Tuesday, 6 July 2021

A Hymn in Honour of Saint Moninne


July 6 is the Feast of Saint Moninne of Killeevy, one of three women saints along with Brigid and Bronagh important to the people of the historic kingdom of Oriel in south-east Ulster. She is also one of the handful of Irish female saints with an extant written Life. There are many fascinating aspects to Saint Moninne. One was her reputation for asceticism, the Life of Monenna preserved in the Codex Salamanticensis calling her 'the daughter of John the Baptist and the prophet Elias'. Whilst asceticism was certainly a feature of the Early Irish Church, it is unusual to see a female saint being described in this way. The other was her 'manly spirit' for her female body is no barrier to Moninne's wholehearted pursuit of the eremetical way of life. There is thus a distinct flavour of the desert spirituality of Saint Anthony the Great to the life of this County Armagh abbess. In addition to the Salamanca Life there is also a Vita Sanctae Monennae compiled by a tenth or eleventh-century Irish monk called Conchubranus. He takes Moninne out of her Irish hermitage and portrays her as a pilgrim to Rome and founder of  churches in England and Scotland. The twelfth-century Abbot Geoffrey of Burton was convinced that Conchubranus was writing about his own abbey's founder and expanded the Irish monk's text into The Life and Miracles of Saint Modwenna. There has been a great deal of research into Saint Moninne and fresh translations of her various Lives in recent years. Mario Esposito (1887-1975) first published the text of the Life by Conchubranus in 1910 and included two abcderarian hymns in honour of the saint as an appendix. As a tribute to Saint Moninne on this her feast day I reproduce the opening verse from the first hymn and the closing verse of the second:
 
Deum deorum dominum, 
Autorem vite omnium, 
Regem et sponsum uirginum 
Sempiternum infinitum, 
Invocemus perualidum 
Sancte Monenne meritum, 
Ut nos ducat post obitum 
In regni refrigerium.

Let us invoke God, Lord of gods,
Creator of the life of all,
King and spouse of virgins,
everlasting, infinite,
and the very strong
merit of holy Monenna
that she may guide us after death
to the refreshing of the kingdom.
 
Sancta Monenna,
lux huius mundi ascendit, 
in candilabro nitidum sponsum 
sicut sol in meridie. 
Qui regnas in secula seculorum. Amen. 
 
The holy Monenna,
light of this world,
ascended to her shining spouse
in a candelabrum like the midday sun.
Who reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Mario Esposito,  Ymnus Sancte Monenne Virginis in Appendix to "Conchubrani Vita Sanctae Monennae." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 28 (1910), 202-51.

 

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2021. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

An Irish Poem in Praise of the Blessed Sacrament

This beautiful poem in praise of the Blessed Sacrament was written by a 12th-century poet who may also have been an abbot, Donnchadh Mór Ó Dálaigh, described in The Annals of Clonmacnoise as “Chief of Ireland for poetry.” The Annals of the Four Masters recorded his death in the year 1244 with this entry: “Donagh More O Daly, a poet who never was, and never will be surpassed, died, and was interred in the abbey of Boyle.”  The Irish text is followed by a translation below:




Here is the literal translation [by Professor O'Looney] of the foregoing, which was written in the twelfth century by Donogh Mór O'Daly, Abbot of Boyle, in the county Roscommon, called for the sweetness of his verses, not for the nature of their themes, the Ovid of Ireland : —

1. Not more numerous the angels in heaven under the hand of the king; not more numerous the blessed names which are upon the saints; not more numerous the things which God hath created on the face of the world, than the praises of each tongue upon the Sacrament.

2. Not more numerous the drops which are in the great tidal sea; not more numerous the fishes that swim in the bosoms of all waters; not more numerous the grasses of the world or the sands of the strand, than the praises of the holy Body of the only Son of the Father of grace.

