Sunday 15 September 2013

Saint Mirren of Paisley, September 15

On September 15 we commemorate an Irish saint who began his career at the monastery of Bangor under the tutelage of its founder, Saint Comgall, but is today remembered as patron of Paisley in Scotland. Canon O'Hanlon, in the September volume of his Lives of the Irish Saints, begins the entries for this day with an account of Saint Mirren (Merinus, Meadhran, Mirin, Mirrin, Mirren), but below is the account from Bishop Forbes' work on the Scottish calendars which quotes from the lessons of Saint Merin's feast from The Breviary of Aberdeen:

The acts of S. Merinus, in the Breviary of Aberdeen, are very circumstantial. Bishop Merinus was given by his parents to S. Comgal, to be trained in the monastery of Bangor, where he eventually assumed the monastic habit and became prior. His rule was a gentle one. Once, when Finnian of Movilla came to the monastery in the absence of S. Comgal, and asked for milk, of which there was none, the cellarer, at the bidding of S. Merinus, was told to bring some from the cellar, which was accordingly done, and distributed among them that sat at meat. He laid the pains of childbirth on an Irish King who contemned him. He was seen by one of the community in his cell, on one occasion, to be surrounded by a heavenly light, and on another occasion he recalled to life one of the brethren who had fallen down overcome by thirst and fatigue in the valley of Colpdasch. At length, full of miracles and holiness, he slept in the Lord at Pasley, and in his honour the said church is dedicated to God.—(Brev. Aberd. pars estiv. fol. cvi.)

That a colony from Bangor should come to Paisley is not at all improbable. In the life of S. Kieran, at March 5, in Colgan's Acta SS. Hib. (p. 461), there is a notice of a S. Medranus, who is mentioned in the lost Kalendar of Cashel with a S. Tomanus:—"SS. Medranus et Tomanus in una ecclesia in Britannica Arcluidensi."—(Ibid. p. 465 a, note 31.) Paisley is within easy distance of Dumbarton. Colpdasch has not been identified.

Camerarius, who makes his day the 17th, states that he was Abbot of Newbattle, in the Lothians. This is impossible, but we find traces of him —

1. In the parish of Kelton, in Kirkcudbright. "There is in the south-east boundary of the parish the vestige of an ancient chapel and churchyard, called Kirk Mirren, now entirely neglected, and of which nothing is known but the locality and the name."—(N. S. A., Kirkcudbright, p. 170; O. S. A. viii. p. 297.)

2. In the parish of Kilmarouock, a chapel, still known as S. Mirren's Chapel (marking by the name of its patron saint some old connection with the abbey of Paisley), stands now in ruins upon Inch Murryn, the largest island of Lochlomond.—(Orig. Par. i. p. 35.)

3. At Kilsyth there is a remarkable spring, on the south of Woodend, called S. Mirrin's Well.—(Orig. Par. i. p. 43.)

4. In the parish of Coylton is a farm called Knock Murran.—(N. S. A., Ayr, p. 656.)

5. In the parish of Edzell, on the south side of the Korth Esk, is the burn of Murran, but there are no distinct traces of his memory anywhere on the east coast of Scotland.

Alexander Penrose Forbes, D.C.L. Bishop of Brechin, Kalendars of Scottish Saints, (1872), 397-398.

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