Tuesday 7 April 2015

Saint Ros of Downpatrick, April 7

On April 7 we commemorate Saint Ros of Downpatrick. This holy man is linked by kinship in the hagiographical sources to the chieftain Dichu, who gifts a barn to Saint Patrick and becomes one of his first converts. Later hagiologists, however, attempted to identify Ros of Downpatrick with a Saint Ruisen of Inis-Picht, modern Spike Island, County Cork whose feast on this date is first noted in the Martyrology of Tallaght. Canon O'Hanlon himself remarks on the  confusion in his account below:

St. Ruisen, of Inis-Picht.

We have an entry of the name, Ruissen, Innse Pich, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 7th of April. The name of this place has been assigned to Muscraige, a territory in Munster and, again, it has been placed, by Colgan, among the Islands of the Picts. However, the denomination is at present supposed to be obsolete. This saint was the same, we are told, as Ross, or Rus, son of Trichem, son of Fica, son of Iomchadh, who belonged to the race of Fiatach Fionn, king of Erinn. If so, he was brother to Dichuo, or Dichu, who was the first to embrace the faith, in the northern parts of Ireland. The story of his life is to be met with, in various Acts of St. Patrick, among whose disciples he is classed. He lived, at a place, called Derluss, a town in the southern part of Ulster; and, afterwards, it was known as Inreathan. It is now called Bright, and there, he seems to have resided. For further particulars related concerning him, the, reader is referred to the Life of St. Patrick,  already written. Rus, or Ros, is said to have been of Dundaleithglass, the old name for Downpatrick, which was the ancient seat of the Ulidian Kings, and where they lived in the strong fort, known as Rath-Keltair, quite near the cathedral. A doubt seems to be implied, as to whether the feast of St. Rus, or Ross, belongs to April 7th, or to April 9th; but, the latter figure seems to have been a misprint, for the 29th. The Bollandists ' commemorate Russonus de Insula Pich, on the 7th of April. There seems to me, however, that some confusion, in the attempt to identify St. Ruisen, of Inse Pict, or Inis-Puinc, with St. Ross of Downpatrick, must exist. An ancient Sanctilogy represents this latter person, as having been a brother to Dichu, one of St. Patrick's first converts in Ulidia ; and, therefore, not only must the church of Downpatrick have been erected, at a very early date, but we ought even regard this Rus or Ross as presiding over it, some time in the fifth century. Although the father's name and the place seem different, yet St. Ruisen of Inis Pict may probably be identified with a Russ, or Russen, son to Rodan, Abbot of Innisfreil. A conjecture has been offered, likewise, that this saint was identical with the Ruissin, son to Lappain, mentioned in the Life of St. Molagga. He died, it is said, A.D. 658, the comorban to St. Barr of Cork. And, we are told, moreover, that Marianus O'Gorman, as also the commentator on Aengus, say, this saint's Natalis was celebrated, on the 7th of April. Again, we have  an account of St Russeus, or Russenus, the son of Rodan, who was one of St. Columba's   companions, when his first missionary expedition to Britain was undertaken, and whose festival has been assigned to the 27th of December, by some Scottish writers ; but, Colgan thinks, it ought rather be referred to the 7th of April,  as noted in the Martyrologies of Tallagh, of Donegal, of Marianus O'Gorman and of Maguire. He flourished, A.D. 563, but the date for his death is uncertain. The Martyrology of Donegal, this day records a festival, in honour of Ruisen, of Inis-Picht.

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