Celtic and Old English Saints          14 August

* St. Fachanan of Rosscarbery
* St. Werenfrid of Arnheim

St. Fachanan, Bishop of Rosscarbery
Died late 6th century. Saint Fachanan may have been the first bishop of
Ross, Ireland, of which he is the patron. He founded the monastic
school of Roscarbery (or Ross-Altair in County Cork) and appointed Saint
Brendan (f.d. May 16) as one of its teachers (Benedictines, Montague).

St. Fachnan, in Irish Fachtna, who is also called Lachtna, is patron of the 
See, being founder of the monastery, and Bishop of Ross in the sixth 
century. He was disciple of St. Finbarr in the famous school of
Loch-Eirche, and before proceeding to Ross, was abbot of the Molana 
monastery, near Youghal. He also, like most of the contemporary saints of 
Ireland, received lessons of heavenly wisdom from St. Ita, the Brigid of 
Munster. Ross soon became so famous that crowds of students and religious 
flocked to it from all parts, so that it was distinguished by the name of 
Ross-ailithir, that is, Ross of the pilgrims. The birth of St. Fachnan, and 
the future greatness of his school, were foretold by St. Kiaran of Ossory, 
whose mother was of his family, and who himself was born in the territory of 
Ross, at a place still called Traigh-Ciaran (i.e., St. Kiaran's strand), in 
Cape Clear Island. St. Fachnan, having lost his sight by some accident when 
he was somewhat advanced in years, it was restored to him through the merits 
of St. Mochoemog, also called Pulcherius, who was then in his mother's womb, 
and whose future sanctity was foretold by St. Fachnan.

It is also related of our saint that it was his daily habit to retire for 
silent recollection and private prayer to a secluded spot on the side of a 
hill, near the monastery. It happened that one day he left his scroll of 
prayers behind him. Rain fell heavily during the night, but in the morning 
his prayer-book was as dry as Gideon's fleece, for the angels had built a 
small chapel over it. The traces of this ancient oratory may still be seen. 
The precise date of the foundation of the celebrated monastery of Ross 
cannot be fixed with certainty.  Ware says it was founded about the year 
590, and his opinion has been adopted by later writers. It would, probably, 
be more accurate to place the foundation of the monastery before the year 
570, and the death of the saint about the year 590.

The Life of St. Mochaemog states, that it was by the advice of St. Ita that 
St. Fachtna proceeded from the monastery of Ross to the parents of 
Mochaemog, through whose merits his sight was restored to him. St. Brendan, 
patron of Kerry, is also mentioned among those who visited and gave lessons 
of heavenly wisdom in Ross. These two facts sufficiently prove that the 
monastery was established before the death of St. Brendan, which took place 
in 577, and of St. Ita, which is marked in our Annals in 570...

In some Latin documents our saint receives the epithet "Fachtna facundus, 
"St. Fachtna the eloquent:" sometimes his name is simply Latinized Sanctus 

In the Irish records he generally receives the designation of Mac Mongach, 
i.e., " the hairy child," because at his birth his head was covered with 
hair : "Fachtna, Mongach quia cumcaesarie natus," as the
Calendar of Cashel explains that name. St. Fachtna is commemorated in all 
our ancient Martyrologies on the 14th of August...

In the Felire of St. Oengus, the name of St. Fachtna occurs in the strophe 
for the 14th of August :

" With the calling of Fortunatus,
Over the expansive sea of ships,
Mac-an-tsaer, the noble chief,
The festival of Fachtna mac Mongach."

So also he is commemorated on the same day in the metrical calendar of Manus 
O'Gorman :

"Great vigil of Mary :
Gregory, and the bright hero Felix,
The just Eusebius in their company :
The sons of Daigre, with Dinil ;
Let Brocad be in their presence :
Fachtna the smooth, fair, hairy son,
Eiclec, Cummen, Coeman,
Not narrow fences this structure."

St. Cuimin of Connor, in his beautiful poem on the characteristic virtues of 
the saints of Ireland, thus celebrates the zeal and devotedness of St. 
Fachtna :

"Fachtna, the generous and steadfast, loved
To instruct the crowds in concert,
He never spoke that which was mean,
Nor aught but what was pleasing to his Lord."

It is generally supposed that the St. Fachnan, patron of Ross, is the same 
with St. Fachnan, patron of Kilfenora. Two circumstances strongly confirm 
this identity, viz. : that their festivals are now kept on the
same day, the 14th of August, and that the same tribe was dominant in both 
territories. However, Lynch informs us that in his time (1660) the feast of 
St. Fachtna, the holy founder of Kilfenora, was kept on
the 20th of December.


Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol VII,1871, 485-488



The Monastic School of Ross.

Below is a paper from The Irish Ecclesiastical Record on the Monastic School 
of Ross by Archbishop John Healy (1841-1918), a prolific writer on the early 
Irish church, in which he examines the history of Saint Fachtna's 


St. Werenfrid of Arnheim
Died at Arnheim, c. 780. Werenfrid was an English missionary who
accompanied Saint Willibrord (f.d. November 7) to Frisia (Benedictines,
Encyclopaedia). In art, Saint Werenfrid is vested holding a ship with a
coffin in it. Sometimes his body is
placed in a ship, with or without sails (Roeder). He is venerated at
Arnheim, and is the patron of vegetable gardeners. Werenfrid is invoked
against gout of stiff joints (Roeder).


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

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

Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and Their Attributes, Chicago: Henry

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