Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Testament of Saint Arbogast

July 21 is the feast of Saint Arbogast, an Irish saint who laboured in Strassburg. Below is a poem in his honour composed by the Irish born poet, Thomas D'Arcy McGee (1825-1868). It deals with the final testament of Saint Arbogast, as he lay on his deathbed:

THE TESTAMENT OF ST. ARBOGAST.

St. Arbogast, the bishop, lay
On his bed of death in Strasburg Palace,
And, just at the dawn of his dying day,
Into his own hands took the chalice;
And, praying devoutly, he received
The blessed Host, and thus address'd
His chapter who around him grieved.
And sobbing, heard his last request.

Quoth he; — "The sinful man you see
Was born beyond the western sea.
In Ireland, whence, ordain'd, he came,
In Alsace, to preach in Jesus' name.
There, in my cell in Hagueneau,
Many unto the One I drew;
There fared King Dagobert one day,
With all his forestrie array,
Chasing out wolves and beasts unclean,
As I did errors from God's domain;
The king approached our cell, and he
Esteem'd our assiduity:
And, when the bless'd St. Amand died.
He called us to his seat and sighed.
And charged us watch and ward to keep
In Strasburg o'er our Master's sheep.

“Mitre of gold we never sought
Cope of silver to us was nought —
Jewel'd crook and painted book
We disregarded, but, perforce, took.
Ah! oft in Strasburg's cathedral
We sighed for one rude cell so small,
And often from the bishop's throne
To the forest's depths we would have flown.
But that one duty to Him who made us
His shepherd in this see, forbade us.

"And now "— St. Arbogast spoke slow
But words were firm, tho' voice was low —
"God doth require His servant hence.
And our hope is His omnipotence.
But bury me not, dear brethren, with
The pomp of torches or music, sith
Such idle and unholy slate
Should ne'er on a Christian bishop wait; -
Leave cope of silver and painted book
Mitre of gold and jewel'd crook
Apart in the vestry's darkest nook;
But in Mount Michael bury me.
Beneath the felon's penal tree -
So Christ our Lord lay at Calvary.
This do, as ye my blessing prize.
And God keep you pure and wise! "
These were the words, they were the last,
Of the blessed Bishop Arbogast.

THOMAS D'ARCY MC GEE.

Daniel Connolly. Ed., The Household Library of Ireland’s Poets, with Full and Choice Selections from the Irish-American Poets (New York, 1887), 703.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Saint Gobbán Beg, July 16

There are a number of saints called Gobbán to be found on the Irish calendars. Occasionally their names are accompanied by a patronymic or an epithet. There is, for example a Gobán Corr 'the stooped' and a Gobán Fionn 'the fair'. The name is also found in a feminine form, as in Saint Gobnait of Ballyvourney. It ultimately derives from gobha 'smith' and thus gives rise to that doyen of   legendary craftsmen the Gobán Saor. Today we have one of these saints commemorated on the Irish calendars, Gobbán Beg. The Irish word beag means small or little so Canon O'Hanlon speculates that he must have been a holy man small of stature:

St. Gobban, Beg. 

At this date—xvii. of the August Kalends—the Irish Kalendars introduce a Feast for a St. Gobban, surnamed "the small." The simple record, Gobban, occurs in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 16th of July. In the Martyrology of Donegal, at the same date, the name is written Gobban, Beg. We may presume, he had been so denominated from his small stature ; for the word beg signifies "little." In the Irish Calendar, among the Ordnance Survey muniments, he is set down at the xvii. of the August Kalends—July 16th—under a similar appellation.


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Friday, 15 July 2016

The Feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles, July 15


On July 15 Canon O'Hanlon notes the recording, in the Martyrology of Aengus, of The Feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles. This feast marks the dispersal of the Holy Apostles to their various missionary destinations, but in some of the copies of Saint Aengus's calendar a list of not only the biblical Twelve Apostles is appended, but also a list of the 'Twelve Apostles of Ireland'. This was a name given to a group of early saints, presented as students of Saint Finnian of Clonard, who themselves dispersed to various parts of Ireland to evangelise this country. Some of them are also credited with founding missions outside of Ireland. In the account below I have transferred the actual quotations from the Martyrology out of the footnotes and into the main body of Canon O'Hanlon's text. I have also added some notes on the identities of the Irish Twelve:

Festival of the Twelve Apostles.

