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    The First Latin Life of Saint Ciaran

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    Chapter 3
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    Here beginneth the Life of Saint Kiaranus,[1] Abbot and Confessor.



    1. The holy abbot Kyaranus sprang from the people of the Latronenses, which are in the region of Midhe, that is, in the middle of Ireland. His father, who was a cart-wright, was called Beonnadus; now the same was a rich man; and he took him a wife by name Derercha, of whom he begat five sons and three daughters. Of these there were four priests and one deacon, who were born in this order, with these names--the first Lucennus, the second Donanus, the third that holy abbot Kyaranus, the fourth Odranus, the fifth Cronanus, who was the deacon. Also the three daughters were named Lugbeg, and Raichbe, and Pata. Lugbeg and Raichbe were two holy virgins; Pata, however, was at first married, but afterwards she was a holy widow. Now inasmuch as the wright Beonedus himself was grievously burdened by the imposts of Ainmireach King of Temoria, he, eluding the pressure of the impost, departed from his own region, that is from the coasts of Midhe, into the territories of the Conactha. There he dwelt in the plain of Aei, with the king Crimthanus; and there he begat Saint Kyaranus, whose Life this is.

    Now his birth was prophesied by a wizard of the aforesaid king, who said, before all the folk, "The son who is in the womb of the wife of Beoedus the wright shall be had in honour before God and before men; as the sun shineth in heaven so shall he himself by his holiness shine in Ireland." Afterwards Saint Kyaranus was born in the province of the Connachta, namely in the plain of Aei, in the stronghold called Raith Crimthain; and he was baptized by a certain holy deacon who was called Diarmaid in the Scotic [= Irish] tongue; but afterwards he was named Iustus, for it was fitting that a "just one" should be baptized by a "Iustus." And Saint Ciaran was reared with his parents in the aforesaid place, and by all things the grace of God was manifested within him.



    2. One day the best horse of Aengussius, son of the aforesaid King Crimhthanus, died suddenly, and he was greatly distressed at the death of his best horse. Now when in sorrow he had fallen asleep, in his dreams a shining man appeared to him, saying to him, "Sorrow not concerning thy horse, for among you there is a boykin [puerulus], Saint Kiaranus son of Beoedus the wright, who by God's grace can quicken thy horse. Let him pour water into the mouth of the horse, with prayer, and upon its face, and forthwith it shall arise sound. And do thou bestow a gift on the boy for the quickening of thy horse." Now when Aengus son of the king was awakened out of sleep, he told these words to his friends; and he himself came to Saint Kyaranus and led him up to the place where the horse was lying dead. When the dutiful boy Kyaranus poured water into the mouth and on the face of the horse, it forthwith rose from death and stood whole before them all. The son of the king bestowed that field, which was great and the best, upon Saint Kiaranus in perpetuity.



    3. On another day the mother of Saint Kyaranus upbraided him, saying, "The sensible other boys bring honey to their parents every day, from the fields and the places where honey is found. But this our son, weak and soft as he is, bringeth us no honey." The holy boy Kyaranus, hearing this saying of his mother chiding him, made his way to a spring hard by, and thence filled a vessel with water. When he blessed it, honey of the best was made from the water, and he gave it to his mother. But his parents, astonished at the miracle, sent that honey to the deacon Iustus, who had baptized him, that he might himself see the miracle wrought by God through the boy whom he baptized. When he had heard and seen it, he gave thanks to Christ, and prayed for the boy.



    4. The holy boy Kyaranus, as he kept the flocks of his parents, was wont to read the Psalms with Saint Diarmatus. But that teaching was imparted in a manner to us most wondrous. For Saint Kiaranus was keeping the flocks in the southern part of the plain of Aei, and Saint Diarmatus was dwelling in the northern part of the same plain, and the plain was of great extent between them. And thus, from afar off, they would salute each the other at ease, with words, across the spaces of the plain; and the elder would teach the boy from his cell across the plain, and the boy would read, sitting upon a rock in the field. The which rock is reverenced unto this day, as the Cross of Christ, called by the name of Kyaranus, is placed upon it. Now thus by divine favour were the holy ones wont to hear each the other, while others heard them not.



    5. On a day when Saint Kyaranus was keeping the herds, a cow gave birth to a calf in his presence. Now in that hour the dutiful boy saw a wretched wasted hungry wolf a-coming towards him, and God's servant said to him, "Go, poor wretch, and devour that calf." Forthwith the famished hound fell upon the calf and devoured it. But when the holy herd-boy had come home with his herds, the cow, seeking her calf, was making a loud outcry; and when Derercha, mother of Saint Kyaranus, saw it, she said unto him, "Kyaranus, where is the calf of yonder cow? Restore it, although it be from sea or from land. For thou has lost it, and its mother's heart is sore vexed." When Saint Kyaranus heard these words, he returned to the place where the calf was devoured, and collected its bones into his breast; then returning, he laid them before the cow as she lamented. Straightway, by divine mercy, by reason of the holiness of the boy, the calf arose before them all, and stood whole upon its feet, sporting with its mother. Then those who stood by lifted up their voices in praise to God, blessing the boy.



