Monday, 1 June 2020

Irish Saints' Names - June

A selection of suggestions for naming children, this time for the month of June. Note that at June 2, Saint Colman is associated with Kilchief in Down, that is a typo for Kilclief. I am impressed by the number of lesser-known saints whose names feature in these monthly lists, but not surprisingly the most famous saint whose feast falls in this month, Colum Cille, hasn't been overlooked.

Irish Saints' Names.

There are many who think that the Irish saints are only a few, and so their choice of names for their children is very small. Week by week, a list will be given. The name will be spelt as in Irish and the English equivalent will be given in brackets. The sex is marked m. for males, and f. for females. Only one name is given for each day, but more could be given. Year of death as below.

JUNE.

1. Cuimin (Cummian), m., Rathlin.
2. Colman (Colman), m., Kilchief, Down.
3. Caoimgen (Kevin), m., Glendalough, 618.
4. Faitlen (Fallan), m.
5. Findlug (Finlu), m.
6. Iarlait (Jarlath), m.. also on December 26.
7. Colman (Colman), m., Dromore, 515.
8. Luaitren (Luarena), f., feast also on May 1.
9. Colm-cille (Colmcille), patron of Ireland, born at Gartan, Donegal, on December 7, 521, died at Iona, 597.
10. Iolladan (Iollan), m., Fircall, 6th century.
11. Aengus, or Eogan Maccail (Aengus), bp. Kilcullen, 549.
12. Giolla Criost, or Criostan (Gilchrist), brother of St. Malachy.
13. Caireall (Carrol), m., Ballyhale.
14. Ciaran (Kieran), in., Castlekieran, Kells, 770.
15. Sineall (Sineall), m.
16. Setna (Setna), m.
17. Moling (Moling, or Mullen), bp. Ferns, 697.
18. Furodran (Furoran), m.
19. Caslan (Caelan), m.
20. Faelan (Faelan), m., Kilcolumbane, Queen's Co.
21. Cormac (Cormac), m., Barrymore.
22. Cronan (Cronan), m., Ferns.
23. Mocaoi (Mohee), m., Mahee Island, Down, 496.
24. Romoel (Rumold), m., Malines, Belgium, 775.
25. Lugaid (Lewy), m., 589.
26. Soadbar (Soadbar), m., Inishnag, Thomastown, 889.
27. Dioman (Diman), m.
28. Cruimine (Crumeen, or Crumian), m., Lecan, Westmeath.
29. Faoldobair (Feldore), m.. Clogher, 702.
30. Failbe (Falvy), m., at Cell Eo., in Connacht.

Irish Saints' Names. (1914, June 5). Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), p. 18. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167793520

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Saturday, 16 May 2020

The Sailor Saint of Erin

May 16 is the feast of Saint Brendan of Clonfert. I have already reproduced a rather voluminous account of his life which can be accessed from the tab on the home page, but it is useful to have a shorter reminder of his illustrious career too. Below is one of the syndicated articles which appeared in the New Zealand press in 1923 and is a part of their Papers Past digitized collection. In it the author draws together many of the most famous episodes from the hagiography of Saint Brendan and reminds us that the account of his voyaging was something of a medieval blockbuster. The work Brendaniana mentioned in the article is also available online through the Internet Archive. Finally, I suspect that the 'Minniah of Loch Erue', listed in the opening paragraph as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland is a typo for Ninnian of Loch Erne.

The Sailor Saint of Erin

(By P. D. Murphy, in the Missionary.)

To the average Catholic St. Brendan is a shadowy, indeed, a mythical figure, who lived, if he lived at all, in a remote corner of Ireland hundreds and hundreds of years ago. But in his native land he is a very real personage, the patron saint of two important dioceses, and one of that group of zealous missionaries, known as the Twelve Apostles of Erin, the others being his namesake of Birr, Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, Ciaran of Saigher, Columba of Tir-da-Glass, Columba or Columbcille of lona, Mobhi of Glasnevin, Rodan of Lorrha, Senanus of Iniscarthy, Minniah of Loch Erue (sic), Lasserian, and St. Canice of Kilkenny. Brandon Hill in Kerry is called after him; so too, is Kilbrennan in Scotland. There was a church dedicated to him in Forfarshire, and in Teneriffe is a shrine which bears his name. He is mentioned in the Lives of the Saints, a copy of which reposes in the Burgundian Library in Brussels. A manuscript life of the saint is one of the most cherished possessions of the family of the Duke of Devonshire. There is a copy of Brendan's acts in the famous Book of Kilkenny, and there are various entries concerning him in the still more famous Book of Lismore. The Navigatio Brendani was in popular demand in the Middle Ages, and copies of it still preserved in European libraries are of almost priceless value. There is also a work entitled Brendaniana, compiled by a Kerry priest, which is full of interest to those who are interested in the lives of early pillars of the Church in Ireland.

Brendan, surnamed "the navigator," partly no doubt because of his passion for the sea, and partly to distinguish him from Brendan of Birr, who was known as "the prophet," was born in the last quarter of the fifth century in the County of Kerry, near where the town of Tralee now stands. Like many of the early Irish saints, he was of noble birth, being descended from Fergus Mac Roy, who was King of Ireland in the first century. His parents, Finnlugh and Cara, were devout people who lived under the religious rule of Bishop Erc, "the sweet-spoken brehon (i.e., lawgiver) of Patrick." According to tradition, shortly before the saint was born one Becc Mac De, a prophet, paid a visit to Airde, a wealthy man of the neighborhood, and on being asked, "What unknown event is soon to happen here?" he replied: "There will be born this night, between you and the sea, your true and worthy king, whom many kings and princes will devoutly honor, whom he will bear with him to heaven." Next morning Airde set out to find the new-born babe, and coming to the house of Finnlugh he was ushered into the child's presence. Airde at once knelt down and presented Brendan with thirty cows newly-calved and their thirty calves. It is also recorded that the night the child was born Bishop Erc saw a strange light, and many angels passing on their Avay to the house of Finnlugh, whereupon the learned Bishop visited the child, and, taking him in his arms, said: "O man of God, receive me thy faithful votary, and many will rejoice at thy birth, as my heart and soul now greatly rejoice thereat."

There is a well in the neighborhood where it is popularly believed the infant was baptised. This spring is known as Tubber-na-molt, or Wethers' Well, because, according to legend, three sheep arose from its waters during the ceremony.

When Brendan was a year old he was, in accordance with the custom of the time, put out to fosterage, his foster-mother being St. Ita, the Brigid of Munster. Fosterage, it may here be remarked, was a tribal custom which had existed in Ireland for centuries. It was not a system of baby-farming, but an institution recognised by law and adopted by rich and poor alike as a means of knitting the clan more closely together. The old Brehon Code clearly defined the duties of foster-parents, and penalties were imposed on all who failed to discharge these duties. Boys of the peasant class were instructed in farming and kindred pursuits, while their sisters were taught household management and plain needlework. The sons of parents more generously endowed with the world's goods were trained to the use of arms, and their daughters were initiated into the mysteries of domestic science and delicate embroidery.

Brendan spent five years with St. Ita, who "gave him exceeding love, for she saw the ministering of angels about him, and the grace of the Holy Ghost manifestly upon him."

Then along with his sister Briga, who later became a nun, he was placed under Bishop Erc for a further period of five years. At the end of that time, when Brendan had been instructed in the Old and New Testaments, he set out to study in the monasteries, which even at this early period were attracting students and ecclesiastics from the continent of Europe.

Having visited his first teacher, St. Ita, with whom he remained three days, he crossed the Shannon into Connacht, which at that time included all the land west of the river. Here he met a soldier named Mac Lenin, whom he converted, and who afterwards became known as St. Colman, patron of the diocese of Cloyne. Brendan spent some time under St. Jarlath at Tuam, and then journeyed. into Roscommon. On the way he is reputed to have raised a dead man to life, and the matter reaching the ears of the King the young student was summoned to the palace, where an offer of a tract of land was made to him. But Brendan declined the offer and continued his journey in the pursuit of knowledge. When at length he felt he had acquired all that he had set out to learn be returned to Bishop Erc, by whom he was shortly afterwards ordained.

"Thenceforth," says the manuscript life of the Saint, "the love of the Lord grew exceedingly in his heart, and he desired to leave his country and land, and parents and family, and he earnestly besought the Lord to grant him some place, secret and retired, far apart from men. While he slept that night be heard the voice of an angel from heaven saying to him: 'Arise, O Brendan, for God will grant to thee what thou hast prayed for —even the Land of Promise.' Brendan then retired to the mountain called Sliabh-Diadche, and there fixed his future abode."

From this quiet retreat he exercised spiritual jurisdiction over all that territory from Tralee in Kerry to the shores of Lough Corrib in Galway. His fame spread abroad and students from far and near came to study under him. He gave himself freely to the work, but solitude had an irresistible attraction for him. Throughout his life, whenever it was at all possible, he sought the secluded glen rather than the beaten highway, and there passed his time in prayer.

Some years later, when he was living at Ardfert, a visiting priest told him of a wonderful island out in the Atlantic to which Mernac, an Irish monk, had withdrawn for solitude. Brendan pondered over the story, and finally made up his mind to set out in search of the romantic isle. He took the members of his little community, 14 in number, into his confidence, and one and all agreed to accompany him on his voyage. In preparation for the journey they spent 40 days in fasting and prayer. Then when everything was ready they sailed for Aran to take leave of St. Enda, Brendan's faithful friend. Their boat, according to Brendaniana, had wicker sides and ribs, over which was fastened cowhide tanned in oak. St. Enda heartily approved the project and the party returned to Kerry, where they took on board provisions for 40 days and an adequate supply of cooking utensils. Then Brendan blessed the vessel, and all embarked in the name of the Blessed Trinity.

