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    The Second Latin Life of Saint Ciaran

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    Chapter 4
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    II.

    THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN

    1. A glorious man; and an abbot in life most holy, Queranus, was born of a father Boecius, of a mother Darercha. This man drew his origin from the northern part of Ireland, that is, he was of the Aradenses by race. Now he was so illuminated by divine grace from his boyhood, that it was clearly apparent of what manner he was destined to be. For he was as a burning lamp in extraordinary charity, so as to show not only the warmth of a pious heart and devotion in relieving the necessity of men, but also an unwearied sympathy for the needs of irrational animals. And because such a lamp should not be hidden under a bushel, so from his boyhood he began to sparkle with the marvels of miracles.

    III.

    HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH

    2. For when the horse of the son of the king of that territory perished with a sudden death, and the young man was much grieved at its fall, there appeared to him in dreams a man of venerable and shining countenance, who forbade him to be grieved for the death of the horse, saying unto him, "Call," said he, "the holy boy Keranus, and let him pour water into the mouth of thy horse, and sprinkle its forehead, and it shall revive. And thou shalt endow him with due reward for its resurrection."

    When the king's son had wakened from sleep, he sent for the boy Keranus that he should come to him; who, when he made his presence known, and heard the dream throughout, according to what the angel taught him, sprinkled the horse with holy water and raised it from death. When this great miracle was seen, the king of that territory made over to Saint Keranus a fertile and spacious field in honour of Omnipotent God, in Whose Name his horse was resurrected.

    IV.

    HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY

    3. Moreover it fell out on a certain day that the mother of Keranus himself found fault with him, for that he did not bring wild honey such as the other boys were wont to carry to their parents. When the beloved of God and men heard this, he raised his thoughts to the Boy who was subject to His parents, and blessed water, brought from a neighbouring spring, in His Name who is able to draw honey from the rock, and oil from the hardest stone; and presently that water is changed, with the help of God, into the sweetest honey, and so it is brought to his mother. This honey his parents sent to Saint Dermicius the deacon, surnamed Iustus, who baptized him.

    XVII.

    HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN

    4. Now when the rudiments of letters had been read [with him] by the saint aforesaid, he proposed to go to the blessed abbey of Cluayn Hirard for instruction. And as he wished to fulfil in deed what he had begun to conceive of in his mind, he asked a cow of his parents for his sustenance. But when his mother would not grant his petition, the Heavenly Father, Who loveth those whom He regardeth as a mother her son, did not tarry to fulfil the desire of his beloved. For a milch cow, together with her calf, followed him as though she had been driven after him by her herdsman.

    When he had come to the sacred college of Saint Fynnianus, they all had no small joy at his arrival. But the cow, which had followed him, was pastured along with her calf, nor did it [the calf] attempt to touch the udders of its mother without permission. Keranus so separated and divided its pastures, that the mother would only lick the calf, and would not offer to suckle it. Now the milk of that cow was rich in such abundance that, divided daily, it would supply a sufficiency of provision for twelve men.

    But the holy youth Keranus, deeply occupied with the sacred Scripture, shone in holiness and wisdom among his fellow-students as a brilliant star among the other stars. For he was filled with the fragrance of perfect charity, with moral worth, with holiness of life, and with sweetness of humility, gracious, honourable, and admirable to present and to absent.

    XXVI.

    HOW CIARAN FREED A WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE

    5. One day he made his way to a king, Tuathlus by name, to intercede for the liberation of a certain bond-maid. When he besought the king fervently for her, and he rejected the prayers of the servant of God as though they were ravings, he thought out a new method of liberating her, and determined that he himself should serve the king in her place. Now when he was coming to the house in which the girl was grinding, the doors which were shut opened to him. Entering, he showed himself a second Bishop Paulinus to her. Without delay the king freed her, and further presented his vesture to the servant of God. Receiving this, he forthwith distributed it to the poor.

    XXIV.

