Sunday 6 April 2014

Saint Cathur, or Cathub, Bishop of Achadhcinn, April 6

At April 6 the Irish calendars commemorate an obscure early saint, Cathur or Cathub. Canon O'Hanlon is unable to bring many details but discounts the possibility raised by the seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, that he was associated with the mission of Saint Patrick:

St. Cathur, or Cathub, Bishop of Achadhcinn, Probably Aughnakeely, County of Antrim

Sacred biography should be a record of useful individual traits of character, and of social facts, on which religious philosophy, as a science, might be based. But, we have, very frequently, in the case of Ireland's saints, materials too scanty for information, and instruction, in most of our hagiographical essays. The Bollandists have a mere notice to this holy man, but his name is incorrectly given. St.  Cathub was born, in the early part of the fifth century, and in the year 404. He was son of Fergus. The present holy man has been classed, but incorrectly, among the disciples of St. Patrick. He is said to have been bishop of Achadh-cinn, or Achid-cinn. Some authorities only style him Abbot. His place is supposed to have been identical with the present Aughnakeely,  one of the four townlands of Craigs, barony of Kilconway, and county of Antrim. In Colgan's time, it was called Achadh na Cille, and it lay within the boundaries of Dalriadia. At this spot, there was an ancient burial ground, although its name is not marked on the Ordnance Survey Maps. A very capable investigator has remarked, that Dalriada, or the Route, ends at the southern boundary of Kilconway, which is but a short distance from this place, It has been conjectured, that Loch Cathbadh, Latinized, Lacus Cathbadii, adjoining Dalaradia, may have taken its denomination, from the present holy man. He flourished before and after the commencement of the sixth century, and he died, on the 6th of April, A.D. 554.  It is said,  that he lived, for one hundred and fifty years. This account also agrees with a statement in the  Chronicon Scotorum; but, the year of his death was 555, according to the latter authority. It must be observed, that Rev. Dr. Lanigan doubts the attainment of his extraordinary term of life, and accounts for the story of that great age, on a conjecture of his own. Colgan suspected, that the priest, named Fothrath  or Cathbad, who was placed over a church at Fothrat, might have been the same as St. Cathub, who was revered at Achadcinn, or Achadnacill. Yet, this latter place is not named in the Tripartite, nor in any of St. Patrick's various Acts. The Martyrology of Tallagh registers the name merely, as Cathub, Bishop, at the 6th of April. On this day was venerated, according to the Martyrology of Donegal, Cathur, son of Fergus, Bishop, over Achadh-cinn.

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