Tuesday 23 December 2014

Saint Temnióc of Clonfert, December 23

23. The passion of eight hundred fair martyrs with sixty noble ones who were slain: with my Temnióc of the king-folk of truly good Clúain fertae.
Thus does the Martyrology of Oengus read for December 23. The scholiast tells us a little more about 'my Temnióc':
23. Temneóc i.e. from Clúain ferta Molua, i.e. the cook of Molua of Clúain ferta.
Saint Molua was the founder of a monastery at Clonfert-Molua or Clonfert-Mulloe as it is also known. There is an entry for his life here. Our saint was a member of the monastic household. Archbishop John Healy in his classic survey of the monastic schools of Ireland has this to say about Saint Temnióc's domain - the monastic kitchen:
One of the most necessary buildings for a laura or monastery was the kitchen — the cuicin in Irish, or culina in Latin. St. Patrick's 'kitchen' at Armagh was seventeen feet long,and is spoken of as one of the principal buildings within the lis, or monastic enclosure. The Tripartite Life of the Saint in the same place tells us that the Great House was twenty- seven feet in length, and consequently much longer than the ' kitchen' with which it seems to have been connected. The Great House—if not the church—was in all probability the refectory or dining-room, which is more generally and appropriately called in Irish, the proinn-teach, or dinner-house. It is doubtful if we have any specimens of the Refectories or Kitchens of our earliest monasteries still surviving, because as a rule they were composed of perishable materials.....

The ordinary meal for the 'family' was barley or oaten bread, with milk when it could be had, and a little fish, perhaps sometimes eggs. Flesh meat was rarely allowed except on high festival days or when distinguished strangers came to the monastery. The brethren were then allowed a share of the good cheer provided for the strangers. There was, however, except for those labouring in the fields, only one meal in the day — the Columban Rule borrowed from Bangor expressly says that the fare was to be plain and taken only in the evening, that is, after noon. Vegetables, porridge, and baked bread are the principal items mentioned as allowable, and barely as much as would support life. Excessive abstinence from food, however, was to be deemed a vice, not a virtue; but to some extent a monk was to fast every day. The 'order of refection, and of the refectory,' is one of the most interesting portions of the Rule of St. Carthach of Lismore. He allows an ample meal for the workman and special delicacies for the sick. On Sundays and other festivals of the year, especially on the greater festivals, meals were increased.' From Easter to Pentecost was also a season of full meals "without fasting, heavy labour, or great vigils." The Summer and Winter Lent are more bitter to laics than to monks, for to the latter all seasons should be as Lent. The meal was to be at vesper time only, except from Easter to St. John's Day, when a refection was also allowed at noon. The bell was to be the signal for the meal, but first there was a Pater with three genuflections in the church; then the meal was blessed. Alleluia was sung, and a benediction pronounced by the Senior, who said, "God bless you." The meal was followed by thanksgiving, after which all retired to their cell for private prayer preparatory to vespers. Wednesday and Friday were generally fast days.
Insula Sanctorum et Doctorum or Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars by the Most Rev. John Healy (6th edition, Dublin, 1912), 96, 101-2.

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