Saturday 1 March 2014

Saint Baitan, Abbot of Clonmacnoise, March 1

On March 1 the Irish calendars commemorate Saint Baitan, a seventh-century abbot of the monastery of Clonmacnoise. The entry in the Martyrology of Donegal reads:

BAOTAN, Mac Ua Corbmaic, abbot of Cluain-mic-Nois, A.D. 663.
Saint Baitan (Boetan, Baotan, Buadan, Boedan, Baithan, Da-Buadoc) succeeded Aedlugh, whose death is recorded in the Annals at 26th of February, 651, as abbot of Clonmacnoise. Here is how one nineteenth-century writer described him:

whose tribe was of the illustrious Conmaicne Mara family, succeeded in the Abbacy. Ware, Lanigan, and Lynch, in his MSS. history, style this holy man Baitan O'Cormac, " first a Monk, then Abbot, and lastly Bishop of Clonmacnoise; a man of much piety and learning." He is named in our Martyrologies, on the 1st of March; but there, as well as in our ancient Annals, receives only the title of Abbot. This is a strong confirmatory proof of the assertion with which we set out, namely, that Abbot and Bishop may here be taken as synonymous. This holy Bishop's obit, is put down by some as having taken place in 663, and by others, in 660. About that year the plague, called Buidhe Connaill, began to rage in Ireland, and of it some of the most remarkable men of that time in Ireland died.
Rev John Monahan, Records Relating to the Dioceses of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise (Dublin, 1886), 82.

Canon O'Hanlon summarizes the evidence for Saint Baitan's feast on the calendars:
Baitan, Bishop of Cluan, is mentioned in the Martyrology of Tallagh, as having a festival on the 1st of March, which it appears was the date for his death. Marianus O'Gorman, and his Scholiast, as also Maguire, concur in their statements. We read, in the Martyrology of Donegal, that Baotan, Mac Ua Corbmaic, Abbot of Cluain-mic-Nois, was venerated on this day. The year 660 is assigned for the death of this holy abbot, by the Chronicon Scotorum, and by the Annals of Clonmacnoise; but, A.D. 663, according to the Annals of Ulster, and of the Four Masters.

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