Saturday 26 September 2015

The Monastic Life and Miracles of St Colman-Elo

September 26 is the feast of Saint Colman of Lann-Elo, an account of whose life can be found here. In Volume IX of his Lives of the Irish Saints Canon O'Hanlon, mainly drawing on a Life preserved among the Franciscan archives, includes a number of the miracles attributed to the saint.  I have made a selection of these below, the headings are mine, the text O'Hanlon's. They present a glimpse into the monastic life and in that of Saint Colman it seems that the monks often struggled with his ascetic regime:

The Miraculous Transport of Food
After St. Colman's establishment had been formed, it is stated, that on a certain occasion food had failed his monks; yet a miraculous supply reached them on the feast of the Epiphany. Again is the story told, that when in want of the necessaries of life, a miraculous transport of provisions was wafted to the monastery through the air, and like to the prophet Habacuc's experience.
A Monk Loses his Temper with Saint Colman
A Briton, who was a member of St. Colman's community, had been reproved by the Abbot for some fault. Angered by that reproof, his hand was raised to strike his superior; but in that very act, the hand became stiff and paralysed, nor could the monk recover its use, until the saint had compassionately pardoned his transgression.
Saint Colman Grants a Vision of the Rewards Awaiting his Monks
At one time, the monks of St. Colman murmured, because they lived a very laborious life and one that was very austere, without any corporal rest or consolation. Their venerable superior, knowing this by information communicated to him, addressed them thus : "Brothers, if you desire to see the glory of the heavenly kingdom in so far as it may be permitted to mortals, you shall now behold it." Having replied, that they most earnestly wished for such a favour, Colman raised his hand and placed it over their eyes. Immediately the beatific vision opened to their great delight and admiration. Thenceforward they bore with great resignation and even joy all their austerities and labours to the end of their lives, deeming them as bearing no comparison with the rewards reserved for them in the realms of the blessed. However, their holy Abbot imposed on them an obligation never to reveal that vision to others during his life-time.
Collanus, the Faithful Monk
On a certain occasion, when Colman was absent from his monastery, a monk, remarkable for his humility, obedience and devotion, named Collanus, departed this life. On the Abbot's return he went alone to the cell where his body lay, and standing before the door which had been closed he cried out : "O Collanus, as you have been obedient to me in life, so continue after death, and open this habitation to me." Immediately the monk arose as if from sleep, at the sound of his Abbot's voice; the door opened, and after mutual salutation, the monk said : "I beseech you Father, permit me to return where I have found great glory and rest, to that realm I have already seen." This request he obtained. Having received the Body of our Lord, again he departed and his remains were consigned to the grave.
A Miracle of Saint Colman's Staff
Again where the confluence of two rivers took place, some monks lived in their cells; but floods came that seemed to bode destruction to their dwellings. They came to St. Colman, and asked him to relieve them, when he gave them his staff, telling them to describe a circle with it around their monastery. Having complied with such directions, the inundation ceased, nor afterwards were they subjected to any such inconvenience.
Saint Colman Shows Mercy to a Thief
It is related, that a robber had taken a sacred vessel from the monastery of St. Colman, and which had been used by him for ministerial purposes. Having sold it to a Munster cleric, the robber was apprehended by the people, who were about to hang him for the commission of such a sacrilege, and they threatened to do so if it were not restored. This restitution he was unable then to effect, but the merciful Abbot intervened on his behalf, and rescued him from the hands of that infuriated mob. As a reward for such clemency, the ampulla was recovered through the prayers of Colman.
Saint Colman Punishes some Unrepentant Thieves
St. Colman visited a place called Cluain cayn (Clonkeen) where certain robbers had taken away some property belonging to the monks; but being accused of the theft, they were ready to deny it on oath. Then said our saint, "We shall give you until morning to state the whole truth. " But they persisted in denying their complicity in the theft. A severe punishment was inflicted on them for this denial, and they suffered great pain, until they were obliged to acknowledge their guilt, on the morning following.
Saint Colman Prevents Infanticide
A romantic story is told regarding a son who was born blind. The mother was so shocked and disgusted with his appearance, that she urged another son to take his infant brother and drown him in an adjoining lake. In this resolve her husband coincided. Suddenly was heard the voice of that infant saying to his brother : "O man, do you reflect on what a deed you purpose ?" He replied : "I am about to deprive you of life." The blind infant then said : "Unless you repent of your intention immediately, you shall die, and I shall live, since I am given to Colman Ela that he may nurture me." Whereupon fearing the consequence of such an evil act, the son returned home, and told his father what had occurred. Nevertheless, the father insisted that one of his female servants should execute the deed, and submitting to such an order, again the blind infant spoke to her, and said, that being entrusted by God to the care of St. Colman, she could not deprive him of life, and that unless she should repent of her crime, death must overtake her. Trembling with fear, she returned to the house, and told the father what had happened in her own case. Filled with indignation and still incredulous, the father—a chief of the O'Neill family—resolved on the crime of infanticide himself. He then heard his own child's voice upbraid him and declare, that should the father make any attempt on his son's life the penalty of death must be inflicted on himself, and that too, unless sincere repentance should follow, since the Lord had devoted him to St. Colman Ela to be protected. Accordingly the terrified parent relented. At that very time, our saint happened to be near, and afterwards he went to the chieftain's house to reproach him with the crime intended. The child was then entrusted to St. Colman's care, to be baptised and instructed in the rudiments of learning. As years advanced, the boy grew in wisdom and morality; yet although he was thenceforward known as the Blind Kellamis, he became a sage and the teacher of many scholars.
Saint Colman's Vision of Pope Saint Gregory the Great
On a certain day while St. Colman laboured with his monks in the field, he had a vision, when he suddenly fell prostrate on the ground and shed tears. His monks astonished at such an unusual occurrence asked him with earnestness the cause. He told them he had seen a number of Angels descending towards earth, and that he thought the Day of General Judgment had come. But then he saw them bear a golden altar aloft and on it the soul of Blessed Gregory the Pope. A great illumination took place, as the gates of Heaven opened and Angels appeared to receive him. At the end of a year from that day, he declared that a messenger from Rome should visit their monastery and confirm the fact of Gregory's death. This prediction was fulfilled, for a pilgrim from that city, who had resolved to visit the saints of Ireland, brought such intelligence to them.

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