Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Saints Failbe of Cell Eó, June 30

June 30 is the commemoration of Saint Failbe who is associated in the calendars with the locality of Cell or Cill-Eó. He may or may not be linked to another saint from the same place, Caelán. The Martyrology of Gorman lists 'holy Failbe and Coelán' with the note 'Failbe and Caelán in Cell Eó'.  The two are similarly linked in the later Martyrology of Donegal but in the earlier Martyrology of Tallaght they are listed separately as 'Coelan Dachoe' and 'Falbe of Chill Eó' i.e. 'from Cell Éo'.  Canon O'Hanlon deals with them separately in Volume VI of his Lives of the Irish Saints and places Cell-Eó, which the place names glossary in the Martyrology of Gorman translates as 'the church of the yews', in County Longford:

St. Failbe of Cill-eo, County of Longford. 

The published Martyrology of Donegal seems to place this saint, together with St. Caolan, at Cill-eo, for the 30th of June. However, the Irish Calendar,  belonging to the Royal Irish Academy, has a different entry, as we shall see, when treating about St. Caolan. Of this saint, it remarks, that he was of the Clan Ruighre, and that his place was Cill-eo, in the County of Longford.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Two Ancient Hymns of the Irish Church on St. Peter

Below are the texts and translations of two hymns in honour of Saint Peter, discovered among the manuscripts at the German monastery of Reichenau and republished by Patrick Francis, Cardinal Moran, in one of his essays on the early Irish Church. The status of Reichenau, an island monastery on Lake Constance, as one of the 'Schottenklöster' or Irish monasteries is not as clearly-defined as some of the more famous Irish foundations like Ratisbon, associated with the Blessed Marianus Scottus (Muiredach MacRobertaigh). Reichenau's founder was a Saint Pirmin, and scholars are still unable to say with certainty where this saint was from. In an earlier post here I reprinted a nineteenth-century paper which argued for a tradition that he was an Irishman. In a sense though, the birthplace of the founder is not the defining factor here, for this monastery clearly had links to the Irish cultural world. One of its most famous sons, Walafrid Strabo, who was not an Irishman, wrote the only surviving account of the martyrdom of Saint Blaitmac of Iona, killed by the Vikings as he defended the relics of Saint Columba. A version of Adamnan's Life of Saint Columba found at Reichenau's Library was of such quality and completeness that it was used by Colgan in his Trias Thaumaturga. A ninth-century abbot of Reichenau, Ermenrich, wrote glowingly of Ireland's contribution to Christian mission and learning: 'How can we forget Ireland, the island where the sun of faith arose for us, and whence the brilliant rays of so great a light have reached us? Bestowing philosophy on small and great, she fills the Church with her science and her teaching. ' What a wonderful testimony to the spiritual legacy of the Irish on the continent!

Two Ancient Hymns of the Irish Church on St. Peter, published by Mone.

We are indebted to the eminent German antiquarian, Mone, for two very ancient hymns of the Irish Church, which he discovered amongst the papers of the old Irish monastery of Reichenau, and which he published, from Irish manuscripts of the 8th and 9th centuries, in his invaluable work entitled " Hymni Latini Medii Aevi”. [Friburg, 1855. Vol. iii. pag. 68.]

The first and most ancient poem is an alphabetical hymn on the apostle Peter, the initials of each strophe presenting successively the whole series of the letters of the alphabet. We now give it to the reader, as printed by Mone, and we unite with it a literal translation, for which we are indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Potter, Professor of All-Hallows College, Dublin:

1 "Audite fratres fama
Petri pastoris plurima
Baptismatis libamina
Fundit veluti flumina.
Adsiut nobis sublimia
Sancti Petri suffragia.

2 “Bis refulsit ut fulmina
Sana sanctorum agmina
Flentes duxit ex ordine
Gentes divino carmine.

3 "Celebravit egregia
Evangelii praeconia,
Facta prostrata legia
De Satana victoria.

4 “Dudum elegit dominus
Petrum ut optimum oleum,
Ut obitaret dominum
Essetque pastor ovium.