    6. As the dutiful boy Kyaranus was going out to a homestead hard by, certain worldly men, cruel and malignant, let loose a most savage hound at him, so that it should devour him. When Saint Kyaranus saw the fierce hound coming towards him, he appropriated a verse of the Psalmist, saying, "Lord, deliver not the soul that trusteth in Thee unto beasts." Now as the hound was rushing vehemently, by divine favour it thrust its head into the ring-fastening of a calf; and tied by the ring-fastening, it struck its head against the timber to which the fastening was hanging, and thus it broke its head. Its head being broken and the brains scattered, the dog expired. When they saw this they feared greatly.



    7. On another day certain robbers, coming from a foreign region, found Saint Kiaranus alone, reading beside his herds; and they thought to slay him and to reave his herds. But as they came toward him with that intent, they were smitten with blindness, and could move neither hand nor foot till they had wrought repentance, praying him for their sight. Then the dutiful shepherd, seeing them turned from their wickedness, prayed for them, and forthwith they were loosed and their sight restored (soluti sunt in lumine suo). And they returned and offered thanks, and told this to many.



    8. One day a certain poor man came to Saint Kyeranus, and begged of him a cow. Then Saint Kieranus asked of his mother that a cow should be given to the poor man; but his mother would not hearken unto him. When Saint Kieranus saw this, he made the poor man accompany him out of doors with the herds, and there he gave unto him a good cow with her calf. Now the calf itself was between two kine, and both of them had a care for it; and as the dutiful boy knew that the second cow would be of no service without the calf, he gave them both, with their calf, to the poor man. For these, on the following day, four kine were gifted to Saint Kiaranus by other folk as an alms, and these he gave to his mother as she was chiding him. Then he exhorted his mother in reasonable manner, and she was thereafter in awe of him.



    9. Saint Kiaranus on another day gave the coulter of his uncle Beoanus to a certain poor man, for which likewise on another day he received four coulters. For four smiths came from the steading called Cluain Cruim, with four coulters, which they delivered for an alms to Saint Kyaranus; and these the holy boy restored to him for his coulter.



    10. On another day Saint Kyaranus gave the ox of the same uncle to a man who begged for it. And he said unto him, "Son, how shall I be able to plough to-day, seeing that thou hast given mine ox to another?" To him responded the holy boy, "Set thou to-day thy horse with the oxen in the plough, and to-morrow thou shalt have oxen enough." Forthwith the horse, set under the yoke with the oxen, in place of the ox that had been given, became tame; and the whole day it ploughed properly under the yoke, like an ox. On the following day four oxen were gifted for an alms to Saint Kiaranus, and these he delivered to his uncle instead of his ox. For men who heard and saw the great signs wrought by Saint Kyaranus were wont to beg for his prayers, and to offer oblations unto him.



    11. One day the father of Saint Kiaranus bore a royal vessel from the house of King Furbithus, to keep it for some days. Now the king treasured that vessel. But Saint Kiaranus delivered that vessel of the king to certain poor men who asked an alms in Christ's name, as he had nothing else. When the king heard this, his anger was kindled mightily, and he commanded that Saint Kiaranus should be enslaved to his service. And so for this cause was blessed Kiaranus led into captivity, and was a slave in the house of King Furbithus. A task chosen for its severity was laid upon him, namely, to turn the quern-stone daily for making flour. But in wondrous wise Saint Kiaranus used to sit and read beside the quern-stone, and the quern-stone used to turn swiftly of itself, without the hand of man, and to grind corn before all the folk. For the angels of God were grinding for Saint Kyaranus, unseen of men. And after no long time a certain man of the province of Mumenia, that is, of the people of the Desi, who was called Hiernanus, stirred up by divine favour, came with two most excellent vessels, like unto the vessel of that king, of the same sort and the same use, and gifted them in alms to Saint Kiaranus. When the king heard the miracle of the quern-stone, he accepted those two vessels, and gave his liberty to Saint Kiaranus; for beforetime he would not for anger accept a ransom for him. Thus was Saint Kiaranus freed from the servitude of the king; and Saint Kiaranus blessed that man with his tribe, by whom he himself obtained his liberty.



    12. On a certain day when Saint Kieranus was in the place called Cluain Innsythe, he saw a ship floating on the river, and he saw a hut on the bank of the river. Now there was a platter woven of twigs within it, full of ears of corn, with fire underneath so that they should be dried for grinding, as was the custom of the western people, that is, of Britain and of Ireland. Saint Kyaranus said in prophecy, secretly, to his companions, "Yonder ship which is on the waters shall be burned to-day, and the hut which is on land shall be submerged." As they disputed and wondered, he said, "Wait a little space, and ye shall see it with your eyes." Forthwith that shiplet was raised from the water on to the land, and placed in a shed that its leaks and cracks might there be caulked. But a bonfire having been lit, the shed was consumed, and the ship in its midst was likewise consumed. But strong men, wrenching the hut out of the ground, cast it from the bank into the river, and there it was submerged, as the servant of the Lord prophesied. When they heard and saw such a prophecy of things contrary, they gave glory to Christ who giveth such a gift unto his servants.



