Saturday 11 May 2013

Saint Criotan of Macreddin, May 11

May 11 sees the commemoration of another of the British saints who came to Ireland as a student, Criotan of Macreddin. Canon O'Hanlon tells us that he eventually opted to remain in Ireland and was remembered as one of the saints of Leinster:


The Feilire of St. Aengus enters My-Critoc, designated "a fair servant," at the 11th of May. The name of Critan Mic Iladon is mentioned, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 11th of May. The Bollandists, quoting this notice, call him Critanus, the son of Illudion,and they state, that he bore also the name Mochritocus, which may be Anglicized "My Chritoc." Thus, from the early calendars, we learn, that his father was called Iladon or lolladon; and, he was born—as appears most probable—some time in the sixth century. This we can discover, by reference to the period, when some of his contemporaries flourished. He is variedly called Criotan, Credan, Credanus, or Cridanus. He seems to have been the disciple of that holy Briton, St. Petrock, or St. Petrocus, who fled into Ireland, after having embraced the monastic state, in his own country. He passed over to this Island, and afterwards he applied to learning, and to the study of the Sacred Scriptures. For twenty years, he read assiduously in our Island; but, we know not in what school or monastery he lived. It seems probable, however, that it was somewhere in the eastern part of Leinster. He afterwards returned to Britain, while Credan, Medan, and Dagan left, perhaps, the Leinster province, where they had been his pupils, to receive further instruction from him. In Cornwall, St. Credan, with those other Irish youths, attended the lectures of Petrocus. We can scarcely doubt, that they became novices, in the religious state, under him. How long our saint remained, with so distinguished a master, does not appear; but, he returned to Ireland, and he probably selected a place for his religious retirement, not far from the district, where he was born. St. Credanus was venerated in Leinster, at a place called Acadh Einnech, on the 11th of May, according to Colgan, who, however, does not particularly identify it. We think, there is a mistake, in the correct spelling of that local denomination. The proper name of this place appears to have been Aghamanagh, "the field of the monks." It is now known as Aghavannagh, in the parishes of Moyne and Ballinacor, and barony of Ballinacor South, in the county of Wicklow. It lies circled round with sheltering hills, in a highly romantic part of that mountainous region. There is a cemetery, at the spot, and still greatly resorted to for interments. No trace of a church now remains; but, the burial-ground is covered with large trees, beneath which, the graves and tombs are sheltered. Yet, tradition has it, that a church was formerly there, and the people have a great veneration for that place of interment. Not far removed from Aughavannagh, are the townlands of Macreddin East and West, in the parish of Ballykine, barony of Ballinacor South, and county of Wicklow. Not many centuries ago, this was written Moykredine —evidently in English—"the plain of Credin." At the present time, there is a Catholic church there, which was authorized to be placed under the patronage of St. Laurence O'Toole. It would seem, however, that Credin was formerly the local saint, and that he gave denomination to those townlands.

The Martyrology of Donegal, on this day, records the name of Criotan, son of Iolladon; but, the date for his death cannot be met with, in our annals. In the Irish Calendar—now kept in the Royal Irish Academy—at the 11th of May, we find mention of Criotan Mac Iolladon. A patriotic and distinguished prelate of our country has remarked, that if there be beatified remains in foreign lands, we may find, too, the bones of martyred and sainted forefathers, whitening the soil around us. In many of our almost forgotten and neglected cemeteries—as in the present case—it seems more than likely, the relics of holy founders repose, with those of the faithful, for long past generations, while awaiting the final resurrection and sentence of the just.

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