Monday, 3 August 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: R-W

We conclude the series of biographies of Irish saints linked to this nineteenth-century chronological list with those whose names come under the letters R, S, T and W:

RUMOLD ST., bishop of Dublin and afterwards of Malines in Brabant. He was the son of an Irish prince and was baptized by Gualafir, bishop of Dublin under whom he was also educated. He embraced a religious life and was nominated bishop of Dublin. He set out for Rome but his zeal led him to preach the gospel everywhere on the way. He was received by the Pope with great kindness. On leaving Rome he started to return by the way of France, and stopping at Malines he was received with great respect by Count Odo who prevailed on him to stay among them and gave him some ground on which to build a monastery. Sometime afterwards Malines being raised to a bishopric, Rumold was named as first bishop. He was assasinated by two wretches, one of whom he had repremanded for leading a scandalous life, and his body thrown into a river, 775. Count Odo recovered the body and had it interred in the church of St. Stephen. A splendid church was built in honor of him, in which his relics were deposited in a silver shrine and which became the metropolitan church of the Low Countries. Alex.IV transferred his festival from June 24, the day of his death to July 1, on account of St. John's day.

SEDULIUS, ST., Abbot and Bishop of Dublin, was honored for his learning as well as virtues. Died in the year 785, February 12, on which day his feast is kept.

SENAN, SAINT, an abbot and bishop, founder of a number of religious houses, honored as one of the greatest Saints of Ireland and whose birth and work were foretold by St. Patrick. He was born in Corcobaskin, Thomond, now Moyarte, County Clare. His parents were Christians, his father's name Ercan, of a distinguished family. Senan had all the advantages which a liberal Christian education could impart, besides his mother was said to be a woman of more than ordinary piety and virtue, who did not fail to instil into his youthful mind the most sublime ideas of the holiness and grandeur of a truly religious life. Young Senan was made prisoner in an expedition into a neighboring territory, having to accompany his father who was chief of a clan. He was, however, soon released and became a pupil of the abbot Cassidan with whom he studied until he became noted both for learning and piety, and afterwards took from him the monastic vow and habit. He then visited other religious houses perfecting himself in wisdom and every Christian perfection. He, after some time, made a journey to Rome, then as now, the great heart of the Christian world, out from which the warm purified blood of Christian faith and zeal is poured over the whole earth. It is supposed that he received consecration while in Rome. On his return he stopped for some time with St. David at his monastery of Menevia in Wales, and ever afterwards kept with him an active interchange of friendship. On his return he employed himself in propagating the gospel among, the remaining heathens and made many conversions. His first religious house was at Inniscarra on the Lee, five miles from Cork, and here he also erected a church. Some idea may be formed of the fame and liberality of the schools of Ireland even at this time, when it is incidently, stated that a vessel arrived in the harbor from the continent with fifty religious students on board, who came to enter the Irish schools. Our saint took ten of them, and the remainder quickly found retreats in like institutions. Our saint did not prosecute his work without some trouble and vexation. The chieftain of the territory in which he established his monastery, whose name was Lugadius attempted to burthen him with a tax, and that acknowledgement of dependency which the retainer paid to his chief. This the Saint resisted, and the chief threatened to root out the community, and sent some of his adherents for that purpose. The holy abbot met them at the gate of his monastery dressed in full canonicals and threatened the vengeance of God on the first man that would dare to put violent hands on God's annointed. These men, knowing from common report the power and wonders that the holy men everywhere around them were daily doing, were afraid to proceed, and the chief, himself relenting, our saint was troubled by him no more.

Senan shortly after this, taking some of his disciples with him, established a new community at Inislurnge, supposed to be an isle between Limerick and Iniscathy, and also built a church after converting many heathens. He also gave the veil to two daughters of Bundan the dynast of Hyfiginite. In those days maidens often took the veil and remained at home. They gradually afterwards for their greater protection were formed into communities. He also founded an establishment at Inis Tuaiscert supposed to be an isle off the coast of Kerry and also at Inis-Mor, supposed to be Deer Isle at the junction of the Fergus and Shannon, and also at Inis Coarach, an isle off the County Clare, besides many others and lastly he founded his celebrated monastery and school of Iniscatery about the year 537. Here the great St. Kiaran became his pupil and wonderful things are related of the two holy men. Here also, he had trouble with a petty chief, named Mactalius, who was a pagan, and who laid some claim to the island. He was instigated by the Druids to take it by force and kill the Saint, but their efforts were all baffled, although the Druids used all their evil magic, but the visible vengeance of God fell upon them, and the chief, alarmed for his own safety, interfered no more with the Spirit. This isle was covered with wood when our Saint commenced his work, but among his conventional rules, manual labor for certain hours was one, and the isle soon became highly cultivated and adorned, and its school became one of the largest and most celebrated in Ireland. These were indeed the perfection of free schools, in comparison to which our boasted system of free schools are a fraud. They were open alike to all, rich or poor, who not only received tuition, but were taken care of. The rich were expected to give from their abundance to support the school, the poor received all the advantages, perhaps only helping by a little beneficial labor, either intellectual or manual. This was a free school system which filled Ireland with holy men and with educational advantages which no government institution may hope to equal. The rules of all those monasteries and schools rigidly excluded women, even from entrance to the grounds.

St. Senan converted many pagans and seems to have worked many miracles in attestance of the Divine power and authority of Christianity. He opposed to the diabolical power of the Druids, which they used to blind their dupes, the Divine power which Christ placed in the hands of his disciples to confound the devil and his works, and he succeeded, before he died, in eradicating the last vestiges of paganism from the territory over which he was placed. He died in the odor of sanctity, about the year 550 and his festival is kept on the 1st of March.

TIGERNACH, or TIERNE, ST., bishop of Cluanois or Chines, and apostolic legate of Ireland, was successor of St. Macartin, but made his cathedral at Clunes. He founded an abbey at Clunes, in Monaghan, for regular cannons, under the title of St. Peter and Paul. He died about A. D. 550.

WIRO, SAINT, was born in Ireland of noble parents and was educated in the most famous schools of his country. He soon distinguished himself, not less by his virtues than learning, and having embraced a religious life was made a bishop at an early age. He went to Rome and was consecrated by the pope and after returning governed his diocese for many years and became eminent for sanctity. He at length resigned his see and went to France, where he caused an oratory and monastery to be built, called St. Peters, into which he retired, and lived to a great age. He died A.D., 650, May 8, on which day his feast is kept.


James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).

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