For 12 days and nights they pursued their course, and then a calm set in. The crew took to the oars and exerted themselves to the utmost. When nearly four weeks later their provisions had almost run out, and the members of the expedition were in the last stages of exhaustion, land was sighted away to the north. It proved to be an island, the character of whose coast was such as to chill the hearts of Brendan and his companions. It was rocky and precipitous, and for three days they sailed round it hoping to discover a landing place. When it became apparent there was none they headed the boat into a cove surrounded by high cliffs. Brendan blessed the place and managed to get the party ashore, where they were met by a dog which led them to a mansion "laid out with couches and seats and water for washing the feet." After they had eaten the repast which they found awaiting them, all except Brendan retired, and he, we are told, spent the night in prayer. Three days later they resumed . their hazardous undertaking, and after a short voyage landed on another island, where they celebrated the Easter festival. Again they put to sea and in due time reached what appeared to be a barren tract. Here they spent the night and next morning, after Mass, some members of the party set about preparing breakfast. All at once they were amazed to notice that their camping ground was moving. In great alarm they ran to Brendan and informed him of their discovery, but the Saint set their fears at rest when he told them it was not an island they were on, "but a fish, the largest of all that swim in. the ocean."

Pentecost found them on another island, which they called the Paradise of Birds. Then followed three months at sea, tossing about at the mercy of the wind, suffering much from exposure and hardship. They discovered many other islands, but were eventually driven back to the Paradise of Birds. Here one day, while Brendan was praying near his boat, a bird appeared and perched on the prow of the vessel. The little creature clapped his wings loudly and then delivered this message to the intrepid navigator:

"The Almighty and Merciful God has appointed for you four different places, at four different seasons of the year, until the seven years of your pilgrimage will be ended. On the festival of the Lord's Supper you will be each year with your procurator; the vigil and festival of Easter you will celebrate on the back of the great whale; with us here you will spend the Paschal Time until the Octave of Pentecost; and on the island of St. Ailbe you will remain from Christmas until the festival of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After those seven years, through many, and divers perils, you will find the Land of Promise of the Saints which you are seeking, and there you will abide for 40 days; then God will guide your return to the land of your birth."

And so it turned out to be. For seven long years Brendan and his companions sailed the seas in their frail craft, visiting many strange islands, and enduring great hardships. And at the end of that time they reached the Land of Promise of the Saints, which in the opinion of many competent scholars was none other than the great continent of America. They found the country rich and fertile, with great woods and many rivers. In the course of their wanderings they came one day to a river larger than any they had hitherto encountered, and while they lay on the bank a heavenly messenger appeared and confided to the Saint that his mission was at an end.

"This is the land you have sought after for so long a time," the messenger continued, "but you could ..not hitherto find it, because Christ Our Lord wished first to display to you His divers mysteries in this immense ocean. Return now to the land of your birth, bearing with you as much of those fruits as your boat can carry, for the days of your earthly pilgrimage must draw to a close when you may rest in peace among the saintly brethren. After many years this land will be made manifest to those who come after you, when the days of tribulation may come upon the people of Christ."

Without further ado, Brendan and his little company returned to their ship and set sail for Ireland, which they reached in due course. The Saint re-established himself in his little cell on the bleak side of Slaibh-Diadche to which he repaired after his ordination. Solitary though he was by nature, he soon realised that there was work for him to do in the conversion of those of his own countrymen who had not yet been brought into the Fold. For fifteen years he labored in Munster and Connacht, and then about the year 540 he extended his mission into Britain, where he was welcomed by Gildas, the distinguished ecclesiastic who was an alumnus of the great school at Armagh. He travelled widely in Britain, visiting Wales, Scotland, and the Orkney Islands. His mission in Scotland preceded that of Columbcille by some 20 years, and that he cherished an affection for that country is evident from St. Adamnan's life of the Apostle of Iona, wherein it is recorded that four great founders of monasteries came to visit the first and greatest of the Irish missionaries in his self-imposed exile. "These were," says Adamnan, "St. Comgall, founder of the great monastery and school of Bangor; St. Canice, founder of Aghaboe and Kilkenny; St. Cormac, a disciple of St. Columba; and St. Brendan of Clonfert, the greatest founder of monasteries of them all."

Altogether he spent ten years in. Britain, after which he returned to Ireland, where he built several churches and monasteries. But the outstanding event of his career was the great establishment he set up at Clonfert, which, according to the Annals of Innisfallen, he began on the very date of the battle of Cooldrooney, as the result of which Columbcille, the Dove of the Church, went into voluntary exile in Iona. At this time Brendan was verging on 80 years of age, but still full of mental and bodily vigor. He addressed himself to his new task with that enthusiasm which characterised all his labors. The monastery grew apace and even during the lifetime of its founder, was recognised as one of the great schools of Ireland. Some idea of the magnitude of Clonfert may be gathered from the fact that it housed no fewer than three thousand monks who instructed thousands of students, both native and foreign.

Brendan ruled over Clonfert for many years, and desired to be buried within its hallowed precincts. When he saw that his end was approaching he went down to his sister Brigda, at the convent of Annaghdown, and there some days later he passed away. At his own request his remains were conveyed back to Clonfert, and there they were interred in the presence of "a great multitude of holy men assembled from all quarters on the occasion."

The Sailor Saint of Erin,New Zealand Tablet, Volume L, Issue 4, 25 January 1923

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Friday, 15 May 2020

Belgium Honours Saint Dymphna



Today is the feast of Saint Dymphna, a saint who embodies all of the difficulties in trying to untangle the facts about the lives and identities of the Irish saints. The story that has come down to us is of a seventh-century Irish princess who fled the incestuous attentions of her deranged father and ended up dying a martyr's death in Belgium. However, her name is not recorded in any of our early native calendars of the saints and the first mention we have of her story is in a thirteenth century Life written by a Flemish monk. Belgium has continued to cherish her memory and in the article below, taken from a syndicated piece published in the New Zealand press in 1925, we get a flavour of the celebrations held to honour the reputed 1325th anniversary of her arrival in that country. The writer also seeks to explain her patronage of those suffering from mental illness:

BELGIANS HONOR SAINT DYMPHNA.

A succession of feasts to commemorate the 1325th anniversary of the arrival on Belgian soil of the Irish Princess, Saint Dymphna are now taking place in the unique town of Gheel (says a Louvain message under date June 18). The celebrations are of truly royal splendor. In the jubilee procession held recently, bishops and prelates escorted the relics of the Saint. Her history was represented in floats and groups of which the Irish flag and harp, and oldtime Irish costumes were prominent features.

Dymphna was a young and beautiful princess leading a Christian life at her pagan father's court in Ireland. Solicited by him to contract a union against which nature rebelled, she fled from home with a retinue of attendants and the saintly old priest Gerebernus.

They put to sea in a frail skiff and landed, after passing through a series of adventures, upon the Belgian coast, near Antwerp. Penetrating into the interior, they travelled until they reached a point in what is now the township of Gheel, where they pitched their tents and thought themselves safe.

But the King, thwarted in his designs, set out in pursuit of his fugitive daughter, I reached Belgium also, and there traced, her whereabouts by the coins with which her party had paid their way through the land.

Having come upon her retreat, he again urged her marriage. Dymphna resisted as before. Exasperated into fury, the unnatural father imbrued his hands in his child's blood, severing her head at one blow of his sword, whilst his companions put to death the holy priest who, by his counsel and example, had assisted the young Irish maiden  to keep unsullied her faith and her purity.

 It was not many years after the unfolding of this double tragedy that the people of the country witness to it began to pay a religious homage to the victims, but particularly to Dymphna. To her they had recourse to obtain the cure for themselves or a for others of various diseases, but especially of diseases of the mind. 

Regarding the father's passion as a manifestation of insanity and considering that the daughter triumphed over it in a manner most heroic and most pleasing to God, they reasoned that Dymphna in Heaven most assuredly would listen to prayers in favor of the unfortunate wretches whom insanity makes strangers to the calls of reason and humanity.

 Grateful for the blessings secured through her intercession, her humble devotees, poor peasants of the unfertile Campine, built a chapel upon the very spot where she had spent three months of her sojourn among them.

Her relics and those of her companions were kept in this chapel until the completion in the XIV century of the magnificent temple erected at Gheel through the generosity of the ever-increasing number of pilgrims to St. Dymphna's Shrine and the princely munificence of the still extant de Merode family.

Catholic World,New Zealand Tablet, Volume LII, Issue 33, 2 September 1925

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Saint Carthach of Lismore, May 14

May 14 is the feast of Saint Carthach (Carthage, Carthagh. Mochuda) of Lismore. I have previously published an introduction to the saint here and a paper on his life here but today we have a fresh reminder of his career courtesy of The New Zealand Tablet:

ST. CARTHAGH.

Lismore Cathedral is said to have been founded by St. Carthagh (McCarthy) about the year 636, and was subsequently repaired and partially rebuilt in the year 1130 by Cormao, the son of Mauretus, King of Munster. We have but very imperfect accounts of this saint and his works. At one time Lismore vied in importance with the moat flourishing cities of Ireland, having had a university and being a bishop's see. Besides its monasteries, it is said that it contained no fewer than 20 churches. The ruins of several were still standing within the last century. It is stated on good authority that King Alfred of Northumbria was among the noble persons who received their education at Lismore. When St. Carthagh founded the Cathedral of Lismore he also established an abbey of Canons Regular. St. Carthagh's rule is still extant in Irish, and was very severe. These monks lived in the same manner as the Trappists at present, confining their diet to vegetables, which they raised with their own hands. When Carthagh was a youth, like David, he watched his father's flocks. His piety, gentleness, and grace attracted the notice of the prince of the province and his wife, who was daughter to the king of Munster, and they became very fond of the boy. While tending his herd one day a bishop and suite passed, chanting hymns. The boy was so captivated by this psalmody that he followed them to the gate of the convent, where they stopped and passed the night outside listening to them. The prince, who loved the boy, sought him everywhere, and when he returned he asked him why he did not come as usual on the previous evening. 'My Lord,' he replied, 'I did not come because I was ravished by the divine song of the holy clergy; please heaven, lord duke, that I was with them, that I might learn to sing as they do.' The prince admitted him to his table, offered him a sword, buckler, lance, and other gifts, to turn him from his purpose; but the boy refused them, saying 'that he wanted no gifts, he wanted but one thing, to chant hymns like the saints of God.' In the end he prevailed and was sent to the Bishop to be made a monk. St. Carthagh was descended from Ire, second son of Milesius, and was a native of Munster. Tie was the first abbot of Ratheny, in Westmeath, which he founded, and in which he is said to have governed over 800 monks. About the year 631 he was driven from Ratheny by King Blathmac. Afterwards he became Bishop of Lismore, where he built a cathedral and several schools. He did not survive his labors long, for he died in the year 638, full of the odor of virtue and sanctity.


