Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

518319 December

Expand Messages
  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Dec 18, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      Celtic and Old English Saints 19 December

      * St. Samthann of Clonbroney
      * St. Manire of Scotland

      St. Samthann (Samthana) of Clonbroney (of Meath), Virgin
      Died 739; some give her feast as December 18. The veneration of Saint
      Samthann, the Irish nun who founded Clonbroney (Cluain-Bronach) Abbey
      near Granard in County Longford, was introduced to the Continent and
      promoted by Saint Virgilius of Salzburg (f.d. November 27). Her name is
      included in both the litany and the canon of the Stowe missal, as well
      as an ancient litany at Salzburg, Austria.

      A Life written later tells us that Samthann was raised by Cridan, king
      of Cairbre Cabhra. He arranged for her marriage but a
      miracle prevented it. Thereafter she became a nun under Saint Cognat at
      Ernaide (Donegal), from where she moved to Clonbroney.

      Her Life provides us with some of her wise sayings. When a monk asked in
      what attitude should prayer be made, she responded "in every position:
      standing, sitting, or lying." Another said he was going to stop
      studying in order to pray more. She advised that he would never be able
      to fix his mind and pray if he neglected study. When yet another said he
      was making a pilgrimage, she remarked that the kingdom of heaven can be
      reached without crossing the sea and that God is near to all who call
      upon Him.

      A tradition reports that Samthann once prayed a soul out of hell, an
      accomplishment attributed only to a very few of the great Christian
      saints. Praying a soul out of hell was, however, not an uncommon
      accomplishment for Irish saints; one scholar has claimed it to be an
      "almost exclusively Celtic motif."

      Samthann would not accept large estates for her convent. She preferred
      that her sisters live in poverty as demonstrated by the fact that the
      community had but six cows for its herd.

      One tradition relates that the convent of Clonbroney was founded by
      Saint Patrick for the daughters of his former master,
      Milchu. Another claims the foundation was made by the disciples of Saint
      Brigid. But in later times Samthann was bestowed with that honour. The
      convent was one of the three most important--with those of Kildare and
      Cloonburren--in Ireland. Its last known abbess died in 1160
      (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Farmer, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague, Mould,


      Vita Sanctae Samthannae Virginis

      The date of this mediaeval life of St Safan is unknown. In general, its
      reference to historical personalities of the period is accurate - with the
      notable exception of its reference to St Laserian (Molaise),
      who predated Safan by over a century. This would suggest that its author
      had some familiarity with Safan's period.

      The work itself is typical of its genre: its main concern being to
      establish the holiness of the saint through a number of minor miracles. The
      miraculous content of these stories reveal something of the kind of person
      the saint was and give a few biographical details.

      Safan came from an Ulster family and was for a period the bursar in the
      convent of Urney. She then moved on to become abbess of the convent in
      Clonbroney, Co. Longford, where she lived the rest of her
      life. She comes across as a woman who was energetic and efficient in
      developing and running the monastery under her care: she built and later
      renovated an oratory and provided the monastery with a new
      dining room. The stories show a woman who was hospitable, compassionate and
      devoted to her community; she was sought for her sage advice, and her
      answers to the questions put to her show flexibility and common sense.

      Some Sections of the Vita

      On a certain day, the holy virgin, Safan, rising at earliest dawn, heard
      the voice of a leper across the pond: he was shouting loudly to be brought
      across. Giving in to his wishes, the saintly woman guided
      a small boat with her staff and brought him across. When he complained of
      his poverty and nakedness, she gave him a cow with a calf, and, like another
      Martin, gave him the larger portion of her cloak. When he was asked where
      he came from, he replied that he had come from the monastery of Saint Ultan,
      and having said that, he disappeared. A strange thing then occurred. The
      cow which the leper
      had received was found where it had previously been, with the calf in its
      enclosure, and no tear was found in the holy Safan's garment.

      At that time, the holy virgin, Funecha, the foundress of the monastery of
      Cluan Bronich (Clonbroney), dreamt that the holy Safan had come in the form
      of a spark of fire, which, setting the whole monastery
      alight, grew into a hugh flame. Reporting the dream to the sisters, she
      interpreted it in the following way: "Safan, aflame by the power of the
      Holy Spirit, will make this place glow by virtue of her merits and the
      splendour of her miracles." So, sending for Safan, the holy Funecha put her
      in charge of the monastery.

