Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Saint Kentigerna of Inch Cailleach, January 7


An Irish saint who became celebrated as a hermitess in eight-century Scotland is commemorated on, January 7. Saint Kentigerna is also known as the mother of another famous Scottish saint, Fillan, whose feast we will celebrate in two days time. The following account has been taken from the work of Bishop Forbes on the Scottish Calendars:

KENTIGERNA. January 7, A.D. 733.—Kentigerna, styled also Quentigerna and Caentigerna, is known to us as the recluse of Inch Cailleach on Loch Lomond, as the sister of S. Congan, and as the mother of S. Fillan. She was the daughter of Ceallach Cualann (ob. 715), a regulus of Leinster, whose pedigree from Fedhlimidh Fiorurglas is known to us through Macfirbis.—(Genealog. MS. p. 461a.)


Ceallach was the forefather of the O'Kellys (Ui Ceallaigh Cualann), who possessed Rathdown in the County Dublin till the fourteenth century.

The legend of this saint in the Aberdeen Breviary, which is evidently drawn from some Irish life of her distinguished son, states that she was of the royal family of the Scoti, being daughter of Tyrennus, chief of the Laynenses (Kellenus- Colgan), and married to Feriacus, Prince of Monchestree (Feradach—Colgan). She had for brother-german the devout Congan, and a son approved for gravity of manners, Faelanus. Then follows the legend of S. Ibar rescuing him from the waters when he was seen at the bottom playing with angels. Leaving Ireland, the three betook themselves to Straphilane, where they remained some time. In the end, when deprived of the society of her son and brother, Kentigema went for the sake of contemplation to Inch Cailzeoch (Inchelroche — Camerarius) in Louchloumont in Levenax, where, after living as an anchorite, her soul ascended to Christ. The parochial church of the island is dedicated to her.—(Brev. Ab. pars hyem. foL xxv. ; Colgan, Acta SS. Hib. p. 21.) The Annals of Ulster record her death in 734 (733).—(Skene, Chron. of Picts and Scots, p. 356.) For an account of Inch Cailleach, see O.S. A, vol. ix. p. 12 ; N. S. A, Stirling, p. 90.


Saint Kentigerna is among the saints featured in the 'Millennium Murals' of Saint Mary's Cathedral in Aberdeen and you can see the murals with an explanatory key here.

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