    13. On another day when Saint Kiaranus had come from the fields to his home, men came meeting him. To them he said, "Whence have ye now come?" They said, "We come now from the house of Beoedus the wright." Said he to them, "Have ye gotten there fitting refreshment for Christ's sake?" They said, "Nay; but we found there a hard woman who would not for hospitality give us so much as a drink." When Saint Kyaranus heard this, he blessed them, and came swiftly to his house, and entering the house he found no one therein, for its inmates were busied with their work out of doors. Then blessed Kyaranus, moved with zeal for God, scattered all the food which he found in the house of his parents; for[2] the milk he poured on the ground, the butter he mixed with the sheep's dung, the bread he cast to the dogs, so that it should be of service to no man. For he was showing that whatsoever was not given to guests for Christ's name should rightly be devoted by men to loss, lest such food should be eaten. After a little space his mother came, and seeing her house thus turned upside-down, she felt moved to raise an outcry; for she marvelled greatly at what had befallen her house. When Saint Kiaranus had set forth the reason, she became calm, and promised amendment; and many of those who heard were rendered charitable.



    14. On another day when Saint Kyaranus was sitting in a carriage with his father, the axle of the carriage broke in two in the middle of the plain; and the father of the saint, with his attendants, was distressed. Then Saint Kyeranus blessed the axle, and it was forthwith made whole again as it had been before; and afterwards for the entire day they travelled in the carriage safely.



    15. After this Saint Kyaranus wished to leave his parents and to go forth to the school of Saint Finnianus, who was a wise man abounding in all holiness; so that he might there read the Scriptures, with the other saints of Ireland who were there. He asked of his parents that a cow might be led with him to the school, for the sake of her milk to sustain him; but his mother denied it, saying, "Others who are in that school have no kine." Then having received the licence and blessing of his parents--though his mother was grieved, for she wished to have him always with herself--Saint Kyaranus went on his way.

    Coming to the cattle of his parents, he blessed a cow, and commanded her in the name of the Lord to follow him. Forthwith that cow followed him with her new-born calf; and wheresoever he would go the cow walked after him, to the city of Cluayn Irayrd, which is in the boundary of the Laginenses and Ui Neill. But the city itself lies in the territory of Ui Neill.

    When Saint Kyeranus had come thither, he used to make a barrier in the pastures between the cow and her calf with his rod; and by no means did they ever dare to cross the tracks of the holy rod, nor used they cross it; but the cow would lick her calf across the track of the rod, and at the proper time they would come to their stall, with full store of milk.

    That cow was of a dun colour, and was called Odar Ciarain, "Ciaran's Dun." Her fame endures for ever in Ireland, for she used to have the greatest store of milk, such as at this time could not be believed. Her milk was daily divided among the school, and sufficed for many. Her hide in like manner remains to this day honourably in the city of Saint Kiaranus; for through it, by the grace of God, miracles are wrought. This grace greater than all it has, as the holy ancients, the disciples of Saint Kiaranus, have delivered unto us; that it is revealed by divine inspiration that every man who shall have died upon it shall possess eternal life with Christ.



    16. Now in the school of the most holy master Finnianus there were many saints of Ireland; to wit, two Saints Kiaranus, and two Saints Brendanus, Columba, and many others; and each of them on his day would grind with his own hands on the quern. But the angels of God used to grind for Saint Kiaranus, as they did for him in his captivity.



    17. The daughter of the King of Temoria was conducted to Saint Finnianus that she might read the Psalms and the other Scriptures with the saint of God, and should dedicate her virginity. And when she promised of her own free will to preserve her virginity for Christ, Father Finnianus said to Saint Kiaranus, "Son, let this virgin, Christ's handmaid, daughter of an earthly king, read with thee in the meanwhile, till such time as a cell of virgins shall be built for her." Which duty Saint Kiaranus obediently accepted, and the virgin read with him the Psalms and other lections. Now when holy Father Finnianus was establishing that virgin and other holy virgins in a cell, the blessed fathers questioned Saint Kiaranus as to her manners and her virtue. To them Kiaranus said; "Verily, I know naught of her virtues, of manners or of body; for God hath known that never have I seen her face, nor aught of her save the lower part of her vesture, when she was coming from her parents; nor have I held any converse with her save only her reading." For she was wont to take her refection, and to sleep, with a certain holy widow. And the virgin spake the like testimony of Saint Kiaranus, and many were confirmed in the true faith by other testimonies of them.



