Celtic and Old English Saints          20 February

* St. Bolcan of Derken
* St. Colgan of Clonmacnoise
* St. Mildred of Thanet

St. Bolcan (Olcan) of Derken, Bishop
Died after 480. Bolcan was baptized by Saint Patrick, who sent him to
study in Gaul. Patrick later consecrated him bishop of Derkan in
northern Ireland. Bolcan's school there was one of the best equipped in
the island. Another Saint Bolcan (Olcan of Kilmoyle) is venerated in the
diocese of Elphin (Benedictines, Encyclopaedia).

Troparion of St Bolcan Tone 7
As thou didst encourage the virtue of learning, wise Hierarch Bolcan,/
teach us to have humility to follow our fathers in the Faith,/ and not
the ways of our own devising/ that being faithful to Christ,/ we may be
found worthy of His great mercy.

Kontakion of St Bolcan Tone 8
>From thy lips pure streams of orthodox doctrine poured forth,/ O most
noble teacher and gracious Hierarch Bolcan./ Revering thy memory, we
pray for grace to follow thee, profiting by thy righteous example.

St. Colgan of Clonmacnoise, Abbot
(Colchu, Colgu)
Died c. 796. Colgan, surnamed 'the Wise' and 'the Chief Scribe of the
Scots,' was abbot of Clonmacnoise in Offaly. He was a friend and teacher
of the Blessed Alcuin (f.d. May 19). Colgan is noted for the influence
he exerted on the imperial schools in France, through his students
(Benedictines, Montague).

St. Mildred of Thanet, Abbess of Minster, England
Commemorated also July 13. The Minster in the Isle of Thanet about six
miles from Sandwich was founded by St. Ermenburga the granddaughter of
St. Ethelbert, the first Christian King of Kent. She had been married to
a King of the Mercians, Merewald and by him had three daughters,
Mildred, Nilburga and Mildgyth. When Ermenburga was widowed she returned
to Kent, where her nephew Egbert was King, leaving Milburga at Wenlock,
where she was established in the abbey built by her father and of which
she later became abbess. On arrival with her two other daughters at her
old home, she found that her younger brothers, Ethelred and Ethelbright,
had been murdered by Thunor, one of Egbert's men, and she obtained land
in compensation for their deaths, what was called "wergild", on which to
build a monastery.

The extent of the land ceded by Egbert was decided by the area round
which Ermenburga's pet hind could run and amounted to about a thousand
acres of fertile ground which would maintain those who joined the
community. The present parish stands on the site of the first minster
which was dedicated by St. Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury about
670. He also gave the veil to Ermenburga and installed her as the first
abbess in the monastery, where she was known as Domna Eva. In the
meantime Mildred had been sent to Chelles to be trained in the religious
life and she must have been glad to receive the summons to return, once
the abbey was built. While on the continent she had been pestered by one
of the local princes, who tried to persuade her to renounce her vocation
to be a nun, but her resolve remained unshaken and she was professed as
soon as she got back to Kent.

It was not long before her mother resigned the charge of the abbey to
Mildred, who became one of the most famous and well loved of the Anglo
Saxon saints. Although the government of the abbey was firm, she always
preserved an easy temper and showed humility in dealing with those who
came to her, particularly to the widows and orphans, the poor and the
afflicted. Her sister Mildgylt also embraced the religious life and for
a time was a nun at Eastry but probably joined St. Mildred later in the
flourishing community at Minster and may have succeeded her as abbess on
her death. Eventually the community grew to such a size that it became
necessary to build a larger complex and this was sited a few hundred
yards from the old one.

Like most Christian churches on the coast Minster suffered from
pillaging by raiders from the sea, and in 1035 King Canute agreed that
St. Mildred's body should be moved to Canterbury where it was enshrined
in the abbey of SS Peter and Paul. There is however another tradition
that relics were taken to the abbey at Lyminge and from there translated
by Archbishop Lanfranc to the Collegiate church of St Gregory which he
built by the Northgate at Canterbury.

At the dread time of the Dissolution the abbey buildings at Minster
passed into secular hands and the conventual church was demolished. In
1937 a small group of Benedictine nuns from St. Walburga's Abbey at
Eichstadt occupied the remains of the old abbey and a relic of St.
Mildred from Derenter is preserved in the altar of the small chapel they
have built. There were
ten ancient dedications to St. Mildred, two in the City of London and
six in Kent (Bowen).

Troparion, in Tone IV
Through constant prayer and frequent fasting, by ceaseless hymnody and great
humility, the glorious Mildred forsook the allurements of her royal rank,
trampling underfoot all worldly pride and presumption. Wherefore, let us
imitate her virtues, that, free from all earthly attachments, we may join
her at the wedding feast of Christ our Saviour.

Service to Our Venerable Mother Mildred,
Abbess of Minster-in-Thanet, Wonderworker of Kent

Icon of Saint Mildred


Benedictine Monks of Saint Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

Bowen, Paul. When We Were One: A Yearbook of the
Saints of the British Isles Complied from Ancient Calendars.

Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, February. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
Guildford: Billing & Sons.

For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:

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