    THE STORY OF THE MILL AND THE BAILIFF'S DAUGHTER (abstract only)

    6. It fell out one night that the eminent doctor Finnianus sent him with grain of wheat to the mill. Now a certain kingling who lived near, learning that one of the disciples of the man of God had come thither, sent him flesh and ale by a servant. When they had presented the gift of such a man, he answered, "That it may be common," said he, "to the brethren, cast it all on the surface of the mill." When the messenger had done this, it was all turned into wheat. When he heard this, the king gave him the steading in which he was dwelling, with all his goods, in perpetuity: but Keranus made it over to his master, for a monastery was afterwards erected there. But the bread made of that grain tasted to the brethren like flesh and ale, and so it refreshed them.

    XXX.

    THE ADVENTURE OF THE ROBBERS OF LOCH ERNE

    7. Now when a space of time had passed, the licence and benediction of his master having been obtained, he made his way to Saint Nynnidus who was dwelling in a wood (sic) of Loch Erny. Now when he had arrived he was received with great joy and unfeigned love. As he was daily becoming perfect in the discipline of manners and of virtue, on a certain day, as one truly obedient, he went forth to the groves hard by with brethren to cut timber. For it was a custom in that sacred college, that three monks, with an elder, always went out in prescribed order to transport timber. As the others were cutting wood, he by himself, as was his wont, was intent on prayer to God. Meanwhile certain wicked robbers, ferried over in a boat to that island, fell upon the aforesaid brethren and slew them, and bore away their heads. But Keranus, not hearing the sound of his companions hacking, was surprised, and in wonder he hurried to the place where he had left them labouring. When he saw what had been done to the brethren he heaved heavy sighs and was deeply grieved; and he followed the murderers by their track, and found them in the harbour, sweating to carry their boat in the harbour to the water, but unable to do so. For God so fastened their skiff to the land that by no means could they remove it. So being unable to resist the will of the All-Powerful, they beseech as suppliants pardon of the man of God, then present. Mindful of his Master as He prayed for the Jews who were crucifying Him, he, a holy one, poured forth prayers for them, unworthy as they were, to the Fount of Piety; and strengthened by the virtue of his prayer, they were able to convey their boat quite easily to the water. In payment for this benefit he obtained from the robbers the heads of his brethren. When he had received these, he made his way back to the place where their bodies had been lying, and fervently asked of God to show forth His omnipotence in the resuscitation of His servants in this life. Wondrous is what I relate, but in the truth of fact most manifest. He fitted the heads to the bodies, and recalled them to life by the virtue of the holy prayer--nay, rather, what is more correct, he obtained their recall. These, thus marvellously resuscitated, bore timber back to the monastery. But so long as they lived they bore the scars of the wounds on their necks.

    IX.

    HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED

    8. At another time when he was keeping the herds of his parents in a certain place, a cow gave birth to a calf in his presence. But a [hound], altogether wasted with leanness, came, desiring to fill [his belly] with whatso falleth from the body of the mother with the calf, and stood before the dutiful shepherd. To which he said, "Eat, poor wretch, yonder calf, for great is thy need of it." The hound, fulfilling the commands of Queranus, devoured the calf down to the bones. But as Queranus returned with the kine to the house, that one, recalling her calf to memory, was running hither and thither, lowing; and the mother of Queranus, recognising the cause of the lowing, said with indignation to the boy, "Quiranus, restore the calf, though it be burnt with fire or drowned with water." But he, obeying his mother's commands, making his way to the place where the calf had been devoured, collected its bones and resuscitated the calf.

    V.

    HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND

    9. At a certain time, when he was passing along a road, certain men spurred by a malignant spirit incited a most savage dog to do him a hurt. But Queranus, trusting in his Lord, fortified himself with the shield of devout prayer, and said, "Deliver not to beasts the souls of them that trust in Thee, O Lord": and soon that dog died.

    XXXI.

    HOW CIARAN FLOATED A FIREBRAND ON THE LAKE

    10. At another time when he was left alone in that island, he heard a poor man in the harbour asking that fire be given to him. For it was now the time of cold: but he had no boat whereby to satisfy the petition of the poor man, though much he desired to do so. And because charity suffereth all things, he cast a burning firebrand into the lake, and the heat of love that sent it prevailing over the waters, it came to the poor man.

    XXXII.

