Monday, 12 December 2016

Saint Aidan of Ferns (Walsh)

From Walsh's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 1891, c. xix, p. 171 ff:


Saint Aidanus, commonly called Moedoc, or Moeg. His first name was Hugh. He was of an illustrious family of Connaught; was the son of Setna, of the Hy-Bruin sept (BrefFny) and Ethne, his mother being of the race of Aiilai in Tyrawley; they were a long time married without having issue. They frequently supplicated the Almighty to listen to their praj'ers and grant them a son. They were in the habit of visiting the monastery of Drum-leathan, and of giving abundant alms. At length their pious prayers were favorably listened to, and our Saint Maidoc was born on a small island, Inis-Breagh-Mugli, in the county of Cavan. (Tlie territory now known as Cavan was then a portion of Connaught called BrefFny Oreilly.)

The time of his birth was about the year 560, as appears from the fact that when a small boy he was delivered as one of the hostages whom the chiefs of the father's sept were compelled to give Anmiracus, king of Ireland, and whose reign began in 568 and ended in the year 571. "When he returned to his parents, they consigned him to the care of some holy men for his education, and he soon became a proficient in piety as well as in his studies. While yet young, his reputation for sanctity became so conspicuous that several pious persons were inclined to join him in his exercises of devotion and become his disciples. The Saint, too humble to accept of such a distinction, and to avoid any importunity arising from their desire, left his own country and repaired to Menevia, in "Wales, the establishment of St. David  here also, his sane tity became celebrated. About the year 589 he departed from St. David's, and having landed in the county of Wexford, he erected a church at Ardlathran, in the southern part of that county. He soon after erect ed another at Clonmore in the barony of Baiitry, and being much revered by Brandubh, king of Leinster, this prince assigned him, a site on which he built the celebrated Monastery of Ferns about the year 598. At the request of Brandubh, a synod was soon after convened, in which it was decreed that Ferns should be an episcopal see, and besides raised to the dignity of an archbishopric — not such as now canonically exists, but something in the shape of preeminence arising from the dignity and sanctity, and the character of the individual (such as St. Fiech, of Sletty). Hence we find various bishops called metropolitans of Connaught, of Lcinster, though it is certain neither province enjoyed the title until
the synod held at Kells in 1152, under Cardinal Paparo. The title was also one of courtesy, as it was often conferred through the favor of princes.

The memory of St. Maidoc or Aidan is highly revered in Wales, and several miracles have been attributed to him. He died on the 31st of January, 632.