    18. Saint Kiaranus was reading the gospel of Matthew with holy Father Finnianus, along with others. And when he had come to the place where, in the middle of the book, it is written "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, so do ye unto them," Saint Kiaranus said to Saint Finnianus, "Father, enough for me is this half of this book which I have read, that I may fulfil it in deed; verily this one sentence is enough for me to learn." Then one of the school said to them all, "Henceforth a fitting name for Kiaranus is 'Leth-Matha' (Half-Matthew)." To him the holy elder Finnianus said, "Nay; a fitting name for him is 'Leth n-Eirenn' (Half-Ireland); for his parish shall be extended through the middle of Ireland." This prophecy excited much envy against Saint Kiaranus.



    19. On another day, when Saint Kiaranus was alone in his cell, he came to table to take food; and wishing to partake after a blessing, he said, "Benedicite." When he saw that no one answered "Dominus," he rose from the table, tasting nothing that day. He did the like on the following day, still rising from the table without food. On the third day, after having thus fasted for three days, he came to table and said, "Benedicite"; and lo, a voice from Heaven said unto him, "The Lord bless thee, weary Kiaranus; now is thy prayer full-ripe. For it is enough for a man, whenever he is alone, to bless his food in the name of the Most High God, and then to partake." So Saint Kyaranus, giving thanks, ate his bread on the third day.



    20. One time he went to the King of Temoria, who was called Tuathal Mael-gharbh, in that he was harsh, so that he should set free a woman unjustly held in servitude with that king. The king released not the woman to him. Then Saint Kiaranus blessed her, and bade her go with him to her own people. So she forthwith rose out of the house of the king, and made her way between crowds of men, and none of them saw her till she came safe to her friends. Regarding this matter the king and the others marvelled greatly at the wondrous acts of God.



    21. On another occasion Saint Kyaranus entered the region of a certain lord of the Connachta, that in like manner he should demand from him a certain woman who was in unjust servitude to him. As holy Ciaran was sitting there, lo, three men came with three gifts as an alms to him; namely, one gifted to him a cow, another a robe, and a third a frying-pan; and these three gifts did Ciaran straightway give to the poor who were begging of him in the presence of the lord. Now in that hour in lieu of these gifts he received others yet greater in the presence of the lord; to wit, for the frying-pan a cooking-pot of three measures, and for the one robe twelve robes, and for the one cow twelve kine, were gifted to him by others. Which things Saint Kiaranus sent to other holy men living hard by. Seeing all these things, that lord graciously gave the woman free to Saint Kiaranus, and she went forth to her own people, rejoicing and giving thanks.



    22. After these things Saint Kiaranus made his way to an island by name Ara, which is in the ocean westward beyond Ireland a certain space. And that same island is ever peopled from Ireland,[3] and in it dwell a multitude of holy men, and countless saints lie there unknown to all save only to God Omnipotent. Now for many days did Saint Kyranus dwell in hard service, under the most holy Abbot Henna, and great miracles were manifested by him, and works of holiness are still there related. Now when Saint Kiaranus was there, he saw this marvellous vision--a like vision Saint Enna also saw--to wit, a great and fruitful tree on the bank of the river Synna in the middle of Ireland, whose shadow was protecting Ireland on every side; and its branches were flowing beyond Ireland into the sea. On the following day Saint Kiaranus related that vision to Saint Enna, which holy Father Enna forthwith interpreted, saying; "That fruitful tree which thou hast seen, and which I likewise have seen, thou art it, my son, who shalt be great before God and man. Thine honour shall fill Ireland, and the helpful shade[4] of thy dutifulness and grace shall protect her from demons, plagues, and perils, and thy fruit shall be for a profit to many far and wide. Therefore at the decree of God go thou without delay to the place wherein thy resurrection shall be, which shall be shown thee of God, so that thou mayest be for a profit to many." And there Saint Kiaranus was consecrated priest; and afterwards, at the command of holy Father Enna, and with the prayer and benediction of him and of all the saints that were in the island of Ara, Saint Kiaranus came to Ireland.



    23. One day when Saint Ciaran was making a journey, there met him a poor man in the way, who begged of him something in alms; and holy Ciaran gave him his cloak, and he himself went on afterwards in his under-garment only. His journey led him to the island of Cathi which is in the entrance of the ocean to the west, in the estuary of Luimnech between the territories of Kiarraighe and of Corco Baiscind: wherein was the most holy senior Senanus, who first dwelt in that island. For a venomous and most hurtful monster had alone possessed that island from ancient times, which holy Senanus, by the power of God, had driven far from thence unto a certain lake; and to-day there is a shining and holy settlement in that island, in honour of Saint Senanus. Now when Saint Kiaranus was approaching that island of Cathi, Saint Senanus foresaw in the spirit his coming and his nakedness: and he sent a ship to bear him to the island, while he himself, taking a cloak secretly in his hands, went out to meet him at the island's harbour. Now when most blessed Senanus saw Saint Kyaranus coming to him, in an under-garment, he chid him sportively, saying, "Is it not shame that a presbyter should walk in a sole under-garment, without a cowl?" To him, Saint Kiaranus, smiling, said, "This my nakedness shall soon receive its alleviation, for there is a cloak for me under the vesture of mine elder Senanus." And Saint Kiaranus remained for some days with Saint Senanus, they passing the time in the divine mysteries; and they made a pact and a brotherhood between them, and thereafter Saint Kiaranus with the kiss of peace went his way.



