Saturday, 12 November 2016

Saint Machar, November 12

November 12 is the feast of one of the many Irish saints for whom a Scottish career is also claimed -Saint Machar. Below is an account of him from the work of Dom Michael Barrett:

NOVEMBER 12 St. Machar or Mocumma, Bishop, 6th century.

THIS saint was the son of Fiachna, an Irish chieftain, and was baptised by St. Colman. In his youth he became a disciple of the great St. Columba, and when that saint went to Scotland, Machar accompanied him, together with eleven other disciples. After some years he was made a bishop, and was sent by St. Columba with twelve companions to preach to the pagan Picts of Strathdon, in the north-east of Scotland. It is said that his holy master commanded him to found a church in the spot where he should find a river forming by its windings the shape of a bishop's pastoral staff. Such a configuration he found in the river Don, at the spot now known as Old Aberdeen. Here he accordingly fixed his seat, and the cathedral that rose from the humble beginnings of a church instituted by Machar now bears his name. Besides the old Cathedral of Aberdeen, there are in the same county two parishes, formerly joined in one, which are known as New and Old Machar, respectively. At Kildrummie, in Aberdeenshire, is a place called (after the saint) " Macker's Haugh." There is St. Machar's Well, near the cathedral, at Old Aberdeen; the water used always to be taken for baptismal purposes to the cathedral.  At Corgarff, in Strathdon, is another spring known as Tobar Mhachar (the well of St. Machar); miracles were formerly obtained there. Of this spring the legend is related of a priest, in time of famine, drawing from it three fine salmon which lasted him for food till supplies came from other quarters. St. Machar's feast was restored to Scotland by Pope Leo XIII in 1898.


Dom Michael Barrett, O.S.B., A Calendar of Scottish Saints (2nd. revised ed., Fort Augustus, 1919), 163-164.


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