5 “Elaboravit ubique,
Curae datus historiae,
Fundamentum dominicae
Ecclesiae Catholicae.

6 "Facta crucis martyria
Fecit magna prodigia
Sequutus per aetheria
Christiana vestigia.

7 "Gloriosum apostolum
Deus ornavit gloria
Romse urbis qua in
Vivit cum victoria.

8 "Habundabat justitia,
Plenus divina gratia
Expandit retia sparsa
Per mundi spatia.

9 "Judaeorum malivolas
Vitae formavit animas
Missusque capsit plurimas
Evangelii per sagias.

10 "Kasta librorum legimus,
Petri plenos virtutibus,
Moestas divinis fletibus,
Pastoris summi nutibus.

11 "Luxit ut Phoebus saecula,
Christi secutus opera
Binae legis oracula
(A line wanting).

12 "Mirum pastorem piissimum
Flagitare non desino,
Ne demergar cum pessima,
Intercedas pro misero.

13 "Nunc dignare, apostole,
Aperire cum clavibus
Regnum quod olim quaerimus
Nos instantes prae foribus.

14 "Opus delator sublimis,
Te rogamus assidue,
Recordare martyriae
Et auxilium tribue.

15 "Petri precamur veniam,
Si qua mala peregimus,
Resistentes daemonibus
Nunc evalere legimus.

16 "Qui nostri spiritus aerias
Praesta salutis galeas,
Simon Johannis, audias
Nostras preces, ut audias.

17 "Regis regnum apostolorum,
Precor precamine,
Me morantem in limine
Mortis desolve valide.

18 "Salvat horis in munere,
Mundi ferebat famina,
Cui concessa numina,
Relaxare peccamina.

19 "Turbae sanctorum magister,
Ovem errantem eruat,
Negligenter ne pereat,
Adjutorium tribuat.

20 "Uisitando cum trophaeo,
Fidei tectus clipeo,
Cujus vires ut sapio
Fari omnino nequeo.

21 "Xristi martyrum lucifer,
Legis lator altissimi,
Cui daemones pessimi
Obediebant impiissimi.

22 "Ymno dicto de laudibus
Petri, utcunque fecimus,
Nostris virtutum opibus
Propitiatur precibus.

23 "Zona praecincti placidis
Totis vivamus debitis,
Ut fruamur infinitis,
In angelorum editis."

1 "List, Brothers, whilst our hymn of praise,
To Peter's name we humbly raise;
From whose blest hand the waters ran,
Which life restored to fallen man.
May Peter's love our path attend,
And guide us to our happy end.

2 "Bright as the lightning's glowing sheen,
He, twice, 'mid ranks of saints, was seen;
Whilst nations lost in fear and love,
Hear chants divine from realms above.

3 " With fearless tongue he pleads the cause
Of Christ's divine and holy laws;
And all the baffled hosts of hell
His Master's glowing triumph tell.

4 "In years long past, in by-gone time,
As highest prince, to post sublime
Was Peter chosen to succeed,
And Christ's ne'er-failing flock to feed.

5 "Nor clime, nor space, might bound his zeal,
And pages writ his deeds reveal;
On him, the rock so strong, so sure,
Christ's Church shall ever firm endure.

6 "Fixed to the cross, he closed his days,
And wonders dread proclaimed his praise:
To realms above, to die no more,
He soar'd, as Christ had soar'd before.

7 "And, now, in deathless glory crowned,
The earth doth with his praise resound;
And thou, the first, sweet mother Rome,
His see, his battle-field, his home.

8 "Hence, in God's grace, in justice bright,
And led and guided by their light,
Through all the world, from end to end,
Did Peter's care his nets extend.

9 "E'en cruel Jews, from vice and strife,
Were led to walk the path of life;
And, soon, the Gospel's seine might tell
Of countless souls redeemed from hell.

10 "Historic lore proclaims his fame,
And all the glory of his name;
"Whilst at his nod, from sinful eyes
Tears rise, as incense, to the skies.

