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    The Irish Life of Saint Ciaran

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    Chapter 6
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    I.

    THE HOMILETIC INTRODUCTION

    1. Omnia quaecumque uultis ut faciant homines uobis, ita et uos faciatis illis, haec est enim lex et prophetae: "Every good thing that ye wish to be done unto you by men, let it be likewise that ye do to them, for that is Law and Prophecy."

    Now He Who prohibiteth every evil, Who proclaimeth every good, Who reconcileth God and man, Jesus Christ Son of the Living God, the Saviour of the whole world, He it is Who spake these words; to teach His apostles and His disciples and the whole Church concerning the covenant[1] of charity; that men should do of good and of charity to their neighbour as much as they would do unto themselves. To that end saith Jesus, Omnia quaecumque uultis. Now Matthew son of Alphaeus, the eminent sage of the Hebrews, one of the four who expounded the Gospel of the Lord, he it is who wrote these words in the heart of his Gospel, saying after his Master Jesus, Omnia quaecumque.

    Si ergo uos, cum sitis mali, nostis bona data dare filiis uestris, quanto magis Pater uester celestis dabit bona petentibus Se:[2] That is, "If ye being men [sic] give good gifts to your children, much more shall the Heavenly Father give good to His children who ask Him." It is after these words that Jesus spake this counsel, Omnia quaecumque, etc. For Law and Prophecy command us to give love to God and to the neighbour. Finis enim precepti caritas est, quia caritas propria et specialis uirtus est Christianorum. Nam caeterae uirtutes bonis et malis possunt esse communes; caritatem autem habere nisi perfecti non possunt. Vnde Iesus ait, "In hoc cognoscent omnes quod discipuli Mei estis, si dilexeritis inuicem." "For the roof and summit of divine doctrine is charity, because charity is the especial virtue of the Christians. For the other virtues may belong to good and to evil men alike; but none hath charity save good men only. Wherefore Jesus saith, 'Hereby shall all men recognise that ye are of My folk, if each of you loveth his fellow as I have loved you.'"[3] Et iterum dixit Iesus: Hoc est preceptum meum ut diligatis inuicem sicut dilexi uos. "And thus said Jesus further: 'This is my counsel to you, that each of you love his fellow as I have loved you.'"

    Many of the children of life, apostles and disciples of the Lord, have thenceforward fulfilled with zeal and with piety the counsel that Jesus gave them as to fulfilling charity; as he fulfilled and loved charity especially beyond all virtues, to wit the noble glorious apostle, the father confessor, the spark-flashing, the man through whom the west of the world shone with signs and wonders, with virtues and with good deeds, Sanctus Ciaranus sacerdos et apostolus Dei, the archpresbyter and apostle Saint Ciaran, son of the wright. Now he was son of the Wright Who formed heaven and earth with all that in them is, according to his heavenly genealogy; and son of the wright who used to frame carriages and all other handiworks beside, according to his earthly genealogy.

    The date which the Faithful honour as the feast-day of this noble one is the fifth of the ides of September according to the day of the solar month, and this day to-day according to the day of the week.

    Accordingly I shall relate a short memoir of the signs and wonders of that devout one, for a delight of soul to the Faithful; and of his earthly generation, and of his mode of life,[4] and of the perfection which he gave to his victorious course in the earth. A man held greatly in honour of the Lord was this man. A man for whom God reserved his monastery, fifty years before his birth; a man whom Christ accounteth in the order of apostles in this world, as Colum Cille said--

    Quem Tu Christe apostolum mundo misisti hominem.

    A lamp was he, shining with the light of wisdom and doctrine, as Colum Cille said--

    Lucerna huius insulae lucens luce mirabili.

    A man who established a cathedral from which was drawn the effectiveness of rule, and wisdom, and doctrine, for all the churches of Ireland, as the same man of learning said--

    Custodiantur regmina adcessione edita Diuulgata per omnia sanctorum monasteria[5]--

    that is, "Let the rules and doctrines and customs which have been received from the master, from Ciaran, be kept by the elders of these monasteries; thus, these are the rules and customs that have been distributed and received of all the monasteries of saints of Ireland." For it is from her [Clonmacnois] that are carried rules and precepts throughout Ireland.

