Celtic and Old English Saints          31 January

* St. Aidan of Ferns
* St. Madoes
* St. Melangell (see #2)
* St. Adamnan of Coldingham
* St. Eusebius of Saint Gall

St. Aidan of Ferns, Bishop
(Aedan, Aedh, Maedoc-Edan, Moedoc, Mogue)
Born in Connaught, Ireland; died 626.

"Give as if every pasture in the mountains of Ireland belonged to
you." --Saint Aidan.

The Irish Saint Aidan loved animals. His fellow Irishmen were fond of
hunting. Aidan so protected them that his emblem in art is a stag. One
day as he sat reading in Connaught, a desperate stag took refuge with
him in the hope of escaping pursuing hounds. Aidan by a miracle made the
stag invisible, and the hounds ran off.

There were several Irish saints named Aidan but this one seems to have
been the most important. As a youth he spent some time in Leinster but,
'desirous of becoming learned in holy Scripture,' Aidan went to Wales to
study under Saint David (Dewi; f.d. March 1) at Menevia in Pembrokeshire
for several years. His only difference from his fellow monks is that he
brought his own beer from his native land.

The inspiration of Saint David caused him to return to Ireland with
several other monks to built his own monastery at Ferns, County Wexford,
on land given to him by Prince Brandrub (Brandubh) of Leinster together
with the banquet halls and champions' quarters of the royal seat of
Fearna. He also founded monasteries at Drumlane and Rossinver, which
disputed Ferns' claim to his burial site. In addition to monasteries,
Aidan is credited with founding about 30 churches in Ireland. One source
claims that Aidan became the first bishop of Ferns (which is not that
unlikely because many abbots were treated as bishops during the period),
which displaced Sletty of Fiach as the bishop's seat. .

Later in life he returned to Saint David's for a time, and it is said
that Saint David died in the arms of Aidan. Welsh tradition maintains
that Aidan succeeded David as abbot of Menevia, and on that basis Wales
later claimed jurisdiction over Ferns because a Welsh abbot founded it.
In fact, in Wales they regard Aidan as a native and provide him with a
genealogy that includes Welsh nobility. There his great reputation for
charity still survives, for he taught his monks to give their last bits
of food to those in need.

The written "vitae" of Saint Aidan are composed mostly of miracles
attributed to him. His is attributed with astonishing feats of
austerity, such as fasting on barley bread and water for seven years, as
well as reciting 500 Psalms daily. An odd tale is related in another.
Some spurious beggars hid their clothes, donned rags, and then begged
for alms. Knowing what they had done, Aidan gave their clothes to the
poor and sent the impostors away with neither their clothing nor alms.

One story reports that he bequeathed his staff, bell (Bell of Saint
Mogue), and reliquary to his three monasteries of Ferns, Drumlane, and
Rossinver. All have survived the fates of time. The staff can be found
in the National Museum in Dublin; the other two in the Library of Armagh
cathedral. The bell had been in the hereditary keepership of the
MacGoverns in Templeport, County Cavan. Another of his personal
belongings, the Breac Moedoc, is in the National Museum. This stamped
leather satchel and shrine that encased the relics of Saint Laserian of
Leighlin (f.d. April 18) was brought from Rome and given to Aidan, who
placed it in the church of Drumlane. A bronze reliquary that contained
his remains in the 11th century is preserved in Dublin. In addition to
having a cultus in Ireland and Wales, Saint Aidan was venerated in
Scotland in the 12th century.

He is represented in art by a stag because of the story related above
(Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, D'Arcy, Delaney,
Farmer, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague, Neeson, Porter, Stokes).

Another Life:

This saint illustrates the close co-operation that existed between the
Celtic churches in Ireland and Wales. He was the greatly loved disciple
of S. David for many years and during that time he was usually known by
his baptismal name of Aedan but later in Ireland, where he founded the
famous abbey at Ferns in County Wexford, he was given the prefix of
endearment making his name Maedoc that was usually pronounced Mogue. It
was his parents Sedua and Eithne, from the ancient families of the
O'Neils and O'Briens, who named him Aedan and possibly his foster
parents that started calling him "My little Hugh", Mo-Aidh-og, which
gives us Maedoc. His parents had been childless for some time and had
prayed frequently for an heir. One night a star was seen to descend upon
both of them and a soothsayer told them they would have a wonderful son,
full of God's grace. He was born on Brackly, an island in Templeport
Lake in County Cavan, since called St Mogue's Island.

