Thursday 21 October 2021

Saint Maelaithgen of Clonenagh, October 21

October 21 is the feast of Saint Maelaithgen of Clonenagh,  whose death, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, occurred in the eighth century: 

The Age of Christ, 767. Maelaithgen, Abbot of Cluain-Eidhneach [died].

John O'Donovan, ed. and trans, The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, Vol. I, (Dublin, 1856), p.371.

Cluain-Eidhneach, modern Cloneagh, County Laois was an important monastic foundation established, possibly in the sixth century, by Saint Fintan (feast February 17). The feast of his eighth-century successor Maelaithgen is recorded on the Irish calendars at October 21. On this day the late eighth/early ninth-century Martyrology of Tallaght lists 'Moelanaigh (Maelathgein)', the late twelfth-century Martyrology of Gorman 'Mael-Aithcen without folly' and the seventeenth-century Martyrology of Donegal  simply 'Maelaithghein'. There is, however, a link between our abbot and another of the historic Irish calendars, The Martyrology of Oengus, for the Life of Oengus the Martyrologist (feast March 11) records that he began his career at Clonenagh under the tutelage of Saint Maelaithgen. The great seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, noted this link when writing of Oengus in his Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae

Inspired from his earliest infancy with an ardent desire of Christian perfection, he  embraced the religious life in the monastery of Cluain-edhneoch ... where, under the care of the holy Abbot Malathgenius, he made so rapid a progress in learning and in the science of the saints that in a short time no name in Ireland ranked higher, both for profound and sacred erudition, and for all the virtues of the religious state.

Rev. Matthew Kelly, Dissertations Chiefly on Irish Church History, (Dublin, 1864) p.209-210.

The date of his feast at October 21 and his reputation for holiness and learning are all that seems to have been preserved of the memory of Saint Maelaithgen of Clonenagh.

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