In the ancient Irish Church, on the 15th day of July, was celebrated the Festival of the Twelve Apostles, as we read in the "Feilire" of St. Aengus. In the "Leabhar Breac" copy is the following Irish rann, translated into English, by Whitley Stokes, LL.D.

"The twelve Apostles who excel every number,
before a countless host
Jesus distributed them among Adam's seed."—

There is an Irish stanza annexed, in which those Twelve Apostles are severally named. Thus translated into English :—

"Simon, Matthaeus and Matthew,
Bartholomew, Thomas, Thaddaeus,
Peter, Andrew, Philip, Paul,
John and the two Jameses.

and succeeding it, there is another, enumerating the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. This is headed "XII. Apostoli Hiberniae," and then follow these lines, thus translated into English:

"The Twelve Apostles of Ireland :—
"Two Finnens, two chaste Colombs,
Ciaran, Caindech, fair Comgall,
Two Brenainns, Ruadan with splendour,
Nindid, Mobii, son of Natfraech."

This ancient Festival, styled the Separation of the Apostles of Christ for their Missions in various parts of the old world, has been often alluded to by the early Greek and Latin Fathers. The Bollandists, who place it at the 15th of July, have a learned disquisition on its origin and history, to which the reader is referred.

_______________________________________________________________________________


Notes on the Twelve Apostles of Ireland:

Two Finnens - the two great Saint Finnians - Finnian of Clonard, 'tutor of the saints of Ireland' and Finnian of Moville.

Two Chaste Colombs - Saint Columba of Iona and Saint Columba of Terryglass.

Ciaran - Some lists include two Ciarans, both Saint Ciaran the Elder (of Saighir) and Ciaran the Younger (of Clonmacnoise).

Caindech - Saint Canice or Kenneth of Kilkenny.

Fair Comgall - Saint Comgall of Bangor.

Two Brenainns - Saints Brendan the Elder (of Birr) and Brendan the Younger (the Navigator) of Clonfert.

Ruadan with splendour - Saint Ruadhan of Lorrha.

Nindid - Saint Ninnidh of Inismacsaint.

Mobii - Saint Mobhí of Glasnevin.

Son of Natfraech - Molaise of Devenish.

Finally, it may be noted that the list of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland is preserved in various manuscripts which do not always tally. Some of the saints, not present on this list, can include Saints Senan and Sinell.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Saint Colman, Son of Aingen, July 14

Another name to add to our list of Irish saints called Colman - Colman, Son of Aingen, commemorated on July 14. Canon O'Hanlon seems to have been aware only of the evidence from the Irish calendars, but Pádraig Ó Riain in his A Dictionary of Irish Saints has accessed genealogical sources to add some welcome extra details. These associate this Colmán, along with his two brothers Cúrnán and Mac Reithe, with Killeroran, County Galway. The trio were also remembered in the church of Ceall Mac nAinghin(e) in Ballymoe. But Canon O'Hanlon's account below, taken from Volume VII of his Lives of the Irish Saints, refers only to the Irish calendars:

St. Colman, Son of Aingen.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, the name of Colman Mac Andgein appears, at the 14th of July. The patronymic furnishes little clue to his family or descent, much less to his locality. He probably lived in or before the eighth century. In the Martyrology of Donegal,we have entered, likewise, Colman, the son of Aingen. On the authority of Father O'Sheerin, the Bollandists have inserted his festival at the present date.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Saint Cruimther Fionntain of Cill-Airthir, July 13

Canon O'Hanlon brings details of an interesting saint at July 13: Cruimther Fionntain of Cill-airthir. The epithet Cruimther or cruimhthear indicates that our saint was a priest. In his account below, taken from Volume VII of the Lives of the Irish Saints, O'Hanlon first tries to find a locality which fits   with Cill-airthir and then introduces the speculation of Father J.F. Shearman, author of the Loca Patriciana, a study of places associated with Saint Patrick, that our Cruimther Fintan is to be identified with a Crubther Fintain mentioned in the Life of the Welsh saint, Cybi, and based on the Island of Aran. When I turned to the authoritative A Dictionary of Irish Saints by Pádraig Ó Riain, a somewhat different picture of our Priest Fintan emerges. Ó Riain places him in Killerr, County Roscommon and does not comment on Father Shearman's Aran/St Cybi theory. Instead he refers to the Life of Saint Mochta of Louth where Fiontan is portrayed as a disciple of Saint Patrick who is torn apart by the demons his master battles during Lent on Croaghpatrick. Saint Patrick restores Fiontan, who doesn't even have a scar from his ordeal. He then went on to become abbot of Killair.  So, a most interesting saint, even if we can only rely on hagiographical rather than historical sources for details of his life and career. Canon O'Hanlon appears to be unaware of the sources Ó'Riain has used, but the account of St Cybi's difficult dealings with the man of Aran, even if he isn't our man, is such a good story that I will publish it on the commemoration of the Welsh saint on November 8:

Cruimther Fionntain, of Cill-airthir. 

