Saturday 9 February 2013

Blessed Marianus Scotus of Ratisbon, February 9

February 9 is the feast of the blessed Marianus Scotus of Ratisbon. It may not be immediately apparent but behind this Latin name is an 11th-century Donegal man, Muiredhach Mac Robartaigh, a monastic scholar and scribe. Below is a paper which was read to the Royal Irish Academy in 1862 by the learned Anglican bishop, William Reeves. In his paper Dr Reeves describes the life and work of Marianus and explains the rather arbitrary Latinizations of Irish names which has led to some confusion between our saint and another 11th-century Marianus Scotus, the chronicler. I have omitted some of the author's discussion of the manuscript of the Epistles of Saint Paul as it was too difficult to accurately reproduce the Latin and Irish texts. 

Rev. Dr. Reeves read a paper—


It is worthy of observation, that our native annals, which are so full and minute in recording the names of ecclesiastics who became distinguished at home, utterly ignore the existence of those who went abroad. The memory of St. Gall, St. Columbanus, and St. Cataldus are engraved on the map of Continental Europe; St. Fiacra is stereotyped in the language of France; St. Fridolin is blazoned on the banners and arms of Glarus; St. Coloman, an Irish monarch's son, is patron saint of Lower Austria; Franconia glories in the Irish Kilian: yet not one of these worthies finds a place in the Annals of Tighernach, of Ulster, or the Four Masters. For this silence of the annalists there are two ways of accounting. In the first place, the early tide of missionary emigration from Ireland was entirely eastwards, and for centuries there was little or no reflux. The pilgrims found in central Europe abundant occupation for the residue of their lives, and there established a home for themselves, either in the martyr's grave or in the hearts of the people. In this manner, having abandoned their native country in early life, ere they had made a name, and all intercourse with it being at an end, they were soon forgotten.

In the second place, the nature of our annals demanded such silence, and thus what at first might be judged a defect becomes an internal testimony of their truth. They admitted nothing on hearsay. I do not, indeed, mean to assert that Tighernach, Cathal Maguire, or the O'Clerys were not copyists, or that they witnessed all which they record. But this I say, that each successive compiler transferred and embodied the matter of various collateral and well-authenticated originals, in which generations of scribes had in the great monasteries noted down, as in a day-book, particular events as they occurred; which records were preserved on the spot where they were written. We can easily draw the picture of an enterprising and diligent scribe, starting from his monastery with his leathern wallet on his back, to take a circuit of the kindred institutions of his province, in order to make an authentic compilation from original entries, for the benefit of his own institution, either with a view to increase its literary stores, or repair the damage done by that minister of oblivion—fire. In such compilations the names or acts of those who had abandoned their country were not likely to find a place. And, even in the middle ages, when the diffusion of Christianity, with its attendant civilization, brought round a closer connexion and increased intercourse between the pilgrims and their brethren at home, the old principle continued to operate, and the annals ran on, not as records of the Irish, but of Ireland; so much so that, among all the Irish foundations on the Continent, and all their exclusive congregations, I can discover but three names that have found their way into our domestic records, and these, of individuals who were high in office and celebrity before their departure.

At 784 the Four Masters record the death of " Ferghil, the Geometer, Abbot of Achadhbo, in Germany, in the 13th year of his episcopate." This was the celebrated Virgilius, who became Bishop of Salzburg. The Annals of Ulster, at 788, simply say: —Feirgil abb Acaidboo moritur.

At 1042 the Annals of Ulster and Four Masters relate that "Ailell, of Mucnomh, Superior of the Irish monks in Colonia, died."

Lastly, at 1085, according to the Four Masters, " Gilla-na-naemh-Laighen, illustrious Bishop of Glenndaloch, and afterwards Superior of the monks in Wurzburg, died on the 7th of April."

High in honour abroad, though forgotten at home, were the two Mariani, each of whom bore the designation of Scotus, and who, on account of the identity of their assumed names, have by many distinguished writers been treated of as but an individual. Their real names, however, were different, and though nearly contemporary, and natives of the same province, their labours lay in different fields, and their literary remains vary in their character. Marianus Scotus the Chronicler was born in 1028, and educated under Tighernach Boirceach, of Moville. In 1056 he withdrew to Cologne; in 1058 he removed to Fulda; in 1069 he retired to Mentz; and in 1082 he died. His Chronicle is his great monument, but it has long been well known to the learned of Europe; and Florence of Worcester, one of England's worthies, is glad to make the Irishman's work the basis of his compilation. Marianus' autograph, with his assumed name, containing also a memorandum of his native, name, Maelbrigde, has been edited in Pertz's Monnmenta by G. Waitz from a Vatican MS. formerly belonging to St. Martin's of Mayence. With this Marianus we have nothing further to do.