    24. Now when blessed Kiaranus came from Saint Senanus, he went out to his brethren Luchennus and Odranus, who were living in a cella which is called Yseal, that is "the lowest place"; and he lived with them for a time. And his brethren made Saint Kiaranus their almoner and guest-master: but Luchennus, who was the eldest, was the abbot of that place, and Odranus was the prior. Once, when Saint Kiaranus was reading out of doors in a field facing the sun, he suddenly espied weary guests entering the guest-house; and rising quickly, he forgot his book, and left it out of doors open till the following day. As he himself was settling the guests in the house, washing their feet and diligently ministering to them, the night fell. In that very night there was a great rain, but by the favour of God the open book was found perfectly dry; for not a drop of rain had touched it, although the whole ground was wet around it. For this did Saint Kiaranus with his brethren render praises to Christ.



    25. Near that place of Saint Kiaranus there was an island in a lake, on which a certain lord was dwelling in his fortress with his followers; and the noise of their uproar was hindering the prayers of the holy men in their cella. When Saint Kyeranus saw this, he went out to the shore of the lake, and prayed there to the Lord, that He would give them somewhat of relief from that island. On the following night that island, with its lake, was removed by the divine power, far away to another place, where the noise of the mob of that island could not reach the saints of God. And unto this day there is to be seen the place of the lake, where it had been before, some of it sandy, some of it marshy, as a sign of the act of power.



    26. On a certain day when Ciaran was busied out of doors in a field, a poor man came to him, asking that an alms should be given him. In that hour a chariot with two horses was gifted to Saint Kiaranus by a certain lord, namely the son of Crimthannus; which horses with the chariot Saint Kiaranus gave to that poor man.

    Then, since the brethren of Saint Kiaranus could not endure the greatness of his charity, for every day he was dividing their substance among the poor, they said unto him, "Brother, depart from us; we cannot now be along with thee in one place, and preserve and nourish our brethren for God, for thine excess of charity." To whom holy Kiaranus answered: "If therefore I had remained in this place, it would not have been 'Ysseal,' that is, 'lowest,' that is, not small; but high, that is, great and honourable."[5] With these words, holy Kiaranus gave a blessing to his brethren, and taking his book-satchels with his books on his shoulders, he went thence on his way.

    When he had gone some little distance from the place, there met him in the way a stag awaiting him with utmost gentleness. Saint Kiaranus placed his book-satchels upon him, and wheresoever the stag would go, Saint Kieranus followed him. The stag came to Loch Rii which is in the east of Connachta; he stood over against Inis Angin, which is in that lake. Thereby Saint Kyaranus understood that the Lord had called him to that island, and dismissing the stag with a blessing he entered that island and dwelt there.



    27. Now when the fame of his holiness was noised abroad, from far and wide and from every quarter good men came together to him, and Saint Kiaranus made them his monks. And many alms, in respect of various matters, would be given to Saint Kiaranus and to his people by the Faithful. But a certain presbyter, by name Daniel, who owned Inis Angin, inspired by the devil's envy, set about expelling Saint Kyaranus with his followers by force from the island. But Saint Kiaranus, wishing to benefit his persecutor, sent him by faithful messengers a royal gift which had been given him in alms, namely a golden antilum, well adorned. When the presbyter saw it, at first he refused to accept it; but afterwards, on the persuasion of trustworthy men, he received it gratefully. And presbyter Daniel, filled with the grace of God, came and gifted Inis Angin which was in his possession, to God and to Saint Kiaranus for ever.



    28. On another day when Saint Kiaranus was in that island Angin, he heard the voice of a man in the port wishing to enter the island; and he said to his brethren, "Go ye, my brethren, and lead me hither him who is to be your abbot after me." So the brethren, voyaging quickly, found an unconsecrated youth in the port, whom despising they left there. Coming back, they said unto Saint Kiaranus, "We found no man there save an unconsecrated youth, who wandered as a fugitive in the woods; he it is who calleth in the port. Far removed from abbotship is his rudeness!" To these Saint Kiaranus said: "Voyage ye without delay and bring him with speed; for the Lord having revealed it to me, by his voice I have recognised that he shall be your abbot after me." When the brethren heard this, they forthwith led him in, and Saint Kiaranus tonsured him, and he read diligently with him, and was filled from day to day with the grace of God; and after the most blessed Kiaranus, he was the holy abbot. For he is the blessed Aengus, son of Luigse.

