Celtic and Old English Saints          23 January

* St. Colman of Lismore
* St. Maimbod

St. Colman of Lismore, Bishop
Died c. 702. Saint Colman succeeded Saint Hierlug (Zailug) as
abbot-bishop of Lismore in 698. During his rule the fame of Lismore
reached its peak (Benedictines).

The Monastery of Lismore

As the School of Armagh in the North of Ireland, and that of
Clonmacnoise in the centre, so the School of Lismore was the most
celebrated in the South of Ireland. It was founded in the year 635 by
St. Carthach the Younger, in a most picturesque site, steeply rising
from the southern bank of the Blackwater. Its founder had spent nearly
forty years of his monastic life in the monastery of Rahan on the
southern borders of ancient Meath, in what is now King's County. He
dearly loved that monastery which he had founded and which he fondly
hoped would be the place of his resurrection; but the men of Meath -
clerics and chieftains - grew jealous of the great monastery founded in
their territory by a stranger from Munster, and they persuaded Prince
Blathmac, son of Aedh Slaine, of the southern Hy Mall, to expel the
venerable old man from the monastic home which he loved so well. The
eviction is described by the Irish annalists as most unjust and cruel,
yet, under God's guidance, it led to the foundation of Lismore on the
beautiful margin of what was then called Avonmore, "the great river", a
site granted to St. Carthach by the prince of the Desii of Waterford.

Lismore was founded in 635; and the founder survived only two years, for
he died in 637, but Providence blessed his work, and his monastery grew
to be the greatest centre of learning and piety in all the South of
Erin. The "Rule of St. Carthach" is the most notable literary monument
which the founder left behind him. It is fortunately still extant in the
ancient Gaelic verse in which it was written. It consists of 185
four-lined stanzas, which have been translated by O'Curry - who has no
doubt of its authenticity - and is beyond doubt one of the most
interesting and important documents of the early Irish Church.

The Rule of Saint Carthage can be found in "The Celtic Monk: Rules &
Writings of Early Irish Monks" Uinseann O'Maidin OCR, pub. Cistercian
Studies Series Number 162, 1996. ISBN: 0879076623 (pb) and 0879075627

But Lismore produced a still more famous saint and scholar, the great
St. Cathaldus of Tarentum. His Irish name was Cathal, and it appears he
was born at a place called Rathan, not far from Lismore. Our Irish
annals tell us nothing of St. Cathaldus, because he went abroad early in
life, but the brothers Morini of his adopted home give us many
particulars. They tell us he was a native of Hibernia - born at Rathan
in Momonia - that he studied at Lismore, and became bishop of his native
territory of Rathan, but that afterwards, inspired by the love of
missionary enterprise, he made his way to Jerusalem, and on his return
was, with his companions, wrecked at Tarentum - the "beautiful
Tarentum" - at the heel of Italy. Its pleasure-loving inhabitants,
forgetting the Gospel preached to them by St. Peter and St. Mark, had
become practically pagans when Cathaldus and his companions were cast
upon their shores. Seeing the city given up to vice and sensuality, the
Irish prelate preached with great fervour, and wrought many miracles, so
that the Tarentines gave up their sinful ways, and from that day to this
have recognised the Irish Cathaldus as their patron saint, and greatly
venerate his tomb, which was found intact in the cathedral as far back
as the year 1110, with his name "Cathaldus Rachan" inscribed upon a
cross therein. Another distinguished scholar of Lismore, and probably
its second abbot, was St. Cuanna, most likely the half-brother and
successor of the founder. He was born at Kilcoonagh, or Killcooney, a
parish near Headford in the County Galway which takes its name from him.
No doubt he went to Lismore on account of his close connection with St.
Carthach, and for the same reason was chosen to succeed him in the
school of Lismore. Colgan thought that the ancient but now lost "Book of
Cuanach", cited in the "Annals of Ulster", but not later than A.D. 628,
was the work of this St. Cuanna of Kilcooney and Lismore. It is also
said that Aldfrid, King of Northumbria, spent some time at the school of
Lismore, for he visited most of the famous schools of Erin towards the
close of the seventh century, and at that time Lismore was one of the
most celebrated. It was a place of pilgrimage also, and many Irish
princes gave up the sceptre and returned to Lismore to end their lives
in prayer and penance. There, too, by his own desire, was interred St.
Celsus of Armagh, who died at Ardpatrick, but directed that he should be
buried in Lismore - but we have sought in vain for any trace of his

Two interesting memorials of Lismore are fortunately still preserved.
The first is the crosier of Lismore, found accidentally in Lismore
Castle in the year 1814. The inscription tells us that it was made for
Niall Mac Mic Aeducan, Bishop of Lismore, 1090-1113, by Neclan the
artist. This refers to the making of the case or shrine, which enclosed
an old oak stick, the original crosier of the founder. Most of the
ornaments are richly gilt, interspersed with others of silver and
niello, and bosses of coloured enamels. You can see the crosier here:

The second is the "Book of Lismore" found in the castle at the same time
with the crosier, enclosed in a wooden box in a built-up doorway. The
castle was built as long ago as 1185 by Prince John. Afterwards the
bishops of Lismore came to live there, and no doubt both crosier and
book belonged to the bishops and were hidden for security in troublesome
times. The Book of Lismore contains a very valuable series of the lives
of our Irish saints, written in the finest medieval Irish. It was in
1890 admirably translated into English by Dr. Whitley Stokes. One of the
Saints' Lives (paraphrased), Saint Fanahan of Brigown, may be read here

St. Maimbod, Martyr
Died January 23, c. 880. Saint Maimbod was a martyr who went to Alsace
from Ireland as a missionary. Maimbod was a pilgrim to the tombs of many
saints, as he wandered he spread the faith throughout northern Italy and
Gaul. In Burgundy a nobleman gave him hospitality and unsuccessfully
pressed him to settle there. Upon Maimbod's departure, the nobleman gave
Maimbod a pair of gloves as a reminder to pray for him. He was praying
at the church of Domnipetra near Katlenbrunn eight
miles from Besancon, when he was set upon by some robbers who believed
he had money because he was wearing gloves. When miracles began to occur
at his tomb in Domnipetra, Count Aszo of Monteliard asked the blind
Bishop Berengarius for a gift of the saint's relics. Berengarius
delegated the translation ceremony to his coadjutor, Bishop Stephen.
During the rite, Berengarius miraculously received his sight and
instituted a feast in honour of the saint. Maimbod's relics were
destroyed in the 16th century (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy,
Encyclopaedia, Fitzpatrick, O'Hanlon, O'Kelly).


Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints,
2nd edition, revised and updated by Catherine Rachel John.
New York: Penguin Books.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1966).
The Book of Saints, NY, Thomas Y. Crowell.

Coulson, J. (ed.). (1960). The Saints: A Concise Biographical
Dictionary. New York: Hawthorn Books.

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.]

Fitzpatrick, B. (1927). Ireland and the Foundations of Europe.
New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

O'Hanlon, J. (1875). Lives of Irish Saints, 10 vol. Dublin.

O'Kelly, J. J. (1952). Ireland's Spiritual Empire. Dublin: M. H. Gill.

For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:

Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
    Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
    (Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:
    mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
    mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

Reply via email to