The other Marianus Scotus, whose own name was Muiredhach Mac Robartaigh, was a native of Tir Conaill, the modern county of Donegal. He left Ireland in 1067, that is, eleven years after the Chronicler. A memoir of him and his successors, composed by an Irish monk of Ratisbon, and carefully edited by John Bollandus, in the second volume, for February, of the Acta Sanctorum, from a manuscript preserved in the Carthusian monastery of Gaming, in Lower Austria, furnishes the following particulars concerning the history of this good man:—

"Marianus was a native of the north of Ireland, and remarkable as well for the beauty of his countenance as the strength of his body. In his youth he was carefully instructed by his parents in sacred and secular literature, with a view to his entering the clerical office. In process of time he assumed the monastic habit, but seemingly without entering any regular order; and, taking two companions, called John and Candidus, he set out from home, having as his ultimate object a pilgrimage to Rome. Arriving, on their way, at Bamberg, they were kindly received, and, after a year's sojourn, were admitted to the order of St. Benedict in the monastery of Michelsberg. But, being unacquainted with the language of the country, they preferred retirement, and a small cell at the foot of the hill was assigned them for their use. After a short stay, they received the license of their Superior to proceed on their way; arriving at Ratisbon, they met a friendly reception at the nunnery of the Upper Monastery (Obermunster), where Marianus was employed by the Abbess Emma, in the transcription of some books. From this he removed to the Lower Monastery (Niedermunster), where a cell was assigned to himself and his companions, in which he diligently continued his occupation of writing, his companions preparing the membranes for his use. After some time he was minded to resume his original journey; but a countryman called Muircertach, who was then living as a recluse at the Obermunster, urged him to submit to the Divine guidance the determining whether he should proceed on his way, or settle for life at Ratisbon. He passed the night in Muircertach's cell; and in the hours of darkness it was intimated to him that, where on the next day he should first behold the rising sun, he should remain and fix his abode. Starting before day, he entered St. Peter's Church, outside the walls, to implore the Divine blessing on his journey. But scarcely had he come forth, when he beheld the sun stealing above the horizon. "Here then, said he, "I shall rest, and here shall be my resurrection." His determination was hailed with joy by the whole population. The Abbess granted him this Church of St. Peter, commonly known as "Weich-Sanct-Peter, with an adjacent plot, where, in 1076, a citizen called Bethselinus (Bezelin) built for the Irish, at his own cost, a little monastery, which the Emperor Henry IV. soon after took under his protection, at the solicitation of the Abbess Hazecha. The fame of Marianus, and the news of his prosperity, presently reached Ireland, and numbers of his kindred were induced to come out, and enter his society. The early connexions of the monastery were chiefly with Ulster, his own native province, and the six Abbots who succeeded him were all from the north. The seventh was a southern. From Weich-Sanct-Peter, another Irish monastery, called St. James's of Ratisbon, took its rise in 1090. Marianus' original companions, however, did not continue with him, for John went to Gottweich, in Lower Austria, where he became a recluse under Bishop Altmann. Clemens proceeded on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he ended his days. Of Marianus himself, nothing more is recorded in this memoir, except his great skill and industry as a scribe. " Such," says the memoir, " was the grace of writing which Divine Providence bestowed on the blessed Marianus, that he wrote many and lengthy volumes, with a rapid pen, both in the Upper and Lower Monasteries. For, to speak the truth, without any colouring of language, among all the acts which Divine Providence deigned to perform through this same man, I deem this most worthy of praise and admiration, that the holy man wrote from beginning to end, with his own hand, the Old and New Testament, with explanatory comments on the same books, and that, not once or twice, but over and over again, with a view to the eternal reward; all the while clad in sorry garb, living on slender diet, attended and aided by his brethren, both in the Upper and Lower Monasteries, who prepared the membranes for his use. Besides, he also wrote many smaller books and Manual Psalters, for distressed widows, and poor clerics of the same city, towards the health of his soul, without any prospect of earthly gain. Furthermore, through the mercy of God, many congregations of the Monastic Order, which, in faith and charity, and imitation of the blessed Marianus, are derived from the aforesaid Ireland, and inhabit Bavaria and Franconia, are sustained by the writings of the blessed Marianus."

