Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Saint Anci, September 19

Canon O'Hanlon flags up an obscure entry in some of the Irish calendars at September 19 for a saint Anci. The name first appears in the Martyrology of Tallaght and then later in the Martyrology of Donegal. It is missing however from the Martyrology of Oengus and from the Martyrology of Gorman.

St. Anci or Ainchi.

 In the published and Book of Leinster copies of the Martyrology of Tallagh, we find the simple entry, Anci, without further designation, and at the 19th of September. The Martyrology of Donegal has Ainchi, at the 19th of September. We cannot find any further account of him.

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Saint Gema of Riacc Innse, September 18

The name of an obscure Irish female saint is found in some of the Irish calendars at September 18. As Canon O'Hanlon explains below, the name of Gema of Riacc Innse is found in the Martyrology of Tallaght and in the Martyrology of Gorman. Her name is absent though from the Martyrology of Oengus and from the Martyrology of Donegal:

St. Gema, Virgin, of Riacc Innse. 

We find a festival registered in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 18th of September, in honour of Gema, Virgin, of Riacc Innse.  In the Martyrology of Marianus O'Gorman, at the same date, the entry of Gemma is found. Her place and period seem to be unknown.

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

'His Cross is our saving herb...'

September 14 is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and to mark the feast below is a short excerpt from an Irish bardic poem translated by Irish Jesuit, Father Lambert Mc Kenna (1870-1956):

His Cross is our saving herb, our flower of blessing, our bond of perfect peace; it is the daily protection of Eve's race, the seal of our covenant, the roof above us.

L. McKenna, Some Irish Bardic Poems, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review Vol. 24, No. 94 (June 1935), pp. 313-318.

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Saint Fiachra and Kilfera by the Nore

August 30 is the feast of Saint Fiachre of Brieul. In the 1904 poem below, Alice Esmonde suggests that even in his French exile Saint Fiachra never quite forgets another quiet hermitage - that of Kilfera by the Nore in Ireland. The poem is typical of the many which were published on native saints in popular Catholic magazines in Ireland at this time, it is not great literature just a sentimentally naive tribute to the holy man:

Saint Fiacre

On a slope beside the Norey
St. Fiacre built his cell,
Raised his Church and by the door
Found and blessed his holy well.
In the summer near the gloaming,
Should your footsteps there go roaming,
You would think that down he passes,
While a hush comes, in the air,
Yon could hear the tender grasses
Rustling as he knelt in prayer,
For he lived in days of yore
At Kilfera by the Nore.

Still the spot is calm and fair,
Tho' decayed is his sweet cell,
And he's half forgotten there,
By the banks he loved so well.
But the faithful river stealing,
When the years brought men less feeling,
By the Hermitage once holy,
'Mid a silence most profound,
Seems to sigh and whisper slowly.
All around is sacred ground —
For Fiacre years before
Blessed Kilfera by the Nore.

Did he hold the place so dear
That the Lord who watched above
Filled his heart with tender fear,
Exiled him with jealous love?
Solitude he sought more lasting,
Calmer days for prayer and fasting,
And across the parting ocean,
At Breuil in alien land,
He, with tears and deep emotion,
Built a cell with his own hand:
Still he loved as years before
Lone Kilfera by the Nore.

Sorrows came and centuries,
But his Irish heart has rest
At Breuil beside the trees,
And the flowers he once loved best—
Till the Angel's trumpet calls him,
While the joy of Heaven enthralls him,
Where a thousand years go faster
Than the moments of a day,
In the Presence of the Master
Who has wiped all tears away.
Still we hope he watches o'er
Calm Kilfera by the Nore.

