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10 May #1

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  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Celtic and Old English Saints 10 May =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= *St. Comgall of Bangor =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= St.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10 8:49 PM
      Celtic and Old English Saints 10 May

      *St. Comgall of Bangor

      St. Comgall, Bishop and Founder of Bangor Monastery
      Born in Ulster, Ireland, c. 517; died at Bangor, Ireland, in 603; some
      list his feast as May 11. It is said that Comgall was a warrior as a
      young man, but that he studied under Saint Fintan at Cluain Eidnech
      Monastery, was ordained a priest before he was 40, and with several
      companions became a hermit in Lough Erne. The rule he imposed was so
      severe that seven of them died. He left the island and founded a
      monastery at Bangor (Bennchor) on the south shore of Lake Belfast, where
      he taught Saint Columban and a band of monks who evangelized Central
      Europe. Two other of his monks actively evangelized Scotland, Saint
      Moluag of Lismore in Argyll and Saint Maelrubha of Applecross in Ross.
      In time, it became the most famous monastery in Ireland, and Comgall is
      reported to have ruled over some 8,000 monks there and in houses founded
      from Bangor. Bangor was one of the principal religious centres of
      Ireland until it was destroyed by the Danes in 823.

      Although he was known for his ascetism and was said to have only eaten a
      full meal once a week on a Sunday, many of the miracles ascribed to him
      concern food. On one occasion, a farmer refused to sell grain to his
      monks, saying that he would rather his mother-in-law, whom he called
      Luch, should eat it all rather than the monks. The word luch is the
      Gaelic for mouse. S.Comgall said, "So be it, by luch it shall be eaten",
      and that night a plague of mice ate two piles of corn, which would have
      been thirty cart loads.

      On another occasion, a group of thieves broke into the grounds of the
      monastery to steal the monks' vegetables, and through the prayers of
      Comgall they were deprived of their sight until they repented. When they
      did repent, they were admitted into the community. Yet again, when the
      monks were short of food, and visitors to the community were expected,
      S.Comgall prayed to God, and a shoal of fish swam to the shore, so that
      the brethren might feed their guests.

      Comgall went to Scotland for a time, where he lived in a monastery on
      the island of Tiree. He also accompanied Saint Columba on a missionary
      trip to Inverness to evangelize the Picts. Columba and Comgall are
      believed to have journeyed together through the Great Glen and preached
      before King Brude at Inverness. There he founded a monastery at Land of
      Heth. The manuscript called the Bangor Antiphonary [see below], written
      there less than a century after Saint Comgall's death, contains a long
      hymn in his praise. Comgall died after years of suffering resultant from
      his austerities.

      St.Fiacre received the message that his friend was dying through an
      angel and arrived in Bangor in time to see him into the next world. When
      he returned to Ullard after burying Sr.Comgall, Fiacre took an arm of
      the saint back as a relic. Nothing now remains of the great monastery,
      but the Bell of Bangor is preserved in the heritage museum at Belfast,
      and in the Ambrosian Library there is the Antiphonary of Bangor
      (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Neeson, Flanagan, Farmer).

      .....As monasticism changed from solitary to community life, the monks
      received something of the same privilege of carrying the Eucharist with
      them. They would have it on their persons when working in the fields or
      going on a voyage. The species was either placed in a small receptacle
      (Chrismal = "Christ-carrier", Old Irish) worn bandoleer-fashion, or in a
      little bag (Perula) hung around the neck under their clothes. Irish and
      British manuscripts make frequent mention of the practice. It was not
      only to have the hosts ready for Communion but also to insure safety
      against robbers and protection against the hazards of travel.

      The life of St. Comgall (died 601) tells how on one occasion he was
      attacked by heathen Pietists while working in a field. On seeing the
      Chrismal around his neck, the attackers did not dare touch him for fear
      of some retaliation since they surmised (as the narrator says) that
      Comgall was carrying his God. The saint was so moved by the experience
      that he exclaimed, "Lord, you are my strength, my refuge, and my
      Redeemer" (Psalm 18:2).

