Friday 21 August 2015

Saint Masse, August 21

One of the many obscure Irish female saints is commemorated on August 21, but as is so often the case all we know of Saint Masse is the recording of her name on our calendars. For some reason the Martyrology of Tallaght links her name to that of another saint with whom she shares her feast day, Celba of Kilbeg.  Canon O'Hanlon also reports that in the later Martyrology of Donegal the word species is appended to her name. In a footnote he adds that one of the original translators of this seventeenth-century calendar, the Anglican scholar Bishop William Reeves, gave this explanation: 'Dr. Reeves interprets this word as the Latin equivalent for her name, Maisse, which in Irish signifies beauty. Speciosa occurs in the Martyrology of Molanus, at the 18th March'. So, here is O'Hanlon's brief account of the beautiful Saint Masse, taken from Volume VIII of his Lives of the Irish Saints:

St. Masse, or Maisse, Virgin.

Sheltered from the baneful influence of a corrupt world, this holy Virgin grew each day in goodness, unconscious of evil, and in innocence like the angel who watched over her. The name of Masse occurs in the Martyrology of Tallagh at the 21st of August. Both in the published and unpublished copies, this name is united with that Celba, already noticed. Nothing, however, seems to be known, regarding her place or period. The name of Maisse, Virgin, appears in the Martyrology of Donegal, at the 21st of August. In the table, superadded to this latter work, after her name, we find the word species occurring.

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