Alice Esmonde

The Irish Monthly, Volume 32 (1904),662-3

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Monday, 28 August 2017

'The Conspicuous One out of Africa': The Feast of Saint Augustine on the Irish Calendars

August 28 is the feast of the great Doctor of the Western Church, Saint Augustine. Not surprisingly, since he was himself a monastic of the Augustinian order, the twelfth-century Irish calendarist, Marianus O'Gorman, notes the feast on his Martyrology:
28. b.
Augustin ind eccna,epscop uasal amra. 
Augustinus the wise,
a noble, marvellous bishop.
This Martyrology further records the octave day of the feast at September 4:
D' Augustin octauus, 
The octave of Augustinus.
The feast at August 28 is also recorded in the earlier Martyrology of Oengus:
in t-airdirc a hAfraic
(Augustine) the conspicuous one out of Africa.
The scholiast notes comment:
iin arrdraic a hAfraic .i. Augaistin .i. comad hé Augustin sapientissimus librorum sein.  L .i. Augustinus sapientissimus uir Affricorum. 
the famous one out of Africa, i.e. Augustine, i.e. that may be Augustine sapientissimus librorum.- i.e. the wisest of the Africans.
The Martyrology of Tallaght simply records 
episcopi. [in marg. magni.]
In Irish popular devotion, Saint Augustine's Day might be marked with a pattern day centred around a holy well, as for example at Kilshanny, County Clare. Augustinian monks founded a monastery here in 1189 and their patron seems to have displaced the native Irish saint to whom the well was originally dedicated.  There is a picture of the well here. Whilst, in this case, an earlier indigenous saint has been displaced, it needs to be remembered that in other cases the Augustinans were responsible for commissioning the Lives of the native holy men and women and for promoting their claims of association with religious foundations. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

'The Lord's chaste apostle, Bartholomew to whom I pray'

August 25 is the feast of Saint Barthlomew the Apostle, whom tradition says met a particularly gruesome death by being flayed alive. His feast appears on the Irish calendars with the Martyrology of Tallaght simply noting 'Passio Bartholomei apostoli', at this date. The Martyrology of Oengus has a rather fuller entry:
F. viii. cal. Septembris.
Ro sreth scél a chesta cech leth co sál srúamach, iar mórchroich ro rígad in Bartholom búadach. 
25. The story of his suffering has been declared on every side even to the streamy sea: after a great cross he has been crowned, the triumphant Bartholomew.
The scholiast notes add:
25. Bartolom. Bartholomeus in Indiam perrexit et in ea passus est sub Astrige rege eorum .i. gladio decollatus est, uel uiuus sepultus est, post pellem rasam suam de corpore toto ante, et sic uitam finiuit. 
25. Bartholomew proceeded into India etc. i.e. he was beheaded with a sword, or he was buried alive, etc. 
The twelfth-century Martyrology of Gorman also notes the feast at the beginning of its entries for the preceding day:
24. E.
Apstol cáid in Coimdedh
Bartholom fris mbenaimm 
The Lord's chaste apostle, Bartholomew to whom I pray:,..
Canon O'Hanlon also notes the feast in Volume 8 of his Lives of the Irish Saints:

Festival of St. Bartholomew, Martyr. 

The festival of St. Bartholomew, Martyr, was observed in the early Irish Church, on the 25th of August, as may be found in the "Feilire" of St. Aengus. There his name takes the Irish form Parrthalon. To this, the scholiast has added an explanatory note in Latin.  Wherefore it seems we are to regard him as St. Bartholomew, the Apostle, and whose Acts are fully set forth by the Bollandists, at this date. These Acts have a previous learned commentary by the editor, Father John Stilting, SJ.; and they are followed by a narratives of the posthumous honours, translations, relics and miracles of this celebrated Apostle of the Indies.

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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Saint Seighein, August 24

Another saint known only from the recording of his name on the Irish calendars is Saint Seighein, whose feast is recorded on August 24, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Segin or Seighein.

Scant justice has been meted to many of our holy men, in human records; although their careers were not unnoted by traits of a sublime and noble character, during their life-time. The Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Donegal register Segin or Seighein, as having been venerated at the 24th of August; but, without giving further information regarding him.

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