3. Not more numerous the years in the eternal perpetuity of the King; not more numerous the divine gifts which Christ hath [in store]; not more numerous the lights which are in the King's high Paradise, than the praises to God which are truly given in the Sacrament.

4. Not more numerous the radiant stars which appear in the skies; not more numerous the words [of praise] which his clergy read for Christ; not more numerous the small streams which flow into the great sea, than the praises unceasing of the divine, blessed Body of Christ.

5. Not more numerous the letters to be seen in the Book of the Law; not more numerous the leaves of all the woods by the King made to grow; not more numerous the melodious voices which shall be heard in his kingdom for ever, than the praise of the Son of Mary oft-repeated in the Sacrament.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Saint Colman Steallan of Terryglass, May 26

May 26 is the commemoration of Saint Colman Steallan, a saint of the monastery of Terryglass, County Tipperary. This foundation produced a number of notable holy men including Saint Colum, one of the '12 Apostles of Ireland' and Maeldithruib the anchorite. The manner in which the name of today's saint has been recorded in the calendars has given rise to some confusion, not helped by the fact that Colman, Colum, Columb, Colm, Columba are all different ways of transliterating the same name. In the case of today's saint, some of the later calendars talk of the feast of Steallan, as if we are dealing with two separate people. The latest authoritative guide to the saints of Ireland, Pádraig Ó Riain's  A Dictionary of Irish Saints (2011), accepts Colmán Stiallán as one individual and suggests that the epithet Stiallán attached to the name of this particular Colman may perhaps be translated as 'the little strip'. Canon O'Hanlon records this of the little strip of Terryglass, in Volume V of his Lives of the Irish Saints:

St. Colman Steallan, of Terryglass, County of Tipperary [Sixth and Seventh Centuries.]

At the 26th of May, we find inserted, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, the name of Colman Stellain, Tirdoghlass, now Terryglass, as having been venerated. The Bollandists also follow this statement, and have some references to Colgan's work, where allusions are made to our saint. The present holy man is placed in order of succession, after the Abbot Natchoemius or Mochoeminus—said to have been brother to St. Coemgenus, and who died, A.D. 584. The festival in honour of Steallan—as simply entered—of Tir-dá-glas, was celebrated on this day, as we read in the Martyrology of Donegal. In the table, postfixed to this work, we find his name Latinized Stellanus. It would seem, that this record, as published, distinguishes a St. Colman from the present St. Stellan, for there appears a separate entry of both these names. Marianus O'Gorman follows the Martyrology of Tallagh, in uniting both names, apparently for one person, who was venerated on this day, at Terryglass, on the eastern border of Lough Dearg. Other writers—such as Archbishop Ussher and our annalists—call him by the name of Colmanus Stellanus. However, there can hardly be any doubt, that this latter must be the proper entry, for in the "Annals of the Four Masters," we read, that St. Colman Stellan of Tir-da-ghlas, died on the 26th of May, A.D. 624. With this agrees, likewise, the entry of his departure, in the "Chronicum Scotorum." Other accounts place his death at 625; while Archbishop Ussher has it so late as 634. The festival of Stellan was observed on the 25th of May, as we find it in the "Feilire" of St. Aengus; and, appended to this notice is an Irish comment, in that copy, contained in the "Leabhar Breac," which is followed by a Latin one, giving the series of Abbots, for Tir-da-glas and Cluain eidnech. It seems doubtful, notwithstanding, whether Colman should be separated from Stellan; but, many writers regard them as one and the same person.



Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2021. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Names of Irish Saints

  I recently ended a series on Irish saints' names published in the Australian press in 1914, links to which can be found here. There is another example below, this time from 1918, where a selection of 'euphonious names of Irish saints which one hardly ever hears' are brought to the attention of prospective parents. A sense of regret that traditional names were falling into disuse was often expressed during the Irish national revival and immigrants in particular were encouraged to do their patriotic duty by bestowing historic saints' names on their offspring.  How realistic it was to expect people already facing the challenges of the immigrant experience to assume the responsibility for reviving archaic names, no matter how euphonious, is another question.
 
