Sunday 3 January 2016

Saint Cillene of Fahan, January 3

Bell of Saint Mura (UJA, 1853)

January 3 is the commemoration of a seventh/eighth-century Abbot of Fahan in County Donegal, Cillene Ua Colla. The monastery of Fahan was founded by Saint Mura and various of his successors, including our saint, had the dates of their deaths noted in the Irish Annals. Canon O'Hanlon has this account of Abbot Cillene:

St. Cillin, or Cillene Ua Colla, Abbot of Fathan-Mura, now Fahan, County of Donegal. 

[Seventh and Eighth Centuries.]—

We find a festival, Cillini Mac h Colla, at the 3rd of January, in the "Martyrology of Tallagh." In addition to this notice the "Martyrology of Donegal" mentions Cillin Ua Colla, abbot of Fathan-Mura, as having been venerated on this day. The name of this place is sometimes found written Athain and Othain in ancient records. A church was founded here so early as the sixth century by the great St. Columkille. St. Cilline, the descendant of Colla, was born most probably about the middle of the seventh century. The modern designation of his locality is Fahan, within the peninsula of Inishowen, in the county of Donegal. At present, it is said, the old church of Fahan Mura lies close to the eastern shore of Lough Swilly, in the barony of Inishowen, county of Donegal, and in an exceedingly picturesque situation within the ornamental glebe grounds.  In the Annals of Ireland we have on record the death of Ceallach, son of Saran, abbot of Othan-mor or Fahan, A.D. 657. It seems likely the present saint did not succeed him as abbot for many years afterwards, as the death of St. Cillene Ua Colla is set down in the "Annals of the Four Masters," at A.D. 720, on the 3rd of January. The "Annals of Ulster" place his death at A.D. 724, and the Martyrologists of Donegal seem to adopt this latter computation.

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