Thursday 13 March 2014

Saint Conchenna of Killevey, March 13

Grave of St Moninne at Killevey (2013)

On March 13 the Irish calendars commemorate the memory of Saint Conchenna, a holy woman of the monastery founded by Saint Moninne at Killevey, County Armagh. Her death is noted in The Annals of the Four Masters:
The Age of Christ, 654, "Coincenn, of Cill-Sleibhe, died."
Not much more appears to be known of her life, but Canon O'Hanlon's account notes that Conchenna was said to have been a sister to Saint Fintan Munna and the subject of one of his miracles. He also wonders if Saint Conchenna was abbess of the community or merely a member of it, but having raised this question he goes on to answer it by noting that the Annals usually only mark the passing of the superiors of religious houses:
St. Conchenna, Conchend, or Coincheand, Virgin, of Kill-Slebhe, or Killevey, County of Armagh. [Seventh Century]

Colgan endeavours to evolve some incidents regarding this holy virgin, at the 13th of March. The Bollandists have only a short notice of St. Conchenna. This saint was daughter to Tulchan, and her mother was Fethlemidia. She was a sister to St. Fintan Munnu, who is venerated at the 21st of October. Thus was she descended, from the noble Hy-Niall race of Ulster. This holy virgin embraced a religious life, in a nunnery, which had been founded by St. Monenna, at Kill-Slebhe, now Killevey, at the foot of Sliabh Cuilinn, or Slieve Gullion, in the southern part of the county of Armagh. Here she lived a very holy life, and illness which caused her death happened. But she was brought to life again, by her holy brother St Munnu, and at the request of their mother. There seems to be a doubt, as to whether she was abbess over the community, at Kill-Sleblie, or a simple member of it. She finally departed this life, A.D. 654; and, although the Four Masters give her no distinctive title, yet, Colgan remarks, they scarcely ever note the death of holy persons, not distinguished as presiding over religious houses. The Martyrologies of Tallagh and of Marianus O'Gorman register the name Conchend, at the 13th of March. Also, on this day, the festival of Coincheand was celebrated, as we read, in the Martyrology of Donegal.
Note: This post first published in 2014 has been revised in 2022.

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