He died on the 9th of February, 1088.

Aventinus, the Bavarian annalist, styles him, "Poeta et Theologus insignis, nullique suo seculo secundus," and thus describes one of Marianus' compilations:—

"Extant Reginoburgii in inferiori Monasterio, Divini Davidis Hymni, cum commentariis in membranis scripti, opus Mariani. Ejus prafationem, ut fides fiat, subtexo de verbo ad verbum: Anno dominicae incarnationis, Mlxxiv, Hainrico juvene Imp., Machtylda Abbatissa S. Maria, et S. Herhardi Abbateam regente, decern novalis Cycli xi. anno Indict, xii. Marianus Scotus, septimo peregrinationis suae anno collegit modicas istas undas, de profundo sanctorum Patrum pelago, scilicet Hieronymi, Augustini, Cassiodori, Arnobii, et de opusculis S. Gregorii: et pro suae animae salute, in honorem salvatoris Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et ejus genitricis, semperque Virginis Mariae, et S. Herhardi confessoris, scripsit, et in unum librum perstrinxit. Prolixas enim et salubres Catholicorum Patrum expositiones non omnes avido cordis amore petunt. Multi sunt etiam, qui etsi tales legere vel habere vellent, tamen minori censu, vel intellectu, vel aliqua causa existente occupati, illas invenire et legere non possunt. Nunquam tribuatur ad transcribendum extra Monasterium, nisi pro eo congruum relinquatur vadimonium. Georgii feriis coepit, Mathaei et Hemerami finivit."

2. Liber Mariani genere Scoti, excerptus de Evangelistarum voluminibus sive doctoribus.

3. The third manuscript of our countryman, Marianus, is the most interesting, not only on account of the beauty of its execution, but also as supplying the Irish name of the writer; for I may here observe that the use of Latin forms to represent Irish names is very arbitrary; thus, Malachias stands for Maelmaedhog, as in the case of Malachy O'Morgair; for Maeliosa, as in the case of Maeliosa, bishop of Down (1152): Gelasius represents several compounds of Gilla, as Gillamacliag, Gilladomhnaill; so also Marianus represents Maelbrigde, as in the case of Marianus, the Chronist; Muiredhach, as in the case of the present Marianus ; and Maelmuire, as in the case of Marian Gorman, the Martyrologist.

The existence of this manuscript has been known to the literary public since 1679, when Lambecius' catalogue of the Imperial Library of Vienna was finished. Prom it Cave, Harris, Oudin, Lanigan, and Zcuas have drawn information. And, in later times, Denis, in his catalogue of the MSS. in that collection, has given fuller and more interesting details. But it requires an Irish eye to discern, and Irish wit to unfold, the essential points and beauties of our exquisite MSS.; and both of these qualifications are possessed in an eminent degree by our former associate, Mr. Charles P. Mac Donnell, who, during a residence in Vienna, spent some time in the examination of Marianus' principal manuscript, and kindly intrusted me with the carriage of the following communication:—

" Among the literary treasures stored in the Imperial Library at Vienna, there is an autograph (unedited) manuscript of our illustrious and venerable fellow-countryman, Marianus Scotus, the Chronographer, being a copy of the Epistles of St. Paul, with an interlinear gloss, apparently an original production of Marianus himself, and a copious marginal commentary, consisting of extracts from the Fathers and theological writers popular in his day—a commentary which attests the patristic learning and research of that truly eminent man. Harris, in his edition of 'Ware's Writers of Ireland,' notices this Codex; as does also Lanigan in his 'Ecclesiastical History of Ireland,' both referring to the authority of Lambecius. Lanigan says that those notes of Marianus, ' although well worthy of the light, have not, as far as I know, been as yet published'—a statement in which he merely follows Lambecius, whose words, in reference to this MS. are, that it contains: ' Omnes Epistolae Sancti Pauli Apostoli, celeberrimi Chronographi Mariani Scoti, monachi Fuldensis, propria manu, anno 1079, exaratae, et ab eodem annotationibus marginalibus et interlinearibus, hactenus quidem nondum editis, editu tamen dignissimis, illustratae: in quarum fine haec ipsius legitur subscriptio: Explicit Epistola ad Hebroeos, habens versus Dccc. In honore Individuae Trinitatis, Marianus Scottus scripsit hunc librum suis fratribus peregrinis. Anima ejus requiescat in pace, propter Deum devote dicite Amen. xvi. Kal. Junii hodie feria vi. anno Domini MLXXVIII.' "

The learned and laborious Denis, one of those highly cultivated and gifted men whom the dispersion of the old society of the Jesuits threw upon the world, and who, in these circumstances, was made chief librarian in Vienna in the latter part of the last century, has given a more detailed analysis of this valuable manuscript. In this notice I shall mainly follow his guidance, taking care, however, to give the extracts exactly as they stand in the manuscript itself. The MS. is a large quarto, consisting of 160 folia of vellum; the text in a fine clear hand of the eleventh century, in letters of moderate size; the gloss, both lineal and marginal, being written in small, delicate characters, but evidently by the same pen. Fol. 136 is written only on one side; ff. 146 and 154 were cut away to one-half their original size, after having been written, as is manifest from some of the letters on the remaining halves being partly cut away.

The Codex contains all the Epistles of Saint Paul, strictly according to the text of the Vulgate, and in the same order in which they now stand in our Bibles, except that, between those to the Colossians and to the Thessalonians, the apocryphal Epistle to the Laodiceans is introduced, with this marginal observation, however: " Laodicensium epistola ab alio sub nomine pauli putatur edita." With the exception of the last-mentioned, which is left uncommented, the Epistles are all accompanied with an interlinear gloss, and are elucidated by ample marginal quotations from the following Fathers and theological writers: St Gregory, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, Fulgentius, Origen, Cassian, Haimon, Leo, and Alcuin; and also from the Liber Pastoralis, Petrus Diaconus, Ambrosiaster (now rejected in tom.ii., ed. Maur. Paris, Append, p. 21), and Pelagius (whose Commentarii in Paulinas may be seen, tom. xi., Opp. S. Hieronymi, edit. Vallars. col. 835). As far as the Epistle to the Colossians, the prevailing extracts are from St. Gregory; and from that to the end the most frequent are from the false Ambrosius. Denis suggests that improved readings of the text of the Fathers might be, perhaps, obtained by a collation of their works as printed, with the passages quoted from their writings in this MS., which exhibit in many instances considerable variations from the usually accepted readings.... [please refer to the original volume for further details of this MS]…The last folio concludes with in the gloss, the Christian and family name of the illustrious chronographer, written with his own hand in his mother tongue—Muiredach mac Robartaig.

The family of Mac Robhartaigh were the hereditary guardians of the venerable Cathach of St. Columbkill, and, as such, herenachs in Tyrconnell, and vassals of the O'Donells, the ancient princely rulers of that region. As guardians of that reliquary, they are mentioned in the "Annals of the Four Masters." In 1497 one of the events of a battle at the pass of Ballaghboy, between the O'Donells and the Mac Dermots, which proved disastrous to the former, is thus recorded: —

Translated by our learned fellow-countryman, O'Donovan: —

The Cathach of Columbkille was also taken from them, and Magroarty, the keeper of it, was slain.
Two years after this battle the Cathach was restored to the O'Donells (ad an. 1499); and in 1567 the same annalists chronicle a battle between the O'Neills and O'Donells at Farsetmore, a low-water ford near Letterkenny, in which, amongst those that fell, was—Rendered in O'Donovan's translation—

" Magroarty, who had the custody of the Cathach of St. Columbkille."

Almost contemporary with this Marianus was Donnall Mac Robartaigh, St. Columba's successor at Kells, whose name is engraved on the silver case of the Cathach, and whose death is recorded by the Four Masters at 1098. By them he is called O'Robhartaigh; but this interchange of Mac and O' is common in early records. Dermot O'Robhartaigh, Abbot of Durrow, died in 1190. Ballymagroarty, in the parish of Drumhome, county of Donegal, is so called from Baile-mecc-Robhartaich, being originally the possession of Mac Robhartach, keeper of the Cathach; and Ballymagrorty, in the parish of Templemore or Deny, has the same origin. In 1609, the Inquisition of Donegal finds the "Island of Torro [Tory], whereof O'Rohertye is both herenagh and corbe." Among the general pardons in the same year, various members of the clan are mentioned under the forms McRuertie, Magroertie, Mcgroertie, Magrertee, and Roertie. At the present time the name has been moulded into O'Rafferty, Rafferty, and Mc Grotty.

Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Volume 7 (1862), 290-301.

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