Celtic and Old English Saints          11 August

* St. Blane of Bute
* St. Attracta of Drum
* St. Lelia of Limerick
* St. Digna of Northumbria

St. Blane of Scotland (of Kinngaradha) Bishop
(Blaan, Blain)
Late 6th century; second feast on July 19; feast day celebrated on
August 10 in some places. Saint Blane, a disciple of Saint Comgall
(f.d. May 11) and Saint Canice (f.d. October 11), was nobly born on Bute
Island, Scotland. He returned home to finish his education under his
uncle Bishop Saint Cathan (f.d. May 17), was ordained to the priesthood,
founded a monastery at Kingarth (Bute), and evangelized among the Picts.
He made a pilgrimage to Rome. Later in Scotland, Blane became bishop,
probably at Dunblane, where he is buried and his bell is preserved. This
became the site of Dunblane cathedral. Several hymns, a catechism, and
other extant works are attributed to him, and several places bear his
name on Bute and other parts of Scotland (Attwater, Benedictines,
Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Montague).

Troparion of St Blane tone 5
Drifting over the sea in a boat without oars/ thou wast directed by God
to the Island of Bute, O Hierarch Blane,/ where thou didst devote
thyself to apostolic labours./ O worker of miracles,/ thou art worthy to
be praised as Equal to the Apostles./ Wherefore we beseech thee pray to
Christ our God/ that He will raise up labourers to re-cultivate that
northern part of His
Vineyard,/ so long overgrown with the darnel of heresy and apostasy,/
which thou didst once tend with such care,/ that again many may be lead
into the way of salvation.

St. Attracta, Abbess of Drum (of Achonry)
(Adhracht, Araght, Athracht)
5th century. Saint Attracta seems to have been a contemporary of Saint
Patrick (f.d. March 17), although she may have lived a century later.
Tradition tells us that she was born into a noble Irish family. When
she was refused permission to enter the convent, she fled to Saint
Patrick and received the veil from him at Coolavin. She was definitely
a hermit at Killaraght on Lough Gara in Sligo, and later at Drum near
Boyle. Convents developed at both locations under her direction. The
she founded for travellers at Killaraght endured for a thousand years
and was well reputed for its hospitality and charity to the poor. Saint
Attracta is venerated throughout Ireland, but especially in the west,
both for the lasting foundations she made and for the spectacular
miracles attributed to her intercession, especially those of healing.
She is the patroness of the Diocese of Achonry and her name is popular
among Irish girls. (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Montague).

More information:

"The Virgin heroine was a native of Ulster and the daughter of a chieftain 
named Talchan, of the race of Ir.. She was, we are told, endowed with great 
beauty and singular attractions. Naturally, her hand was sought by many 
suitors. Among the rest came a young chieftain. He was brave, chivalrous, 
skilled in arms, and fearless on the field of chase. The saint's ambitious 
parents, proud of securing so worthy an alliance, consented without much 
hesitation to his proposal, and without, it would seem, paying any attention 
to the inclinations of their child. When Attracta assured her father that in 
such a matter she could not yield to him that implicit obedience with which 
she had ever complied with his wishes, the chief could not brook the 
unexpected refusal, and insisted in stern tones that his commands should be 
obeyed. Attracta bore his wrath meekly; gently assuring him that she had 
already plighted her heart to the Spouse of Virgins, whose love she prized 
more than that of any earthly suitor. In the worldliness of his heart the 
proud father hoped that time, reflection and further persuasion would alter 
the decision of his daughter. His expecta­tions, however, were doomed to 
Having secured for her protection the services of an old and trusted 
servant, and bringing with her a devoted female attendant, Attracta stole 
away and journeyed to the plains of Boyle. St. Patrick was preaching in this 
district at the time, and our saint made no delay in seeking an interview 
with the great apostle, and making known her desire of receiving the habit 
of religion and consecrating her virginity to God.
..Mitain -the faithful servant of Attracta, who had accompanied her from 
home-when the day came on which Attracta was publicly to renounce the 
world-knelt beside her voung mistress as a companion to her sacrifice. This 
event took place at Gregraighe (the plain of the Greeks), near Lough Gara 
(Technet) whose surplus waters supply the River Boyle, and thence fall into 
Lough Key. The Book of Armagh (the oldest Book in Ireland) tells how, at the 
profession of St. Attracta, a veil of snowy whiteness descended on the bosom 
of the Apostle. Taking the flowing Raiment in his hands, the saint proceeded 
to place it on the head of St. Attracta, for he knew it was intended by 
heaven for her. But with that sweet humility and charity for others which 
characterised her life, the young novice besought that the celestial gift 
might be conferred on her sister in Christ. St. Patrick, however, while he 
doubly blessed St. Attracta for her lowliness of heart, prayed her to accept 
it and bid her wear it till the coming of the heavenly bridegroom. ....

`Hospitality and charity towards all ' was one of the primary rules of the 
code of life prescribed by St. Patrick for Attracta and her nuns. The fame 
of her sanctity soon spread afar. . . . Crowds of noble maidens, in the 
first heat of their baptismal fervour, flocked round the saintly abbess of 
Killaraght, desiring to enrol themselves under her guidance and to imitate 
her manner of life...

