April 10 is the feast of Saint Paternus of Paderborn, one of many Irish or reputedly Irish holy men who left this country for continental Europe. I say reputedly as many of the claims of Irish links for saints such as Rupert and Arbogast cannot be substantiated although with Columbanus, Fiacre, Virgil etc. we are on firmer ground. Their legacy was a source of pride to Irish writers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and below is an extract from an article on this theme by Magdalen Rock, syndicated from the Catholic Herald by the New Zealand press in 1923. Magdalen Rock was a pseudonym of County Tyrone schoolteacher Ellen Beck (1858-1924). She was a prolific contributor to the religious press of her day and I am pleased to preserve both her own memory and her legacy of writings on the Irish saints here at the blog.
Faithful Irish Exiles
Pioneers of the Faith in Many Lands
(By Magdalen Rock, in the Catholic Herald.)
Saint Patrick came to Ireland in 432, and in the next century Columba, led by remorse or by the missionary spirit that to the present seems characteristic of the Irish race, left his own loved land to found the famous monastery of Iona, from which Scotland and Northern England were brought and re-converted to the knowledge of the true God. Irish bishops governed the See of Lindisfarne; an Irish monk founded old Melrose; Adamnan, the biographer of Columba, is among the best Latin writers of the Middle Ages.
Towards the close of the same century, Columbanus departed from Bangor, with twelve companions, to found Luxeuil and Bobbio; the memory of Saint Gall survives in Switzerland, where a canton bears the name of one of the most earnest of Columbanus’s disciples. Saint Frigidan was Bishop of Lucca for twenty-eight years of work and miracles; Livinus died a martyr in Flanders in 633; Saint Fiacre, who flourished about the same time, founded a monastery near Meaux, in France; Saint Fursey, whose visions gave Dante inspiration, died venerated by all in 648, after founding a monastery in East Anglia, and a more enduring one at Lagny, near which Saints Folian, Gobban, and Dicuil died in the odor of sanctity.
Irish Saints and Scholars.
Saint Arbogast was Bishop of Strasburg in 646, and another Irish saint, Cathaldus, ruled in far-distant Taranto; Fridolin the Traveller founded monasteries in France and in the islands of the Rhine; Saint Virgilius, whose scientific opinions startled the world, was Bishop of Saltzburg in 785, and another, Dicuil the Geographer—flourished about the same period, and is said to have visited Iceland.
Saints Donatus and Andrew are the pride of Fiesole, as Saint Rupert and Marianus Scotus are of Ratisbon; Clemens and Albinus delighted the scholars of the court of the great Charlemagne, while the wonderful learning and eccentric genius of John Scotus Erigena, who combined scholastic and mystical theology, drew on him praise and blame.
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