Saturday, 31 October 2015

Saint Comán of Lismore, October 31

We close the month of October with the commemoration of an abbot of Lismore, County Waterford, a successor to the founder, Saint Carthage or Mochuda. The Martyrology of Donegal lists two abbots of Lismore at 31 October - Comán and Colman - but, as the following extract from a diocesan history suggests, we may be dealing with a single individual:

31 C. PRIDIE KAL. NOVEMBRIS. 31.

COMÁN, Ua Ciarain, Abbot of Lis-mor.
COLMAN, Abbot of Lis-mor. The age of Christ when he resigned his spirit was 702.

The church and monastery of Lismore, which grew to be one of the renowned centres of ancient Irish learning and piety, owed its foundation to St. Mochuda of the 7th century. Mochuda, otherwise Carthage, was a native of Kerry, and he had been abbot of Rahan in Offaly. It is probable that there had been a Christian church at Lismore previous to the time of Mochuda, for in the Saint's Life there is an implied reference to such a foundation. Be this as it may, Mochuda, driven out of Rahan, with his muintir, or religious household, migrated southward, and, having crossed the Blackwater at Affane, established himself at Lismore in 630. In deference to Mochuda's place of birth the saint's successor in Lismore was, for centuries, a Kerryman. Lismore grew in time to be a great religious city, and a school of sacred sciences, to which pilgrims from all over Ireland and scholars from beyond the seas resorted. The rulers of the great establishment were all, or most of them, bishops, though they are more generally styled abbots by the Annalists. Among the number are several who are listed as Saints by the Irish Martyrologies, scil:

Comman, grandson of Ciaran, abbot of Lismore ... ... ... Oct. 31.

[His name is written Colman in Martyr. Donegal.]

Patrick Power, Waterford & Lismore - A Compendious History of the United Dioceses (Cork, 1937), 5-6.

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