Saturday 27 July 2013

Saint Beoghain of Moville, July 27

At July 27 we have the feast of another Irish abbot, this time from the northern monastery of Moville, County Down. Saint Beoghain, however, is yet another of the Irish saints about whom not much is known, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:


A monastery had been founded at Magh-bile, about 540 by St. Finian, denominated Fionn, or Findbarr, meaning "white head," a most celebrated Irish ecclesiastic, who was a preceptor of St. Columba. About the year 540, or as Sir James Ware states about A.D. 550, he is supposed to have founded a monastery at this place. It is situated in the county of Down. The Irish denomination Magh Bile is rendered by the "field of the aged tree." Close to the spot are some venerable yew trees of large size, which possibly may be the descendants of that "aged tree," from which the place derived its name. It was formerly the seat of a bishopric, being a place of great importance, and frequently it is referred to in the early annals of Ireland. A succession of holy bishops was there during the sixth and seventh centuries; but, from the year 731, Moville is noticed only as having been governed by Abbots. The present saint is classsed among the latter, in one of our earliest Calendars. We read in the Martyrology of Tallaght that Beogan Ab. Maighi Bile had a festival at this date. We are not able to find any record of the period at which he flourished…. It is noticed, in the Martyrology of Donegal, that Beoghain, Abbot of Magh-bile, or Moville, had veneration given him, at the present date. In that Calendar, compiled by the Rev. Dr. Reeves, he is noticed simply as St. Beoghan, of Magh Bile, but without the distinction of Abbot.

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