Sunday 2 January 2022

Saint Amphitina, January 2

In the first volume of his Lives of the Irish Saints Canon O'Hanlon closes his list of those commemorated on January 2 with this notice of yet another enigmatic female saint: 

Article VI. St. Ainbhithen, Virgin. 
The feast of Ainbhithen, a Virgin, is mentioned in the "Martyrology of Donegal," as occurring this day. We have not been able to find any further account regarding her.
At first reading I assumed this holy lady was one of the many Irish saints whose names alone have survived without any further details, but it was not until consulting the entries in the other calendars that I began to wonder. For in the earlier Martyrology of Tallaght we find Amphitinae uirginis as the final name among the non-Irish saints listed for this day. Marianus O'Gorman, the twelfth-century calendarist has Anpthín among those he commemorates. Whitley Stokes, who edited and translated The Martyrology of Gorman says in the Index of Persons attached to his work:
Anpthín, virg. Jan. 2. Ainbhthen, Mart. Don. An Ainpthini ingen Maelduin occurs in Mart. Taml. at Sep. 10. Probably cognate with Anfadán
I could not find Ainphthin the daughter of Maelduin at September 10 in either of the versions of the Martyrology of Tallaght I can access but did find Anfadán at September 16. This name occurs more than once on the calendars but is it indeed cognate with that of Anpthín? For I found myself wondering if the virgin Amphitina, listed among the non-Irish saints in the Best and Lawlor edition of the Martyrology of Tallaght, has perhaps found her way from the Roman or some other continental martyrology upon which Tallaght drew onto the later Irish calendars where there has been an attempt to Gaelicize her name? It is all reminiscent of another female saint, the Roman martyr Balbina, who is remembered as Baluíne on the Irish calendars at October 4 and who was taken out of the catacombs by later commentators and relocated to Meath. It would be interesting to know what the truth is behind the holy virgin Amphitina/Anpthín/Ainbhithen, commemorated on the Irish calendars on the second day of January, but I join Canon O'Hanlon in being unable to find any further account regarding her.

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