Sunday 23 February 2014

Saints Mannan and Tiann of Aredh-Suird, February 23

Canon O'Hanlon brings us a notice of two saints commemorated on February 23, whose history is rather obscure, although their feast-day is well-attested on the Irish calendars. The 17th-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, attempted to associate the pair with a group of martyrs on a Scottish island who were victims of a 9th-century Viking raid, but the evidence is far from convincing. It provides Canon O'Hanlon with an opportunity to tell us the story of the Scottish martyrs, however, which is an interesting one in its own right.

Saints Mannan and Tiaan, of Aredh-suird or Airiudh h-Uird

Little is known, regarding these saints, except what we find stated in the Irish Martyrologies. In those of Tallagh, of Marianus O'Gorman, as also of his Scholiast, and of Donegal, their feast is referred, to the 23rd of February. It is stated, that their memory had been venerated, at a place, called Aredh-suird, according to the first-named authority. But, Mannan, and Tian, of Airiudh h-Uird, are mentioned in the Martyrology of Donegal as having had a festival, at this date. Tian is likewise designated, Theonas, in a table appended to this record of our national saints. Their Acts, or rather a few doubtful notices, concerning them, are given by Father John Colgan, at the 23rd of February; while, at this same date, the Bollandists acknowledge their obligations to him, for communicating some manuscript materials to illustrate their own briefer notices. In the Martyrology of Tallagh, the first-named saint, Mannan, is called "strenuus pugil"—a term most usually applied to a martyr; and, as both names are found united, in our Calendars, it is possible, both endured death for the faith, being thus united in suffering, as in their triumph. However, it is rather doubtful, whether we should adopt Colgan's conjecture, that both these saints might constitute a very small number among those martyrs, who suffered death in Maia Island, off the coast of Scotland, in A.D. 874, or thereabouts, during a hostile incursion of the Danes. As one of these athletes was called Monan, Colgan supposes he might be identical with Mannan; and, as to Tiaan, the nearest formal approach to it, he can discover, is the name of Adrian. But this appellative does not appear to us, at all similar to the other. We find, Hector Boece and Thomas Dempster in their respective Histories of Scotland, as also Camerarius, in his Scottish Martyrology, relate more fully that event, to which Colgan alludes. We are informed, that St. Monan, when a young man, and impelled by a Divine impulse, left his parents. He became a disciple of St. Hadrian, Bishop of St. Andrew's. In their time, a great number of pious inmates lived in a well-known monastery, called Maia, in the district of Fife. When the Danish eruption threatened them, in Scotia, some took refuge in caves and dens, where they escaped death, but yet were obliged to endure great hardships. However, a vast multitude are said to have perished, when the Danes set fire to the monastery, and their torments were excruciating. Some of those martyrs' names are preserved, viz. : the Venerable Bishops Hadrian, Glodian, Gains, Monan, Archdeacon of St. Andrew's, Stolbrand, a Bishop, with many others, whose names are not recorded. Some writers have asserted, that those martyrs were Hungarians, and that, to avoid troubles, which then prevailed in Germany, they passed over into Scotland; while other authors do not hesitate to aver, that they belonged indiscriminately to Scotia and Anglia. But, from whatever quarter they came, adds Boetius, they adopted Scottish customs, and taught the truth, persevering in piety, by word and work, until finally suffering martyrdom, for the sake of Christ, they were placed among the blessed ones, and continued to benefit with their prayers each day, those who piously invoked them. In times after their martyrdom, the faithful flocked to their shrine, which was made illustrious by frequent miracles; while, both in Scotia and in Anglia, they were held, in very great veneration. The merits of St. Modan are praised by Camerarius, in an especial manner, and, at his tomb, miracles were of constant recurrence. One miracle, in particular, is deemed deserving of record. David II., King of Scotland, had been wounded grievously with a hooked iron arrow-head, which the surgeons were not able to extract. Then placing his hopes of cure in God alone, and recollecting the many miracles, wrought through the merits of his servant, Monan, the king went to Inverness, where he had been entombed, and several of his nobles were in company. There, offering his prayers to God and to St. Monan, almost immediately afterwards the iron arrow-head came out of its own accord, without any pain, and scarcely leaving behind a single scar. As a thank-offering for so great a benefit, the monarch took care to have built a magnificent church there, which he dedicated to St. Monan. He also attached thereto a collegiate chapter of priests, for the due performance of choral services, and he furnished sufficient means, for their support. It is probable enough, that some of those called Scoti, by Boetius, were natives of Ireland; and, during the eighth and ninth centuries, numbers of our countrymen suffered for the faith of Christ, while the Danes and Northmen infested our shores. Whether or not the Scotch St. Monan was identical with the present St. Mannan, or whether or not St. Tiaan had been among the holy band of martyrs alluded to, or may be confounded with St. Adrian, Colgan could not decide. However, in a matter and manner, so very uncertain, as that to which he calls the reader's attention, no satisfactory conjecture can even remotely be formed.

In Ireland, it does not seem an easy matter, to connect these holy persons, with any particular time or locality. There is a parish, called Kilmannan, in Bargy, county of Wexford. There is a townland of Kilmannin, in the parish of Becan, barony of Costello, and county of Mayo. hether either has reference to this Saint Mannan cannot be ascertained with accuracy. On the road from Westport to Leenaun, there is a romantic valley, known as Erriff, or Errive; but, this is only remotely similar to Aredh-suird or Ariudh h-Uird.

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