    XL. HOW


    29. The gospel-book of Saint Kieranus fell into the lake from the hand of one of the brethren, who held it carelessly when voyaging. For a long time it was therein, under the water, and was not found. But on a certain day, in summer, the kine entered the lake to refresh themselves in the waters, for the greatness of the heat; and when the kine had returned from the lake, the binding of the leather satchel containing the gospel-book caught about the hoof of a cow, and so the cow dragged the book-satchel on her hoof as she came to land. And the gospel-book was found in the rotten leather satchel, perfectly dry and clean, without any moisture, as though it had been preserved in a book-case. Saint Kiaranus with his followers were rejoiced thereat.



    30. After this a certain man of Mumonia, to wit of the people of Corco Baiscind, by name Donnanus, came to Saint Ciaran as he sojourned in Inis Angin. To him one day Saint Kiaranus said, "What seekest thou, father, in these coasts?" Saint Donnanus answered, "Lord, I seek a place wherein to sojourn, where I may serve Christ in pilgrimage." Saint Kiaranus said to him, "Sojourn, father, in this place; for I shall go to some other place, for I know that here is not my resurrection."

    Then Saint Kyaranus granted Inis Angin with its furniture to Saint Donnanus, and came to a place which is called Ard Mantain, near the river Sinna; but being unwilling to remain in that place, he said: "I will not live in this place: for here shall be great abundance of the things of this life, and earthly joy; and hardly could the souls of my disciples attain to heaven, were I to have dwelt here, for this place belongs to the men of this world."

    Thereafter Saint Kiaranus left that place, and came to a place which once was called Typrait, but now is called Cluain meic Nois. And coming to this place he said: "Here will I live: for many souls shall go forth in this place to the kingdom of God, and in this place shall be my resurrection."

    Then most blessed Kiaranus with his followers dwelt, and began to found a great monastery there. And many from all sides used to come to him, and his parish was extended over a great circuit; and the name of Saint Kiaranus was much renowned over all Ireland. And a shining and holy settlement, the name of which is Cluain meic Nois, grew up in that place in honour of Saint Kiaranus; it is in the western border of the land of Ui Neill, on the eastern bank of the river Synna, over against the province of the Connachta. Therein are the kings or the lords of Ui Neill and of the Connachta buried, along with Saint Kiaranus. For the river Synna, which is very rich in various fish, divides the regions of Niall, that is, of Midhe, and the province of the Connachta.



    31. And when Saint Kiaranus would place with his own hands a corner-post in the first building of that settlement, a certain wizard said to him: "This hour is not good for beginning; for the sign of this hour is contrary to beginnings of building." Then Saint Kiaranus himself set the post in the corner of the house, saying, "Thou wizard, against thy sign I fix this post in the ground; for I care naught for the art of wizards, but in the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ, do I all my works." For this the wizard and his followers uttered commendation, marvelling at the faith of Saint Ciaran in his God.



    32. Now when Saint Kiaranus had been in his settlement of Cluain meic Nois, an excellent cloak was gifted to him in alms by a certain man. Saint Kyaranus was minded to send it to the aforesaid holy elder Senanus, who dwelt in the island of Cathi; but he was not able immediately to find a messenger, because the way from the settlement of Saint Kiaranus of Cluain meic Nois, which is in the middle of Ireland, to the island of Cathi, situate at the entrance of the ocean, was long and rough and difficult, and crossed borders of different kingdoms. Then at the command of Saint Kiaranus, the cloak was placed on the river Synna, and was sent alone with the river, and it came dry over the waters to the island of Cathi; and no one saw it while it travelled thither. The Synna flows from the settlement of Cluain meic Nois to the estuary of Luimnech, in which the island of Cathi stands.

    And Saint Senanus, filled with the spirit of prophecy, said to his brethren, "Go ye to the shore of the sea, and bring to us with honour the guest there seated, the gift of a man of God." And the brethren, asking no questions, made their way to the sea, and found there the cloak, perfectly dry, for it was untouched by the waters. And the holy elder Senanus accepting it, gave thanks to God; and the cloak was in honourable keeping with Saint Senanus, as though it were a sacred diadem.



    33. A certain boy of the company of holy Kiaranus, called Crithir of Cluain (a boy of great wit, but hurtful and wanton) fled from Saint Kiaranus to the settlement of Saigyr, in the northern border of Mumonia, that is, the land of Hele, to the other Kiaranus, the most holy aged bishop. And that boy, sojourning for some days with the holy bishop, after his devilish manner took the drink of the brethren, and poured it over the fire; extinguishing thus the consecrated fire. Now Saint Kiaranus the elder would have no other fire in his monastery save the consecrated fire, maintained without being extinguished from Easter to Easter. When Saint Kiaranus the elder heard what the boy Crithir did, it greatly displeased him, and he said, "Let him be chastened for this of God in this life." When he heard that Saint Kiaranus the elder was angry with him, he went out from the settlement of Saigyr, and when he was gone a short space from the settlement, wolves met him and killed him; yet they did not touch his body after he was dead, after the likeness of that prophet who was killed by the lion.

