- Celtic and Old English Saints 25 June
* St. Amphibalus of Saint Alban's
* St. Moloc of Mortlach
* St. Adalbert of Egmond
* St. Milburga of Much Wenlock
* St. Solomon of Brittany
* St. Solomon III of Brittany
* St. Molonachus of Lismore
* St. Kenneburga of Gloucester
St. Amphibalus ("of the Cloak"), Priest-martyr of Verulam
in Hertfordshire, England, Who Taught Saint Alban
See 22 June
St. Moloc of Mortlach, Bishop
(also known as Lua, Luan, Lugaidh, Moloag, Molluog, Molua, Murlach)
Born in Scotland; died at Rossmarkie, c. 572. Saint Moluag was educated
in the monastery school of Bangor in Ireland and then returned to his
native land as a missionary. (Some say that he was actually from Ulster
and may have been an O'Neill.) The Cistercian Bernard of Clairvaux in
his biography of his close friend Malachy of Ireland tells us that the
monk Moluag of Bangor was the founder of 100 monasteries in Scotland. In
fact, Moluag ranked alongside Saint Columba as a missionary: While
Columba was the apostle to the Gaels; Moluag evangelized the Picts. His
main work as a bishop was the evangelization of the Hebrides.
Inevitably, legends have grown around his name according to which there
was a rivalry between Moluag and Columba, but it appears that they
worked among to distinct national groups.
Moluag actually arrived about a year before Columba in Scotland. He was
accompanied by Saint Comgall, an Irish Pict, who presented him to King
Brude to obtain his authority for the mission. Columba, incidentally,
had Comgall perform the same service for him. It is possible that King
Brude preferred Moluag to Columba, and that is what led Moluag to
concentrate more on the Picts. It would be quite natural that the
Pictish king might have some reservations about the Ulster prince
Columba, who was a natural leader of the Gaelic people in Scotland.
Whatever happened, the two missionaries gradually brought an end to the
armed conflict between the two nations.
The blackthorn crosier (Bachuill Mor) of Saint Moluag is in the
possession of the Campbells, dukes of Argyle, who traditionally carried
it with them into battle. His shrine was at Mortlach. On the island of
Lewis, the custom persisted, despite the Scottish reformers' attempts to
stop it, until the 19th century of conducting a ritual service of
intercession to Moluag at his titular church Teampall Mo Luigh. Although
the cultus of Moluag decreased together with the power of the Pictish
people he evangelized, there are many memorials to Moluag in the form of
ancient churches and placenames. Kilmoluag is a common example. The name
"Luke," which is very common among men in Scotland, is reliably stated
to be derived from Moluag.
Saint Moluag is invoked against insanity and his intercession sought to
heal wounds (Benedictines, Montague)
One of the Celtic Giants.
Also known as Lugaidh and Molloch, Moluag was born c.530AD of the clan
Dalaraidhe, in northern Ireland where he became a monk of Bangor. Many
consider his true name to have been Lugaidh (pronounced Lua) and the
form of Moluag, used in the Annals of Tigernach, is simply an
affectionate form - Mo-Luoc, "my Lugaidh". St Moluag's plan for working
Pictland was to organize three great muinntirs or communities to be the
centres of education and ministerial supply for the Churches in their
respective districts; and, of course, for the maintenance of these
central communities he had the reserves of the mother church of Bangor
He first organised the great community of Lismore in Lorn about 562AD.
Moluag's settlement was in the north of Lismore, close to a megalithic
site surmounted by a high cairn which once marked the funeral pyres of
Pictish Kings. This island was the sacred island of the Western Picts,
and continued to be the burial-place of their kings who reigned at
Beregonium. The Churches dependent on Lismore, still traceable, are
Teampul Mor in Lewis; the Church of Pabay, that is, Isle of the papa;
Cill Moluag in Raasay; Teampull Mholuig, "Moluag's Chapel", at Europie
in Ness; Cill Moluag in Skye; Cill Moluag in Tiree; Cill Moluag in Mull;
'Kilmalu' in Morvern; 'Kilmalu' of Inverary; and Cill Moluag at
St Moluag's second central community is said to have been organised at
Rosemarkie on the northern shore of the Inverness Firth (however, see
below). Many of the churches founded from this centre were afterwards,
in the Roman Catholic period, dedicated to Roman saints, and they cannot
now be definitely distinguished as St Moluag's; but there was an old
church in the strath of the Peffray (Strathpeffer) whose temporalities
are still called Davoch-Moluag, and the submerged Church of Cromarty was
evidently one of St Moluag's foundations.
