Monday 22 July 2013

Saint Mobiu of Inis-Cooscry, July 22

A northern Irish abbot, Mobiu of Inis-Cooscry, is commemorated on 22 July. Canon O'Hanlon has an account of the abbot and of the locality in which he flourished, right in the heart of Saint Patrick country in County Down. He begins with some reflections on the use of personal pronouns in relation to the names of the saints and ends by lamenting the state of the historic ruins of Irish monasteries:


THE original name of the present holy man was apparently Biu; for, we have to admit, that the adjunct of affection mo was but a colloquial addition. Formerly, in Ireland, it was not, and even yet it is not, always customary to use the title of "saint." With a simple reverence, the people called the holy men and women among them merely by their names, often affectionately prefixing Mo, "my," or Do, "thy." Thus, we have in general use the phrase "Patrick's Day," or "Stephen's Green," applied as the usual forms in reference to times and places. In the early period, the Irish did not call their children by a saint's name, without prefixing Gilla, "servant," as Gilpatrick, Gilbride, &c. These observations prepare us for a better understanding of changes occurring, also, in the personal etymons, applied to holy persons in our Calendars. In the published Martyrology of Tallagh, we meet at the xi. of the Kalends of August, or at the 22nd of July, this entry, "Dobi Innse Cumscraidh." It would seem, that our saint had been known under different names, as we find him variously designated, by our ancient and modern writers, Mo-biu, Do-biu, Dabius, David, Movean, and Bite, or Bitheus. He is called St. Movean or Dabius, of Ireland, in some of the Scottish Calendars. Thus, in Bishop Forbes' "Kalendars of Scottish Saints," some notices of this holy Abbot are to be found.

According to Colgan, St. Dabius was born of a mother who had been childless, until St. Mochua, then at Bangor, had prayed for her, as mentioned in his Life. The Sanctilogy of the Irish Saints states his father to have been Comgell, son of Erc, son to Arad, son of Columb, son to Cunneth, son of Buan, from whom the Dal-Buan family sprang, and this was a celebrated tribe in Ultonia, although now extinct or unknown. If the genealogical line be complete in the foregoing pedigree, it would be possible to form an approximate calculation of that period at which he flourished. In the Irish Calendar, he is said to have borne the name of Bitheus, also and to have been Abbot of Inse Cumsgraidhe. Sometimes the place is called Inis Cooscry; and this name it obtained, probably from some former owner, named Cosgraidh. It is now known simply as Inch, a parish in Lower Lecale barony, and county of Down.

The first church here is said to have stood near Erynach; but, we know not by whom it had been erected. This was situated in the barony of Lecale, about one mile and a-half south from Downpatrick. It it is said, that Magnell Makenlese, King of Ulster, had founded an Abbey here, and we are told,that a St. Evodius had been its first Abbot. On the day of his decease, Evodius prophesied, that his own Abbey should be destroyed in after times, but that an Abbey should be built in the Island, now known as Iniscooscry or Inch. Therefore, he gave directions that his corpse should be interred in it.

A monastery appears to have been erected on this peninsula—which exhibits at present some picturesque ruins—long before the arrival of the English in Ireland. As had been justly thought by some writers, Iniscooscry was not called after John de Courcey; for, its ancient name was Inniscumhscraigh, pronounced Iniscooscry. Tigernach, Abbot of Clonmacnoise, who died in 1088, records, that in the year 1002, Sitric, King of the Danes, arrived with a fleet in Uladh and at Kilclief and Iniscooscry; while the Annals of the Four Masters, and Keating, at the reign of Brian Boru, concur in recording the same occurrence, and in almost the same words that Tigernach uses. Under the year 1061, is recorded the death of Hogan O'Cormacan, Abbot of Inniscumscraigh, and Hugh Maglanha, Abbot of Iniscumscray, was a subscribing witness to the charter of Newry.

To what exact period we should refer the abbatial functions of St. Mobhius, we have no means of ascertaining. He must have flourished before the ninth century, when he had a connexion with this place, as we learn from the "Feilire" of St. Oengus. ...

St. Mobiu is commemorated at the 22nd of July, by St. Oengus the Culdee, in the "Feilire." A comment on this notice remarks in Irish, that Thy-Biu, son of Comgall, was in Ferann Duin, equivalent to the district of Down. A St. Mobhius, son to Comgell, is venerated at the 22nd of July, according to Marianus O'Gorman and others. In Scotland, this holy man was venerated, as we learn from the Kalendar of Drummond, at the 22nd of July. Again, in the "Circle of the Seasons," we find entered at the 22nd of July, St. Dabius of Ireland.

It is melancholy to reflect, as one discovers frequently in travelling through Ireland, that so many temples and monasteries of her ancient Church are now crumbling into ruin. Here, in the times of primitive faith, the good religious tended the lamp of the sanctuary, and while engaged in praise and prayer themselves, their example and instructions were not lost even upon world- lings. These were exhorted to consecrate the beginning and end of the day, and not to allow their worldly concerns to interfere with or to prevent such holy occupations. Those who could not attend the public assemblies of the faithful were always careful to pray at home, at certain appointed times. So was perpetual adoration preserved, while blessings in return flowed on themselves and on their families.

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