    Now when Saint Kiaranus the younger heard that his boy had been with Kiaranus the elder, he went to him; and on the day when the aforesaid things took place, he came to the settlement of Saigyr and was received with fitting honour by the holy bishop Kiaranus the elder. And the holy abbot Kiaranus the younger said to the holy bishop Kiaranus, "Restore to me, holy father, my disciple alive, who hath been slain while with thee." To him Saint Keranus the elder said, "First needs must your feet be washed, but we have no fire in the monastery, to warm the water for you; and ye know that it is because your disciple quenched our sacred fire. Wherefore beseech for us consecrated fire from God." Then the holy abbot Kieranus the younger, son of the wright, stretched his hands in prayer to God, and straightway fire from heaven came into his breast, and thence was the hearth kindled in the monastery.

    But the holy bishop Kiaranus the elder prayed to God for that youth slain by wolves, and straightway he arose sound from a cruel death, with the scars of the wolf-bites visible upon him. And blessing them all, he took food and drink with the saints, and afterwards he lived many days.

    Then the two Saints Kiaranus made a compact and brotherhood in heaven and in earth between their successors; and they said that should any wish to name or to beg aught for one of them, he should name them both and ask, for they would hear him.

    After this the holy abbot Kiaranus the younger said to the bishop, Kiaranus the elder, "In thy place, father, shall remain honour and abundance of riches." To him said the holy bishop, Kiaranus the elder, "Also in thy place, dearest son, shall last the strength of religion and of wisdom, unto the end of the world." When these things were said, having received the kiss of peace and blessing of the most holy bishop, Kiaranus the elder, Saint Kiaranus the younger with his own people and with the aforesaid youth Crithir returned to his settlement of Cluain meic Nois.



    34. On a certain day when the brethren of Saint Kiaranus were at work in the harvest, enduring thirst from the heat of the sun, they sent word that cold water should be brought to them. Saint Kiaranus answered them by a messenger, "Choose ye, my brethren, whether ye will drink to quench your thirst for necessity, or will endure in thirst till the evening, that through your labour to-day in thirst and in sweat there may be abundance for the brethren who are to be in this place hereafter; and you yourselves will not fail of reward from God in heaven." The brethren answered, "We choose that there be a sufficiency for our successors, and we to have the reward of our patience and of our thirst in heaven." So the brethren worked that day athirst, rejoicing, though the sun was hot.

    But when evening was come, the brethren returned home, and Saint Kiaranus wished to satisfy them, and to refresh them charitably. And trusting in the Lord, he blessed a great vessel full of water; and immediately under his hands wine of most excellent quality appeared in the vessel. And bringing drinking-cups, he commanded the brethren to refresh their bodies well, with sobriety, rendering thanks to Christ for his gifts.

    This is the Last Supper of Saint Ciaran with his brethren in his life, he himself ministering unto them; for he lived thereafter but few days. And that supper was most generous, excelling all the suppers that were made in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus, as is proved thus--

    For after a long time, when Saint Columba with his followers had come to Ireland from the island of Hia, a great feast was prepared for them in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus in his settlement of Cluain; and when they had come to the religious house of Saint Kiaranus, they were received with great joy and love, and were refreshed most bounteously with that repast; and the fame of that supper went over the whole settlement and its suburbs, far and wide.

    When, in the house of the holy elders, who had a little cell apart in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus, certain persons said in ignorance that never in that place had such a feast been made, nor would be in the future, one, who had been a boy when Saint Kiaranus lived there, answered: "Ye know not whereat ye wonder: for the feast which Saint Kiaranus our patron made, of water turned to wine, for his brethren athirst after harvesting, was far better than this feast. And that ye may know this, and may believe that it is true, come and perceive the odour of my finger with which I drew of that wine for the brethren. For my thumb touched the liquor through the mouth of the cup in which the wine was drawn; and lo, even yet its odour remains thereupon." Then they all drew near, and being sated with the pleasant and sweet odour of that holy elder, they cried aloud saying, "Truly much better was that feast whose odour remains on a finger most sweet for so long a time." And they blessed Saint Kiaranus, giving praises to God.

    And in those days, in which the brethren of Saint Kiaranus were sowing their crops, there came merchants with wine of the Gauls to Saint Kiaranus, and they filled a huge vessel, the solitana of the brethren, from that wine, which Saint Kiaranus gave to his brethren with his benediction.