      In art, Saint Comgall's emblem is a fish. Usually he is portrayed as an
      abbot holding a stone, to whom an angel brings a fish (Roeder).

      A Second Life:

      St. Comgall
      Founder and abbot of the great Irish monastery at Bangor, flourished in
      the sixth century. The year of his birth is uncertain, but according to
      the testimony of the Irish annals it must be placed between 510 and 520;
      his death is said to have occurred in 602 ("Annals of Tighernach" and
      "Chronicon Scotorum"), or 597 (Annals of Innisfallen). He was born in
      Dalaradia in Ulster near the place now known as Magheramorne in the
      present County Antrim. He seems to have served first as a soldier, and
      on his release from military service he is said to have studied at
      Clonard with St. Finnian, and at Clonmacnoise with St. Ciaran, who died
      in 549.

      We next find him in Ulster in an island on Lough Erne accompanied by a
      few friends following a very severe form of monastic life. He intended
      to go to Britain, but was dissuaded from this step by Lugidius, the
      bishop who ordained him, at whose advice he remained in Ireland and set
      himself to spread the monastic life throughout the country. The most
      famous of the Comgall is Bangor, situated in the present County Down, on
      the Southern shore of Belfast Lough and directly opposite to
      Carrickfergus. According to the Irish annals Bangor was founded not
      later than 552, though Ussher and most of the later writers on the
      subject assign the foundation to the year 555.

      According to Adamnan's "Life of Columba", there was a very close
      connection between Comgall and Columba though there does not appear to
      be sufficient authority for stating that Comgall was the disciple of
      Columba in any strict sense. He is said to have been the friend of St.
      Brendan, St. Cormac, St. Cainnech, and Finbarr of Moville. After intense
      suffering he received the Eucharist from St. Fiacra and expired in the
      monastery at Bangor.

      Comgall belonged to what is known as the Second Order of Irish Saints.
      These flourished in the Irish Church during the sixth century. They were
      for the most part educated in Britain, or received their training from
      those who had grown up under the influence of the British Schools. They
      were the founders of the great Irish monastic schools, and contributed
      much to the spread of monasticism in the Irish Church. It is an
      interesting question how far Comgall, or men like him, had advanced in
      their establishments at Bangor and elsewhere in introducing the last
      stages of monasticism then developed on the Continent by St. Benedict.
      In other words, did St. Comgall give his monks at Bangor a strict
      monastic rule resembling the Rule of St. Benedict? There has come down
      to us a Rule of St. Comgall in Irish, but the evidence would not warrant
      us in saying that as it stands at present it could be attributed to him.
      The fact, however, that Columbanus, a disciple of Comgall and himself a
      monk of Bangor, drew up for his Continental monasteries a "Regula
      Monachorum" wound lead us to believe that there had been a similar
      organisation in Bangor in his time. This, however, is not conclusive,
      since Columbanus might have derived inspiration from the Benedictine
      Rule then widely spread over South-Western Europe. St. Comgall is
      mentioned in the "Life of Columbanus" by Jonas, as the superior of
      Bangor, under whom St. Columbanus had studied. He is also mentioned
      under 10 May, his feast-day in the "Felire" of Oengus the Culdee
      published by Whitley Stokes for the Henry Bradshaw Society (2nd ed.),
      and his name is commemorated in the Stowe Missal (MacCarthy), and in the
      Martyrology of Tallaght.



      Icon of Saint Comgall

      Troparion of St Comgall tone 4
      O Comgall, Father of Monks, / thou didst train four thousand monastics./
      Thou didst kindle Christ's fire in Bangor/ and thy cell was aglow in the
      pagan darkness./ O friend of Saint Colum Cille,/ thou radiancy of
      Ireland and Scotland; we praise God Who hath glorified thee.

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