ST. CARTHAGH.,New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXVIII, Issue 10, 10 May 1900

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Sunday, 10 May 2020

St. Cathaldus of Taranto, May 10

May 10 is the feast of Saint Cathaldus (Cataldus, Cathal), an Irish saint who flourished in Italy. His life and career is still the subject of debate, an 1896 paper can be found here but below is a rather succinct summary from 1909, courtesy of The New Zealand Tablet:

St. Cataldus, Bishop and Confessor.

St. Cataldus,  the second apostle and patron saint of Taranto, was born in Ireland about the year 615, and whilst a youth was sent to study at the great monastic school of Lismore. Whilst returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in which he was accompanied by some of his disciples, the vessel was wrecked in the Gulf of Taranto, not far from the city of that name. When the Irish Bishop saw this beautiful city given over to pleasure and vice his spirit was moved within him, and in burning language he implored the inhabitants to return to the service of God, Whom they had forgotten. It happened at this time that there was no bishop in the city, so the people besought Cataldus to remain with them, to which request he reluctantly acceded. The saint succeeded in bringing back the inhabitants to the service of God, and Taranto became a Christian city in reality, as well as in name. St. Cataldus died towards the close of the seventh century, and his remains were buried in a marble tomb, which up to this day is preserved in the sacristy of the Cathedral of Taranto.

St. Cataldus, Bishop and Confessor.,New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXXVII, Issue 9, 4 March 1909

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Friday, 1 May 2020

Irish Saints' Names - May

Another offering from the Australian press on suggestions for good Irish names, this time looking at the saints of May:


Irish Saints' Names.

There are many who think that the Irish saints are only a few, and. so their choice of names for their children is very small. Week by week, a list will be given. The name will he spelt as in Irish and the English equivalent will be given in brackets. The sex is marked m. for males, and f. for females. Only one name is given for each day, but more could be given. Year of death as below.

MAY. 

1. Oissin (Oissen), m., Clonard, 654.
2. Ultan (Ultan), m., 576.
3. Scannall (Scannall), m.
4. Mocua (Mochua), m.
5. Faolan (Faelan), m., Lambeg, Lisburn.
6. Colman (Colman), m.
7. Mocuatoc (Cronan), m., 618.
8. Breandann (Brendan), m.
9. Sanctan (Sanctan), bishop.
10. Comgall (Comgall), m., Bangor, 602.
11. Cormac (Cormac), m.
12. Bearnasca (Bavnasca), m., Tullyleash.
13. Ceallac (Kellach), m., Mooncoin.
14. Mocuda (Carthage), m., Lismore, 537.
15. Damnat (Daphne or Dympna), f., Ghent, Belgium.
16. Brendan (Brendan), m., Clonfert, 577.
17. Criotan (Critan), m., Mahu Island, Down.
18. Agna (Eina), f., Drumdart; Leitrim.
19. Riceall (Richela or Kinia), f., feast also on Feb. 1, in Tyrone, 480.
20. Colman (Colman), m., Derrymore, Eliogarty, 7th century.
21. Barrfinn (Finnbarr), m., Drumcullen, 6th century; also at Kilbarron, Donegal.
22. Ronan (Ronan), m., Iveagh, Down.
23. Moninne (Moninia), f.
24. Derbile (Dervila), f.
25. Duncad (Duncan), m., Iona, 717.
26. Colman Stellan (Colman Stellan), m.,Terryglass, 624.
27. Moelan (Melan), m., Stanore, Cavan.
28. Cummain (Cumania), f., Derry.
29. Briuinseae (Bruinsha), f., Moytra, Longford.
30. Gobban (Goban), m.
31. Maolodrain (Meloran), m.

 Southern Cross, Friday 1 May 1914, page 23

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Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Irish Saints' Names - April

Recently while browsing the digitized newspaper collection at the National Library of Australia I came across a series of articles on Irish Saints' names, written to promote the idea that Irish parents should give their children the names of our native holy men and women. This is a not uncommon theme in the popular religious literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially that aimed at an Irish expatriate audience. Whilst I am fully supportive of the desire to preserve the names of the Irish saints, I am left wondering how many prospective parents actually followed these suggestions, particularly in the case of the more obscure saints. It is one thing to lecture an Irish-American reader on why no true Irish maiden should be ashamed to bear the name of Saint Brigid, but did the writer of this article really imagine that a poor Irish immigrant was going to name his son Ceannfaelad or Indreactae? Yet in our present age of reenactment, role-playing and Game of Thrones, these ancient names have acquired a certain cachet once again. The newspaper articles on the Irish saints' names are laid out on a monthly basis, so we can start with the selection for April, and an interesting selection it is too:

Irish Saints' Names.
There are many who think that the Irish saints are only a few, and so their choice of names for their children is very small. Week by week, a list will be given. The name will be spelt as in Irish and the English equivalent will be given in brackets. The sex is marked m. for males, and f. for females. Only one name is given for each day, but more could he given. Year of death as below.

APRIL.
1. Aodan (Aidan), m.
2. Bronac (Brona). f., Glenshesk. Antrim.
3. Faolan (Faelan), m.. Iona, 724.
4. Tigearnac (Tigearnach), bp. Clones, 549
5. Beacan (Becan), m., Fircall, King's Co.
6. Cronan Beag (Cronan), m., Clonmacnoise, 692.
7. Ceallac (Kellach), m., Armagh, 1149; feast also on August 5.
8. Ceannfaelad (Kennealy), m.. Bangor, 705.
9. Aedac (Aeda), m.
10. Bearcan (Berchan), m., Eigg, Scotland.
11. Ailioll (Elill), m., Cologne, Germany.
12. Emin (Evin), bp.
13. Mocaemoc (Kaevan), m., feast also on March 13.
14. Tassac (Tassa), bp. Raholp, Co. Down.
15. Ruadan (Ruan), abbot of Lorrah, Tipperary, 584.
16. Miolan (Melan), m.
17. Donnan (Donnan), m., Eigg, 617.
18. Laisre (Laisrin). m., Leighlin, 639.
19. Cillene (Killeen), m.
20. Sedrac (Sedra), m.
21. Bearac (Berach). m., Bangor. 664.
22. Lucan (Luchan), m.
23. Ibar (Ibar), bp., Begeri Island, Wexford.
24. Flann (Flann), m., Iona. 891.
25. Maccaille (Maughold), bp., Isle of Man, 489.
26. Indreactae (Inreachty), m. Bangor, 901.
27. Leccan (Lecan), m., Iona.
28. Caoman (Caevan), m., Iona.
29. Domangan (Domangan), m., Muskerry.
30. Ronan (Ronan), m., Louth.


Southern Cross, Friday, 3 April 1914, page 19.

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Monday, 13 April 2020

An Irish Easter Legend.

An Irish Easter Legend.

Being in the north-west of Ireland last summer, on the borders of Sligo and Donegal, I chanced upon a famous Shanachie, or story-teller, an Irish-speaking peasant, who possessed an almost inexhaustible fund of traditional, historical, and legendary lore, and whose manner of relating his stories was so graphic that each scene seemed to pass before his own and his listeners' eyes. Amongst the legends he told was one which is now very rare, being, as far as I am aware, known only to Irish-speaking people, and even to few amongst these, though the sculptured tomb bearing the pictured representation of the story being found in Kilree churchyard, almost in the extreme farthest part of Ireland from Donegal, would seem to show that in olden times the legend was popular throughout Ireland.

The old story represented by “a cock in a pot, crowing," was told me by the Shanachie as follows :

" It was at the time when our Saviour was in the grave, and that the soldiers who were set to watch the tomb were sitting round a fire they had lighted. They had killed a cock and put it in a pot on the fire to boil for their supper; and, as they sat around, they spoke together of the story that was told how He that was in the tomb they were guarding had prophesied that before three days were passed He would rise again from the dead. And one of the men said, in mockery: He will rise as sure as the cock that is in that boiling pot will crow again."

No sooner were the words spoken than the lid of the pot burst open, the cock flew on to the edge, flapped his wings, sprinkling the soldiers with the boiling water, then crowed three times, and what he said each time was:

' Moc an o-o-o-ye, slaun !
Moc an o-o-o-ye, slaun !'

That is,' Son of the Virgin, Hail!' [Mac an Oige, slan] and ever since that hour this is what the cock crows: this is what we hear him say, and if you listen you, too, can hear the very words :

' Moc an o-o-o-ye, slaun !' '

I spell the sound of the Irish phonetically to try and imitate the peculiar softening of the words as an Irish speaker softens them, the prolonging out of the o-o-o sounding almost precisely like the bird's crow heard from a distance. At least so it has always sounded in my ears since I heard this beautiful legend. M. B.

Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Volume 27 (1897), 193-194.





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Sunday, 12 April 2020

Our Champion has Arisen








Although Jesus was crucified, 
our Lord, our Champion,
he has arisen as the pure King
of all that he created.


First Prologue to the Féilire Oengusso



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Friday, 10 April 2020

A Blessing on Christ who has Suffered Cross and Martyrdom






A blessing on Christ, son of the living God,
who has suffered cross and martyrdom;
who has atoned on the cross, on the rood,
for the transgression of Adam and Eve.

James Carney, ed. and trans., The Poems of Blathmac Son of Cú Brettan - Together with the Irish Gospel of Thomas and a Poem on the Virgin Mary (Dublin, 1964).


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Thursday, 9 April 2020

The King made Obeisance to his Apostles on Thursday






The King through his pure mind
made obeisance to his apostles on Thursday,
in bright glory,
before the great Pasch of the resurrection.