 Roads were few, mere bridle paths cut through the forest- now bogs-and over 
the wild passes of the Curlew Mountains, travelling was attended by many 
dangers, while little accommo­dation was available for travellers. These 
circumstances led Attracta to form the design of erecting a hospice such as 
in former centuries were founded in Europe for the reception of pilgrims and 
travelling merchants....Placing the Home in charge of her nuns, she erected 
a church and school beside it, with the view of reaping a harvest of souls, 
while dispensing spiritual as well as temporal succour to all who would 
chance to come that way. this was presumably the first commercial hotel ever 
built in Ireland....

"Subsequently in her zeal for the development of the faith in this district, 
and encouraged by the success that attended her first efforts, Attracta 
proposed to build a church of large dimensions close to Drumconnell, where a 
bishop and relative of her own lived. In this neighbourhood there was a 
tradition that a church would one day be built, the fame of whose greatness 
would shine afar ' as a brilliant star.'"

 The Celtic Cross Was Given To Ireland In This Church Of Attracta At Boyle

The following describes the incident chronicled in the Book of Armagh:-

It is related that when St. Patrick came to Boyle to ordain priests and 
consecrate bishops for various missions he paid a visit to the new building 
of St. Attracta. The good woman was pleased to have this opportunity of 
having the place blessed by the apostle himself. We can easily understand 
that this would be much more pleasing to her because of her peculiar 
position between Connell and Dachonna, and so it must have. been a .great 
relief to her when the great man himself promised to offer the holy 
sacrifice of the Mass for her, in her new building. It would appear from the 
narrative that the place was not rightly furnished. Bishop Assicus of Elphin 
was one of St. Patrick's smiths and is, therefore, the true patron of Irish 
Art. He possibly forgot to send a paten when the order came from Attracta, 
at any rate the story of the incident is : " When every­thing was in 
readiness it was discovered that the -paten, for the celebration of the 
Mass, was not at hand. St. Patrick was about to defer the ceremony when 
Attracta interposed, telling the saint to proceed and that God would provide 
the missing paten. He did so. The preparation for the Sacred Mysteries had 
hardly commenced when a golden disc appeared above the head of St. Attracta 
and gently rested on her shoulders as she bent in silent prayer. Taking the 
mysterious gift she reverently ascended the steps and placed it on the 
altar. The paten was found to be incised with a cross, wrought within a 
circle. St. Patrick it is told, taking it in his hands, said:-' It is clear 
that the Lord God has listened to thy prayer, and it is evident that the 
image which this paten bears must be preserved, because it is given thee 
from on high. This holy cross shall receive its name from thee, and the 
Irish shall hold it in veneration, as thou hast surpassed so many others in 
sanctity. And now we consecrate it in the honour of God who hath sent it to 
us, and whose name be ever glorified.' " We are told that " The O'Mochains 
were keepers of St. Attracta's Cross, in the Book of Lecain," and in 
O'Donovan's edition of Tribes of Ui Fiachrach there are other notes on this 
saint which we cannot find place for in our limited space here. The author 
of her life says :-" Like the royal nuns, of whom we read in the Anglo-Saxon 
chroniclers, Attracta seems to have been accorded that peculiar distinction 
which entitled her to rank with kings, bishops, and petty princes, to take 
part in .religious as well as national assemblies, as well as in those in 
which questions of civil importance were discussed.

 Attracta The Peacemaker - Unity

Hence in the Book of Armagh, we find an account of how this remarkable saint 
presided at a meeting which had, for its object, the cementing of friendship 
between the descendants of Awley, the people of Tireragh-and the descendants 
of Kien-the people of Leyney. Again we learn that on one occasion the chiefs 
of Leyney, having forced the King of Connaught to deliver up certain 
hostages, whom he held in bondage, were pursued by their foes on their march 
towards the confines of Lough Gara.

Being surprised, they found themselves hemmed in by their pursuers on one 
side, and by the waters of the lough on the other. One of the leaders, 
riding to the convent of St. Attracta, besought the Abbess to invoke the aid 
of Heaven on their behalf, and to save them from their desperate 
predicament. Coming forth, Attracta went through the beleaguered ranks, and 
then addressing the men of Leyney, she said:-" Be not afraid, but act as I 
counsel you. Trust only in God, who is the Creator of all things, Who is 
able to deliver you from all dangers, and Whose servant I am. Follow me and 
let no man look backward." She then knelt on the borders of the lough and 
gave herself up to prayer, whereupon the waters parted and afforded a dry 
passage to the men of Leyney, who passed over unharmed and were thus 
miraculously delivered from their enemies. One of their number, the 
attendant of a bard, happened to be drowned, but was afterwards restored to 
life through the power of the saint. His name was Foelan, and he afterwards 
devoted himself wholly to the service of God, and died a saint. He is 
honoured in our Martyrologies on the 7th June...

 One more extract from the writer of her life and we have done with the 
founder and patroness of Boyle:-"In one of our Martyrologies, St. Attracta 
is commemorated as the liberator of captives and the deliverer from 
pestilence. She died in the early part of the sixth century, and her 
festival is observed on the 11th August".

Source:  St Patrick and St Attracta in Boyle

The above text is reproduced from The Heart of Ireland by Reverend Patrick 
A. Sharkey and can be read in full online at:


St. Lelia of Limerick, Virgin
Date unknown. Saint Lelia was a very early Irish virgin, who is
connected with the dioceses of Limerick and Kerry. Several places in
Ireland commemorate her name (Benedictines).

St. Digna, Woman-Solitary in Northumbria (+4th c.)


Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Penguin Books.

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

Delaney, J. J. (ed). (1978). Saints for All Seasons.
Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

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

Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
London: Virtue & Co.

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

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