      A certain monk asked the holy Safan about the method of prayer, whether one
      ought to pray lying, sitting or standing. "One should pray in all
      positions", was her reply.

      And again a master said: "I would like to go overseas to travel for Christ".
      She gave him this answer: "If God cannot be found on this side of the sea,
      then by all means let us travel overseas. But since God is close to all who
      call upon Him, we have no need to travel overseas. It is possible to attain
      the kingdom of heaven from any and every land".

      On one occasion a certain master called Dayrcellach approached the virgin
      and said to her: "I intend to postpone my study so that I can devote myself
      to prayer". To this she replied: "If you neglect your
      spiritual study, what then can concentrate your mind to prevent it from

      The penultimate paragraph of the Vita pays the following tribute to the

      Who indeed could list all the ways in which God enriched her? For she was
      filled with the grace of good works, was adorned with the beauty of all the
      virtues and enriched with exemplary actions throughout her whole life. She
      was a devoted mistress to those under her authority, but a most humble
      servant where physical work was concerned. She was poor in spirit as well as
      possessions. She declined to own land and never had more than six cows at
      any one time. She treated everyone with love and compassion, especially
      those of her household.For she was cheerful in giving, modest in receiving,
      compassionate in sympathising and effective in helping.. No work of piety
      was neglected by her. In holiness and justice in the presence of Christ, her
      spouse, her life in this world came to an end, and on the 19th December, she
      received from him the crown which he has prepared from eternity for those
      who love him.


      Sources for the Life of St Samthann:

      Dorothy Africa, translator, Life of the Holy Virgin Samthann in T.Head
      (ed.), Medieval Hagiography - An Anthology (Routledge 2001), 97-110.

      Selections from the Life of St Samthann were also translated by Frs Diarmuid
      O'Laoghaire and Peter O'Dwyer for Edward C. Sellner's book 'Wisdom of the
      Celtic Saints' (1993), 194-99.

      St. Manire of Scotland, Bishop
      (Manirus, Niniar)
      Date unknown. Manirus is venerated as one of the apostles of northern
      Scotland. His work seems to have concentrated on encouraging the newly
      converted Highlanders in their faith (Benedictines).

      [ http://www.cushnieent.force9.co.uk/manire.html ]

      The last of the Celtic apostles to bring the Gospel to Deeside were St
      Devenick and St Manire. Both were active in the valley during the 9th
      century but their establishments were widely separated.

      St Manire (sometimes spelled Monire, Miniar or Niniar) is said to have been
      one of Drostan's successors at Deer, and to have had a foundation in that
      district near Aberdour.

      St Manire's main sphere of activity was on upper Deeside, in Crathie
      district, where he established his church. The site of Manire's foundation
      is at Rhynabaich, a knoll to the north of the North Deeside Road. A solitary
      standing-stone is all that remains of Manire's establishment {NO 301962},
      but local place-names such as alt eaglais, "the burn of the church"; creag
      eaglais, "the hill of the church"; pollmanire, "the pool of Manire" - a deep
      salmon pool on the river Dee almost opposite Balmoral Castle - recall the
      activities of this almost forgotten saint. The ancient church site at
      Crathie {NO 264947}, south of the present Crathie-Kirk, is under his
      invocation. He is said to have suffered persecution, but did not receive the
      crown of martyrdom. Hence he appears in the Calendars as a confessor, not a

      Manire is said to have died in 824AD and is believed to have been buried in
      his church at Crathie.


      Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
      (1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

      D'Arcy, M. R. (1974). The Saints of Ireland. Saint Paul, Minnesota:
      Irish American Cultural Institute. [This is probably the most
      useful book to choose to own on the Irish saints. The author
      provides a great deal of historical context in which to place the
      lives of the saints.]

      Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
      Oxford: Oxford University Press.

      Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
      Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
      London: Virtue & Co.

      Kenney, J. F. (1929). Sources for Early History of Ireland,
      vol. 1, Ecclesiastical. New York: Columbia University Press

      Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
      Guildford: Billing & Sons.

      Mould, D. D. C. (1952). Scotland of the Saints. London: Batsford.

      Ryan, J. (1931). Irish Monasticism. Dublin: Talbot Press.

      These Lives are archived at:
    • Show all 14 messages in this topic