 
 

 
 
Names of Irish Saints.
 
His Eminence Cardinal O' Connell, Archbishop of Boston (U.S.A.), on a recent occasion said that the Irish people are returning to the laudable practice of giving the beautiful names of Patrick and Brigid in baptism to their children, and he cited several instances from his own experiences where even converts to the Faith gave their children the names of the Apostle and Patroness of Ireland. Apropos of this movement, we append a few other euphonious names of Irish saints which one hardly ever hears:
 
For women— Adine, Avine, Eileen, Naala, Orla, Reinalt, Saiv, Una, Ita, Colma, Ethne, Faela, Aglen, Macha, Melle, Brona, Lassair, Laurenn, Eina, Richelle, Aniltine, Feidela. 
 
For men — Albenan, Alvan, Cathal, Cahal, Cahir, Finn, Bran, Colman, Connell, Conor, Dermot, Donal, Flann, Nial, Rury, Art, Frill, Fridolin, Conan, Ultan, Angus, Kiran, Meil, Sheirl, Fintan, Bevin, Oran, Slevin, Gilnary, Gilchrist, Gilbride, Senan, Falry, Cuthbert, Caerlan, Fergus, Oisin, Brendan, Erc, Bron, Columbkille, Carroll, Lon, Rumould, Melmary, Kevil, Kilian, Cormac, Blan, Felimy, Loard, Danouhgh, Rial, Fergal, Gornan, Lonan, Lurcan, Siris, Oilan, Aleran.  
 

 
 

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2021. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

An Odysseus of the Irish Church

 


May 16 is the feast of one of the most famous of the Irish saints, Brendan the Navigator. The account of his voyaging was one of the most popular works of the Middle Ages and survives in over one hundred and twenty manuscripts written in a variety of European languages. In the 1905 account below we see why the Navigatio Brendani appealed so powerfully to the medieval imagination. Here Saint Brendan is portrayed as 'an Odysseus of the Irish Church' who, like the Classical hero, visits a number of island locations and encounters all manner of strange natural phenomena and bizarre creatures. As a Christian hero, however, there are distinctly Christian themes to be found in the Brendan voyage - paradise and hell, Judas and of course the great fish which recalls the biblical story of Jonah and the whale: 

An Odysseus of the Irish Church


It must always remain a matter of surprise that the Brendan legend, with its picturesque details, has not taken a more definite place in English literature. For it has about it the same flavour of romance and daring adventure upon the high seas which lends so deep a fascination to the stories of Elizabeth's great captains. Wrapped in grey wings of mystery, the figure of the Saint broods amongst the ocean mists of the long past, where, seen momently through rifts, his stature seems more than that of mortal man, and his hardy deeds crowned with a charm of blessings. There are many versions of his wanderings, in part sprung from the germs of truth, in part, no doubt, overlaid by the imaginations of the monks, who, poring over Holy Writ and Homeric enterprise, clothed "melodious Brendan" with borrowed attributes, dreamed him into Ionian perils, failed his sails with adventurous winds, such as would bear him into the wonders of the world's morning. That the monastic mind dwelt upon his history and delighted in it seems to be proved, for there is an ancient French legend of his doings which runs to two thousand verses, and a German poem has seventeen hundred and fifty-two. Little can be given of the life of this strenuous Saint in a short contribution like the present, but those who feel inclined to learn more of him will find a good guide in the "Brendaniana" of the Rev. D. O'Donoghue (Dublin: Browne and Nolan).


St. Brendan was born in Altraighe, Tralee. He was of Royal lineage. Miracles attended his birth, before which event his mother dreamed that her bosom was full of gold and her breasts white like snow. She told her vision to Bishop Erc (the earliest Bishop of Kerry, the "sweet-spoken Brehon" of St. Patrick), and he answered her: "There shall be born of thee a child of power, who will be full of the grace of the Holy Ghost." When a year old the child was carried by Bishop Erc to his foster-mother, St. Ita. Of this time it is quaintly written: 


"Angels in the guise of fair virgins
Were fostering Brendan,
From one hand to another,
Without much hurt to the babe."