Happy must be the condition of Christian communities, where we find the good priest united with a pious people, and a faithful flock bearing reverence towards their holy pastor. A festival to honour Cruimther Fionntain, of Cill-airthir, appears registered in the Martyrology of Donegal at this date. There is a Killartery townland in the parish of Mayne, barony of Ferrard, and county of Louth; there is also a Killartry townland in the parish of Aghavea, barony of Magherastephana, and county of Fermanagh. These seem the only Irish denominations likely to correspond with the ancient nomenclature of his place, which does not appear to be known. The Rev. John Francis Shearman has identified the present Cruimther Fintan with a Crubther Fintain, who lived in the Island of Aran, and who is said to have chased St. Cybi and his companions Maclog and Cyngar, not only from that place, but even away from Ireland. This, however, is manifestly a legendary story. The Bollandists were furnished by Father O'Sheerin, with a notice of Fintanus Sacerdos de Kill airthir, for the 13th of July.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Saint Menou of Quimper-Corentin, July 12


July 12 is the feast of Saint Menou, said to have been an Irishman. Modern scholarship is a great deal more sceptical of taking traditions of Irish origins for continental saints at face value. Gwenaël le Duc, for example, subjected the notion of Irish saints in Brittany to critical examination and concluded that so far from Brittany being 'a favourite destination' for Irish saints 'most of the Irish saints who came to the Continent had little interest in Britanny.' His paper 'Irish Saints in Brittany: Myth or Reality?' is well worth a read, details can be found here. Saint Menou is not one of the saints discussed specifically by le Duc and I was unable to access any further specialist opinion on the truth of his alleged Irish origins. For Canon O'Hanlon, the claim of Irish origin in a medieval Life of the saint is good enough for him. He brings us a full account of Saint Menou, drawn from the hagiographical sources, along with a charming sketch of Quimper-Corentin. I particularly enjoyed the account of Saint Menou's pilgrimage to Rome where the Pope can't wait to meet him and begs him to stay in the Eternal City! Canon O'Hanlon begins and ends with a pious homiletic on the subject of renouncing the world, something the Irish saints at home and abroad certainly did, although I would still like to see further supporting evidence for the claim that Saint Menou should be numbered among them:





ST. MENULPHUS OR ST. MENOU, BISHOP OF QUIMPER-CORENTIN, FRANCE.

[PROBABLY IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY.]

WE often hear Christians say, they do not find the peace, and joy, and fruitfulness, and usefulness, they are led to expect from the promises of God conveyed in the Sacred Scriptures. If so, we may rest assured, the fault lies with themselves. It is only the true saint can fully comprehend, what the Almighty hath prepared for them that love him, and which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. The perfect detachment from created things is a sacrifice most pleasing and most perfect in the estimation of the Creator, and to it, the most faithful and favoured of his servants continually aspire.

The Acts of this venerable man whose name has been Latinized Menulfus, or Menulphus—and by the French called Menou—were formerly preserved in Manuscript, at the church of St. Autrille-du-Chateau, near Bourges. Theywere first published by le Pere Labbe. The Breviary of the church at Bourges, printed A.D. 1512, has his office of three Lessons included. Likewise, his office has been printed, at Paris, in 1686. It is now celebrated under a simple rite. The Acts of St. Menou, who probably flourished in the seventh century, and who became bishop of Quimper, in Bretagne, have been published by Lobineau. They have been published, likewise, by the Bollandists, at the 12th of July. There is a previous commentary, by Father John Baptist Soller, S.J., the editor. Then follow the proper Acts. The "Petits Bollandistes" have an account of this saint, and also at the same date.

