Friday, 16 August 2013

Saint Lughan, August 16


August 16 is one of those days on the Irish calendars when all we have are the records of the names of the saints to be commemorated but no further surviving information. Canon O'Hanlon leads off with a Saint Lughan or Lugain who presumably was one of the earlier saints, as his name appears in the earliest of the surviving Irish calendars, the Martyrology of Tallaght. His name is repeated first in the late 12th-century Martyrology of Gorman and subsequently in the 17th-century Martyrology of Donegal, again without any notes or further indications of when and where he may have flourished. Canon O'Hanlon's account reflects the spirit of his age as he depicts Ireland as a land uniquely afflicted by the destruction of its sacred heritage, the worst of it wrought by 'the law-established religion of England' which outdid the Goths, the Vandals and the Danes combined:

ST. LUGHAN OR LUGAIN.

DARK and evil are the works of men recruited from the dens of vice, and much misery have thousands brought upon the world; but, those who have been trained and schooled in the Church give their talents and virtues to the cause of justice, of charity, and of order. Much could we desire to learn more regarding the personal merits and actions of the latter class, yet such gratification cannot always be attained. A festival in honour of Lughan is found set down in the Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Donegal, at this date. Lugain Si is found written, in the first-mentioned record.  In that copy, contained in the Book of Leinster, the entry is somewhat different, at the 16th of August. The references to this holy man are so brief and obscure, that we cannot even conjecture his station in the Irish Church, his place, nor his period. The latter, however, seems to have been in the earlier eras of our ecclesiastical history. Almost every country in Europe can point out the mouldering ruins of church and cloister, overthrown and laid desolate by the destroying hand of war, or by the no less relentless onslaught of heresy. But in no other country has such destruction befallen the sacred edifices of religion as in Ireland, and with them have perished most of our precious records, containing memorials of our sainted men. In the first place, much of this loss to religion, civilization and learning dates from the inroads and marauding of the Danish pirates; and lastly, from the law-established religion of England in the sixteenth century, and which visited the holy places of Ireland with such a spirit of fell destruction, as neither Goth, Vandal, nor Dane had ever paralleled.

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