Tuesday 16 December 2014

Saint Mo-beóc of Loch Garman, December 16

The Irish calendars agree in commemorating the feast of a Saint Mo-beóc or Bean on December 16. His precise identity though seems to be something of a mystery and the subject of some confusion with that of a later Scottish namesake. The prefix mo meaning 'my' regularly occurs in the names of Irish saints -Molua, Molaise etc - and indicates an affectionate or diminutive form of a proper name. The Martyrology of Oengus first commemorates a Bishop Valentinus and then:
the feast of my excellent Beóóc,
from lustrous Ard Cainroiss.
The scholiast's notes do not add much:
My-Beóóc, i.e. of Loch Carman. Or my Beóóc of Loch Derg in the north.
The 12th-century Martyrology of Gorman also honours this saint as:
my Pióc a strong ingot(?).
and the notes there add:
from Ard Camrois on the brink of Loch Carman in Húi Cennselaig and from Ross Cain in Cluain Fergaile in Delbna Tire [da locha]
The later Martyrology of Donegal has a fuller entry, but one which only serves to deepen the confusion, as it introduces a Scottish Bishop Beanus of Aberdeen:

MOPHIOG, of Ard-Camrois, on the margin of Loch Carman, in Ui-Ceinnsealaigh ; and of Ros-caoin, in Cluain Fergaile, in Dealbhna of Tir-da-loch.
[Mobheog in Aengus, i.e., Beanus;(see in the Roman Martyrology; vide Usuard, Molanus,) first bishop of Aberdeen or Ardon, i.e., from Ard, whence the error, as if from Ard-bishop, i.e., from Ard, and from this Abardonensis.]
The translator of the Martyrology adds in a footnote:
The note within brackets is in the later hand. It is intended to account for a supposed error of the Roman Martyrology in styling Beanus bishop of Aberdeen. That Mophiog, Mobheoc, and Beanus, are the same, requires no proof ; but the supposition that espug Arda was read episcopus ab Ardo [ bishop of Ard ], and this then corrupted to episcopus Abardo or Abardonensis, is scarcely admissible. The case is this. Molanus text of Usuardus has, at this day, "In Hybernia, natalis Beani, primi episcopi promotus est." Scotichron. iv. 44. (Vol. i. p. 227, ed. Goodall.) The foundation charter of this church, granted by Malcolm ii., A.D. 1010, "Episcopo Beyn de Morthelach" is preserved in the Register of the Diocese of Aberdeen (vol. i. p. 3, Spalding Club), and though called in question by the able editor, Professor Innes, (Pref. p. xiii.) is, at least, a collateral evidence as to the existence of Bishop Beyn or Beanus in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen. It is to be observed that the St. Beanus or Bean of the Scotch Calendar, whom the Breviary of Aberdeen and Adam King commemorate at the 26th of October, is a different person, being venerated at Fowlis in Stratherne, and probably identical with S.Beoan of Tamhlacht-Menan, who appears in the Irish calendars at the same day. Camerarius correctly assigns "Sanctus Beanus episcopus Murthlacensis dioecesis" to the 16th of December, (De Scotorum Fortitu-l p. 202). See Collections of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff (Spalding Club) vol. i., p. 142.

Thus it appears that some sort of confusion has entered into the preservation of the memory of an Irish saint Beóc commemorated on December 16 with a saint of the same name whose feast fell on October 26 and who was further confounded with an 10th/11th-century Scottish bishop of Aberdeen. The Martyrology of Oengus written about the year 900, of course knows nothing of this later bishop, the scholiast though is uncertain as to the locality in which our saint Beóc may have flourished, although all the calendars have preserved Loch Garman (County Wexford). Neither do we know at what date this saint may have flourished.

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