It is agreed, by the various writers of his Acts, that Menou was a native of Ireland; but, regarding the particular place where he was born, or his parentage, we find no record. There, too, it seems his first years were spent; yet, for the sake of greater perfection, he was induced to leave his family and native country while still very young. At first, he went to Great Britain, and thence, he travelled to Armorica, until he came to Quimper, also known as Quimper-Corentin, the present capital of the Department of Finistere in France. It is situated on the declivity of a hill, at the confluence of the Odet and Steir, about thirty-two miles south-east from Brest. At that time, this city formed part of the country, belonging to the Ossimiens. It is now divided into an old and a new town, but the houses are poorly built. It is surrounded with a wall, and guarded by towers. Its present cathedral is a fine structure of the fifteenth century, and it is situated near the port. The bishop of Quimper is now a suffragan to the Archbishop of Tours. According to the Acts of our saint, about the same period when he arrived in Little Britain, Dagobert, King of the Franks, reigned, and had established peace throughout his dominions, while many holy persons flourished in the world, beautiful as the vernal flowers. This statement, however, is not reconcilable with the respective dates assigned for St. Corentin's epoch—supposed to have been the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century—and for that of King Dagobert, who flourished in the seventh century. We must infer, that the Legend of St. Menulph's Acts had been framed by some writer ignorant of chronology, and perhaps little careful to discriminate fictions from facts, in those accounts transmitted through popular traditions. At that period of St. Menulph's arrival at Quimper, St. Corentin is said to have ruled over it as bishop.  It is possible, he had been the second bearing that name, but we cannot find any distinct traces of the latter in the history of Quimper-Corentin.

That pious bishop of his acquaintance saw the youthful stranger, and asked about the country from which he came, as also the motives that induced him to travel. In the Breton language, Menou answered, that he was a native of Ireland, and that his sole desire was to serve God in the country to which he had come. The prelate found, that he had been well educated, and moved by his pious desire, the young man was admitted to the ranks of the clergy, and also ordained a priest. Having been invested with this sacred character, Menou was not alone satisfied with offering the Adorable Victim; but even,he became a living sacrifice to God, owing to his practice of corporal mortification. His great Faith and devotion rendered him an object of respect and affection among the people. Wherefore, when St. Corentin died, the united voices of the clergy and laity called St. Menou to succeed him. Notwithstanding the positive statement contained in the Legend of his Life, it is said, that the name of St. Menulfus or Menou is not to be found in the Lists of Bishops, belonging to Quimper-Corentin. The Bollandists do not deny, that our saint had been a bishop; but, whether he had been a regionary prelate, or had belonged to some See unknown, they think cannot be determined.

Having now become a pastor of souls, the saint was careful, not alone to instruct his people diligently in the truths of salvation, and to distribute the sacred bread of God's word, but likewise to edify them by his regular and exemplary life. His charity was occupied incessantly, in watching with solicitude over the spiritual concerns of his flock, and in healing the temporal ills to which they were subject. Hearing of his holiness and good works, a certain noble, that had been thrown into prison by the chief of that country, manifested a great desire to become converted through his preaching, and to receive his benediction. The zealous pastor, being informed regarding the the pious dispositions of the prisoner, sent his ring and a message, that he should not despair of God's bounty, and that he should soon have reasons for thanksgiving because of His infinite mercies. The ring was received with great pleasure by the prisoner. Touching his chains with it, these broke asunder, in the presence of all the keepers, so that the noble was set at liberty. At once, he went to visit St. Menou. Prostrate at his feet, the liberated man showed his lively sense of gratitude. He received also the Christian instruction necessary for his reception of Baptism. Afterwards, full of joy, he returned to live among his own people.

A vow had been made by St. Menou, to visit the tombs of the Apostles. With some of his priests in company, he accordingly parted for the city of Rome. When he had arrived there, the fame of his virtues could not long be concealed. A remarkable miracle was wrought by him, in favour of a paralytic, who asked an alms from him, and who in return received even a greater bounty, viz. : that of being healed from his infirmity. This was duly reported to the Pope, who much desired to see the saintly Prelate. The Sovereign Pontiff earnestly pressed our saint to remain longer in Rome. Nevertheless, the servant of God, having fully satisfied his devotion, resolved on returning to his own flock. Accompanied by his priests, St. Menou left Rome, and returned to France. He came to Mouilly, a small town in the Department of l'Allier, formerly known as that of Bourbonnais, and at present it is in the diocese of Moulins.

