Celtic and Old English Saints          28 February

* St. Sillian of Bangor
* St. Ermina
* St. Llibio
* St. Maidoc
* St. Oswald of Worcester

St. Sillian (Sillan, Silvanus) of Bangor, Abbot
Died c. 610. A disciple of St. Comgall (f.d. May 11) of Bangor, County
Down, and his second successor as abbot of that monastery

A site with a brief history of Bangor Abbey and a timeline of its Abbots
up to 1170:

Troparion of St Sillan tone 7
Under thy God-pleasing rule, O Father Sillan,/ Bangor's monastery became
a power-house of the true Faith./ As thou wast a bright beacon,/ guiding
men on their journey to God,/ we beseech thee to be also a beacon for
us,/ bringing us safely into the way of salvation.

Kontakion of St Sillan tone 2
Righteous Father Sillan, Road to our Saviour,/ Crown of Bangor's saints
and joy of all monastics,/ we keep festival in thy honour, ever blessing
thy name/ and imploring thy prayers for us sinners.

* * *

The Irish Monastery of Bangor was situated in the County Down, on the
southern shore of Belfast Lough. Its founder is Saint Comgall (Feastday
10 May, sometimes 11 May.) Sometimes the name was written "Beannchor",
from the Irish word beann, a horn. According to Keating, a king of
Leinster once had cattle killed there, the horns being scattered round,
hence the name. The place was also called the Vale of Angels, because,
says Jocelin, St. Patrick once rested there and saw the valley filled
with angels.

The founder of the abbey was St. Comgall, born in Antrim in 517, and
educated at Clooneenagh and Clonmacnoise. The spirit of monasticism was
then strong in Ireland. Many sought solitude the better to serve God,
and with this object Comgall retired to a lonely island. The persuasions
of his friends drew him from his retreat; later on he founded the
monastery of
Bangor, in 559. Under his rule, which was rigid, prayer and fasting were
incessant. But these austerities attracted rather than repelled; crowds
came to share his penances and his vigils; they also came for learning,
for Bangor soon became the greatest monastic school in Ulster.

Within the extensive rampart which encircled its monastic buildings, the
Scriptures were expounded, theology and logic taught, and geometry, and
arithmetic, and music; the beauties of the pagan classics were
appreciated, and two at least of its students wrote good Latin verse.
Such was its rapid rise that its pupils soon went forth to found new
monasteries, and when, in 601, St. Comgall died, 3,000 monks looked up
for light and guidance to the Abbot of Bangor.

With the Danes came a disastrous change. Easily accessible from the sea,
Bangor invited attack, and in 824 these pirates plundered it, killed 900
of its monks, treated with indignity the relics of St. Comgall, and then
carried away his shrine. A succession of abbots continued, but they were
abbots only in name. The lands passed into the hands of laymen, the
buildings crumbled.

Among the Abbots of Bangor few acquired fame, but many of the students
did. Findchua has his life written in the Book of Lismore; Luanus
founded 100 monasteries and St. Carthage founded the great School of
Lismore. From Bangor Saint Columbanus and Saint Gall crossed the sea,
the former to found Luxeuil and Bobbio, the latter to evangelize

In the ninth century a Bangor student, Dungal, defended orthodoxy
against the Western iconoclasts. The present town of Bangor is a
thriving little place, popular as a seaside resort. Local tradition has
it that some ruined walls near the Protestant church mark the site of
the ancient abbey; nothing else is left of the place hallowed by the
prayers and penances of St. Comgall and St Sillian.

St. Ermina (Febaria)
6th century. Discreet Irish virgin (Encyclopaedia).

St. Llibio
6th century. Llibio is the patron of Llanllibio in the isle of Anglesey

St. Maidoc (Madoc), Bishop
6th century. There are several Welsh and Irish saints with this name
and many variations of the name. Their histories are somewhat difficult
to untangle. Today's Maidoc may be the abbot-bishop after whom
Llanmadog in Glamorganshire is named (Benedictines).

St. Oswald of Worcester, Bishop
Born in England c. 925; died at Worcester, England, February 29, 992.
St. Oswald was born of a Danish family that settled in England. He was
the nephew of St. Odo (f.d. July 4), bishop of Canterbury, and Oskitell,
first bishop of Dorchester and later York. He was educated by Odo, was
appointed dean of Winchester, and soon after sent by Odo to the abbey of
Fleury in France to learn monastic discipline.

In 962, Oswald succeeded St. Dunstan (Duncan; f.d. May 19) as bishop of
Worcester, and he was closely associated with Dunstan and St. Ethelwold
(f.d. August 1) in the restoration of monasticism in England. His first
foundation was at Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol, but his greatest
establishment was at Ramsey in Huntingdonshire (972), from which were
founded Pershore, Evesham, and other houses.

St. Oswald shone as a bright star as bishop. He was energetic in
improving the standard of the parochial clergy, fostering education, and
enforcing clerical celibacy, and in 972 he was promoted to archbishop of
York, where as a young man he had worked under his uncle Archbishop
Oskitell (Oskytel). But he was obliged to retain the see of Worcester
as well, presiding over both dioceses; it is with Worcester that he was
always concerned.

St. Oswald was almost always occupied in visiting his diocese, preaching
without intermission, and reforming abuses. He encouraged learning and
learned men. When not engaged in pastoral duties, Oswald could be found
joining the monks of St. Mary's monastery in their exercises.

To nourish his own humility and charity, Oswald always invited 12 of the
poor to dine with him each day during Lent (some say every day). These
he served himself, and also washed and kissed their feet. He died at
St. Mary's just after fulfilling this Lenten observance and after
receiving the viaticum, while repeatedly praying the Glory Be.

A "Life" of Oswald was written very soon after his death; it speaks of
his gentleness and kindness, the love that the people had for him, and
his gaiety when he came to die. His body was translated by his
successor Adulph ten years later and enshrined. Still later his relics
were transferred to York (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopaedia, Gill,

In art, St. Oswald is a bishop driving off the devil with a stone. At
times he may be portrayed washing the feet of the poor (Roeder).

Troparion of the saint, in Tone IV
O glorious Oswald, thou rule of faith and model of meekness,
splendour of Worcester and luminary of York, like a tree in the
midst of paradise didst thou bear the fruit of the virtues for thy Lord,
and therewith thou enlightenest all who cherish thine honoured
memory and ever cry out to thee in prayer: Intercede, O holy bishop,
that our souls may be saved.

Service to our Holy Father Oswald of Worcester,
Archbishop of York

Lives kindly supplied by:
For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:

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