Wednesday 17 July 2013

Saint Craebhnat of Clenor, July 17

Volume 7 of Canon O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints has a succession of entries over the next few days for saints about whom nothing more is known, apart from the commemoration of their names and festivals on the Irish calendars. At July 17 there is an entry for a female saint, Craebhnat, for whom there may just exist a Life among the papers of the 17th-century hagiologist, Friar Michael O'Cleary:

St. Craebhnat, Virgin.

The name, Corpnata, occurs in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 17th of July. It seems very possible, that an Irish Life of St. Creunata, transcribed by Brother Michael O'Cleary, had reference to this holy woman, and it yet exists in the Burgundian Library at Bruxelles. Some notices—most probably regarding this saint—or it may have been a Life, seem to have been prepared by Colgan for publication, at the 17th of July, as on the posthumous list of his Manuscripts we find a St. Cranata, Virgin, entered. It is likely, this was another form of St.Craebhnat's or Corpnata's name. In the Martyrology of Donegal, Craebhnat, Virgin, is recorded at this same date.

It may be, however, that this saint is not so obscure as Canon O'Hanlon suggests, as another source seeks to tie her to the parish of Clenor, County Cork:

Rev. Canon J. F. Lynch writes: According to Windele, the church of Clenor was dedicated to St. Cranit, a name which is written Craebhnat by Mr. James Byrne. Craebhnat means dear little branch, or branchy tree, and appears to have been a name of endearment given to the saint... The Editors of Donegal Martyrology, Drs. Reeves and Todd, give no note concerning Craebhnat, and most likely were altogether unacquainted with her connection with Clenor. Nor did, I think, Michael O'Clery know of this connection, for if so, he would have stated it in the Donegal Martyrology, and so we have to rely on the particulars supplied by Mr. Byrne concerning Craebhnat, making due allowance, of course, for the vagaries of local tradition.

I will publish Mr Byrne's account of the legend of Saint Craebhnat on another occasion as I would like to do some further research into the sources for the life of this saint.

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