain Fobhair. The Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Donegal mention, that at the 6th of August, veneration was given to Lughaidh, of Cluain Fobhair. In the Irish Calendar, preserved in the Royal Irish Academy, there is a similar entry.






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