    CIARAN IN ARAN

    11. Now when the man of God had spent a certain time there, with the licence of Nynnidus he hastened to Saint Endeus, abbot in Ara; who was filled with no small joy at his coming. Now on a certain night he dreamed that he had seen beside the bank of the great river Synan a great leafy and fruitful tree which over-shadowed all Ireland. Which dream he related to blessed Endeus on the following day. But Endeus himself bore witness that he had seen the same vision that night, which vision Endeus interpreted: "The tree," he said, "thou art it, who shalt be great before God and men, and honourable throughout all Ireland; because she is protected from demons and from other perils by the shadow of thy help and grace, as under the shadow of a health-giving tree. Many near and far shall the fruit of thy works advantage. Wherefore according to the decree of God who revealeth secrets, depart to the place that hath been shown thee before, and there abide, according to the grace given thee of God." Comforted by the interpretation of this vision, in true obedience he obeyed the command of Saint Endeus his spiritual father.

    XXXIV.

    HOW CIARAN VISITED SENAN

    12. And having set forth on the way he found in his journey a poor man, to whom, as he asked an alms of him, he made over his cloak. And when he had arrived at the island of Cathacus, blessed Senanus learnt of his arrival, the Spirit revealing it to him, and coming to meet him he said as though smiling, "Is it not shame for a presbyter to journey without a cloak?" For Senanus in the spirit knew how he had given it to a poor man. And so he came to meet him with a cloak. And Keranus said, "My elder," said he, "beareth a cloak for me under his vesture."

    XXXV.

    CIARAN IN ISEL

    13. When he had received it and returned thanks to the giver, he came for sacred converse to the cell of his brother Luctigernnus, where also was his other brother, Odranus by name. There for some time he prolonged his sojourn, and was guest-master. Now one day when he was reading in the open air in the cemetery, guests came unexpectedly, whom he led to the guest-house, having left his book open in forgetfulness: and he washed their feet with devotion, and did the other services necessary for them, for the sake of Christ. Meanwhile, when the night darkness had fallen, there was a great rain. But He Who bedewed the fleece of Gideon, but afterwards kept it untouched by the dew, so preserved the book of holy Keranus, open though it was, from the rushing waters, that not a drop fell upon it.

    XXXVI.

    THE REMOVAL OF THE LAKE

    14. Near to the monastery in which the man of God was then staying, there was an island, which certain worldly men inhabited, whose uproar used greatly to disturb the men of God. Whence it happened that blessed Keranus, compelled by their disquietude, made his way to the lake, and giving himself up wholly to prayer, succeeded in obtaining the removal of those who were distressing the servants of God. For when he ceased from prayer, behold, suddenly the island with the lake and the inhabitants withdrew to a remote place, so that by no means could its inhabitants disturb the friends of the Most High. For this miracle was done in His Name Who overturned Sodom on account of the sin of its inhabitants, and consumed it with fire. The traces of that lake, where it formerly was, still exist.

    XXXVIII.

    CIARAN IN INIS AINGIN

    15. As the man of God was distributing the goods of the monastery for the use of the poor, his brethren complaining of this and coming to him inconsiderately, said, "Depart," said they, "from us, for we cannot live together." To whom agreeing, and bidding farewell in the Lord, he transferred himself to an island by name Angina. A monastery having been founded in this island, many hastening from all sides, attracted by the fame of his holiness, submitted to the service of God. Ordering them under strict rules, by face and by habit, by speech and by life, he showed himself as an example to them. For he was as an eagle inciting its young to fly, in respect to sublimity of contemplation; but he lived as the least of them in brotherly humility. For he was in spiritual meditations attached to the highest things; yet so much did he stoop to feeble weakness that he seemed as though he tended towards the lowliest things. He was also perfect in faith, fervent in charity, rejoicing in hope, gentle of heart, courteous of speech, patient and long-suffering, kindly in hospitality, ever diligent in works of piety, benign, gentle, peaceful, sober, and quiet. To summarise many things in one short sentence, he was garnished with the ornament of all the virtues. Expending a care zealous for these and the like matters--the care of Mary for contemplation, and of Martha for the dispensing of things temporal--he fulfilled his duty in ordered succession. Nor could the light of such and so great a lantern be hidden under a bushel: but it glittered with light, all around, wheresoever it abundantly illuminated the world with the outpoured glory of its grace.

