Monday, 14 January 2013

Saint Baetan of Inisbofin, January 14

January 14 sees the commemoration on some of the Irish calendars of a monastic saint, Baetan, associated with the island monastery of Inisbofin, off the coast of County Mayo. The Martyrology of Donegal records:


BAODAN MOR, son of Lughaidh, Abbot, of Inis-mor, A.D., 712.

Canon O'Hanlon records that he is also mentioned in the Martyrology of Tallagh as 'Baetan, son of Lugeus, on the 14th of January. In the latter record, he is likewise said to have been a bishop. At the year 711, the death of Baetan, Bishop of Inis-Bo-Finne, is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters. Those of Ulster place it at A.D. 712. Under the head of Inis Mor, Duald Mac Firbis enters Baeden, bishop, for January 14th.'

Although his feastday is thus well attested, there are few other details of the life of this saint. O'Hanlon links him to the seventh-century monastic foundation of St Colman at Inisbofin and suggests that Saint Baetan may have been one of the founder's early successors.

There are also two other islands which share the name of Inisbofin (Island of the white cow), one in County Donegal and the other in Lough Ree on the River Shannon.

Finally, Canon O'Hanlon suggests that another saint who is also commemorated on this date may be linked with Saint Baetan and Inisbofin. The Martyrology of Tallagh lists a St. Lugeus, of Inismor, who also appears on the Martyrology of Donegal as simply Luighbhe. Once again we have no further details of his life and there are many islands given the name Inismor (big or main island) in different parts of Ireland. However, as both martyrologies link the names of Saints Baetan and Luighbhe on this date, O'Hanlon feels that they may both have belonged to the monastery at Inisbofin, County Mayo.

There is a website for the island of Inisbofin with some illustrated pages on its Christian heritage here

May the intercession of all the saints associated with this western isle be with us!

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