Saltair na Rann



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Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Spy Wednesday - Woe to Judas Iscariot




108. Woe to Judas Iscariot whose intention is to betray the Lord. Selling Christ! – an evil bargain this for the thirty silver pieces.
109. Evil were the propensities of that man – he had striven after an evil judgment; even a strong enduring board of red gold were a poor price for Christ, son of God.
110. What he got for the act of his evil tongue was unlucky; no good came of the silver that he had contracted for against the fair body of Christ.
111. The throat upon which came the treachery – soon did it suffer the noose; the belly with swellings about him – all its intestines burst forth.
112. It would have been better for him had he diligently made a pious and severe repentance; it would not have been a matter for wonder if, after his betrayal, powerful Christ had forgiven.
113. He both despaired and died; he did not approach the forgiving one. Black hosts of devils brought him to Hell to harsh Satan.

James Carney, ed. and trans., The Poems of Blathmac Son of Cú Brettan, together with the Irish Gospel of Thomas and a Poem on the Virgin Mary (London 1964).



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Saturday, 4 April 2020

An Irish Quatrain to be Sung while Washing the Hands



Medieval medicine relied much on prayers and charms which straddle the dividing line between religion and magic. This Irish quatrain, translated by the great German Celticist Kuno Meyer, is addressed to Christ and comes with its own rubrics, instructing the user to recite it in water while washing the hands. Might it thus may be more efficacious in our present trials than singing Happy Birthday?


(Brussels MS. 5100-4)
 
Macan Máire ingeine
dom snádhsdh ar gach ngalar
ar in tessaigh bhíos hi ccind
ar gach ngábudh i ttalamh
 
A gabhail ind-uisce occ indmat do lámh ⁊ dobeiri mót' aigidh 
⁊ mót' mhullach ⁊ not-aincenn ar cech n-olc.

Dear son of Mary the maid,
Save me from every trouble
From the heat that is in the head,
From every danger on earth.

[To be sung in water when washing thy hands; put them about thy face and about thy crown, and it will save thee from every evil.]


Kuno Meyer, ed, and trans. Irish Quatrains, in Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 1 (1897), 456.



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Monday, 23 March 2020

Saint Mocholla, March 23

March 23 sees the recording of a number of obscure female saints on the Irish calendars. Along with an elusive Saint Lasair and the Daughters of Feradach, we also find a Saint Mocholla.  I find this interesting because Mocholla is normally regarded as one of the forms of the name Colum, which is a male name. Even more curious is the fact that we have a female Saint Columba recorded two days hence on March 25. Canon O'Hanlon can only produce a single sentence on today's holy lady:
St. Mocholla, Virgin.

This day, the Martyrology of Donegal, as also the Bollandists,  have on record a festival, in honour of St. Mocholla, Virgin. 
 All I can add is that her name is also recorded in the lovely verse of the Martyrology of Gorman as mo Cholla chaemh chruthgel, 'my Colla, dear, white-formed' but is missing from the earlier martyrologies of Oengus and Tallaght.


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Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Saint Christian O'Connarchy of Mellifont, March 18


Mellifont Abbey: A Guide and Popular History (1897)




We commemorate an Irish saint today who achieved high office within the Church and was a pioneering leader of the Cistercian order at its original foundation of Mellifont Abbey. As Canon O'Hanlon explains below, we really should know more about the life and career of Saint Christian O'Connarchy, but alas, the accounts of him that were promised to the great seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, never did materialize. It is rather a pity as Saint Christian sounds like an interesting man living in interesting times.


St. Christianus, or Giolla Criost O'Conarchy, first Abbot of Mellifont, County of Louth. [Twelfth Century.]

The last of the Fathers, as St. Bernard is affectionately termed by the Church, infused new vitality into the decaying monastic spirit of Western Europe; and, at a time when, but for a mighty spiritual influence, the fervour of religious observance might have languished. From France, his institute extended to these islands. So early as 1128, Giffard, Bishop of Winchester, had introduced the Cistercian Order into Great Britain. It was originally instituted,by Stephen Harding, an Englishman of remarkable energy and holiness, and, it had one of the most illustrious of the mediaeval saints for its true patron.

The founder of Waverley Abbey had noble imitators. Soon, Furness Abbey,  in Lancashire, Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire, New-Minster, Kirksted, and Roche, followed. The Order went on spreading, until the work of monasticism was finished in England. Then, it was found, that there were seventy-five Cistercian houses of men, in England, and twenty-six nunneries, belonging to the same Order. Notwithstanding, however, their great influence, the English branch is singularly barren, in historical memorials. At a somewhat later period, the Cistercian Order was introduced to Ireland, and the present holy abbot presided over the first house there established. The Life of this holy man, Christianus, or Christian,—sometimes called Christianus Ua Condoirche or Giolla Criost O'Conarchy,—had been frequently promised to Colgan; yet, he was not able to procure it, when he published from various sources those Acts, which are to be found in his work. The Bollandists, at this day, only have a few brief notices regarding him, and they preferred waiting to see, if his life should turn up, and reveal to them evidence, that any ancient writer had called him Sanctus or Beatiis. The English Martyrology, Arnold Wion, Ferrarius, Vincentius, and Hugh Menard, insert his name, in their several Calendars.

According to some accounts, he was born or educated, at Bangor, in Ulster; and, if we credit Colgan, this holy man was a disciple, and also the Archdeacon, of St. Malachy O'Morgair, Archbishop of Armagh; and, afterwards, he most probably travelled with the venerable prelate, when first leaving Ireland for Rome, about the year 1138, and when he visited Clairvaux, the great house of St. Bernard, on his way. Returning by the same route, it seems probable, that Christian was one of the four disciples, who remained as postulants, under the charge of St. Bernard, and who were admitted as monks of the Cistercian Order. When St. Malachy reached Ireland, he felt a great desire to found a house, and to procure a superior and monks from that Order to inhabit it; so that soon the Abbey of Mellifont, a few miles from Drogheda, in the present county of Louth, was founded by Donough O'Carroll, and, in the year 1141, St. Bernard sent over Christian, when duly trained, as the superior of some French brothers, to plant the good seed. About the year 1142, Mellifont seems to have been occupied, and here Christian lived for some time, with his monks. It has been asserted, that Christian was subsequently elevated to the See of Lismore, and that he was the identical Papal Legate, who was present at the Council of Kells, assembled in the springtime of the year 1152,  and over which Cardinal John Paparo, Priest of St. Laurence in Damaso, presided, at the instance of Pope Eugene III. Besides, the distinction given to Christianus O'Conairche, as Bishop of Lismore, and Legate of the Sovereign Pontiff for Ireland, he is called head of the Irish monks; but, in the latter case, we must understand, probably, only those of the Cistercian Order, in Ireland.

It is untrue, as has been advanced by some, that he was bishop over Down, succeeding St. Malachy O'Morgair there, or that he presided as Archbishop over Armagh. Equally false is the account, that he departed this life, so early as A.D. 1148. It has been supposed, that Christianus presided over one or two other Synods held in Ireland, and in the capacity of Apostolic Legate. Mellifont Abbey having been completed, about the year 1157, it was consecrated, with a magnificent rite and solemnity. Then and there, a numerous Synod of bishops—the Archbishop of Armagh included, with kings, chiefs and princes attending—was assembled. Large gifts were bestowed on the Abbey, by these magnates. Again, in the year 1158, it is stated, that a Synod of the clergy of Ireland was convened, at Eri-mic-Taidhg, in Laeghaire, at which twenty-five bishops assisted, with the Legate of St. Peter's successor. Their object was to ordain rules and good morals. The Comorban of St. Patrick was present, and the assembled clergy ordered a chair, like every other bishop's in Ireland, for Flaithbheartach Ua Brolchain, the successor of St. Colum-Cille, and also they decreed the arch-abbacy of the Irish churches in general, as his due. The present holy abbot must not be confounded with Christian O'Morgair, the brother of St. Malachy, and who presided over the See of Clogher. Citing the authority of Petrus de Natalibus, and of the English Martyrology, in the list of Henry Fitzsimon, we have Christianus, Bishop, entered, at the 18th of March. In the anonymous Catalogue of National Saints, published by O'Sullivan Beare, at the same date, he is simply called Christianus. The Bishop of Lismore, Christian O'Conarchy, must either have resigned his See, or died before 1159, for even
at this date, we find recorded the death of his successor, Maelmaire Ua Loingseach, Bishop of Lismore. In Harris' Ware, it is stated, that Christian O'Conarchy resigned his See, about the year 1175, and that having grown tired of all worldly pomp, this resignation happened a long time before his death. He is said to have lived to an advanced age, and to have died, in the year 1186. Again, it is related, that he was buried at Odorney, alias Kyrieleyson,—a monastery of his own Order,—in the county of Kerry. However, regarding the foregoing statements, and the present holy man's identification, in reference to them, much uncertainty remains.


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Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Holiday Customs in Ireland: Saint Patrick's Day



To celebrate the feast of our national apostle, below is an extract from an 1889 paper on 'The Holiday Customs of Ireland'. Interestingly, unlike the holidays associated with the feasts of Saint Brigid and Saint Martin of Tours, which the writer also covers, he finds the popular celebrations of Saint Patrick's Day lacking in the mythological, pre-Christian overtones he felt characterized those other holy days. Thus he tries to explain the origins of the feast with a bit of stage Oirish poetry which ignores the reality that the 'birthday' of a Christian saint marks the day on which he leaves this world for heaven rather than commemorates the day on which he is born into it. Rather more interesting is his account of the croiseog in folk tradition:

Saint Patrick's Day, March 17.

Although Saint Patrick's day is pre-eminently the Irish national holiday, not much can be said of it in a descriptive way, as the observances connected with it have but little of the old ceremonial or mythologic character. Processions and speeches in the larger towns and smaller gatherings in the country villages, with the assistance of the pipers and fiddlers in the evening, fill out the day, while everyone seems bent on carrying out to the letter the spirit of the old ballad which declares that 

"Saint Patrick's day we'll be all very gay." 

