Celtic and Old English Saints          22 October

* St. Donatus of Fiesole
* St. Mellon of Rouen

St. Donatus (Donagh) of Fiesole, Bishop
Born in Ireland; died 874-876. Legend has it that Donatus who decided to
goon a pilgrimage to Rome with his friend Andrew. On his return home about
829, he went to Florence, Italy, and visited nearby Fiesole. Donatus, who
was small and unaggressive by nature, slipped into the
cathedral just when the people had come together to pray for enlightenment
before electing a new bishop.

The moment Donatus entered the cathedral of Fiesole, the bells began
ringing. All the cathedral lamps and candles lit of their own accord,
without any human help. The Christians present could only conclude that this
was a divine sign, indicating that the stranger who had just come in was
destined to be their next bishop. Unanimously the puzzled Irishman was
elected, and Andrew (f.d. August 22) became his deacon. It could well be
that none of the locals would accept the office. Six years earlier the
feudal barons had murdered the local bishop by drowning him!

Fortunately, Donatus was a man of exemplary piety and cultivation. In
addition to many other works, Donatus authored two separate lives of
Saint Brigid of Kildare (f.d. February 1), one in prose and the other in
verse, as well as a preface for Coelan's life of Brigid, which Colgan found
at Monte Cassino. A manuscript in his own handwriting is preserved by the
Dominicans in Rome. He also wrote his own epitaph, which still
survives and describes him as a splendid teacher, specialising in grammar
and fine writing. The epitaph adds that the bishop loyally advised and
served the Frankish King Lothaire of Italy (who had been a pupil of Saint
Clement (f.d. March 20)) and the Emperor Louis. Almost certainly he taught
them and members of their household for he was ever willing to instruct the

For 47 years Donatus shepherded the church of Fiesole. At times he served as
a military leader in 840 and 866, raising armies and conducting
expeditions against the Saracens. In 844, he attended Lothaire's coronation
by Pope Sergius II, and was a judge in the dispute between the bishops of
Arezzo and Siena. In 862, he assisted at the Council of Rome convened by
Pope Saint Nicholas I (f.d. November 13) against Archbishop John of Ravenna.
Before he died he obtained from King Charles the Bald a charter of
independence for the bishops of Fiesole with the power to impose taxes and
administer their own laws.

He was also a generous supporter of monastic foundations. In 852, he founded
a church and a hospice of his beloved patron, Saint Brigid at
Piacenza and placed it under the protection of Saint Columban's (f.d.
November 23) monastery at Bobbio. In the document of transfer, dated
850, he specified his particular wish that the monastery continue to render
particular hospitality to Irish pilgrims. This church was declared a
national monument in 1911.

Long after his death, a legend developed that Donatus had an Irish
travelling companion who became his archdeacon, Saint Andrew of Fiesole, but
there is no satisfactory evidence for Andrew's existence. In 1817, the
relics of Donatus were translated to the new cathedral of Fiesole. His altar
is in the last chapel on the right behind the high altar (Attwater, Bentley,
D'Arcy, Delaney, Fitzpatrick, Gougaud, Kenney,
Montague, Tomamasini).

In art he is a bishop with an Irish wolfhound at his feet. Sometimes he is
shown pointing out a church to his deacon, Saint Andrew of Ireland
(August 22) (Roeder).

St. Mallonius, Bishop of Rouen
(Mello, Mellonius, Mellon)
Died 314. Mallonius, a missionary from England or Britain (near Cardiff),
presumably from the district called Saint Mellon's, reputedly became
the first bishop of Rouen, Normandy (Benedictines).

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