The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 201 pages of information about The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran.

Prophecy by Vision.—­This is not an infrequent incident in the saints’ Lives.  It often appears at the beginning of a Life, the saint’s mother having a dream interpreted by some one, whom she consults, as indicative of the future greatness and holiness of her unborn son.  I have not hit upon another case in these documents of the same dream appearing to two persons at once.

Ciaran’s visit to Enda is described at length in the Vita Endei (VSH, ii, 71-2).  We are there told that he was seven years in Aran, serving faithfully in the monastic threshing-barn, so that in the chaff-heaps it would have been impossible to discover a single grain; and that the walls of his threshing-barn were still standing in Aran when the hagiographer wrote.  He then saw the vision of the tree, which, however, we are not told was seen by Enda also.  Enda interpreted the vision as in the texts before us, and bade him go forth to fulfil the divine will.  Ciaran then went to found Clonmacnois.  He besought Enda before he departed that he (Enda) should accept him and his parochia under his protection:  but Enda answered, “God hath not ordained it so for thee, that thou shouldst in this narrow island be under my authority.  But because of thy wondrous humility and thy perfect charity, Christ thy Lord giveth thee a half of Ireland as thine inheritance.”  Here there is another version of the claim of Clonmacnois to legislate ecclesiastically for half of the island.  They then erected a cross as a token of their fraternal bond, putting a curse upon whomsoever should make a breach in their agreement.  In a Life of Saint Enda, quoted by the Bollandists (September, vol. iii, p. 376 C), it is further averred that Enda saw in a vision all the angels that haunted Aran departing in the company of Ciaran as he went on his way.  Distressed at this desertion of his heavenly ministrants, he fasted and prayed; but an angel appeared to him and comforted him, saying that the angels were permitted to accompany Ciaran on account of his holiness, but that they would return again to Aran.


The versions of this incident differ considerably both in detail and in the setting of the incident.

Cluain Innsythe,” where LA sets the story, is unknown.  There is no river in Aran, where VG places the incident; in this version, therefore, the ship is placed on the sea.

Lonan the Left-handed.—­Nothing further is recorded of this person, so far as I know.  The parenthesis describing how he “was ever contradictious of Ciaran” is probably a gloss; so far as the incident goes, the contradictiousness is the other way.

Note the interesting sidelights upon the practice of artificially drying grain in LA.  There are some technical terms in the Latin of this incident in the LA version.  Thus, the word here translated “hut” is zabulum; this I presume is another way of spelling stabulum, for the meanings given in Du Cange to zabulum or similar words are here quite unsuitable.  The word which I have rendered “platter” is rota, and the word translated “shed” is canaba.

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The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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