Saturday 10 January 2015

Saint Thomian of Armagh, January 10

On January 10 we commemorate Saint Thomian, a seventh-century successor to Saint Patrick at Armagh, whose ministry was dominated by the Paschal Dating Controversy. In his notes to the updated edition of Archdall's Monasticon Hibernicum, Bishop P.F. Moran provides this summary of Saint Thomian's life, noting with approval his appeal to Rome to settle the contentious matter of the correct dating of Easter:
St. Thomian (Tomyn, Tomene, or Toimen) Mac-Ronan succeeded in 623. He was the most learned of his countrymen, in an age most fruitful of learned men. The "Martyrology of Donegal " refers his feast to 10th January:

TOIMEN, Successor of Patrick, A.D., 660.

The "Annals of Ulster" have, A.D. 660, "Tommene, Episcopus Ardmachse, defunctus est." The "Four Masters," at the same year, have, "St. Tomene, son of Ronan, Bishop of Ardmacha, died. " One of the most important ecclesiastical questions that occupied the attention of the early Irish bishops occurred during the pontificate of St. Thomian. The Paschal controversy then agitated the entire island. The Synod of Magh-lene (A. D. 630) in which the Bishops of Leinster and Munster were assembled, under the influence of St. Cummian, decided that the Roman usage should be their guide; and Ven. Bede mentions that, in 635, the Southern Irish, "at the admonition of the bishop of the Apostolic See," had already conformed to the Roman rite. Not so, however, the Northerns. St. Thomian, in order to secure uniformity, addressed, in conjunction with the Northern bishops and abbots, a letter to Pope Severinus, in 640. When their letter reached Rome, the Apostolic See was vacant, and the reply which came was written, as usual in such cases, by the Roman clergy. This fact is an admirable example of the fidelity with which the early Irish Church adhered to the statute of St. Patrick in the "Book of Armagh," that difficult cases should be sent "to the Apostolic See, that is to say, to the chair of the Apostle Peter, which holds the authority of the city of Rome."

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