11 "Like Phoebus shining o'er the world,
Christ's saving standard he unfurl'd,
And, walking in his Master's ways,
Proclaim'd God's laws through all his days.

12 "That I may be this pastor's care,
Shall surely be my constant prayer;
Oh, Peter, pray, lest I be tost
By angry waves, and, wretched, lost.

13 "Oh deign, apostle, pure and meek,
To guide us to the realm we seek;
We stand, we pray, we faint outside,
Oh, ope to us those portals wide.

14 "With never-failing lips we pray,
Thy aid and help, our hope, our stay;
And, mindful of thy own sad throes,
Grant help and comfort in our woes.

15 "Thy pardon, Peter, we implore,
With hearts resolved to sin no more;
With Satan's hosts fierce war to wage,
And, trusting, all our foes engage.

16 "Then, Simon John, oh, list our cry,
And bear us succour from on high;
And on our brows bind helmets bright,
To keep us harmless in the fight.

17 " With humble cry, with humble prayer,
Apostles' Lord, I crave thy care;
That, trembling on death's awful shore,
Nor sin, nor hell, may claim me more.

18 "As every hour the sinner's cry,
Doth rise in sadness to the sky;
His chains unbound—behold him free,
For God's right hand doth work with thee.

19 "Oh, master of the sainted band,
O'er erring sinners keep thy hand;
And, lest our feet should sadly stray,
Oh, guide us in the narrow way.

20 "With faith's bright shield thy flock enshroud,
And glad them with thy trophies proud;
But mortal tongue may never tell
The saving strength we know so well.

21 "Of martyrs bright the brightest name,
God's people, all, thy praise proclaim;
Whilst demons dread thy awful sway,
And trembling fiends thy power obey.

22 "As best we may, to Peter's praise
This humble song we humbly raise;
May he our cry benign attend,
And guide us to our happy end.

23 "With girded loins, with duty done,
With cheerful hearts, till all be won;
May we, when life's stern fight is o'er,
Be crown'd with bliss for evermore.

We could not desire a fuller exposition of the prerogatives of St. Peter than is contained in this poem; he is the apostle divinely chosen "to hold the place of Christ and feed his sacred fold;" he is "the foundation of the Christian universal church" (fundamentum Dominica Ecclesiae Catholicae); he is "the master of the choir of saints;" " the prince of the martyrs of Christ; "the legislator of the Most High," and moreover, he is adorned "with the aureola of Rome, in which city he is destined to reign with an ever-enduring triumph."

The second poem is equally explicit; it styles the apostle the key-bearer of the heavenly kingdom, not for a while only, but throughout all time; he is the pontiff of souls, the prince of apostles, the shepherd of all the fold of Christ. We now give it in full, with a literal translation:

1. "Sanctus Petrus, apostolus,
Quondam piscator optimus,
Altum mare cum navibus,
Temptabat remis, retibus.

2. "Qui de profundo gurgitum
Magnam raptor fluctivagam
Jactis nave reticulis
Praedam captabat piscium.

3. “Christum vocantem sequitur
Sponte relictis omnibus
Dignus erat apostolus
Factus piscator hominum

4. "Sancto Petro pro merito
Christus regni coelestium
Claves simul cum gratia
Tradidit in perpetuum.

5. "Animarum pontificem,
Apostolorum principem
Petrum rogamus omnium
Christi pastorem ovium.

6. "Ne mens gravata crimine
Nostra torpescat pectore
Reddamus Christo gloriae
Cantemus in perpetuum.


1. "Great Peter, saint, apostle blest,
In fisher's lowly garb once drest,
With ship and oar did brave the deep,
Whilst searching nets the billows sweep.

2. "Full oft where surges wildly play,
Where, heedless, sport the finny prey;
His fish he takes, in seine or weel
Wide spread beneath his trusty keel.

3. "But, lo, he hears the Master's call,
With joyful heart abandons all;
And, office dread, unheard till then,
Is fisher made of ransomed men.