The festival commemorates the apostle and patron saint of Ireland, this day, according to most writers, being the anniversary both of his landing in Ireland and of his death, the latter occurring in the year 493. That typical Irish poet, Samuel Lover, by turns so humorous and so pathetic, gives the following characteristic account of the origin of the celebration: 

The Birth of Saint Patrick. 

On the eighth day of March it was, some people say, 
That Saint Patrick at midnight first saw the day, 
While, others declare 'twas the ninth he was born, 
And 'twas all a mistake between midnight and morn; 
For mistakes will occur in a hurry and shock, 
And some blamed the baby, and some blamed the clock, 
Till with all their cross questions, sure no one could know 
If the child was too fast or the clock was too slow. 

Now the first faction fight in old Ireland, they say,
Was all on account of Saint Patrick's birthday. 
Some fought for the eighth - for the ninth more would die; 
And who wouldn't see right, sure, they blackened his eye!  
At last both the factions so positive grew 
That each had a birthday, so Pat than had two; 
Till Father Mulcahy,  ho showed them their sins,
Said, "one can have two birthdays but twins." 

Says he, " Boys, don't be fightin' for eight or for nine; 
Don't be always dividin'— but sometimes combine; 
Combine eight with nine, seventeen is the mark, 
So let that be his birthday." "Amen," says the clerk, 
"If he wasn't a twin, sure our history will show
That, at least, he's worth any two saints that we know! ' 
Then they all got blind drunk, which completed their bliss, 
And we keep up the practice from that day to this. 

It is a saying among the people that after Saint Patrick's day it is time to begin to make garden. In Connemara they say that one should have half his farm work done by this time and half his fodder still on hands, and that after this every alternate day will be clear and sunshiny. The weather on this day is proverbially fine, and of course there is an Irish reason for it. In the first days of Christianity in Ireland Saint Bridget was much hindered in her work by the rains, which are especially frequent in this country, until at last she obtained as a favour from God that every other Sunday should be a clear day, so that she might preach to the crowds which came to hear her. Not to be outdone, Saint Patrick asked that his anniversary might be a day of sunshine, which was granted, and from that time forth the 17th of March has always been a fine day. 

On this day every child throughout Ireland, excepting in Connemara and some of the northern districts, is expected to wear upon the left breast a small disk intersected by crosses upon the surface and known as a croiseog (crishoeg) or "favour." In Connemara the croiseog is worn only by the women. They are of various designs and colours, but the general pattern is everywhere the same. The disk is made of stiff paper, or of silk lined with pasteboard, and across the surface are pasted strips of paper of different colours, crossing each other at right angles, so as to form some even number of crosses having a common centre in the middle of the disk. These strips are sometimes cut so as to give the arms of the cross an elliptical shape. Around the edge of the disk, between the arms of the crosses, are drawn small arcs which are filled in with dots, shamrocks and other figures, in ink of various colours. The ends of the crosses are sometimes trimmed with ribbons. In Clare and Connemara there is usually but one cross, which is drawn upon the surface of the disk with the blood of the wearer, the blood being obtained by pricking the end of the finger. The green is usually procured from grass and the yellow from the yolk of an egg. 

At the merrymaking, in the evening, no good Irishman neglects to "drown the shamrock" in "Patrick's pot" — in other words, to dip the shamrock in a glass of whisky. After wishing the company health, wealth and every prosperity, including "long leases and low rents," he dips the sprig of shamrock into the liquor which he is about to drink and then touches it against another, which he wears in his hatband in honor of the day. It is hardly necessary to state that the shamrock is a small variety of clover and the national emblem of Ireland. According to the popular belief, its adoption as the national ensign dates from the time when Saint Patrick used it to explain to the pagan Irish the mystery of the Trinity, or three in one. In East Galway and adjacent parts, the processions on this day carry banners bearing representations of incidents in the traditional life of Saint Patrick, such as the baptism of Oisin, the banishing of the snakes, etc. Everywhere men wear the shamrock in their hatbands, while women and children fasten it in their hair or upon their breasts. 

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Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Festival of Saint Julian, February 16


It is worth remembering that our Irish calendars contain entries not only relating to the feast days of our homegrown saints, but also to those of the Universal Church. Following on from yesterday's festival of martyrs, Canon O'Hanlon also notes the commemoration of another martyr on February 16, Saint Julian of Caesarea:

Festival of St. Julian.

The following stanza, extracted from the "Feilire," in the "Leabhar Breac" copy, is thus translated by
Professor O'Looney :—

To the virgin Julian,
The name [honoured] to the borders of the clouds;
By the relation of the tidings of his adventures,
The demon he completely extirpated (or fettered).

There are no less than four female saints, venerated as virgins and martyrs, in the ancient Church Kalendars, at the 16th of February. These are :—

Juliana, a virgin, of Nicomedia, and a martyr, venerated at Bruxelles, in Belgium; Juliana, virgin and martyr, at Verona, in Italy; Juliana, a Roman virgin and martyr, at Bononia, in Italy; as also, a Juliana, one of the companions of St. Ursula, a virgin and martyr, whose name is inscribed on the Kalendar, and whose relics are preserved in the Cathedral Church of Osnaburgh, in Westphalia. But, in addition to the foregoing, and at this same date, there was a St. Julian, a bishop, and a martyr, with a vast number of companions, martyrs, in Egypt as also, a St. Julian, a martyr, with many other martyr companions, at Caesarea, in Palestine. To the former of these latter saints, we believe the stanza in the "Feilire" has special reference, especially, as this holy man and his festival have been noticed in the ancient Martyrology, attributed to St. Jerome. It is said, that no less than five thousand shared his passion in Asia, while their memories are celebrated, both in the Eastern and Western Churches.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Irish Saints in Germany

As we have just commemorated the memory of Blessed Marianus of Ratisbon and Saint Darlughdach of Kildare, whose cult extended to Bavaria, this seems like an opportune moment to reflect on some of the other Irish saints who laboured in Germany. The piece below is another of the syndicated offerings from the New Zealand digitized newspapers collection Papers Past and links the Insula Sanctorum with Bavaria Sancta. I am sure that Canon O'Hanlon would have approved, not only of the author's sentiments, but also of his awareness of the distinction in the early medieval mind between Hibernia Scotorum Insula and the country we now know as Scotland, a distinction later lost when Scottish calendarists like Camerarius and Dempster attempted to claim Irish saints for their own:

IRISH SAINTS IN GERMANY.

(From the Buffalo Catholic Union)

A great Bavarian prelate of the West, when preaching to a mixed congregation of German and Irish Catholics, took occasion to exhort them to mutual love and respect, irrespective of nationality. The Bavarians, said he, should especially bear in mind that they were indebted to the Irish for their Catholicity, the forefathers of the present Irish people having brought the glad tidings of the Gospel to Germany, long centuries ago. In a German work called "Bavaria Sancta," this good bishop, who once labored in the diocese of Buffalo, gives the history of the introduction of Christianity into his native country. An American archbishop, of Irish descent, also intimately connected with this diocese, went still further and said that most of the apostles of Germany and France were Irishmen. The book alluded to, "Bavaria Sancta," gives the names of the Irish saints of Bavaria as follows : Eustasius. Agilus, Marinus, Anianas, Magnus, Columbanus, Erhardus, Alto, Virgilius, Marinus, the younger, Theclanus, Tridolinus, Kilian, Coloman, Totnan, Disibod, Giswold, Clemens, Salust, Amor, Arno, who was brother to Alcuin, the great scholar; Murcherel, or, as some called him, Muricherodachus; Marinus, Vimius, Zimius and Martinus. These twenty-six saints were all Irish; their history and dates of their birth are given at length. It is known that St. Boniface, the great spiritual father of Germany, when on his deathbed, specially recommended the Irish people to the favor of King Pepin. Whole legions of Irish monks emigrated to Germany for apostolic purposes. There existed monasteries peopled by Irish religious in several parts of Germany and France until the Revolution suppressed them. Charlemagne, hearing that Ireland was the prime seat of learning, sent thither an invitation to the scholars to visit his court. The Irish monks, Clement and John, founded the universities of Paris and Pavia in Italy. In the time of Charlemagne the name Scotia was confined to Ireland; we find Eginhard, that monarch's secretary, denominating Ireland as Hibernia Scotorum, Insula, he likewise speaks of letters from the Scottish kings to the emperor. The Scotland of to-day was then in the possession of the Picts and the country was not in a position to form an alliance. Among the Scots who settled in Germany several were raised to the episcopal throne, viz., S. Sidonius, who was the companion of S. Virgilius of Salzburg, S. Franco, third bishop of Verdun, who was martyred in 815 ; S. Patto, also Bishop of Verdun, who was a great favorite with Charlemagne. S. Landeline, a Scottish Saint, was one of the apostles of the present Duchy of Baden.

Henry, surnamed the Lion, first Duke of Austria, charmed with the piety of the Scottish monks, invited several of them to Vienna, where he founded, in 1141, a magnificent abbey under the rule of St. Bennet, which he designed for the burial of his family. Amongst the apostles of Bavaria some were Scotch, or as we have seen, of the "Island Ireland of the Scots," hence really Irish. St. Arbogast, the great apostle of Alsace, was also an Irishman, like St. Findolinus, the founder of the famous abbey of St. Arald, formerly called Hilariacum, in the present German part of Lorraine, then named Westrasia in opposition to Austrasia, of which the capital was Metz. In fact let us be certain that the places in Germany, France, etc., where the Irish have not been the first in founding Christianity, are comparatively very few, although in some parts the name of the country of the first missionaries is not known. What a happy coincidence for Germans and Irish to meet here again on this side of the ocean, after many generations in the same faith and religion, which civilised the world long before the so-called reformation separated the Germans!

IRISH SAINTS IN GERMANY.,New Zealand Tablet, Volume VII, Issue 356, 13 February 1880

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Sunday, 9 February 2020

Marianus Scotus of Donegal

February 9 is the feast of the Blessed Marianus Scotus, an eleventh-century Irish scholar and monastic who went from his native Donegal to Germany, following in the footsteps of much earlier Irish saints like Saints Columbanus, Killian or Virgil.  I have already printed a full account of the career of Blessed Marianus in a paper by Bishop William Reeves here, but below an American writer gives us a useful reminder of him and of the part played by the Irish in the spiritual and intellectual life of continental Europe. It appeared in 1923 in a syndicated piece in the New Zealand press and is part of that country's Papers Past digitized collection.