When he arrived there, the holy man forewarned his disciples, that death was approaching, and he even announced to them the very day and hour. They were overwhelmed with sorrow, to hear this sad news. They assembled around their beloved pastor and master, praying him to become their intercessor in Heaven, as he had been their model and protector in that school of perfection where he had trained them while on earth. Their pious bishop then exhorted them to persevere in virtuous pursuits for the rest of their days. Then receiving the Holy Viaticum, and reclining as if he were about to pass  into a calm slumber, Menulph gave forth his last breath in prayer. Being  free from contagion of sin during his life, so he was exempt from painful  sufferings at the hour of death. In his old Acts, it is stated, that he departed this life, on the fourth day of the July Ides, corresponding with the 12th day of this month. His great humility urged him to select an almost unknown spot in the cemetery of St. Germain, and his wishes in the matter were faithfully regarded. The village of Maliacum, where he had been interred, has since been called from him St. Menouil, in Bourbonnais.

A miracle wrought at his tomb caused a local magnate named Arcade to cause a church to be erected there, in honour of the holy bishop; while a nunnery of religious women was also established, in that place. The third Abbess, named Adalgise, caused St. Menou's body to be raised from the earth in the ninth century. That religious house is now destroyed, but the saint's relics are still preserved in the ancient church, which has since become parochial. Not only in the place, which now preserves his name, has the veneration of St. Menou been established, but throughout the whole diocese of Bourges. A reason assigned for his memory not being so well preserved in Bretagne is owing probably to the circumstance of his death occurring without that province. However, there are still places there, such as Pont-Menou, le Val-Meno, and Ker-Meno, evidently associated with his name. It is thought, likewise, that St. Nolf, the name of a parish in the diocese of Vannes, has reference to St. Menou, who is called Menulphus in Latin.

The feast of this holy bishop is kept on the 12th of July, and on that day he is venerated in the ancient French Calendars. In the Additions to Usuard, Greven seems to have been the first to introduce the feast of St. Menulplus into his Martyrology, and from this entry, other calendarists who succeeded derive their data, such as Molanus, Canisius, Maurolycus, and Ferrarius. The latter adds, that in the lists of the Bishops of Bourges his name is not to be found, and most probably because St. Menulphus had been bishop in some other city. According to the Bollandists, Castellan had been the first to assign him a proper See, on the faith of a mere popular tradition.

Assiduous at his work, and engaged in pious exercises, the present holy man was still able to disengage himself for the spiritual interests of others. He only found delight in doing the will of his Maker. The deeply religious and moral example of his life and actions in his intercourse with men had a potent influence over their souls, and when the shadows of death fell upon him, the labours he had so unostentatiously wrought at home and abroad were well rewarded by that Divine Master, for whose sake he had sacrificed earth and its pleasures to obtain the happiness of Heaven.


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Monday, 11 July 2016

Saint Lonan of Ard Cruinn, July 11

Another name to add to the ever-growing list of obscure Irish holy men - Saint Lonan of Ard Cruinn, commemorated on July 11. Canon O'Hanlon seeks to identify the locality of Ard Cruinn with Ardcroney in County Tipperary and tells us about an old church site there. No other details of the saint appear to be available:

St. Lonan, of Ard-Cruinn. 

Veneration was given, at the 11th of July, to Lonan, of Arda Crainn, as we find entered in the Martyrology of Tallagh. The Bollandists have recorded, at this same date, a feast for Lonanus of Ard-cruinn, as furnished by Father O'Sheerin. We may enquire, if Ard-cruinn can be identical with Ardcroney, a parish in the barony of Lower Ormond, and county of Tipperary. The left side of the direct road —as you advance from Borris-o-kane to Nenagh—affords the site for an ancient church, on a very elevated spot. Connected with this church appear the remains of an old castle; some of the side walls, chambers, winding stairs and window-places, are yet to be seen. The whole group of ruins is enclosed within a much frequented graveyard. The church walls are in tolerable preservation. In one end gable, a narrow cut-stone and pointed window remains entire. The opposite gable, near the old castle, appears rather to have been an interior cross-wall, under which a wide arch opens. The masonry in this group of buildings is very massiveand well cemented. The whole deserves an attentive study from the antiquary and archaeologist. In the Isle of Man—which is full of ancient Celtic ecclesiastical memorials—there is an old, and also a new one—the former giving name to a parish, known as Loman. Tradition states, that a St. Lonan, nephew of the Irish Apostle, is honoured there. The ruins of the ancient church stand in a lonely cemetery a mile and a-half off the main road from Douglas to Luney. In the Martyrology of Donegal,  the feast of this saint is also entered, at the 11th of July.


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