Celtic and Old English Saints          27 November

* St. Fergus of Glamis
* St. Seachnall of Dunshaughlin
* St. Virgil of Salzburg
* St. Congar of Somerset
* St. Edwold of Cerne
* St. Gallgo of Wales

St. Seachnall of Dunshauglin, Bishop
(Secundinus, Sechnall)
Born c. 375; died 447. Sechnall was sent from Gaul in 439(?) to assist
his uncle, Saint Patrick, in Ireland, together with Auxilius and
Iserninus. He became the first bishop of Dunslaughlin in Meath, and
then auxiliary bishop of Armagh. He wrote several hymns, notably the
alphabetical hymn "Audites, omnes amantes Deum" (the oldest known Latin
hymn written in Ireland) in honour of Patrick and the earliest Latin
hymn in Ireland, and "Sancti, venite, Christi corpus sumite" (Attwater
2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Husenbeth).

Troparion of St Seachnall Tone 1
Today we hymn thee, O Hierarch Seachnall,/ for as thou in thy piety
didst compose the praises of our Father Patrick,/ pray to God for us
that we may, with true piety, honour our saints./ And in praising this
glorious company may we be worthy of
their prayers and the great mercy of Christ our God.

The Communion Hymn of Bangor
"Draw Nigh and Take the Body of the Lord"
Sancti, venite, Christi Corpus sumite

This is a 7th century Latin communion hymn found in the Bangor
Antiphoner, a rare Irish liturgical manuscript. From the Monastery of
Bangor where it was written between 680 and 691 it was carried to
Bobbio, the famous monastery founded on Italian soil by the Irish
missionary Columbanus after he and been driven out of Burgundy by the
reigning powers. It was first published by Muratori in his Anecdota
(1697-98), when he discovered it in the Ambrosian Library in Milan.

An old Irish legend tells of St. Patrick and his nephew Seachnall
hearing angels sing it first during the offertory before the communion,
and adds; "So from that time to the present that hymn is chanted in
Erinn when the body of Christ is received."

As the legend goes, St. Patrick and Sechnall had a terrible argument,
with Sechnall accusing Patrick of preaching charity too little and
Patrick threatening to run over Sechnall with his chariot. After being
reconciled to each other in the graveyard of their church, they suddenly
heard angels within the church singing this hymn.

John Mason Neale translated the Latin text in 1851 and published it in
his Medieval Hymns. Here is his text:

Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord,
and drink the holy Blood for you outpoured.

Saved by that Body and that precious Blood,
with souls refreshed, we render thanks to God.

Salvation's Giver, Christ, the only Son,
by his dear Cross and Blood the victory won.

Offered was he for greatest and for least,
himself the Victim, and himself the Priest.

Victims were offered by the law of old,
which in a type this heavenly mystery foretold.

He, Ransomer, from death, and Light from shade,
now gives his holy grace his saints to aid;

approach ye then with faithful hearts sincere,
and take the safeguard of salvation here.

He that in this world rules his saints and shields,
to all believers life eternal yields.

With heavenly bread makes them that hunger whole,
gives living waters to the thirsting soul.

Alpha and Omega, to whom shall bow
all nations at the Doom, is with us now.

St. Virgil of Salzburg, Bishop
(Feargal, Fearghal, Fergal, Virgilius)
Born in Ireland; died in Salzburg, Austria, November 27, c. 781-784.

Virgil was an Irish monk, possibly of Aghaboe, who went abroad about 740
intending to visit Palestine. With him were Dobdagrec, later abbot of a
monastery at Chiemsee, and Sidonius, afterwards bishop of Passau. His
learning and ability attracted the attention of Blessed Pepin the Short
(f.d. February 21), who kept him at the Merovingian court for two years.
About 743, Pepin sent Virgil with letters of recommendation to his
brother-in-law, Duke Odilo of Bavaria, who, c. 745, appointed Virgil
abbot of Saint Peter's Monastery at Salzburg, with jurisdiction over the
local Christians, while Dobdagrec served its episcopal functions.

Instead of visiting Palestine he remained in Bavaria to help Saint
Rupert (f.d. March 27), the apostle of Austria. For 40 years he
laboured to convert Teutons and Slavs, founded monasteries, churches,
and schools. (In 774, the council of Bavaria issued its first
pronouncement on the establishment of schools.)