Over and over again Brendan's character —strong, impetuous, and passionate — led him to acts that issued in heavy penances. The first recorded of these savours of a very human boy. When about ten he went driving with the Bishop, who, going away to preach, left Brendan reading psalms in the carriage. "Then a young maiden, gentle, modest, of a princely family, drew nigh to the carriage: and she looked at him and saw his face was beautiful and bright." Taken with his beauty, she wished to play with him, and made "a sportive bound" into the carriage. Brendan resented her advances, and tried to drive her away with angry words. "Go away home," he cried, "and have illwill to whoever left you here!" Thereupon he seized the reins and lashed her soundly, until she ran away crying and complaining to the King and Queen, her father and mother. For this piece of boyish intolerance he was condemned to do penance by remaining alone in a cave. In his devotions he sings: 


"The sound of the voice of melodious Brendan
In the cave near Fenit,
A thousand paces on every hand,
His high fine voice was heard."

Perhaps this early solitude turned his heart to the love of remote and solitary places, where he recurrently secluded himself in later years. As he attained to manhood, we find him wandering, preaching, founding abbeys, travelling on foot, rowing over wild seas to outlying islands, fasting on Inishglora or another of his beloved "deserts of the sea," singing masses to the accompaniment of storm-music; and all the while we feel that the heart of the born rover, the pioneer, the wanderer, beat under his monk's habit of rough woven stuff. Finally, his stern eyes turned to the unsailed ocean of the West: he could no longer restrain himself from going forth upon those long voyagings whither his intrepid fancy had preceded him. Two reasons are given for his taking ship on this perilous quest — one, his desire to save souls; another, that he was driven to go as a punishment. For Brendan, having read a book — presumably of travels — very strange and incredible, waxed indignant at such extravagances, and threw the book into the fire, Therefore God, to punish him for his incredulity, commanded him to forsake his country and parents, and traverse the wide ocean for seven years, that he might see "with his own eyes those wonders, and greater than those wonders, he deemed so unworthy of his belief."


Thus began the wanderings of the Irish Odysseus, the earliest of all those brave spirits who fell under the spell of "the magic of the sea," whose longings drew them through innumerable hardships to tempt the flood that lips the setting sun. Brendan and his disciple made light vessels with wicker sides and ribs, covered with cowhide, much like the curraghs in use to this day upon the islands off the West Coast of Ireland ; and in these frail craft adventured out upon the vast of waters, knowing of no shore to steer for, no port of refuge within the breathless distances of the horizons: —


"Then," to quote from a translation of the Latin version, "Brendan, son of Finlugh, sailed over the loud-voiced waves of the rough-crested sea, and over the billows of the greenish tide, and over the abysses of the wonderful, relentless ocean, where they paw in the depths the red-mouthed monsters of the sea and many great whales. They were thus for the space of five years upon the ocean, so wonderful, so strange, and utterly unknown to them; and during all that time no man chanced to meet them, and not one of all the crews suffered any want, nor did any injury befall either body or soul of' any one. And this was a wonder indeed, for Brendan had not allowed them to bring any provisions with them, but he told them that God would provide food for them wherever they might be, just as He fed the five thousand with the five loaves and fishes."

