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,

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.

For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:

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