Monday 28 August 2017

'The Conspicuous One out of Africa': The Feast of Saint Augustine on the Irish Calendars

August 28 is the feast of the great Doctor of the Western Church, Saint Augustine. Not surprisingly, since he was himself a monastic of the Augustinian order, the twelfth-century Irish calendarist, Marianus O'Gorman, notes the feast on his Martyrology:
28. b.
Augustin ind eccna,epscop uasal amra. 
Augustinus the wise,
a noble, marvellous bishop.
This Martyrology further records the octave day of the feast at September 4:
D' Augustin octauus, 
The octave of Augustinus.
The feast at August 28 is also recorded in the earlier Martyrology of Oengus:
in t-airdirc a hAfraic
(Augustine) the conspicuous one out of Africa.
The scholiast notes comment:
iin arrdraic a hAfraic .i. Augaistin .i. comad hé Augustin sapientissimus librorum sein.  L .i. Augustinus sapientissimus uir Affricorum. 
the famous one out of Africa, i.e. Augustine, i.e. that may be Augustine sapientissimus librorum.- i.e. the wisest of the Africans.
The Martyrology of Tallaght simply records 
episcopi. [in marg. magni.]
In Irish popular devotion, Saint Augustine's Day might be marked with a pattern day centred around a holy well, as for example at Kilshanny, County Clare. Augustinian monks founded a monastery here in 1189 and their patron seems to have displaced the native Irish saint to whom the well was originally dedicated.  There is a picture of the well here. Whilst, in this case, an earlier indigenous saint has been displaced, it needs to be remembered that in other cases the Augustinans were responsible for commissioning the Lives of the native holy men and women and for promoting their claims of association with religious foundations. 

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