It is obviously impossible to do more than touch upon the fringe of the web of miracles, incidents, and dangers that has woven itself round these voyagings. There is a chord in almost every heart that vibrates when the keynote of romance is struck. It is then small wonder that the deeds of Brendan, the greatly daring, the man of unquailing faith, should echo and re-echo, amplified and glorified, through the centuries. Early in their wanderings, he with his companions came, "by the purveyance of God," to a full, fair island, filled with green pasture, wherein were the whitest and greatest sheep that ever they saw, for every sheep was as great as an ox. "There they took comfort for a short time, and were told to sail again until they reached a place, like Paradise, where they should keep their Eastertide." This prophecy being fulfilled, they landed upon the island, "weening to" them they had been safe, and made thereon a fire for to dress their dinner, but St. Brendan abode still in the ship. And when the fire was right hot and the meat nigh soden, then this island began to move; whereon the monks were afraid, and fled anon to the ship, and left the fire and meat behind them, and marvelled sore at the moving. And St. Brendan comforted them, and said it was a great fish named Jasconye, which laboureth day and night to put his tail in his mouth, but for greatness he may not."

Thus they kept not only that Eastertide, but subsequent ones, on the back of the "whale," as the fish is elsewhere called, this miracle recurring every Easter for the keeping of tho feast. That familiarity taught its usual lesson to tho monks may be gathered from some words of the Saint uttered at a later date. They had come to a region where the sea was calm and pellucid, and through the clear water they could behold terrific sea-monsters gambolling far below in the depths. The brethren grew afraid at the sight, but Brendan reminded them of their safety on the back of the whale, where they not only lighted fires, but even cut off pieces of the creature's flesh, which they dressed and ate. Thereupon the Saint sang Mass in a loud and strong voice, and the charmed monsters swam up to hear and circled round the boat, but at a distance. The next discovery was the Island of Birds — "their number was so great and they sang so merrily that it was an heavenly noise to hear." Upon the prayer of the Saint to know what these birds meant one of them is permitted to speak: "Sometime we were angels in heaven, but when our master, Lucifer, fell down into hell we fell with him for our offences, some hither, some lower, after the quality of their trespass: and because our trespass was but little, therefore our Lord has set us here out of all pain ... to serve Him in the best manner that we can." Other islands they touched at, each having its own marvel. One was a home of demons where a monk landing was for some old sin snatched away and cried woefully that he could by no means return. Another is described as black and treeless, smoky and covered with smiths' forges. We may surely read in a volcanic island here, and an iceberg as the underlying fact of a mighty column of clear crystal reaching into the sky, with a canopy about it of gold and silver. On a certain Sabbath they descried upon a low rock a man so cruelly drenched and buffeted by the waves that Brendan cried out in pity of him. But the man answered that he was Judas, who by the mercy of God was allowed on Sabbath days and during the period of certain feasts of the Church to sit upon that rock as an assuagement of the pangs which he endured in hell. But the island St. Brendan called after his own name is perhaps the most interesting of all. It was mountainous and lapped by seas of changeless summer. In maps of the time of Columbus it is found two hundred leagues west of the Canaries. But none have ever landed on St. Brendan's Isle since his own day. It has been seen, so tradition has it, in serene and clear weather, a mirage upon the horizon, but it has ever remained unapproachable and unattainable. Those who ventured near its shores were driven by furious tempests far from it. An old Spanish chronicle graphically says of it, "which cannot be found when sought for.'' From time to time many expeditions were fitted out to search for it, one so late as in the year 1721.

Brendan passed in safety through his Odyssey of wanderings. He lived, alas! to lay his curse on Royal Tara. The old annals of Clonmacnoise tell the tale. The last King Diarmait had long been a friend of the Saint, but having seized a certain chieftain for the crime of slaying a Royal herald, he refused, in spite of the entreaties of St. Brendan and the Church, to give up his prisoner, who suffered the death-penalty. Whereupon Brendan prayed that "no King or Queen could or would ever dwell in Tara, that it should be waste for ever without Court or Palace, and so it fell out accordingly." Like the glories of Tara, the Saint and his voyagings are dipped within the haze of time; we catch but glimpses of the truth. It is better so, better that the accurate end of Brendan's long sea-pilgrimages be lost, for as in a picture which inspires us with yearnings to know all that lies just beyond the last touches of the artist's brush — what dream-country that, winding road leads to: how look the folk who tread the streets of that now-gone white-turreted city: what unimaginable happenings lie waiting for us could we but pass into the green gloom of that woodland— so it should be with these old-world voyagings. It is fitter we should never know the name of the ultimate beaches that welcomed the Saint's weary rovers from the sea.— 

Hesketh Prichard, in the Spectator. 