Virgil appears to have been a somewhat difficult character and he
incurred the strong disapproval of Saint Boniface (f.d. June 5), who
seems to have detested him. (Perhaps because of differences in the
interpretations of Roman observance or jurisdiction, or because Virgil
succeeded John whom Boniface had as abbot of Saint Peter's, or just
personal differences.) Boniface twice delated him to Rome. On the
first occasion Pope Saint Zachary (f.d. March 22) decided in Virgil's
favour. Through carelessness or ignorance, a priest had used incorrect
Latin wording during a baptism. Virgil and Sidonius ruled that the
baptism was valid and need not be repeated; Boniface of Mainz disagreed.
Zachary was surprised that Boniface should have questioned it and issued
a statement to that effect.

The other case concerned Virgil's cosmological speculations and their
implications, which, as reported to Zachary by Boniface, the pope found
very shocking. In 748, the pope directed Boniface to convene a council
to investigate the questionable views, but the council was never
convened. The incident has been the subject of much discussion and has
been used and exaggerated for polemical purposes, but in fact it is far
from clear what Virgil's ideas really were. It appears that Virgil
postulated that the world was round and that people might be living in
what would now be called the Antipodes. He was both a man of learning
and a successful missionary, and even after his cosmological views were
called into question, he was consecrated bishop of the see of Salzburg
(c. 766), whose cathedral he rebuilt.

Saint Virgil brought relics and the veneration of Saints Brigid (f.d.
February 1) and Samthann of Clonbroney (f.d. December 19) to the areas
he evangelized. In fact, Saint Samthann, who may have provided Virgil
with his early education, is better known in Austria than in her

Among his other good works, Virgil sent fourteen missionary monks headed
by Saint Modestus (f.d. February 5) into the province of Carinthia, of
which he is venerated as the evangelizer. He baptized two successive
dukes of Carinthia at Salzburg (Chetimar and Vetune). His influence is
revealed by the issuance during the time of duke Chetimar of a
Carinthian coin, an old Salzburg rubentaler, with the images of Saint
Rupert, who built Saint Peter's monastery, and Virgil. He fell ill and
died soon after making a visitation in Carinthia, going as far as the
place where the Dravo River meets the Danube.

His feast is kept throughout Ireland, although he is buried at St.
Peter's in Salzburg. Virgil is widely venerated in southern Germany,
Austria, Yugoslavia, and northern Italy (Attwater, Attwater 2,
Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Fitzpatrick,
Gougaud, Healy, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague).

Sometimes he is paired with Saint Rupertus in artwork (Roeder). Virgil
is the patron of Salzburg, Austria (Farmer).

St. Cungar, Abbot
(Congar, Cumgar, Cyngar, Docco),
Born in Devon; 6th century; feast day formerly on November 7 (although
this could be a different saint). There may be several saints with this
name or only one with two names. It's difficult to determine because of
the paucity of documentary evidence. His "vita" was not produced until
the 9th century, and it is moralistic rather than historical in nature.
Nevertheless the memory of Saint Cungar survives in the monasteries he
founded at Budgworth, Congresbury (Somerset) and at Llangonys
(Glamorgan). There are dedications to this Celtic saint in Wales,
Cornwall, and Brittany, and legends that suggest his was one of the
great monks who evangelized throughout the Celtic lands. It is amazing
that his name survived the influx of the heathen Saxons in his day,
which again leads to the conclusion that he was an especially great
missionary preacher. He is to be identified with Saint Docuinus
(Doguinus). This seems to be the name that was later corrupted into Oue
and Kew. Saint Cumgar was buried at Congresbury according to many
medieval records including pilgrim guides, to which town his own name
was given (Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Farmer).

St. Edwold of Cerne, Hermit
Died 871; Farmer gives him two feast days: August 29 and the feast of
his translation, August 12. Saint Edwold is reputed to be the brother
of Saint Edmund the Martyr (f.d. November 20), king of East Anglia. He
lived on bread and water as a hermit near Cerne in Dorsetshire. He
worked many miracles and was buried in his cell near which the abbey of
Saint Peter's was built. His relics were later translated into its
church (Benedictines, Encyclopaedia, Farmer).

St. Gallgo of Wales, Abbot
6th century. A Welsh saint, founder of Llanallgo in Anglesey

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