Tuesday 10 June 2014

Saint Santán, June 10

June 10 sees the recording of the name of an episcopal saint, Santán, in the Irish calendars. The seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, suggested that he may be the man of this name mentioned in the hagiography of Saint Fechin of Fore. Canon O'Hanlon seeks to associate him with Kilnasantan in County Dublin, although by his time the church there was attributed to the patronage of Saint Ann. Professor Pádraig Ó Riain, however, who has made a particular study of the genealogical sources, presents a quite different picture of our saint in his authoritative 2011 Dictionary of Irish Saints. Santán here is depicted as one of the three sons of a British king and an Irish mother, indeed his very name derives from the Irish sanct, itself borrowed from the Welsh sant. Both these terms derive ultimately from the Latin sanctus, saint. The Dictionary also lists a number of other locations possibly associated with our saint including Kirk Santan on the Isle of Man. Interestingly, the Manx also confused the Welsh/Irish Bishop Santán with Saint Ann.  Canon O'Hanlon though appears unaware of these details in his account below:

St. Sanctan, or Santan, Bishop.

Veneration was given on this day, 10th of June, to Sanctan or Santan, a bishop, as we find entered in the Martyrologies of Tallagh, and of Donegal. It has been conjectured that the present St. Sanctan may have been identical with a young man, who was rescued from captivity, by St. Fechin, Abbot of Fore. Another conjecture may be quite as correct, viz., that he was connected with Kilnasantan, near Bohernabreena, near the head waters of the River Dodder, county of Dublin. Kilnasantan was granted by Archbishop Comyn—who built and endowed St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin—to the College of St. Patrick, and confirmation of that grant was made by Pope Celestine III., in the year 1191. In 1231, Archbishop Luke, granted this church to St. Patrick's Cathedral, on demise of Andrew de Menavia, the holder of it as a prebend. In 1306, it was returned as wasted by the O'Tooles, and in 1326, the English sheriff describes it, as belonging to the manor of Tallagh, but "lying within the Irishry," therefore waste and unprofitable. During the border wars of the middle ages, the exercise of Divine service in it was rendered difficult to the English settlers. In the sixteenth century, it ceased to be a church for worship, a chapel having been erected at a place called by the Irish Templeogue, or "the new church." The old church of Kilnasantan is now a ruin; but it measured about 18 paces in length by 5 in breadth. Although built at a very early period, and in a sequestered spot,  its walls exhibit no contemptible skill in masonry. Early in this century were rude and broken granite crosses on the piers of its entrance, a large broken font inside the gate, and some tombs of the last century, uniformly and grotesquely sculptured.

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