 

Permanent link to this item
https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19030919.2.94
Bibliographic details
Evening Post, Volume LXVI, Issue 70, 19 September 1903, Page 11 
 

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2021. All rights reserved.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Bi-Centenary of the Birth of Canon O' Hanlon


Today marks the bi-centenary of the birth of John, Canon O'Hanlon whose monumental Lives of the Irish Saints provided the original inspiration for this blog. Over the years I have developed not only a profound respect for his work but also a deep affection for the man himself. I marvel at how he was able to undertake such detailed research into the Irish saints while exercising the duties of a parish priest and producing volumes of history and poetry as well. The tribute below, published in the Irish Monthly shortly after O'Hanlon's death in May 1905, pays a handsome tribute to his literary output. I can only concur though with the writer's observation that he would have sacrificed the re-publication of the Irish Amercian History in order to secure the publication of the remaining volumes of the Lives of the Irish Saints. For sadly, the Lives for the last three months of the year were still in manuscript form at their author's death and there they have remained. But on the occasion of the bi-centenary of his birth I salute Canon O'Hanlon for all that he achieved and hope he enjoys eternal rest among the saints of Ireland whose memories he did so much to recover and preserve.

 


Canon O'Hanlon deserves pre-eminently the title which Dr Russell of Maynooth gave to Dr Matthew Kelly, calling him (in the inscription on certain statues of Irish Saints, presented by him to the College) sanctorum indigetum cliens devotissimus. He was born at Stradbally, in Queen's County, in 1821...When seventeen years of age, he emigrated to America. In his twenty-sixth year he was ordained priest by the Archbishop of St Louis, Peter Richard Kenrick. After doing priestly duty at St Louis for seven years, his health failed, and he was obliged to return to his native country. Cardinal Cullen appointed him to a curacy in the parish of SS. Michael and John's, Dublin; and there he remained till he was made parish priest of Irishtown - now after his death divided into two parishes, Ringsend and Sandymount.

It is on record that Dr Walsh, the present Archbishop of Dublin, often served Father C.P. Meehan's Mass as a boy, and no doubt he did the same of Father Meehan's fellow-curate. One of Dr Walsh's first acts as Archbishop was to name Father O'Hanlon to a canonry in the Cathedral Chapter. Canon O'Hanlon spent the rest of his life beside his beautiful church of St Mary Star of the Sea. We remember how pleased he was when we told him that the author of the favourite hymn, "Hail, Queen of Heaven", in which that title is given to our Blessed Lady, was Dr Lingard the great historian. As a priest and as a man, he was full of zeal and kindness; and he was indefatigable in the discharge of all his priestly duties. 

But he was indefatigable also in the one department of literature to which he was wise enough to devote himself almost exclusively. He had indeed tried his prentice hand on other subjects at the beginning of his career, publishing in 1849 at Boston, An Abridgment of the History of Ireland through Patrick Donahoe, founder of the Pilot and Donahoe's Magazine, both of them carried on still on a finer scale and with greater success than in the time of the founder. In 1851 he published The Irish Emigrant's Guide to the United States. Would that more of those emigrants would imitate his example and return to do good work in their native land.