4. "The keys which open the portals blest,
That lead the way to endless rest,
To him Christ gives, with grace to tend
And guide his flock safe to the end.

5. "Great Pontiff of Christ's chosen band,
Apostles round thee humbly stand!
O'er Christ's true flock strict watch still keep,
Still guard His lambs still guard His sheep.

6. "Ne'er may our souls, with crime opprest,
Find rest or peace within our breast;
May we to Christ, glad songs of praise,
In realms of bliss, for ever raise. Amen.

Essays on the The Origin of the Irish Church by the Rev. Dr. Moran (Dublin, 1864), 81-87.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Saint Cruimín of Leacan, June 28

June 28 is the commemoration of a saint with Patrician associations - Cruimín of Leacan. In his account below, Canon O'Hanlon gives a good description of the church site associated with the saint and of the holy well dedicated to him. Popular devotion survived here until the second decade of the nineteenth century, although the noting of the occasion as the day after the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul seems to be a mistake as June 28 is the day before the apostles' feast. Saint Cruimín was supposed to have attained a great age and Canon O'Hanlon quotes a quatrain which alludes to this:

" Three score years thrice over
Was the age of the pious Crummain;
Without infection, without disease, he changed colour,
After Mass, after celebration."

You will also see that there are at least half a dozen different ways of transliterating the name of the saint, I have followed Professor Ó Riain's usage of Cruimín, but in the entry below from the Lives of the Irish Saints he is variously described as Crumine, Cruimmen, Crummain, Crumanius, Cruimminus etc.



THROUGH the devoted ministry of St. Patrick, it is generally supposed we owe the call of this his disciple to the priceless gift of Divine Faith. However it may be, we should above all things be careful to guard and preserve this precious treasure, which God has so bountifully bestowed on our ancestors, and which as an invaluable heirloom has descended unimpaired to our time. The Martyrology of Tallagh, at this date, simply enters the name Crumine, in Leacan, of Midhe. From all we can glean, he seems to have flourished, at a very early period in our Irish ecclesiastical history. An inference may be drawn, with some degree of probability, that he might have been one of those missionary companions, that originally accompanied St. Patrick to Ireland; if it be true, that on the mother's side, he had been a nephew to the great Irish Apostle. The account of his origin and descent, however, is both confused and unsatisfactory. According to one statement, Crummain, of Lecain, was son to Corbmac, son of Baedan, and sprung from the race of Tadhg, son to Cian, son to Oilioll Olum. According to another statement, Conis—whom it is difficult to identify with the Irish name Corbmac— was this saint's father. On such statements, however, we cannot rely, with any great degree of certainty. According to a Tract, ascribed to St. Aengas, Darerca, sister to St. Patrick, is said to have been his mother, as also the mother of fifteen sons, who were bishops—besides two others —as  also the mother of two holy virgins. Yet, it is thought, there may have been  several interpolations in that Tract. Some critics consider, moreover, it is not the genuine composition of St. Aengus.

Besides the supposed relationship of uncle and nephew, St. Crumanius is numbered among St. Patrick's disciples, while he is classed also among the bishops of the early Irish Church. It is stated, that when St. Patrick came to that part of Meath, commonly called Leaccuin, he built a church. This was not very distant from Forgny, where he installed Munis, a disciple and a nephew on his sister's side. In the former church, he left St. Cromanius, otherwise named Cruimminus, while he bestowed some relics, which afterwards seem to have been there preserved.

A certain holy man, named Cruemus—more correctly Cruminus—had a vision, regarding the birth of St. Fechin, Abbot of Fore and of his place. That holy man called Cruemus is supposed to have been identical with the present saint; while Fore is situated eastwards, and within the distance of six or seven miles from Leckin. It is likely, moreover, that a monastic institute of some sort had been established in connexion with the church of Lecain, as St. Patrick is stated to have left some of his disciples at that place with St. Cromanius. No doubt, as guardian, he ruled over this small community, he being also rector of the church. In the Feilire of St. Aengus, at the 28th of June, the festival of St. Crumine is noted ; while, he is characterized as a distinguished personage, in connection with Leccan, of Meath. In a comment appended, Leccan is described as being in Ui-Macc Uais Midhe. It is not, however, in the modern barony of Ui-Mic-Uais, or Moygoish ; but, it lies a short distance from its eastern boundary, in the adjoining barony of Corkaree. This shows, that in the formation of baronies, the exact boundaries of our ancient territories were not always observed.  The Ui Mac-Uais were a tribe, descended from Colla Uais, monarch of Ireland in the fourth century.

