Thursday, 30 January 2014

Saint Anmchad of Fulda, January 30

January 30 is the feastday of a tenth/eleventh century Irish saint who lived as a recluse at the monastery of Fulda in Germany, Anmchad. He is associated with another Irish saint, Marianus Scotus, the Chronicler. This is not Marianus Scotus (Mac Robertaigh) of Ratisbon, whose feast is coming up on 9 February, but a slightly earlier saint of the same name who also flourished in Germany.

ST. AMNUCHAD, ANMICHADIUS OR ANMCHAD, RECLUSE OF FULDA, IN GERMANY. [TENTH AND ELEVENTH CENTURIES.]

While this saint is usually called Amnichad, Amnicadus, and Annuchadus, the more correct forms for his name would seem to be Anmchad, Amnuchadus, or Anmichadus. The Irish were accustomed to call persons by this name Anmchad, as well during as long before Colgan's time. By Cratepolius, our saint is incorrectly named Annuchardus or Annuchadus, and by Ferrarius, Annichadus. A particular noble family was called Siol Anmchadha, having derived its origin and name from a certain Dynast, called Anmchad. It possessed a district of country in southern Connaught, which bordered on the River Shannon's western bank. It has been supposed that our saint was a member of this family, which was one of considerable antiquity. The Acts of St. Amnichad have been placed on record, at this day, by various hagiographical writers. Thus in four paragraphs, the Bollandists have given some notices of this saint. Colgan has also celebrated his memory, and has derived his information from different sources.That our saint was born, probably before the end of the tenth century, appears from this circumstance of his having been first a monk in Ireland; and that afterwards he lived many years as a recluse at Fulda, where he died before the middle of the eleventh century. That he was a native of Ireland is proved by Marianus O'Gorman and Florence of Worcester, in their respective Chronicles.

The Siolnamchad, interpreted "Anmchad's race," formerly occupied part of Galway county, adjoining the River Shannon, and now including Longford barony. Our saint is thought to have been a scion of this particular family. By Colgan this is supposed to be probable, for the following reason. There was another holy man descended from this family, who was celebrated for his learning and piety, and who was bishop of the church of Clonfert, situated in the same part of the country. His death is recorded in the "Annals of the Four Masters," at A.D. 1117, where he is called, "Anmcha O'hAnmchadha, Bishop of Ard-fearta Breniaun." He is also said to have been patron saint of the O'Maddens. Again, the Island of Iniskeltra, in which our saint was educated, is situated between two well-known provinces of Ireland, Connaught and Munster. This holy monk lived, not far from the Island of Iniskeltra, on the Shannon. It was probably the reason for his religious profession under the will and guidance of the Abbot Corcran, who then presided over the establishment at Iniskeltra. It is presumed, that this was the Corcran,who wrote a poem on the relics and virtues of St. Gormgal of Ard-Oilean. This monastery of Iniskeltra was insulated by its founder, St. Camin. Amid the wide-spreading waters of Lough Derg, he lived about the middle of the seventh century, and his foundation flourished in great repute for many succeeding ages.

Florence of Worcester relates, that on a certain occasion, some guests arriving at this monastery, Corcran appointed our saint to exercise the duties of host or entertainer. After partaking of food, some of those guests retired, while others remained warming themselves at the fire. These persons asked for some drink, biit this being a demand, not perhaps conformable with established discipline in the house, our saint, with much reluctance, assented to their request. Previous to his compliance, however, he sent some of this drink to obtain the blessing of his superior. Being interrogated on the following day by Corcran, to elicit his reasons for acting in this manner, our saint related the request which had been preferred to him, and his subsequent compliance with it. To punish him for such a breach of discipline, the abbot ordered his disciple to leave Ireland, and to become an exile in a foreign country. Our saint immediately obeyed this severe injunction, and sailed for a distant land. As a monk he travelled to Germany, and entered Fulda or Fulde monastery. Thus embracing the Benedictine rule and discipline, which had been established in this religious enclosure, he lived there as a recluse, and shut up in a stone cell, avoiding all intercourse with the world. He continued for a long time in a state of complete abnegation and holy self-sacrifice. While in this retreat, our saint was a perfect model for all the religious brethren, being remarked for his strict adherence to rule, his perfect obedience, his profound humility, and his rigorous penances. His soul seemed to aspire, without restraint, to the contemplation of heavenly things; he endeavoured in all his prayers and meditations to exclude distractions caused by worldly thoughts and concerns. Passing such kind of life, he attained an advanced age; and finally, he departed to the haven of his rest and his aspirations, on the 30th day of January, A.D. 1043. This is the day assigned for his natalis and festival, according to the generality of writers, but Cratepolius says, a feast occurs in his honour at the 1st of February. Ferrarius assigns to him a festival on both the days already mentioned. St. Amnichad was buried at Fulda, or, as sometimes written, Fulden.

Sixteen years after this death of our saint, his more celebrated countryman, Marianus Scotus, the Chronologist, succeeded him as a religious in the monastery of Fulda, and relates in his writings, that for ten years he daily celebrated Mass over the tomb of St. Anmichad. He says, moreover, that supernatural light and heavenly psalmody were frequently seen or heard above the place of our saint's sepulture, during this same period. He even declares, a certain religious brother of the monastery, named William, prayed in his own hearing, that our saint would bestow a blessing upon him. During this same night, in a vision, Amnichad appeared, resplendent with celestial light. Standing on his tomb, the blessed apparition gave a blessing with extended hands to the monk. This was related to Marianus by the brother himself, after its occurrence. During the whole night, when this vision took place, the Chronographer declares, a most agreeable odour was diffused through that chamber, in which he reposed. We are thus taught from the example of this holy penitent,, how even slight faults are to be atoned for, when, as Marianus O'Gorman learned from his superior, Tighernach—or as called Tigernach Borchech —an offence of such a nature caused Anmchad's exile from his native country. This Tighernach is supposed to have been a saint, according to the Martyrologies of Marianus O'Gorman and of Donegal, and not that celebrated Annalist bearing the same name, and who flourished much about the same period, yet a little later in point of time. Marianus Scottus, the first who has written regarding this saint, says at 1043, 'Animchadus Scottus monachus et inclusus obiit 3. Kal. Februarii in Monasterio Fuldensi." Florence of Worcester also writes, "Anno 1043. Animchadus Scotus Monachus et inclusus in Fulda obiit." Trithemius in " Chronicon Hirsaugiensis," places his death in the same year, and in his work, " De viris Illustribus," lib. iii,, cap. 244, remarks of this saint, " Moritur an. Domini 1043, tertio Calend. Febr." The English Martyrology says, that he died on the 30th of of January, about A.D. 1043. Wion, also, assigns the death of this saint to the 30th of January, 1043. Besides those already cited, Camerarius, Dempster, and others are of accord. See Colgan's "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," xxx. Januarii. Vita S. Anmichadi, cap. iii., iv., pp, 205, 206, and nn. 5, 6, ibid.

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