    XXXIX.

    THE COMING OF OENNA

    16. He was nevertheless inspired with a spirit of prophecy, which appears from the preceding and the following examples. For on a certain day the voice of one asking for ferrying had struck on his ears. Then he said to the brethren, "I hear," said he, "the voice of him whom God will set over you as abbot. Go, therefore, and fetch him." So they hastened; and coming to the harbour, they found an unlettered youth. Not caring to lead him to the holy man, they returned and declared that they had found no one, save an unlettered youth who was wandering as a vagabond in the woods. But Saint Queranus said, "Lead him hither," said he, "and despise not your future pastor." Who being led in, by the inspiration of God and by the instruction of the holy man, took on him the habit of religion, and duly learned his letters. For he is Saint Oenius, a man of venerable life; and, as the saint prophesied beforehand, he was duly set over the brethren.

    XLI.

    HOW CIARAN WENT FROM INIS AINGHIN TO CLONMACNOIS

    17. At length, when some time had passed, a holy man by name Dompnanus, of Mumonia by race, came to visit the man of God. When Saint Keranus enquired of him the cause of his coming, he replied that he wished to have a place in which he could serve the Lord in security. But Saint Keranus, seeking not his own, but the things of Jesus Christ, said, "Here," said he, "dwell thou, and I with God's guidance shall seek a place of habitation elsewhere." Finally, the sacred community accompanying him, he made his way to the place foreshown him of God, in which, when the famous and renowned monastery which is to-day called the city of Cluayn was built, he himself illuminated the world, like the sun, with the light of famous miracles.

    XLIV.

    CIARAN AND THE WINE

    18. Of the multitude of these miracles we add some here. One time, when the brethren, labouring in the harvest, were oppressed with peril of thirst, they sent to holy Father Queranus that they might be refreshed by the blessing of water. To these, through the servants, he said: "Choose ye," said he, "one of two things; either that ye be now revived with water, or that those who are to inhabit this place after you be blessed with the things of this world." But they answering said: "We choose," said they, "that those who come after us may abound in temporal goods, and that we may have the reward of long-suffering in heaven." And so, rejoicing in the hope of the things to come, they abstained from drinking, though they were in great need of it.

    But in the evening when they were returning home, the tender father, having compassion on the weariness of the labourers, blessed a vessel filled with water: and now renewing the holy miracle in Cana of Galilee, he changed the water into the best wine. By this wine they, fainting from thirst, were revived; and revived in faith by the manifestation of an unwonted miracle, they gave praises to God Almighty. For the taste of this miraculous wine was more grateful than was wont, and its odour scented the thumb of the wine-drawer so long as he survived.

    XLVI.

    HOW AN INSULT TO CIARAN WAS AVERTED

    19. One day when he was going on a way, most infamous robbers, seizing him, began to shave the head of the blessed man. But what the frowardness of man wished to efface, the divine benevolence changed to the manifestation of a mighty miracle. For in the place of the shaved hairs other hairs grew forthwith. The robbers, thrown into consternation by this miracle, were changed to the way of truth, and at length, serving in the divine army under so great a leader, they finished their life in holy conversation.

    XLVII.

    HOW CIARAN WAS SAVED FROM SHAME

    20. At another time when the good shepherd was feeding his flocks, three poor men met him. To the first of these he made over his cape, to the second his cloak, to the third his tunic. But when they were going away there arrived certain men, leaders of a worldly life. As he was ashamed to be seen of these without raiment, the Lord Who helpeth in need so surrounded him with water that except his head no part of him could they see. But after these men had passed by the water soon disappeared.

    XLVIII.

    HOW A MAN WAS SAVED FROM ROBBERS

    21. After this when some time had passed, certain companions of the devil were trying to slay a man who dwelt near his monastery: whom, when the blessed man prayed for him, God marvellously rescued. For when they were slaughtering the man, they were striking on a stone statue. The robbers, when at last they perceived this, being pricked in the heart, hasten to the shepherd of souls, Queranus: they humbly acknowledge their crime; and, amending their way of life, they served faithfully under the yoke of Christ until death.