The place of St. Crumine is now known as Leckin, a parish in the barony of Corkaree, and county of Westmeath. According to the Ordnance Survey Index Map of Westmeath County, the parish of Leckin is bounded on the north, by the River Inny, which separates it from the parishes of Russagh and Street, and which connects Lough Iron and Lough Derravaragh; on the east, by a portion of the latter Lough, and by the parish of Multyfarnham; on the south and west it is bounded by the parish of Leny. In the country of the Radii or Nepotes Radii —the present Corca-Ree—we learn that St. Patrick built a church, and he placed over it St. Cromeen, of whom very little is now known. It should be a curious subject for enquiry to find, if this holy person had been descended from the Fiacha Raidhe of this territory.

It has been said, as we have seen, that St. Patrick founded this church, and left holy relics at Lecain, of Meath, as also a party of his people with Crummaine. Although in some instances, Dr. O'Donovan has placed the ancient territory of Ui-Mac-Uais-Midhe, as being in East Meath, and to the south-west of Tara; yet, in other passages, he states, it is believed to have been identical with the present barony of Moyguish, in the county of Westmeath. It is suspected, however, that the present saint did not live  in the time of St. Patrick; but, that he was rather contemporaneous with St. Fechin of Fore, who died A.D. 664. Such is the opinion of Archdall; but, it seems to be unfounded, nor is it borne out by the authority to which he refers.There is an old church still to be seen at Leckin, near Bunbrusna.

This church, it is said, had been built by St. Cruimin, whose festival was formerly celebrated here, on the 28th of June.He is said, also, to have been a contemporary with St. Fechin, of Fore; but, it seems more than probable, that he lived fully a century, before the time of the latter. The old church at Leckin is of very considerable antiquity, and it is said to have been built, much in the style of St. Fechin's church at Fore, although not with like massive stones. The neighbouring quarries do not furnish large blocks, and the chief materials to be extracted from them are limestone flags. The lintel which covers the doorway heading is a thin light flag. The only remains of Leckin old church, existing towards the close of 1837, were the doorway, a small window of beautifully chiselled limestone—exactly similar to that in the east gable of St. Fechin's church—and a semicircular arch similar in style and position to the one in Dungiven old church. These features were to be seen, in a part of the south side wall, the only portion of the old church then existing. From its present remains, it is not easy to form any idea regarding the exact extent of this church when perfect. Opposite the doorway, and close to the south wall, a tombstone, shaped like a coffin, was to be seen. It bore an inscription in raised letters, but not in the Irish character. This tomb was well cut and ornamented, and was found some years before 1837, at the bottom of a grave. At Leckin—or as the people more generally pronounce it, Lackan—the old church measures 45 by 19 feet. The chancel remains in a fair state of preservation. Here was a holy well, dedicated to St. Crumin,  and situated in the south-east end of Leacain townland. The day after SS. Peter and Paul's great Festival was traditionally held to have been that for the local saint's celebration ; and, until the year 1822, a vast concourse of people visited their Holy Well for devotional purposes. The Ui-Mic-Uais-Breagh, a tribe seated in East Meath, and to the south-west of Tara, must be distinguished, as we are told, from the Ui-Mic-Uais-Teathbaa, who gave name to the present barony of Moygoish, in the north-west of Meath County.

