Friday, 29 March 2013

Saint Lassara, March 29


March 29 is the feast of a female saint, Lassara. Her name, reflecting the Old Irish word for flame, is also shared by a number of male saints, where it occurs in the variants Laserian and Mo-laisse. Much is made by neo-pagans of Saint Brigid as a supposed fire goddess, so it is perhaps worth pointing out that other Irish saints, both male and female, also have a link with fire in their names. There are a number of female saints who share the name Lassara, and Canon O'Hanlon attempts to give an account of the present one in his entry for this day in volume three of the Lives of the Irish Saints:

St. Lasar, Lassar, or Lassera, Virgin. [Sixth Century.]

A very brief allusion to St. Lassara occurs, in the Bollandists' Collection, at the 29th of March. Entering more into particulars, Colgan notices her festival, at the same date and, he undertakes, also, to solve her genealogy. She is said to have been of royal origin; her father being Fearguss, son of Fethlemid, son to King Laoighaire, son to Niall of the Nine Hostages. She was niece to St. Fortchern, who became one of St. Patrick's earliest converts, in Ireland. It is thought, that her earliest lessons of virtue and of culture were given, by her holy relative, while her name, Lassair, in Irish signifying "a flame," was happily typical of that Divine ardour, which warmed all her affections. Her parents desired for their daughter a suitable marriage, but, being resolved on a life of celibacy and retirement, she wished to leave their home. So eager was she, that her youth should belong to a heavenly spouse, a name, in Irish, Algasach, and Latinized Desideriosa, was added to her former appellation. In St, Brigid's Acts, there is mention made of a St. Lasrea, and Colgan seems to think, her commemoration fell on this day. Already have we alluded to her, in connexion with the renowned Abbess of Kildare. However, she seems to have been a person, altogether distinct from the present Lassara, who flourished a little after her time. Before and about the middle of the sixth century, St. Finnian, Abbot of Clonard, had a great school opened, in his monastery; and, the noble virgin was placed under his charge, to be instructed, in all science, religious and mundane. To St. Kieran, afterwards Abbot of Clonmacnoise, was especially committed the care of her education; for, St. Finnian had an inspiration, that she should become a very distinguished saint, and preside over a community of pious virgins. As an instance of the extreme circumspection and care, manifested for the young princess, while residing at Clonard; she lodged and boarded with a virtuous widow, who lived near the monastery. And, we are told, that neither did St. Kieran presume to gaze on her features, nor did his young pupil dare to look in his face, during the whole course of her instruction. She learned the Sacred Scriptures and the Psalms, through him. Another extraordinary occurrence is related, that an Angel brought St. Lassara from St. Finnian's patronage, and placed her in the convent of his sister, St. Rioghnach, or Regnata. Here, she seems to have remained for some time, until feeling desirous of returning to her own part of the country, St. Finnian was consulted as to her guide. He replied to Regnacia, that the same heavenly messenger, who brought her away, should also conduct her homewards. Accordingly the Angel, raising her in the air, like 'another Halbacuc, bore the virgin to her own country’. Here, greatly abounding in sanctity, this chaste spouse of Christ built a church, at a place, called Doire Mac Aidhmechain. At this place, she wrought many miracles, but the year of her demise is not found on record.

The simple name, Lassar, is set down, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 29th of March. The published Martyrology of Tallagh mentions, however, that veneration was given to Ailgasach, at this date. As we have already seen, this is only another designation, applied to her. Marianus O'Gorman, and Cathal Maguire commemorate her, in like manner, at the 29th of March. A saint, thus described, as Lassar, Virgin, is mentioned in the Martyrology of Donegal, and as having been venerated, on this day, in accord with the authorities of an earlier date, on the subject of Irish saint history.

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1 comment:

  1. I was struck by her name this morning when I read the commemorations of the day.
    Thank you, holy St. Lassar, pray to God for us.

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