ST. FINIAN, OR FINAN,* C. BISHOP OF CLUAIN-IRARD
(CALLED CLONARD) IN IRELAND
AMONG the primitive teachers of the Irish church
the name of St. Finian is one of the most famous next to that of St.
Patrick. He was a native of Leinster, was instructed in the elements
of Christian virtue by the disciples of St. Patrick, and out of an
ardent desire of making greater progress passed over into Wales,
where he conversed with St. David, St. Gildas, and St. Cathmael,
three eminent British saints. After having remained thirty years in
Britain, about the year 520 he returned into Ireland, excellently
qualified by sanctity and sacred learning to restore the spirit of
religion among his countrymen, which had begun to decay. Like a loud
trumpet sounding from heaven, he roused the sloth and insensibility
of the lukewarm, and softened the hearts that were most hardened, and
had been long immersed in worldly business and pleasure. To propagate
the work of God, St. Finian established several monasteries and
schools; the chief of which was Clonard, in Meath, which was the
saint’s principal residence. Out of his school came several of
the principal saints and doctors of Ireland, as Kiaran the Younger,
Columkille, Columba the son of Crimthain, the two Brendans, Laserian,
Canicus or Kenny, Ruadan, and others.
St. Finian was chosen and consecrated bishop of
Clonard.† The great monastery which he erected at Clonard was
a famous seminary of sacred learning.‡ St. Finian in the love
of his flock, and his zeal for their salvation, equalled the Basils
and the Chrysostoms, was infirm with the infirm, and wept with those
that wept. He healed the souls, and often also the bodies of those
that applied to him. His food was bread and herbs, his drink water,
and his bed the ground, with a stone for his pillow. He departed to
our Lord on the 12th of December in 552, according to the Inisfallen
Annals, quoted by Usher, but according to others in 564. See his
life, published by Colgan, on the 23d of February; Usher, Ant. Brit.
c. 18, p. 493; and Index Chronol. p. 531; Sir James Ware, Ant. Hib.
c. 29; de Eccl. Cathedr. p. 291; and on the Bishops, p. 136. See also
the note on St. Ultan, 4th of September, vol. ii. p. 399.