His real work, however, as a writer began after his return to Ireland. In 1855 he published the life of St Laurence O'Toole, which was followed by Lives of St Malachy O'Morgair, St Dymphna and St Aengus the Culdee.  These were the preliminaries to his colossal enterprise, The Lives of the Irish Saints, for which he had been collecting materials for twenty years before he issued his prospectus. This work was issued in parts containing sixty-four pages, illustrated with pictures of ancient Irish Churches, etc; and these were gathered into very fine royal octavo volumes of between 600 and 1000 pages each. In spite of great difficulties he persevered to the end, issuing the November volume last year; and it is understood that the materials for the December volume are ready for the press. It is a pity that the good Canon had not realised even more fully that reward of the faithful confessor complevit labores illius, by issuing the concluding volume of his opus magnum. To secure that completion we could have spared his excellent Irish American History of the United States, which at the age of seventy-seven he had the courage to write out again after it had been burned in the fire that destroyed the printing works of Messrs. Sealy, Byers and Walker, in 1898. It was published two years ago.

The holy and amiable old man died peacefully and happily on May 15th, 1905, Feast of St. Dympna, one of 3,500 Irish saints of whom he was the historian. May he rest in peace.

The Irish Monthly Vol. 33, No. 385 (Jul., 1905), pp. 361-363.

 

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2021. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Faithful Irish Exiles- Pioneers of the Faith in Many Lands


April 10 is the feast of Saint Paternus of Paderborn, one of many Irish or reputedly Irish holy men who left this country for continental Europe. I say reputedly as many of the claims of Irish links for saints such as Rupert and Arbogast cannot be substantiated although with Columbanus, Fiacre, Virgil etc. we are on firmer ground. Their legacy was a source of pride to Irish writers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and below is an extract from an article on this theme by Magdalen Rock, syndicated from the Catholic Herald by the New Zealand press in 1923. Magdalen Rock was a pseudonym of County Tyrone schoolteacher Ellen Beck (1858-1924). She was a prolific contributor to the religious press of her day and I am pleased to preserve both her own memory and her legacy of writings on the Irish saints here at the blog.  


Faithful Irish Exiles

Pioneers of the Faith in Many Lands


(By Magdalen Rock, in the Catholic Herald.)

Saint Patrick came to Ireland in 432, and in the next century Columba, led by remorse or by the missionary spirit that to the present seems characteristic of the Irish race, left his own loved land to found the famous monastery of Iona, from which Scotland and Northern England were brought and re-converted to the knowledge of the true God. Irish bishops governed the See of Lindisfarne; an Irish monk founded old Melrose; Adamnan, the biographer of Columba, is among the best Latin writers of the Middle Ages.

Towards the close of the same century, Columbanus departed from Bangor, with twelve companions, to found Luxeuil and Bobbio; the memory of Saint Gall survives in Switzerland, where a canton bears the name of one of the most earnest of Columbanus’s disciples. Saint Frigidan was Bishop of Lucca for twenty-eight years of work and miracles; Livinus died a martyr in Flanders in 633; Saint Fiacre, who flourished about the same time, founded a monastery near Meaux, in France; Saint Fursey, whose visions gave Dante inspiration, died venerated by all in 648, after founding a monastery in East Anglia, and a more enduring one at Lagny, near which Saints Folian, Gobban, and Dicuil died in the odor of sanctity. 

Irish Saints and Scholars.

Saint Arbogast was Bishop of Strasburg in 646, and another Irish saint, Cathaldus, ruled in far-distant Taranto; Fridolin the Traveller founded monasteries in France and in the islands of the Rhine; Saint Virgilius, whose scientific opinions startled the world, was Bishop of Saltzburg in 785, and another, Dicuil the Geographer—flourished about the same period, and is said to have visited Iceland.

Saints Donatus and Andrew are the pride of Fiesole, as Saint Rupert and Marianus Scotus are of Ratisbon; Clemens and Albinus delighted the scholars of the court of the great Charlemagne, while the wonderful learning and eccentric genius of John Scotus Erigena, who combined scholastic and mystical theology, drew on him praise and blame.


Faithful Irish Exiles, New Zealand Tablet, Volume L, Issue 22, 7 June 1923

Content Copyright © Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae 2012-2016. All rights reserved.