Thursday 17 July 2014

Saint Sistan of Lough Melge, July 17

The memory of a saint associated with Lough Melvin and described as a priest is preserved in the Irish calendars on July 17. This is really the only detail we have and Canon O'Hanlon thus starts off his account of Saint Sistan or Siostan of Lough Melvin with some romantic musings on how the very soil of Ireland has been hallowed by the remains of these long-forgotten holy men:

St. Sistan or Siostan, Priest, of Loch Melge, now Lough Melvin, Counties, of Fermanagh and Leitrim.

The merits of several holy servants have ascended like incense before the throne of God, and have secured his rewards. However, hardly can the patient pilgrim even alight on the sod, where their bodies rest. Yet, their undiscovered remains have sanctified that earth, with which they have long since mingled. Record or vestige of many holy persons that once existed in our Island can hardly be found ; still a magical spell, like an indescribable charm, hallows the surrounding lovely scenes, blessed with their presence during life. In the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 17th day of July, is the following entry: Sistan sac. for Loch Melge. From the contraction sac. meaning sogarth we may probably conclude that he had been a priest. The Lough Melge, now Lough Melvin, with which he was connected, is a beautiful sheet of water, bordering on the counties of Fermanagh and Leitrim ; but, it lies chiefly within the bounds of the latter county. From the shores of Lough Melvin, its former holy inhabitants have departed long ago from the scenes of this life. Their souls have been received into a brighter and happier world. The Martyrology of Donegal records a festival in honour of Siostan, Priest, of Loch Melghe, at the 17th of July. In a table appended to this record, this saint's name is Latinized Xistus.

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Unknown said...

I am due to visit the island of Inishkeen in Lough Melvin in Leitrim, there is an association with both Siostan and St Colum. I was wondering does any one have any further information. I have the references by P O Riain

Marcella said...

Yes, Ó Riain's Dictionary paints a rather more complex picture of this saint than good old Canon O'Hanlon. Sorry but I am not aware of any other work on this particular saint.