Wednesday 29 March 2023

Féilire Adamnáin: The Saints of the Four Seasons

Below is a 1904 translation of the Féilire Adamnáin, an Irish prayer to the saints who preside over the different seasons, traditionally attributed to Saint Adamnán of Iona and Raphoe. Copies of the text survive in four different manuscript sources, including one in Brussels transcribed around 1630 by the exiled Donegal hagiologist, Friar Michael O'Clery. J. F. Kenney, in his classic study The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical, feels that this prayer, like others attributed to the saint, is 'of a date some centuries later than Adamnán'. Verse six references the Martyrology of Oengus, declaring 'though more numerous in verses, it is not more numerous in saints':
Here begins the Saints Calendar of Adamnan to his mother.

1 The saints of the four seasons,
I long to pray to them,
May they save me from torments,
the saints of the whole year!

2 The saints of the glorious spring-time,
may they be with me by the will of God's fosterling,
Together with Brigid, a maiden pure,
with Gregory and Patrick.

3 The saints of the dry summer,
about them is my poetic frenzy,
That I may come from this land to Jesus,
Son of Mary.

4 The saints of the beauteous autumn, —
I call upon a company not inharmonious,
That they may come near me,
together with Mary and Michael.

5 The saints of the winter I pray to,
may they be with me against the throngs of demons.
Around Jesus of the mansions,
the holy, heavenly spirit.

6 This saints' calendar [i.e. the calendar of Oengus],
which noble sages will have,
Though more numerous in verses,
it is not more numerous in saints.

7 I beseech the saints of the earth, I beseech all the angels,
I beseech God Himself, both rising and lying down.
Whatever I do or whatever I say,
that I may inhabit the heavenly land.
Ériu, Vol I, part 2, (1904), 225-228


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