Marianus Scotus of Donegal

(By H. M. O'Malley, in America.)

High among the Bavarian Alps, remote from continental highways, the inhabitants of Oberammergau participated once again in the survival of a medieval mystery play repeated every decade since 1633. Through generations these people have held to the spiritual beauty and noble dignity of the early practices of our ancient religion. Remembering, too, that on the whole, the province of Bavaria stood as a bulwark against the force of the Reformation, we may well look backward through the centuries preceding that period for the particular source that has inspired so powerful and sublime an expression of faith as the Passion Play.

The pages of an old chronicle, a labor of love compiled within the Benedictine cloisters of Ratisbon about 1090, delight us with a fascinating revelation that opens up the story of the missionary work of the Irish monks in Germany. The Life of Marianus Scotus of Donegal was written by another Irish monk who remains anonymous, while both were members of the famous community at Ratisbon. Its authenticity is verified by Aventinus, a scholar of Vienna, who became the acknowledged annalist of Bavaria.

Archbishop Healy’s careful study of this priceless manuscript has shown that Marianus was of the Mac Robertaig family, Anglicised as Mac Groarty. Both in Donegal, educated by the monks of Drumhome in that county, Marianus left Ireland with his companions in 1067 to make a pilgrimage to Rome. The dates of his birth and death do not appear, but he is described by the writer as being at this time, according to an eye-witness, “a handsome, fair-haired youth, strong-limbed and tall, moreover a man of goodly mien, and gracious eloquence, well trained in all human and Divine knowledge.”

We are somewhat surprised to learn as the chronicle continues that the pilgrims intended to visit Bishop Otto of Bamburg on the Main, about one hundred miles east of Frankfort. But the advantages of the Rhine route were well known by Irish pilgrims to Rome as early as the eighth century and they were deviating but slightly from the journey made by St. Columbanus in 610 A.D. through Mainz and Mannheim to Zurich and over the St. Gotthard Pass. Furthermore, as the biographer of St. Columbanus tells us that about 620 monks from the monastery he founded at Luxeuil, in Burgundy, went as missionaries into Bavaria, it was only natural that Irish travellers should take a route which would offer them such hospitable retreats as those established by their countrymen along the Rhine.

Bound to his brother Marianus by the closest ties the faithful chronicler gives us such intimate and sympathetic incidents as the vigil spent in prayer which decided Marianus to make his permanent abode at Ratisbon where, even on his arrival, there were other monks from Ireland living in the monastery of Obermunster.

Christianity at this time, 1070 A.D., had long been firmly established in Germany, following at first the line of Roman outposts. During the present year, the Cathedral of St. Michael at Fulda will commemorate its eleven hundredth anniversary. The original church was begun in 822, A.D. and marks the site of the earliest Christian worship in Germany.

This time-worn parchment which preserves for us the record of Marianus of Ratisbon, as ho is later called, is but one of the more famous of similar documents of priceless value to the historian, the artist, and student of letters. Through these annals and chronicles restored to us from ancient monasteries we learn that this missionary work of pilgrims from the “Island of Saints and Scholars” had been going on all over Europe since St. Columbanus left Bangor in 575 A.D,, almost five centuries before Marianus the scribe and commentator determined to renounce his pilgrimage to Rome and dedicate his life to God in the Benedictine monastery at Ratisbon. In the history of no other country is there a record such as that of the missionaries who took Christianity and learning into Europe from the only land where culture had survived the ravages of the hordes that swept away Roman civilisation.

Before returning to the story of Marianus, it will be profitable to see. what can be learned about the early Irish missionaries from the various chronicles of the time, facts and events that 'are not wanting, in romance and glory, though written by that “class of humble but useful writers, the annalists, who merely relate,” says Cicero, “without adorning the course of public affairs”.

In summing up these authentic sources Zimmer says that near the end of the seventh and the beginning of the eight century a series of missionary establishments extended from the mouths of the Meuse and the Rhine to the Rhone and the Alps, while many others founded by Germans were the result of the work of the Irish monks. We learn, too, from these records that many times an Irish monk was invited to become abbot of one of these continental communities, and thereupon would send for his brothers in an Irish school to come to assist him, and that frequently a house was given over entirely to monks from Ireland who ministered to a locality. Many an Irish saint on pilgrimages to Rome or Jerusalem took up a foreign abode, like Marianus at Ratisbon. St. Cathaldus on his return from the Holy Land remained in Taranto, Italy, where he is venerated to-day as patron saint. A canton and city in Switzerland is named for St. Gall, and the figure of St. Fridolin, who built a church and monastery on an island in the Rhine near Basle in the last half of the seventh century, is borne on the banner and arms of the canton of Glarus. St. Livinus, said to have been Archbishop of Dublin, apostle to the Frisians, the early inhabitants of the Netherlands, was martyred there in 656. St. Kilian, the apostle of Franconia, with two other Irish bishops was martyred at Wurzburg in 688. The register of one abbey contains a line of Irish abbots from 704 to 729. Another Columbanus labored at Ghent in 957, more than three centuries after St. Columbanus. In Cologne in 975 the monastery of St. Martin was given up to the Irish brothers, and Finigan, Abbot of Metz, was head of an Irish community there many years before his death in 1003. Many Irish scholars who later became saints  have left their records as chaplains to the rulers who encouraged their zeal. In many regions the patron saint most intimately associated with native traditions was, curiously, a stranger from Ireland, as in the case of St. Fiacre, the patron of French gardeners, who cleared the forest about Meaux.

With these general statements about the great number of Irish missionaries and the extent of the territory in which they laboured, we can better understand the motives which led Marianus of Donegal to select a German monastery on the-Danube as his future home.

Archbishop Healy says the noble testimony borne to the learning, zeal, and charity of this pure-souled Irish monk in the land of the stranger shows that, not "without good reason, he and his countrymen were so warmly welcomed and so generously treated in all the great cities of medieval Germany."

Such was the life and character of Marianus, of Donegal that Ratisbon became the most important Irish settlement in Bavaria, a renowned seat of learning for centuries. The monastery founded by Marianus in 1076 was replaced by a larger one in 1111, and his biographer tells us that numbers of his countrymen followed him, seven of his immediate successors being natives of the north of Ireland.  Going out from Ratisbon these monks founded 15 monasteries in Bavaria, one at Wurzburg, in 1134; at Nuremberg, in 1140; St. George at Vienna, in 1155; at Eichstadt, in 1183; and St. Mary, at Vienna, in 1200. "What will be the reward of Marianus and pilgrims like him, who left the sweet soil of their native land?" wrote his brother in closing his story of the saintly scholar. Perhaps tho best answer to the question is in the Passion Play at Oberammergau.

Marianus Scotus of Donegal,New Zealand Tablet, Volume L, Issue 3, 18 January 1923

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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Saint Cota of Druim Lomain, February 4

February 4 is the feast day of two saints whose names are linked together in the Irish calendars. I have previously posted on the first of the duo, Saint Corc, here and now turn to the saint with whom his name is joined, Cota. The Martyrology of Tallaght records: Corc et Cota o Druinn (Corc and Cota from Druinn). Canon O'Hanlon, however, believes the placename Druinn is a misspelling of the more common Druim and that like Corc, Cota too was from Druim Lomain:

St. Cota, of Druim, or Druim Lomain.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, this entry occurs under the designation of Cota of Druinn, at the 4th of February. With this saint is also joined Corc. A gloss on the Martyrology of Marianus O'Gorman states, that both Cota and Corc are of Drum Lomain, or Drum Lommain. Under any form of this local designation, it is not easily determined. It seems to be Colgan's opinion, that St. Cota or Cotana, venerated on this day, may possibly be identified with a holy virgin Cathnea, who flourished in the times of St. Patrick, and, who, with her three brothers, Cathaseus, Cathurus, and Cathneus, lived at a church, built near a place, called "the shallow of the two forks."  This place seems to have been situated, not far from Tailtein, supposed to have been identified with Telltown in Meath. So angelic and innocent was this holy virgin, that the wild deer became tame, and suffered themselves to be milked by her hands. We find the commemoration of a St. Cota set down in the Martyrology of Donegal, as having been venerated on this day. Nothing very certain can be predicated, regarding this saint's time, place and Acts.

 The Placenames Database of Ireland has various entries for places called Droim Lomáin in an assortment of different Irish counties. Which, if any, of them may be the site associated with this saintly pair seems impossible to say. Similarly, without further supporting evidence there seems no reason to accept Colgan's identification of Cota with the female saint of Meath.

So, it would seem that once again the shroud of obscurity that covers so many of our native saints prevents us from knowing as much as we would like about both Saints Corc and Cota, but at least their names are not forgotten.

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Monday, 3 February 2020

Saint Colman of Kilmacduagh, February 3





February 3 is one of two feast days found in the Irish calendars for Saint Colman of Kilmacduagh, County Galway. As I have already posted an account of this important monastic founder on his main feast day, October 29 here, today we can enjoy an article from a late nineteenth-century English clerical visitor to Kilmacduagh, Canon Wilfrid Dallow. It is particularly interesting to note how Dallow was inspired to visit Kilmacduagh after seeing an entry at February 3 for Saint Colman in an eighteenth-century British martyrology. He gives a good account of the locality and the ruins that he found there and like many Victorian writers is drawn to the wildness and remoteness of their location.



A PILGRIMAGE TO KILMACDUAGH.

JULY, 1892.