    35. Our most holy patron Kiaranus lived but for one year in his settlement of Cluain. When he knew that the day of his death was approaching, he prophesied, deploring the subsequent evils that would come to pass in his place after him; and he said that their life would be short. Then the brethren said unto him, "What then shall we do in the time of those evils? Shall we abide here beside thy relics, or shall we go to other places?" To them Saint Kiaranus said, "Haste ye to other quiet places, and leave my relics here like the dry bones of a stag on a mountain. For it is better for you to be with my spirit in heaven than beside my bones on earth, and stumbling withal."

    Saint Kiaranus used greatly to crucify his body, and we write here an example of this. He ever had a stone pillow beneath his head, which till to-day remains in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus, and is reverenced by every one. Moreover, when he was growing weak, he would not have the stone removed from him, but commanded it to be placed to his shoulders, that he should have affliction even to the end, for the sake of an everlasting reward in heaven.

    Now when the hour of his departure was approaching, he commanded that he should be carried outside, out of the house; and looking up into heaven, he said, "Hard is that way,[6] and this needs must be." To him the brethren said, "We know that nothing is difficult for thee, father; but we unhappy ones must greatly fear this hour."

    And being carried back into the house, he raised his hand and blessed his people and clerks; and having received the Lord's Sacrifice, on the fifth of the ides of September he gave up the ghost, in the thirty-third year of his age. And lo, angels filled the way between heaven and earth, rejoicing to meet Saint Kiaranus.



    36. And on the third night after the death of Saint Kiaranus, the most holy abbot Coemhgenus came from the province of the Lagenians to the burial of Saint Kiaranus; and Saint Kiaranus spake with Saint Coemhgenus and they exchanged their vesture, and they made a perpetual brotherhood between themselves and their followers. This is related faithfully and at length in the Life of Coemhgenus himself.



    37. Saint Columba, on hearing of the death of Saint Kiaranus, said, "Blessed be God, Who hath called to Himself most holy Kiaranus from this life in his youth. For had he lived to old age, there would have been envy of many against him, for he would have had a firm hold on the parish of all Ireland."

    Saint Columba made a hymn to Saint Kiaranus; and when he set it forth in the settlement of Cluain, the successor of Saint Kiaranus said unto him, "Shining and worthy of praise is this hymn; what reward then, father, shall be rendered unto thee?" Saint Columba answered: "Give me my hands full of the earth of the grave of your holy father Kiaranus; for I wish for and desire that, more than for pure gold and precious gems." And Saint Columba receiving earth from the grave of Saint Kiaranus, made his way to his own island of Hya.

    When Saint Columba was voyaging on the sea, there arose a storm in the sea, and the ship was thrust towards the whirlpool which is in the Scotic tongue called Cori Bracayn, in which is a sea-whirlpool most dangerous, wherein if ships enter they come not out. And the whirlpool beginning to draw the ship towards itself, blessed Columba cast part of the earth of Saint Kiaranus into the sea. Most wondrous to relate, immediately the storm of the air, the movement of the waves, and the swirl of the whirlpool all ceased, till the ship had long escaped from it. Then Saint Columba, giving thanks to God, said to his followers, "Ye see, brethren, how much favour hath the earth of most blessed Kiaranus brought us."



    38. Most blessed Kiaranus living among men passed a life as of an angel, for the grace of the Holy Spirit burned in his face before the eyes of men. Who could expound his earthly converse? For he was young in age and in body, yet a most holy senior in mind and in manners, in humility, in gentleness, in charity, in daily labours, in nightly vigils, and in other divine works.

    For now liveth he in rest without labour, in age without senility, in health without sorrow, in joy without grief, in peace without a foe, in wealth without poverty, in endless day without night, in the eternal kingdom without end, before the throne of Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth unto ages of ages. Amen.

    Here endeth the life of Saint Ciaran, Abbot of Cluain meic Nois.

    [Footnote 1: The inconsistencies in the spelling of the various proper names in this translation follow those in the original documents.]

    [Footnote 2: The MS. reads lac iam... effudit. For iam we should probably read enim. A similar correction is made in Sec. 38.]

    [Footnote 3: Ipsa insula semper ab Hybernia habitatur. The sense of this passage is not clear: it may be corrupt.]

    [Footnote 4: Lit.: "the shadow of the aid of thy dutifulness."]

    [Footnote 5: This sentence reads very awkwardly, owing to the incorporation of two originally interlined glosses. Reference to the MS. enables us to isolate these. The sentence there runs thus: "Si ergo in isto loco mansissem non Ysseal .i. imus esset id est non paruus sed altus .i. magnus et honorabilis." Here id est occurs three times, once in full, and twice represented by the common contraction .i., which is universally used in MSS. of Irish origin for the introduction of a gloss. If we write the sentence as below, we shall see the significance of the different ways in which the expression is written, and by expunging the glosses can make the sentence less clumsy and more intelligible

    .i. imus

    --"Si ... mansissem, non Ysseal esset, id est non paruus; sed

    .i. magnus et honorabilis altus."]

    [Footnote 6: Correcting the vita of the MS. to via, in conformity with VG.]
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