Tuesday 3 March 2015

Saint Foila of Killeely, March 3

A female saint of the west, Foila of Killeely, County Galway is commemorated on March 3. Canon O'Hanlon has this account of her:

St. Foila or Foilenna, Virgin, and Patroness of Kill-faile now Killeely Parish, County of Galway.

Colgan could not procure any special Acts of this saint, who was venerated in the southern parts of Connaught, in his own time. However, he and the Bollandists have short notices of her, at this day. St. Foilenna, Failenna, or Fallenda, or as more commonly called, St. Foila or Faila, also denominated Foilend, or Faoileann, is thought to have been daughter to Aidan, surnaraed Draignech, son to Lugadius, son to Dathy, King of Ireland; and, her mother, Cuillenn, or Cullenda, was likewise descended from a distinguished family. She had three brothers, Colgeus, or Colga, Aldus and Sorarius, who are numbered amongst the saints of our country. At what particular time St. Foila was born, we are not informed ; but, it was thought, probably, in an early part or towards the middle of the sixth century. It seems probable, she lived in Kill-faile. This place is identical with the present parish of Killeely, in the barony of Dunkellin, county of Galway. The old church there is yet in good preservation, being, in the opinion of Dr. O'Donovan, modernized during the 14th or 15th century. Measured on the inside, it is 63 feet long by 21 broad. The pointed or Gothic style there prevails. It is remarkable, that this parish joins Kilcolgan, where St. Faile's brother, Colga or Colgan had been venerated. Both churches were near Ath cliath Medhruidhe, the ancient name for Clarinbridge. Both saints also belonged to the race of the Hy Fiachrach Aidhne. The church of Kill-faile derives its name from St. Foila, and it is situated within the diocese of Kilmacduagh. During her lifetime, St. Foila performed many miracles. The day and year of her death is not recorded ; but, the former probably fell on the 3rd of March, when her festival was kept, in the church of Kill-faile. It is commemorated on this day, according to the Martyrologies of Tamlacht, of Marianus O'Gorman, of Maguire and of Donegal. After her death, frequent pilgrimages were made to St. Foila's tomb, from distant parts of the country, by persons afflicted with various maladies. For the cure of these, they reposed great confidence, in her merits and intercession.

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