"FEB. 3. In Ireland, the happy decease of the holy prelate, St. Colman MacDuach, first Bishop of Kilmacduach, in the seventh century." Ever since these words met the writer's eye in an old British Martyrology, which he became possessed of some twenty years ago, he conceived a strong desire to visit the spot once sanctified by so great a saint. It may be well to mention here, that this small, but rare tome (printed for "W". Needham, over against Gray's Inn Gate, in Holborn, London, 1761), though styled a British Martyrology, contains a list also of the saints of the "sister-isle." The above entry of St. Colman occurs in a supplementary list of saints, in which, under Feb. 8th, we have also St. Colman of Clonard. In the first part of the work occur many saints of this name, whose memory have long been famous in Ireland. It may interest the reader to notice them here. Thus:

"August 8th. The commemoration of St. Colman, who, from a monk of St. Columb's Monastery, in the Isle of Hy, was made third Bishop, of Lindisfarne. He was a prelate of most amiable character, in regard to his perfect disinterestedness, his moderation and humility, as well as his fervour in the service of God, and his zeal for the salvation of souls. (S. Bede, 1. 3, c. 26.) He resigned his bishopric anno 664, and retired into Ireland, where he founded the Monastery of Inys-bo-finde for the Scots, and that of Mayo for the English, which was so renowned of old for piety and religion, as to count at once no fewer than one hundred saints, all living in great continency and simplicity, by the labour of their hands, under a rule and canonical abbot by the example of the venerable Fathers. St. Colman went to our Lord, anno. 676, and is honoured in the Aberdeen Calendar on the 18th of February."

This was the bishop who had the famous dispute with St. Wilfrid of York, at the Council of Whitby, concerning the time of keeping Easter. On September 3rd, occurs St. Colman, the founder of the Church (and Diocese) of Cloyne; and on October 13th, one of those Irish saints, whose memory is greater abroad than at home, and whose shrine exists to this day in central Europe. The following is the brief but interesting entry in the British Martyrology of this saint, who, as St. Colomanus, occurs on the same day in the Roman Martyrology: "In Austria, the festivity of St. Colman, a holy pilgrim of the Scottish nation, who, returning from the Holy Land, was taken, upon suspicion of being a spy, and put to most cruel torments, which he bore with invincible patience and courage, still maintaining his innocence, and offering up all his sufferings to God. He was at last hanged between two thieves, October 13th, 1012, God bearing testimony to his innocence and sanctity, by many miracles; by occasion of which his body was, not long after, translated to the town of Merck, where it is kept with great veneration to this day." Over and above the various saints of this name, there is commemorated on June 29th, "divers holy bishops, abbots, and other religious men of the name of Colman, to the number of two hundred and thirty; all honoured of old amongst the saints, in that Island of Saints."

On a bright afternoon in July last, the writer started from Gort, in Galway, to visit the ruins of Kilmacduagh , which are about three miles distant. These comprise what are styled Seven Churches, a round tower, and an episcopal residence, all which once formed the seat of that ancient diocese, christened the "Kil" or Church of St. Colman MacDuagh. It may here be mentioned that this old see, along with the neighbouring one of Kilfenora, in Clare, have for many years formed one diocese. But for the reason, we presume, that even the two sees thus united form but a small charge for one bishop, the clergy being under thirty, they were recently annexed to that of Galway. Kilmacduagh now forms part of the diocese of Galway, and Kilfenora is entrusted to the "perpetual administration" of the Bishop of Galway. As we approached these interesting remains, the lofty round tower, with its conical cap, was conspicuous at a considerable distance, thus discharging the very duty it was probably built for, that of guiding the stranger to that secluded abode of piety and learning! In Miss Stokes' Christian Antiquities of Ireland this tower is placed in the second class of round towers, in which "the stones are roughly hammer-dressed, rounded to the curve of the wall, decidedly though somewhat irregularly coursed." The small windows are of most primitive shape, the heading composed of two stones leaning together so as to form a point. The doorway is, as usual, about twelve feet from the ground. This tower is situated near the south-west corner of the chief church : and, what is unique, it leans some three or more feet out of the perpendicular, which would point to an earthquake or landslip having occurred. Wakeman, in his Guide to Ireland, states that this is said to have been erected by the famous architect Gobhan Seer, who reared the round towers of Antrim and Glendalough.

The cathedral is a cruciform edifice, of considerable size, and contains in the south transept an old altar still in situ. It is said that, when some years ago a terrible epidemic was raging in the neighbourhood, and playing sad havoc amongst the poor people, they earnestly requested that Mass be said in the ruins. Accordingly the parish priest offered up the holy sacrifice on this lonely altar, surrounded by his devout flock, and tradition has it that their prayers were successful. Their patron, St. Colman, interceded for his suffering clients, and the disease was stayed.

One portion of this old cathedral shows signs of great antiquity. The wall is not built in regular courses, and the presence of a cyclopean doorway, blocked up since the fourteenth century, favours the belief that this part is coeval with St. MacDuagh himself. It is supposed to belong to the original church erected by Guaire Aidhne, King of Connaught, for his sainted kinsman.

In a field hard by, at the north-west of the large burial ground, stand the remains of a church which belonged to a mediaeval priory. At the east end of the chancel are two long narrow lancet windows, of a thoroughly Irish type, with very deep splay on the inside, and with a stone moulding running all round. In England, it seems to have been an almost general rule to put an odd number of windows in the east wall ; but in Ireland we find frequently twin windows over the high altar of the older churches, as in the great church Iniscleraun, at Clonmacnoise. In the same field, near the high road, are the fragments of the bishop's residence, and in a field at the opposite side of the road a solitary ruin of another venerable church.

About a mile from Kilmacduagh, at a spot called Tiernevin, stands a small but elegant new church, lately erected by the zealous parish priest of Gort, the Very Rev. Jerome Fahy, V.G. It serves, as it were, as a "chapel of ease" to the parochial Church of St. Colman MacDuagh. It has one special, pleasing feature, and one which might be utilized more generally by architects, viz., the windows are a correct copy of those in the neighbouring old cathedral of the diocesan patron. This reproduction forms an interesting souvenir of the ancient pile raised to the memory of so great a saint. We would say to our architects, "Go, and do likewise." In the many ruins scattered up and down the Three Kingdoms, we have a prolific wealth of carving, such as we see but too rarely copied in our modern churches. Surely, if a new church be required in the neighbourhood of a ruined church or abbey, the architect, instead of working out some crude ideas on his office desk, might give the new fabric at least a window or door that shall be a correct reproduction of the old pile in the vicinity.

The next day was devoted to a long but interesting expedition to the actual " kil," or cell of St. Colman's, far away from all human habitation, in the Burren Mountains of "Clare. In driving along through Galway into the latter county, nothing could exceed the wild and desolate appearance of the country: few trees, no hedges, walls composed of stones, loosely put together without mortar, and the entire surface of the land littered with stones of every shape and size. Wherever, in rare cases, a piece of land had been reclaimed and transformed into a potato patch, the stones, which had been removed, made a good sized pile, some feet in height. Mr. Frazer thus describes this wild region: "The general features of the greater part of the Barony of Burren are altogether different from those of any other part of the country. In the central portion of this district the entire surface seems one unbroken mass of limestone, and the bare hills, rising from the shore to an elevation of 1,134 feet, in regular receding terraced flights, presents a vast amphitheatrical outline. The disjointed rocks composing the surface of this immense circular acclivity, though not deposited with all the precision of the trap-rocks, are laid generally in horizontal lines, giving to the whole at a distance a regular and formal character. These limestone terraces abound in deep fissures, chinks, and crevices, in which find shelter the most rare and varied specimens of ferns and other wild plants. The whole county of Clare is remarkably rich in plants not usually found in other places, but particularly in the district of Burren, along the sea shore, and around Ballyvaughan and Blackhead.”

At a certain point, the high road had to be left, and alighting from the car, we started over the stony fields, which showed but little sign of footpath, to continue on loot our pilgrimage to the cave of St. MacDuagh. Under the broiling sun of a July noon-day this was anything but a comfortable and easy task. Although our party had a clever Irish antiquarian for their "guide, philosopher, and friend," yet, with no sign-post, nor human dwelling visible in the landscape, it seems a matter of considerable doubt whether we should have ever reached our goal had not a native guide turned up.

This was a poor lad, who, with that wonderful knowledge of holy places, wells, &c., peculiar to the Irish peasantry, led us all successfully to the cell of St. Colman, and also a thing of no small value brought us back safely to our car. It is only fair to say that his exertions were encouraged by the promise of a monetary consideration, and that he received from us a "thank-offering," which would be to him a good wages for the services rendered. As we slowly tramped along, or rather picked our way among the rough stones, so thickly strewn around, our path gradually mounted each moment higher and higher. On turning round to rest awhile in the blazing sun of noon-tide, there opened out to our gaze a distant view of Galway Bay and the Twelve Pins of Binnabola.

As we neared that part of the Burren Mountains known as the "Eagle's Nest," where we were to find the rocky recess once sanctified by the presence of St. MacDuagh, the ground lost all semblance of a field, and became one great mass of dark carboniferous limestone. To the geologist this portion of Ireland is a valuable field for study, and certainly, to the most untutored eye, the rocky floor presented a unique spectacle not to be seen elsewhere. The whole surface is split up into numerous long and deep fissures, in the cool clefts of which grew the hart's-tongue fern and many others. The brilliancy and profusion of the wild flowers, which flourished everywhere around us, was truly delightful, and fully bore out the reputation this district bears as a good hunting-ground for the lovers of botany. Here the hare-bell, of a blue unusually deep, large mauve-tinted wild geraniums, and the golden rod were mingled with various ferns, amidst which the wild "maiden-hair" was conspicuous. But most attractive of all was a beautiful white flower, which belonged to a very short-tufted plant, creeping along the clefts of the rock. This we discovered subsequently was a rather rare plant, the Octopetala or mountain Averts, in form like a rose (to which family it really belongs), with a stalk but two inches long, covered with dark green leaves with a silvery lining. Another curious plant which abounds here, but is uncommon in the British Isles, is a tall thistle with a golden, blossom (Carlina vulgaris). Its petals dry in the sun, and thus it becomes a kind of everlasting flower. In one very extensive portion of the rocky floor we came upon a vast number of most curious impressions of feet of horses, dogs, and occasionally a clear outline of a human foot.