At what exact time St. Crumine commenced his foundation here, or in what exact capacity he acted, and whether as Abbot or Bishop, is not known. According to an ancient tradition, he lived to be extremely old; but, we find no date for his death in our Annals. It had been thought, by Mr. O'Donovan, that there was a well named after this saint, in the parish of Kilbixy. We find his name entered, in the Martyrology of Donegal, at this same date, as Cruimmin, Bishop, in Lecain, of Meath, i.e. in Ui-Mac-Uais. Under the head of Leacan of Meath, Duald Mac Firbis likewise enters, Cruimin, bishop, at June 28th. St. Crumin is still held in great veneration throughout Westmeath, and his name is very familiar to the people. The foot-prints and traces of the saints should never be effaced; and, yet how many of our early holy ones have been forgotten, although the memory of good men ought always be preserved, as a light to guide and encourage others on their journey over the wilderness. The world gives us no better memorials; yet, have we to regret a total loss of the intellectual accomplishments and mental characteristics of so many, who doubtless in their day, gave lustre and example to their contemporaries. Those virtues have had their reward, although we may be unable, to present them in an exact order and review, for the edification of persons who survive in the present generation.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saint Senic, June 27

I found myself intrigued by the enigmatic reference to the name of Senic, commemorated on June 27. Canon O'Hanlon writes precisely two lines on him, including the detail that his name is Latinized to Seneca. I can add only two further details - first, his name does not appear on the earlier Martyrologies of Tallaght and Oengus and secondly, he is not the only saint of this name to be commemorated on the later Irish calendars. There is also a feast of Saint Senic recorded on November 10 in both the twelfth-century Martyrology of Gorman and subsequently in the Martyrology of Donegal. Whether this is a secondary feast for today's holy man or whether there was another saint of the same name whose feast fell in November, I have no way of finding out. I also found a reference to a Senic Óg in the Annals of Loch Cé in 1407 and this note:
Senic (or Senicin) the Younger. He was apparently the son of Senicin (Jenkin) Savage who was slain in 1374, as above recorded.
So I am left with some questions about the origins of this name. It sounds from the above note that it may be a Norman name, which might explain why it does not occur in the earlier Irish calendars. Canon O'Hanlon's brief account below cannot help to shed any further light on this elusive saint:

St. Senic.

A festival in honour of Senic is found entered in the Martyrology of Donegal, at the 27th of June. His name is also rendered Seneca, in the table appended to this work.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Saint Duthac, June 26

Canon O'Hanlon has examined the Scottish calendars at June 26 to bring us the name of Saint Duthac. There is a relatively well-known eleventh-century saint of this name commemorated on March 8, Saint Duthac of Ross, whom the sources do seem to link to Ireland. Whether June 26 is a secondary feast of the patron of Ross or whether he is another saintly bishop of the same name is not made clear in the few lines that Canon O'Hanlon contributes, for his main aim is to stake a claim to him for the original Scotti - the Irish:

St. Duthac. 

In the Scottish Kalendar of Hyrdmanistown, and in that of Nova Farina, we have a festival entered, at the 26th of June, for St. Duthac, a Bishop and Confessor. We know not whether by birth he belonged to Ireland or to Scotland; however, in this, as in many similar cases, we desire to include his name among our Celtic saints.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Daughter of Mionghar, June 25

The name of one of the many obscure Irish female saints is found on the earliest of the surviving Irish calendars at June 25. This holy lady is even more enigmatic than most, given that we do not have her Christian name, only that of her father. Canon O'Hanlon can only bring us a couple of lines:

The Daughter of Mionghar. 

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, we find the entry, Ingena Ninguir, at this date. The daughter of Mionghar was venerated at the 25th of June, as we find recorded, in the Martyrology of Donegal.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Saint Cormac of Senchoimhet, June 24

On June 24 the Irish calendars commemorate a Saint Cormac of Senchoimhet, but details of his name  and locality seem to be the only record of him, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Cormac or Corbmac, of Senchoimhet.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, a festival is mentioned in honour of Cormac of Sencometa, at the 24th of June. He is named Corbmac, and his place is called Senchoimhet, in the Martyrology of Donegal. When he lived is unknown, nor has the locality been identified.