    XLIX.

    THE DEATH OF CIARAN

    22. The most glorious soldier of Christ, shining with these and many other [miracles], like the luminary which presides over the day, as he reached the setting of his natural course, approached it, seized with grievous sickness. But because he who shall have endured unto the end shall be saved, so the champion of Christ, not only strengthening himself in the battle of this conflict, but also calling on souls to conquer, caused the stone, on which, supporting his head, he was wont until then to concede a little sleep to his body, to be placed even under his shoulders; then raising his holy hand he blessed the brethren, and, fortified by reception of the viaticum of salvation, gave back his soul to heaven. For as that blessed soul departed from the body, the choirs of angels with hymns and songs received it into the glory of God.

    LI.

    THE EARTH OF CIARAN'S TOMB DELIVERS COLUM CILLE FROM A WHIRLPOOL

    23. Also, when the most blessed abbot of Christ, Columba, heard of the death of Saint Keranus, he composed a notable hymn about him: and he brought it down with him to the monastery of Cluayn, where, as was fitting, he was received with hospitality in honour. Now as for the hymn, the abbot who was then presiding, and the others who had heard it, lauded it with many lofty praises. But when Saint Columba was departing thence, he took away with him earth from the sacred grave of Saint Keranus, knowing in the spirit how useful this would be against future perils of the sea. For in the part of the sea which bears towards the monastery of I, there is a very great danger to those who cross, partly because of the vehemence of the currents, and partly because of the narrowness of the sea; so that ships are whirled round and driven in a circle, and thus are often sunk. For it is rightly compared to Scylla and Charybdis; I mean that by its grave and unmitigated dangerousness, evil is there the lot of sailors. When they were coming to this strait, they suddenly began to glide into it in their course: and when they looked for nothing but death, and because they were as though apt to be devoured by the horrible jaws of the abyss, then Saint Columba taking some of the aforesaid dust that had been taken from the tomb of blessed Keranus, cast it into that sea. Then there befell a thing marvellous and worthy of great wonder; for sooner than it is told, that cruel storm ceased, and accorded them a quiet passage. Truly do the just live for ever; among whom blessed Queranus reigneth, the earth or dust of whose sepulchre stilled the sea, established in the Faith the hearts of those who feared, and strengthened them to good works. Wherefore blessed Keranus liveth not only for God, to whom he is inseparably bound, but also for men, on whom in time of need he bestoweth benefits.

    A RIME ABOUT HIM

    1. As the mother of Quiaranus sat in a noisy carriage, a wizard heard the sound and said out to his attendant lads, "See ye who is in the carriage, for it soundeth under a king." "The wife," say they, "of Beodus the wright sitteth here." The wizard says: "She shall bear a king acceptable to all, whose works shall shine like Phoebus in the sky." The soldier of Christ, Keranus, a temple of the Holy Spirit, flourished in the virtue of spiritual piety.

    2. He bestowed the sucking calf of a cow on a hound; then his mother severely upbraided Queranus. He asked the devoured calf from the hound itself, and presently bearing back its bones he restored it.

    3. The bald head of a royal woman had been made bare by the envy of an evil concubine; when it was signed in the name of Queranus it shone adorned with golden hair.

    4. When Queranus was occupied with sacred studies, and asked time that he might engage himself therein, then the mill is moved for him by angels.

    5. The gospel text had fallen into a lake, but when time passed, by the merits of Queranus, a cow brought it back sound from the abyss.

    6. When as a boy he was praying the Lord, and was spending his time in prayer, fire came from above in the citadel of the pole. The dead boy descried the lights of life, and the saints glorify the mighty Lord. Sparkling fire falling from heaven is kindled and forthwith he completes his especial duty.

    7. To the high and ineffable company of apostles of the heavenly Jerusalem, the lofty watch-tower, sitting on thrones shining like the sun, Queranus the holy priest, the eminent messenger of Christ, is exalted by the heavenly hands of angels, with the happy clans of holy ones made perfect; whom Thou, Christ, hast sent as a man, an apostle to the world, glorious in all the latest times.
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