Friday 5 April 2013

Saint Becan of Emlagh, April 5

We commemorate a County Meath saint on April 5.  Canon O'Hanlon brings us a summary of the life of Saint Becan (Began) of Emlagh whom some traditions seek to link to Saint Colum Cille:


The present holy man was distinguished, among the Saints of Ireland. The Martyrology of Tallagh, recording his festival, at this date, calls him St. Begain mic Cule; and, as we are told, the name is thus derived, from his mother. Referring to the same authority, the Bollandists briefly enter, on the 5th of April, Beccanus filius Culae. The same paternity is assigned to him, in the "Feilire" of St. Aengus. He descended from the race of Eoghan Mor, son of Oilioll Oluim, according to the O'Clerys' Calendar. St. Becan, or Began, is said to have lived contemporaneously with St. Columkille. He founded a monastery, about the close of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century, at Kilbeggan, a town, situated on the River Brosna. According to one account, when St. Colum-Cille and the King of Erinn, Diarmait, son of Fergus Cearbheoil, after killing Bresal, his son, came to where Becan was, they found him erecting a fort, with a wet cloak about him, and he praying. The saint felt highly incensed against the monarch, whom he humbled in a miraculous manner; but, afterwards, he relented, owing to the prayers of Columba. However, we cannot find these statements, in the proper Acts of the latter saint. That locality with which Becan was connected, Imleach Fia, or Imleach Fise, was also denominated Imleach-Becain, from this saint. His old church, at Emlagh, gave name to a parish, so called, and lying in the barony of Lower Kells, towards the north-east of the town of Kells, in the county of Meath. After the Anglo-Norman invasion, Emlagh became a parish church.... The Martyrology of Donegal, on this day, records a festival, in honour of Becan, son of Cula, at Imlech Fiaich, in Fera- Cul-Breagh. The Rev. Alban Butler, and the "Circle of the Seasons," commemorate St. Beacon, Abbot, at the 5th of April. He is noticed, likewise, in the Kalendar of Drummond. At the Nones, corresponding with the present date, the obiit of this holy man being there is recorded.

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