Thursday 30 July 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: F-G

The biographies of the saints listed in this nineteenth-century encyclopedia's chronological list continue with those listed under the letters F-G. We have no female saints in this selection but those who flourished in Europe are well represented with Fearghal (Virgil), Fridoloinus and Gunifort, as well as the two Saints Finnian (of Moville and Clonard), plus as a royal saint and a twelfth-century Archbishop of Armagh:

FEARGHAL (FARRELL), ST. an eminent philosopher and divine of the eighth century, was born in Ireland and educated in all the learning of her schools. He then passed over to the continent, whither so many of his learned countrymen had preceded him, reviving learning amid the wreck of the empire, taming and civilizing the Northern barbarian by the inculcation of the divine truths of the Christian religion, and spreading the light of science and philosophy. Our saint visited Pepin, with whom he remained two years, teaching science and philosophy, and then passed over to Bavaria, where he took ecclesiastical vows and was ordained priest. He continued to publically teach the sciences and was accused before Pope Zachary with teaching heretical doctrines. He was perhaps the first, at least of the moderns, who taught the sphericity of the earth, the existence of antipodes, and in fact the solar system substantially as it is held now. Pope Zachary, instead of condemning him, acquitted him of any violation of faith, and was convinced of the soundness of his scientific theories as well as his sincere and uneffected piety and learning, and made him bishop of Salzburg. Our saint was wonderfully proficient in all the learning of the day, and familiar with all the continental languages, as well as master of the ancient classics, besides being one of the most profound and original mathematicians of any age. His missionary labors were not less admirable. He died in 784 amid the lamentations of a people to whom he had been an apostle. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1223. He was known in his early life as "Virgil the Wanderer," and at his death as the "Apostle of Carinthia."

FIONACHTA, ST., a celebrated, monarch of Ireland, A.D. 675, was grandson of Hugue III, and was a wise and able ruler. In the twelfth year of his reign he retired to a monastery with the design of dedicating his life to the special service of God, but the affairs of the state becoming critical, he at the solicitations of the principal men of the kingdom resumed the reigns of government. He defeated the King of Leinster in Meath, but at the request of St. Moling abolished the tribute which had been for many years imposed on that province, and which had caused so many wars. He had previous to his retirement defeated the forces of Gen. Berte, whom Ecgfrid, King of the Northumbrians had dispatched to make a descent on the Irish coast, and who plundered churches, monasteries and villages, and of which mention is made by Bede in his history. Cumasgach, King of the Picts also invaded the Island, but he paid the penalty with his life, and the complete destruction of his forces by Fionachta at the battle of Rathmore. This brave and pious prince was killed in battle A.D. 695, and is honored as a saint, on November 14, his feast day.

FINIAN, ST., of Moville, founder of the renowned Abby of that name, County Down, was son of Corpreus, of a princely house, and his mother was Lassara. They placed their son when very young under the care of St. Colman of Dromore, by whom he was sent after some time to Caylan, Abbot of Antrim. He finished his ecclesiastical studies under St. Ailbe, of Emly. He then started for Rome, but stopped for some time at the school of Nennis, in Britain, on his way. He studied in Rome seven years, and was then ordained priest. After returning from Rome he spent some years in missionary labor and built his first monastery on the banks of the Lagan, and others in different parts of his missions. He finally founded the Abby of Moville, in the County of Down, over which he ruled as Abbot and Bishop. This, under his wise care, soon became a flourishing community of religious, and a famous school of learning, and around it rose, as was usual in those days, a city. These monasteries not only were great schools of learning, free to those who had no means, but they were also great houses of refuge for the poor and unfortunate who always were sure to find food and shelter within their open doors. St. Finian lived to see his school rank among the foremost in Ireland, and died full of years and grace in 576.

FINIAN, SAINT, was the son of Christian parents, and descended from a noble family. Ware says he was baptized by St. Abban and educated in his youth under St. Fortkern, bishop of Trim, who taught him the offices of the church and other Biblical learning, but as he was born before that saint it is not likely. His father's name was Fintan, and his mother's, Talech, natives of Leinster. When about thirty years of age he determined to devote himself to missionary labors among the heathens, and to prepare himself he spent some time with St. Caiman, near Wexford, who was a disciple of St. Patrick, and well calculated, both by learning and experience, to instruct and counsel him. After leaving St. Caiman he crossed over to Britain and spent some time with St. David of Wales, and here acquired a knowledge of Saxon and Pictish tongues, his ambition being to spread the gospel among these people, most of whom were as yet pagans. He preached the gospel among these people about ten years, converting many and founding monasteries and churches. Many wonderful things are related by his biographers as happening to him. He returned to Ireland, and after paying a visit to his old instructor Caiman, he went on to Wexford and sent a messenger to King Muirdeach, who came to visit him, and knelt to receive his blessing, and offered him any lands he would desire for the foundations of monasteries and churches. After establishing several monasteries and schools, he established his celebrated one at Clonard. Ware says after returning home he was made a bishop and fixed his See at Clonard, in Meath, where he also opened a school which produced men eminent for their learning and sanctity, and he himself got the surname of ‘Finian the Wise.' This was about the year 530. This school became one of the most famous in Ireland, and students from all parts soon filled its halls, numbering at one time as high as 3000. St. Finian himself led a most austere life, his food consisting of but vegetables, and his drink of cold water. After presiding at this crowning work of his life for twenty-two years, he was at length called to his reward on the 12th of December (552), on which day his feast is celebrated.

FRIDOLINUS, SAINT, an eminent Irish missionary, was converted in the time of St. Patrick, and was the son of an Irish King. After embracing a religious life and being elevated to the priesthood, he traveled on the continent preaching the gospel to the heathens. He went through France and Germany preaching and building churches, and founding monasteries, especially in Austrasia Burgandy and Switzerland. He was titular patron of the Swiss Canton of Glaus, and was surnamed Viator on account of his unceasing travels and labors. He died about 498 at Sekingen, an Island in the Rhine, where he had established a monastery.

GELASIUS, ST., Archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland A.D.,1160 was celebrated for his learning and great sanctity. He lived a most austere life and although worn out by by age and fasting he was vigilant in every apostolic duty till his death. His feast is kept on the 27th of March.

GUINIFORT, SAINT, whose feast according to the Roman martyrology is kept at Pavia, August 1st. His acts written by Mombriteus says he was of noble parents in Scotia, where he was converted to the christian religion with his brother Guribald and two sisters and came into Germany where they all sealed their faith by martyrdom. They were before the days of St. Patrick.

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