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.
other than that of Ciaran spending but seven months on earth after founding Clonmacnois.  The Annals of Ulster also gives him a longer time at Clonmacnois, dating the foundation 541, and the death of the saint 548:  a space of seven years.  This would make the saint only twenty-six years old when he founded Clonmacnois, which is perhaps improbable.  We may suggest another way of reconciling the traditions, taking the orthodox date for the foundation of Clonmacnois (548) but postponing the death of the saint to 556, in accordance with the astronomical indications.  Some one noticed that if his life were retrenched to the year of the foundation of the monastery, it would be brought into conformity in length with the Life of Christ.

With Ciaran’s indifference as to the fate of his relics, contrast the dying injunction of Cuthbert to his monks, that they should dig up his bones and transport them whithersoever they should go.[27]

The Little Church intended by the author is presumably the small chapel, of which the ruins still remain at Clonmacnois, called Saint Ciaran’s chapel.  It is a century or two later than Ciaran’s time, but may very probably stand on the site of Ciaran’s wooden church.  Hard by is the end of a raised causeway leading to the Nunnery; this may be the “Little Height” referred to.


Coemgen’s petulance at the preoccupation of the bereaved monks (VG) is in keeping with other traditions of that peppery saint.  The resurrection of Ciaran after three days is another touch in imitation of the Gospel story:  it is, however, also told of Saint Darerca, who appeared to her nuns three days after her death (CS, 185).

The story before us is thus related in the Life of Coemgen:  “At another time most blessed Coemgenus made his way to visit most holy Kyaranus the abbot, who founded his settlement Cluayn meic Noys, which is in the western border of the territory of Meath, on the bank of the river Synna over against the province of the Connachta.  But Saint Cyaranus on the third day before Saint Coemgenus arrived, passed from this world to Christ.  His body was laid in a church on a bier, till Saint Coemgenus and other saints should come to bury him.  And Saint Coemgenus coming late to the monastery of Saint Chyaranus, he entered the church in which was the holy body and commanded all the brethren to go forth, wishing to spend that night alone beside the sacred body.  And when all the brethren had gone out, Saint Coemgenus carefully closed the door of the church, and remained there alone till the following day; but some of the brethren were watching till morning before the doors of the church.  And as Saint Coemgenus prayed there, the most blessed soul of Saint Chiaranus returned to his body, and he rose and began to speak in health-giving words to Saint Coemgenus.  The brethren remaining outside heard the voice of each of them clearly. 

Project Gutenberg
The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook