Friday, 30 May 2014

Saint Saorghas of Druim, May 30

The study of the lives of the early Irish saints is often complicated by the fact that there are so many who share the same name. One saint, however, who will not be filed under the 'homonymous saints' tag is Saorghas of Druim, commemorated on May 30, as he is the only saint of this name to be found in the Irish calendars. The name, however, is known from other sources, with the Annals of the Four Masters, for example, recording the death of a ninth-century abbot of Durrow of this name. Professor Pádraig Ó Riain, whose spelling of the name Saorghas I am using here, suggests in his new Dictionary of Irish Saints that he may also be the Saorghas Doithneannach recorded in hagiography as giving a blessing to Bearach son of Meisceall. The locality with which our saint is associated is hard to pin down, although Canon O'Hanlon does his best below, he also brings us a variety of other renderings of the name:

St. Fergussius, of Druim-Bile, otherwise, St. Saergusa Bile, or Saerghos, of Druim.

Saergusa bile is the description we find entered for this saint, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 30th of May. However, the Bollandists, who cite the same authority place Faergussius de Druim-bile, at this date, and probably, it is the more correct rendering. There is a townland, called Drumbilla, in the parish of Roche, and barony of Upper Dundalk, in the county of Louth; while it seems to be the only nearly corresponding denomination, among the other townland names in Ireland. Yet, it is hardly probable, notwithstanding, that it was the place of Fergussius, Saergusa, or Saerghos. This holy man appears to have been identified, with Soergussius, or Saerghus, an abbot of Dearmhach or Durrow, and who died A.D. 835. The identification, however, cannot be relied upon, as being quite conclusive. The same day, veneration was given to Saerghos, of Druim, as we read in the Martyrology of Donegal. In the table appended, this name is written Saorghuss, and Latinized, Sergius. ....

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