His third central community was at Mortlach in Morayshire. Dependant
upon it was the smaller community at Clova or Cloveth near Lumsden
village. The foundations that still bear St Moluag's name in this part
of Scotland are at "Maol-Moluag's", now New Machar, at Clatt in the
Garioch and at Migvie and Tarland. Another of St Moluag's known
foundations was at Alyth in Perthshire.
Site of Moluag's muinntir at Cloveth.
St Moluag continued to labour in Pictland until his death on the 25th
June 592 AD. Some sources give that he died at Ardclach in Nairnshire.
According to the other old traditions he died while visiting his
churches in the Garioch and was buried at Rosemarkie. In the Martyrology
of Oengus, under his entry on June 25th, is a comment which is typical
of the warm esteem with which he is commemorated in the Irish calendars:
"The pure, the bright, the pleasant,
the sun of Lismore;
that is Moluoc,
of Lismore in Alba".
His crozier, Bacchuill Mor, "the great staff", a piece of blackthorn 34
inches long and originally covered in a gilded copper case, is preserved
on Lismore in Bachuil village in the care of the Livingstone family;
having been for some time in the custody of the Dukes of Argyll. Because
of their associations with the Bacchuill Mhor this Livingstone family
holds the ancient title of Barons of Bachuil.
Of course, it will not escape the attention of the reader that St
Moluag's three main foundations at Lismore, Rosemarkie and Mortlach in
time became the seats of the ancient medieval Roman Sees of the Isles,
Ross and Aberdeen.
It must not be supposed that the trained clergy from Bangor and from St
Moluag's own centres kept themselves apart from the Britonic and the
native Pictish clergy who were at work in Pictland at this time; because
there is evidence that the Bangor clergy assisted in manning Churches
founded long before their arrival as well as looking to the care of
congregations gathered by themselves. The only sign of want of
co-operation between the Celtic clergy, as might be expected from the
political relations of the time, was between the Picts and the Gaidheals
or Scots, in the territory occupied by the Scotic colonists in Dalriada.
There was certainly no co-operation between the Pictish ecclesiastics
and the Gaidhealic ecclesiastics in the island of Tiree!
There is some discrepancy with regard to St Moluag's burial place. Until
recent times the tradition on Lismore itself was that Moluag died at
Ardclach and that his body was born back to Lismore by twenty-four of
the most stalwart islanders. This tradition is very much in keeping with
the Celtic tradition of burying a saint in his main or oldest
foundation. Another source gives that the story of Moluag being buried
at Rosemarkie is false and repeats the story that his body was taken to
Lismore. It goes further by relating that there was a later Moluag, a
colleague of St Boniface, and that he was a great preacher. It is said
that it is this second Moluag, who died over a hundred years after the
first, that was buried in Boniface's chapel at Rosemarkie. It has to be
said that, if one is to accept the first Moluag's association with the
district round Rosemarkie then it is surprising that there are so very
few churches which bear his name. Even where original Celtic saints
names were replaced with Roman ones, it is rare for the original to
completely disappear. This story of a second Moluag may have an essence
of truth in it!
The Islanders talk about Moluag as if they had just recently met him out
shopping on the mainland - and they are mostly presbyterian !
His Abbatal Bell is in Edinburgh and his Stone Chair is nestled in the
rocks at Lismore (Lios-mor - Big Garden) and a flower is named for him.
There are not many dedications of churches in his name: There is one
of them at Kentallen-by-Duror - and there is another in the Outer Isles.
Holy Father Moluag - Pray for us.
A Modern Pilgrim's Pilgrimage to Lismore
St. Adalbert of Egmond
Born in Northumberland, England; died c. 740. Saint Adalbert, a prince
by birth, became a monk at Rathmelgisi and accompanied Saint Willibrord
as one of his deacons to Friesland. He laboured especially around
Egmont, of which
Benedictine abbey he is the patron (Benedictines). Adalbert is venerated
in Friesland. Depicted as a deacon with a crown and sceptre at his feet;
sometimes in dalmatic, crowned, and holding the sceptre (Roeder).
St. Milburga, Abbess of Much Wenlock, England
(also known as Milburgh)
Died c. 700 or 722; This is the feast of the translation of her relics.
The ruins of Wenlock Abbey in Shropshire, dating from the 11th century,
remind us of Saint Milburga, whose name still lingers in that area. She
was one of a family of eminent saints and belonged to the royal house of
How often a good mother is blessed in her children! Her mother Domneva
(Domna Ebba or Ermenburga), princess of Kent, had three daughters:
Milburga, Mildred, and Mildgytha, each of whom grew up to follow the
pattern of her mother's faith, and each, after a life wholly devoted to
Christ, was recognised as a saint.