As to these extraordinary marks on the limestone rocks, a most interesting legend is told. It was the great Easter festival, and St, Colman and his companion sat down to their frugal meal of coarse bread, roots and herbs, washed down by no stronger drink than that provided by the limpid well, which is there to this day. The latter regarded the humble fare with undisguised disgust, and complained not unnaturally that their menu was but a sorry one for so great a solemnity. He pathetically contrasted their table with that of Guaire, King of Connaught, the saint's kinsman, in the neighbouring palace of Kinvarra. Meanwhile, the good Prince, along with his court, had sat down to dinner, about to whet his appetite with the more sumptuous viands, for which St. Colman's companion was sighing. His majesty, in that goodness of heart which a tempting feast after the Lenten austerities naturally inspired, cried out, "Would that this food might go to some creatures more in want of it than we are, if such be Christ's pleasure!" No sooner had he uttered these words than, in the words of the chronicler (Colgan), lo! a wonder appeared. For straightway the dishes were uplifted from the table, and borne by invisible hands from the palace. As can be well imagined, the King arose in hot haste, and, along with his retinue determined to pursue his Easter dinner, and see the end of a prodigy so startling. ' As the royal cortege swept along on their good steeds towards the Burren Mountains, the people, hearing of the wonder, and led on by a like curiosity, ran after the King's train, "turmatim!" As soon as all had come in sight of our saint in his mountain fastness, eating his poor meal, and saw the dishes deposit themselves (or ought we not to say laid by angels' hands ?) before him, lo! another prodigy took place no less startling than the " passage of the dishes!" For whilst explanations were demanded, probably peremptorily, by the hungry monarch, whose appetite thus deluded would not put him in the happiest frame of mind, the feet of all were fastened to the rock! "Haerent equites, haerent pedites," &c. The horsemen and the astonished people were literally rivetted to the ground, and that, too, in a way they had never dreamed of. Only by the prayers of St. Colman were they liberated, and once more free to pursue their homeward journey. To this day the surface of the bluish limestone rock bears innumerable exact impressions of horses' feet, human feet, and also a few cases of dogs' paws. Ever since it is known as " Boher-na-maes," that is, the "road of the dishes."

It is the fashion of some folks to sneer at all Irish legends, and it must be admitted that there is to be found at times a certain fairyland lore in some of the lives of the saints. But in defence of this "passage of the dishes," it may be urged that the story is not a whit more remarkable than some of those approved of in the lives of the saints. For sixty years a raven brought bread to St. Paul, the first hermit, to a convent of hungry Dominicans, two angels dispensed a heaven-sent meal. And if, under the Old Law, God fed Elias, at one time by the aid of ravens, and at another with bread brought by angels, surely "His arm is not shortened." Therefore, why may His power not have been shown to the murmuring companion of St. Colman as well as to Guaire and his rude courtiers, in proving by a miracle the love he bore alike to the "man of God" at Burren as well as to the Prophet on Horeb! As to impressions of the mysterious feet in the rock, many will not give such a ready credence to this part of the story. Most will hold that they are probably geological marks in the limestone, and the plaguy modern critics will tell us that they occur regularly in certain conditions in 'rocks of that nature. All we say to the reader is, visit the place, and judge for yourself. Clear the rocky floor of the dust, and admit that the impressions are most clearly evident, and if not miraculous, they are at least extremely curious, we might say unique, in the country.

After having crossed the "Boher-na-maes," we at length arrived at the object of our pilgrimage. Amidst a profusion of bush and brake, there lay before us the cell of St. Colman. On creeping in we found it to be a natural hollow, capable of holding about three persons, the loose stones in the far end being thrown together as to form a rude bed. What an awe-inspiring thought that in this hole in the earth dwelt a saint so renowned, and that from this wilderness of limestone rock, like the Baptist of old, came forth the first bishop of that ancient see, to be henceforth named after him, the "Church of the Son of Duagh"-Kilmacduagh. We could but kneel down at the entrance of this austere abode, and gazing into that small and dark recess where Colman communed with his Creator, we prayed aloud together, proud to be children of the same glorious Church which his virtues adorned.

At a short distance from the "cell " stood four walls in a ruinous condition of what was once a small chapel or oratory. If this can hardly claim to have been erected in the lifetime of St. Colman, and used by him, yet it is of considerable antiquity, and must have been in use for many centuries, and from its very lonely position would have been a suitable spot, in times of persecution, for the people to gather together for the proscribed liturgy. On exploring the precincts of the cave, we came upon a " holy well," and what was pointed out as a botanical curiosity, a magnificent hawthorn-tree, without a single thorn on any of its branches. The thick trunk bore traces of having been chipped away by pilgrims, who wished to carry away souvenirs of so holy a spot.

Having retraced our steps to where the car awaited us in the high road, we hastened to visit, in another part of the Burren Mountains, the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey. It was erected by that illustrious King of Munster, Donald Mor O'Brien, whose royal munificence founded the cathedrals of Cashel, Killaloe, and Limerick, as also the abbey of Holy Cross, and many other religious houses. Surely such a name as his is well worthy to stand beside the greatest mediaeval sovereigns of Europe, who were in their day the stalwart champions of Mother Church. Corcomroe was a daughter of Innislaugh, on the Suir, founded by the same O'Brien, and later on it became subject to the great abbey of Furness, in Lancashire. Its title, "De petra fertili," is surely meant for irony, since a more barren region it is impossible to imagine. Let us rather suppose that this ancient title, under which the abbey figures in ancient records, is not to be taken as a case of " lucus a non lucendo," but that the energy of St. Robert's children redeemed the arid land, as nowadays their brethren have done at Mount Melleray, and that finally this desert place smiled, and became a "fruitful rock!"

Wakeman, in his Guide, says: "The effect of this ruin rising in stony solitude is very striking. To the southward and eastward, as far as the eye can reach, nothing but grey rocks, mingled at wide intervals with scanty patches of grass, is visible. One might spend days within the walls without seeing a human being." In this abbey the Cistercian monks buried King Connor, killed at the battle of Sudinae (Siudaine), as also the princes slain in the year 1267 and 1317. The life-size effigy of Connor O'Brien, in an arched recess of the north wall of the chancel, is most interesting, as showing in what manner an Irish prince was dressed in those days. There is only one other of the kind to be seen in Ireland, viz., that of Crov-Dearg O'Connor, King of Connaught, in the Dominican priory of Roscommon. The king is represented as lying on a cloak, similar to the feriola, the ribbon of which appears across his breast, where the left hand is grasping some object, probably a cross or reliquary. The right hand holds a sceptre, and the long robe falls in elegant pleats to the feet, which are covered with a kind of primitive 'brogues," like those which have been found in the bogs. The crown is sadly defaced, but the shaven face bears a pleasing expression, and the long-flowing locks are curled, after the fashion of the Irish " coolin." The irony of fate is shown by the inscription on a plain slab in the ground close by which covers the rival prince who slew O'Brien at Sudinae. It runs thus : " This is the burial-place of O'Loughlan, King of Burren." Standing in the wall, above the royal effigy, is a good has relief of a mitred abbot or bishop, the ample dalmatic being seen below a long-flowing chasuble, the collar of which is somewhat ingenious in pattern. The right hand is uplifted in blessing, and the left grasps a short crozier, with a spiral crook. A good engraving of the chancel of Corcomroe, and also of the royal tomb, can be seen in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquarians, illustrating a valuable article on "The" Normans in Thomond," by T. J.Westrop, M.A., for 1891, page 381. Above the double-arched sedilia, at the Epistle side of the high altar, which still remains in situ, is a curiously-carved ornament, evidently a discipline of three knotted cords. On the ground near the wall is a rather unique tombstone made of wood (!) if such an expression can be used.

A little less than a mile from Corcomroe we again come upon traces of the first Bishop of Kilmacduagh. At a spot called Oughtmama there are ruins of three churches, which tradition says are dedicated to St. Colman, who, having resigned his episcopacy in all lowliness and humility, came here to end his days in peace and solitude.

Before closing this article, we must allude to one other spot, where the memory of so great a saint is yet green, viz.. Aran-more. The three isles of Aran are at the mouth of Galway Bay, to which they are a kind of natural breakwater, and on the largest isle, called Aran-more, or Great Aran, there are the ruins of a very primitive church, dedicated to St. Colman MacDuagh. A very interesting account of these remains, with illustrations, can be seen in Harper's Magazine for March, 1881. This Teampul MacDuagh is a beautiful little church, built of huge undressed stones, with a truly cyclopean doorway, which is said to be an almost perfect copy of an entrance into an Egyptian tomb.

It would be an interesting question to find out whether St. Colman ever came to Aran. The idea seems most natural, when we consider that the school of St. Enda gave Aranmore a world- wide celebrity, so that it was styled " Aran of the Saints." It must have been well known to our saint, and hence it is very likely that he left his wild abode in the Burren, to visit this school of sanctity, to confer with his holy contemporaries. If this Teampul MacDuagh was not of his erection, at least it must have been very shortly after his time, as it is of the most primitive type. This latter supposition would go to show what an early character for sanctity was possessed by our saint, who, from a multitude of Colmans, stands out as St. Colman MacDuagh.

One relic is yet left to remind us of his authority, the shattered remains of wood and bronze that compose his pastoral staff, now kept in the Museum, at Dublin. But if his staff is fragile, his power and memory is yet great in the land, wherein he governed, as a faithful shepherd, the fold committed to his care. One feature is especially beautiful in the Catholic Church in Ireland, namely, that along with her faith, the " Island of Saints" has kept her hierarchy unbroken, and has clung to the original titles of her sees from time immemorial. Alas ! with us in poor England, all that bright dream has vanished! In place of the sweet names of York and Lichfield, Hereford and Worcester, redolent with holy memories of a Wilfrid and a Chad, a Thomas-a- Cantalupe and a Wulstan, we have the modern uneuphonious names of ugly towns, Middlesborough, Birmingham, &c. And so, even to-day, the Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh sits in the Chair of Colman, and wields the crozier over the selfsame district, one enlightened by the virtues and zeal of the first sainted occupant of that venerable see! May we conclude by wishing, with all due respect, the present most reverend occupant "ad multos annos !"

WILFRID DALLOW.
 
Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 13 (1892), 900-911.


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