After his initial education he went to S. David's monastery at Menevia
(Wales) to be trained and the stories about him show him to have been an
ardent scholar, impetuous but with a deep reverence and obedience to his
mentor. One day as he was reading a precious book out in the open he was
called upon to run an errand and he immediately ran off leaving the book
on the ground. There was a heavy deluge of rain and, although the book
was miraculously unharmed, David finding him on the sea shore ordered
him to prostrate himself in penitence for his carelessness. S. David
returned to the monastery and forgot about the incident until at the
evening office he saw that Aedan was not with his brethren. They all ran
down to the beach and drew him from the waves that were submerging the
still prostrate penitent.

The particular affection that David had for his Irish student did not
endear him to all the community and the steward of the abbey persuaded
one of the monks to engineer his death and make it look like an
accident. David was putting on his sandals when he had a vision of the
young man in danger and he ran to the forest with only one foot shod
just in time to see the would-be assassin with his arms upraised about
to deliver the death blow with an axe. By spiritual power the saintly
abbot transfixed the monk who was left with his arms still up as Aedan
ran towards his master escorted as S. David saw with "innumerable troops
of angels".

When the time came for him to return to his own country Mogue, as we
must now call him, discovered he had forgotten to bring with him a bell
which had been David's parting gift to him. He needed the bell for the
monastery he was building at Ferns and he sent one of his monks to fetch
it. S. David however sent the monk back empty-handed, entrusting the
bell to a swift flying angel who was also able to advise him about a
soul-friend, or confessor, recommending S. Molua.

Mogue was responsible for other foundations, notably Clonagh in County
Limerick, but it was his monastery at Ferns in County Wexford that was
most dear to him and in his thoughts when absent from it. One day when
he was a hundred miles distant he saw one of the monks ploughing with
oxen near Ferns and falling in front of the plough. The abbot raised his
hand, the oxen immediately halted and the monk was saved from injury.

Only the wells remain of his foundations but after his death his bones
were enshrined in a richly engraved and embossed casket called Breac
M'Aodhog which is preserved, with its leather satchel, in the National
Museum in Dublin. His day in the Irish Calendars is January 31st.

St. Madoes (Madianus)
Date unknown. A place in the Carse of Gowrie takes it's name from
Madoes. Some believe he is identical to Saint Moedoc or Aidan of Ferns
(f.d. today). Another tradition makes of him a fellow missionary Saint
Boniface Quiritinus or Curitan (f.d. March 14), who appears to have been
sent from Rome to preach in Scotland. Legend and fact have become
entangled in his story (Benedictines).

St. Adamnan of Coldingham, Monk
Died c. 680. Saint Adamnan was an Irish pilgrim priest who became a monk
at the double monastery of Coldingham near Berwick, Scotland, which was
ruled by the abbess-founder, Saint Ebba (f.d. August 25). He should not
be confused with the Adamnan (f.d. September 23) who wrote the biography
of Saint Columba of Iona (f.d. June 9).

Today's Adamnan established a reputation for his extreme austerity and
the rigor with which he kept the Rule, which went beyond even that of
traditional Irish monasticism. He was a very serious man, who criticized
those whose actions he saw as frivolous. In a vision he learned that the
monastery would be destroyed by fire because of "senseless gossip and
frivolities." For this reason he insisted that monastic discipline be
maintained more stringently. This omen unsettled the abbess, who was
reassured by Adamnan that the event would not occur in her lifetime.
Unfortunately, despite her personal holiness and renewed efforts to
enforce the rule, Saint Ebba was not a gifted administrator. After her
death the fervour of the community
declined again and was destroyed in 683, shortly after Adamnan's death
(Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Montague, Montalembert).

St. Eusebius of Saint Gall (of Mount Saint Victor), Martyr
Died 884; Montague shows his feast on January 30. The Irishman Eusebius,
called Scotigena by Ratpert of Saint Gall, was a pilgrim who took the
Benedictine habit in the Swiss abbey of Saint Gall. Ekkehard, another
chronicler of the abbey, reports that Eusebius was from Ireland. Soon
after his arrival in Switzerland, Eusebius opted for the life of
solitude as a hermit on Mount Saint Victor in the Vorarlberg, where he
spent 30 years.

He was highly venerated in his lifetime by King Charles, son and
successor to King Louis. In 883, the emperor founded an Irish monastery,
Raetia, for him on the mountain. Two years later Charles deeded by royal
charter the revenues of one of his villas near Rottris in the Voralberg
to the monastery for a hospice for Irish pilgrims. Here 12 pilgrims
could be accommodated on their way to Rome.

When he was denouncing the sins of some godless peasants, one of them
struck and killed him with a scythe; hence, he is venerated as a martyr
(Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Encyclopaedia, Gougaud,
Montague, O'Hanlon, Tommasini).

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