Those were the days when the daughters of kings were proud and eager to
dedicate their wealth and talents in Christian leadership and to pour
out their youth and strength in the service of the Church. They founded
and ruled great abbeys, taught the young, cared for the sick, and
relieved the poor.
Milburga, like her mother before her, surrendered her high estate,
forsook the luxury and comfort of her home, and counted it her highest
privilege to serve God in a consecrated Christian life. Helped by her
father, Merewald, an Anglian chieftain, and her uncle Wulfhere, king of
Mercia, she founded the monastery of Wenlock, which was placed under the
direction of Saint Botulf of East Anglia. Its first abbess was
Liobsynde, a French nun from Chelles. Its second was Milburga, who was
consecrated abbess by Archbishop Saint Theodore. It was no ordinary
monastery; everything about it reflected the grace and fragrance of her
own pure spirit. The gardens were full of the choicest flowers, the
orchards bore the sweetest fruits, and within its walls was found, we
are told, the very peace of heaven.
By her sheer goodness Milburga converted many to the Christian faith,
and this in a dark and primitive age when, outside the monastery walls,
the countryside was wild and remote, and full of unknown dangers. One
day, for example, on one of her errands of mercy, she was terrified by a
neighbouring princeling who, wishing to marry her, intercepted her with
a band of soldiers, but she providentially escaped. In her flight she
crossed a small stream called the Corve, and he, following, found when
he reached it that the waters had risen and his plan was thwarted. The
place where it happened it called to this day Stoke Saint Milburgh.
She loved flowers, birds (over which she had a mysterious power),
country life, and country people, to sit and work in the sun and tend
the herbs in her garden, and to visit in the villages around. People
came to her with their troubles and ailments and even ascribed to her
miraculous cures. Milburga was venerated for her humility, holiness, the
miracles she performed, and for the gift of levitation she is said to
According to Boniface, the famous Vision of the Monk of Wenlock occurred
during Milburga's abbacy. Goscelin also preserved her testament, which
is a long, apparently authentic list of lands that belonged to her at
When she was on her deathbed, she said to her followers, "I have been
mother to you. I have watched over you like a mother, with pious care.
And in mercy, I go the way of all flesh. A higher call invites me." One
by one they said farewell, gave her the holy sacraments, and after her
death buried her body near the altar of the abbey.
Her tomb was long venerated but its site was unknown when the Cluniac
monks from La-Charite-sur-Loire refounded Wenlock in 1079. The church
had a silver casket that contained her relics and documents describing
the site of her grave, near an altar then unknown. Apparently, the
church was destroyed by the Danes.
After consulting Anselm, the monks excavated an old, disused church.
Thus, centuries later, two boys who were playing among its ruins fell
through the pavement by the broken altar, as a result of which her tomb
was rediscovered. When opened, according to legend, there came from it a
heavenly sweetness, and the lost garden of the monastery seemed filled
again with the fragrance of the flowers she had planted.
Among the miracles documented were the healing of lepers and the blinds,
and, the vomiting of a worm that had caused a wasting disease. Goscelin
wrote her vita in the late 11th century. Her feast was common in English
calendars from the Bosworth Psalter (c. 1000) onwards (Attwater,
Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Milburgh holds the abbey of Wenlock. There may be geese
near her. She is venerated at Stoke (Roeder).
St. Solomon of Brittany, Martyr
Born in Cornwall; died 434. King Solomon of Brittany was the husband of
Saint Gwen and father of Saints Cuby and Cadfan. He was murdered by
heathen malcontents among his subjects (Benedictines, Encyclopaedia).
St. Solomon (Selyf) III, Martyr
Died 874. Several centuries after the death of Solomon I of Brittany,
this saint was born to be king of Brittany during a brutal time. He was
a warrior against the Franks, Norsemen, and his own rebellious subjects,
which has made him a hero among the Bretons. During his early years he
committed many crimes, but later did penance for them. When he was
assassinated, his people immediately acclaimed him a martyr
St. Molonachus of Lismore, Bishop
7th century. Molonachus, a disciple of Saint Brendan, became bishop of
Lismore in Argyle (Benedictines).
St. Kenneburga, Virgin and Martyr of Gloucester, England
Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.
Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, June. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.
Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gill, F. C. (1958). The Glorious Company: Lives of Great Christians
for Daily Devotion, vol. I. London: Epworth Press.
Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
London: Virtue & Co.
Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
Guildford: Billing & Sons.
Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and Their Attributes, Chicago: Henry
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