    He is a man whom the Lord accounteth of the order of chief prophets in this world, as the same prophet said--

    Propheta qui nouissimus fuerit praesagminibus,[6]

    for it was by reason of his nobility and his reverence before the Lord that he was foretold of prophets long before his birth, as Isaac was foretold, and John the Baptist, and Jesus, which is something yet nobler.[7] First Patrick son of Calpurn prophesied of him in Cruachan Aigli, after the tree had closed around his relics in the place where that settlement is now. Brigit prophesied of him when she saw the fire and the angel, fifty years before Ciaran, in the place where the Crosses of Brigit are to-day. Becc mac De prophesied, saying there--

    Son of the wright with choruses, with choirs, In comely cloak, with chariots, with chants.

    Colum Cille prophesied in Ard Abla to Aed son of Brandub (or of Brenainn).

    II.

    THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN: THE WIZARD'S PROPHECIES

    2. Now this is the genealogy of Ciaran--

    Ciaran, son of Lairne, son of Bresal, son of Beoit " Cuiltre " Dega " Olchan " Gluinech " Reo-soirche, son of Dichu " Coirpre " Reo-doirche " Corc " Lug " Tigernmas " Cuindiu " Meidle " Follach " Cuinnid " Dub " Eithrial " Fiac " Lugna " Irel the prophet, son of Mael-Catrach, son of Feidlimid " Eremon " Laire " Echu " Mil of Spain.

    Beoit son of Olchan of the Latharna of Mag Molt of the Ulaid was earthly father of Ciaran. Darerca daughter of Ercan son of Buachall was his mother, as Ciaran said--

    Mother mine, a woman good, she Darerca hight; Father, of Molt's Latharna he was Beoit the wright.

    Of the Ciarraige of Irluachra was his mother, that is, more especially, of the Glasraige. Glas the Poet was her grandfather. Now this was the cause of the coming together of those twain. When Beoit went to visit his brethren who were in the territory of Cenel Fiachrach, and when he saw the maiden Darerca before him, he asked for her of her [friends and her][8] parents, so that she was given him to wife. Thereafter she bore five sons to him, and this is the order in which they were born: Lucoll her firstborn, Donnan the second, Ciaran the third, Odran the fourth, Cronan the fifth--he was a deacon, but the other four sons were archpresbyters. Furthermore she bore three daughters to him; two of them were virgins, to wit Lugbec and Rathbeo; Pata was the third daughter, and she was a pious widow. These are the graveyards wherein are the relics of those saints; Lucholl and Odran in Isel Chiarain, Donnan and Ciaran in Cluain maccu Nois, Cronan the deacon and Beoit and the three daughters in Tech meic in tSaeir.

    Now there was an impious king in the land of Ui Neill at that time, Ainmire son of Colgan his name. He impressed the tribelands and the septs under a grievous tax. So Beoit went, a-fleeing from that king, into the land of the Connachta, to Cremthann son of Lugaid son of Dallan King of Ireland, to Raith Cremthainn in Mag Ai. The day on which Ciaran was conceived was the sixth of the calends of June, and he was born on the sixth of the calends of March.

    The birth of Ciaran was prophesied by Lugbrann the wizard of the aforesaid king. The wizard dixit--

    Oengus' steed he made alive, while he yet in cradle rested; God this marvel did contrive, by Ciaran, in swathing vested.

    One day when the wizard heard the sound of the carriage [he spake thus: "See, lads," said he, "who is in the carriage][9]--for here is the sound of a carriage that bears a king." When the lads went out they saw no one save Beoit and Darerca in the carriage. When the lads mocked the wizard, thus spake he: "The child who is in the womb of the woman," said he, "shall be a great king: as the sun shineth among the stars of heaven, so shall he shine, in signs and wonders that cannot be related, upon the earth."

    Thereafter was Saint Ciaran born, in Mag Ai at Raith Cremthainn. He was baptized by deacon Iustus, for it was fitting that the true one should be baptized by a True One.

    III.

    HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH

    3. A certain day the horse of Oengus son of Cremthann died, and he had great sadness because of the death of his horse. Now when Oengus slumbered, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream, and thus he spake with him: "Ciaran son of the wright shall come, and shall raise thy horse for thee." And this was fulfilled, for Ciaran came at the word of the angel, and blessed water, and it was put over the horse, and the horse arose from death forthwith. Then Oengus gifted a great land to God and to Ciaran in return for the raising of the horse; Tir-na Gabrai is the name of the land.

    IV.

    HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY

    4. A certain day his mother upbraided him. "The little village lads," said she, "bring with them honey out from the combs to their folks, but thou bringest it never to us." When Ciaran heard that, he went to a certain spring, and he fills his vessel from it, and blesses it: so that it became choice honey, and he gives that honey to his mother; so she was thankful. That is the honey which was given to deacon Uis (= Iustus) as a fee for baptizing him.

    V.

    HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND

    5. A certain day evil men incited a savage hound against Ciaran, to tear him. When Ciaran saw the hound, he sang this verse: Ne tradas bestiis animam confitentem tibi. And when he said this the hound fell forthwith and did not rise again.

    VI.

    HOW CIARAN AND HIS INSTRUCTOR CONVERSED THOUGH DISTANT FROM ONE ANOTHER

    6. This was the labour that his parents used to lay upon him, namely, herding, after the likeness of David son of Jesse, and of Jacob, and of the elders thenceforth, for God knew that he would be a wise shepherd of great flocks, that is, the flocks of the Faithful. Thereafter a marvellous thing took place at Raith Cremthainn in Mag Ai: he was keeping the flocks of [his parents at Raith Cremthainn, and there was dwelling][10] his tutor, deacon Uis, at Fidharta, and there was a long space between them: yet he used to hear what his tutor was saying as though they were side by side.

    VII.

    CIARAN AND THE FOX

    7. Then there came a fox to Ciaran from out the wood, and behaved tamely with him. It would often visit him, so that he bade it do him a service, namely, to carry his book of Psalms between him and his teacher, deacon Uis. For when he would say in Fidharta, "Say this in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," Ciaran would hear in Raith Cremthainn, from that on to the end of the lesson; and the fox would be awaiting the lesson obediently till its writing on wax was completed, and thereafter he would carry it with him to Ciaran.[11]

    Once on a time his natural treacherousness broke forth in the fox, and he began to eat the book: for he was greedy for the leather that was bound around the book outside. While he was eating the book, there came Oengus son of Cremthann with kernes and with hounds, so that they chased him, and he found no sanctuary till he came under the cloak of Ciaran. The name of God and Ciaran's were magnified by the rescue of the book from the fox and by the rescue of the fox from the hounds. The book is what is now called the "Tablet of Ciaran."

    Most consonant with these things is it for evil men who are near to the Church, and who profit by the advantages of the Church--communion, and baptism, and food, and teaching--and withal stay not from persecuting the Church, until there come upon themselves the persecution of some king, or mortality, or a disease unknown: and then they needs must flee under the protection of the Church, as the fox went under the cloak of Ciaran![12]

    VIII.

    HOW CIARAN SPOILED HIS MOTHER'S DYE

    8. A certain day the mother of Ciaran was making blue dye, and she had reached the point of putting the garments therein. Then said his mother to him, "Get thee out, Ciaran." For they thought it unbecoming that males should be in the house when garments were being dyed. "May there be a dun stripe upon them!" said Ciaran. Of all the garments that were put into the dye, there was not one that had not a dun stripe upon it. The dye is prepared again, and his mother said, "Go out, Ciaran, this time, and now, Ciaran, let there be no dun stripe." Then he said--

    Alleluia Domine! White my mother's dye let be! When in my hand it's gone, Be it white as bone! When boiling it is stirred, Be it white as curd!

    Accordingly every garment that was placed therein was of a uniform whiteness. For the third time is the dye made. "Ciaran," said his mother, "hurt me not the dye now, but let it receive a blessing from thee." When Ciaran blessed the dye, never was dye made so good, before or since; for though all the garments of Cenel Fiachrach (sic) were placed in its iarcain, it would turn them blue; and at the last it turned blue the dogs and the cats and the trees that came in contact with it.

    IX.

    HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED

    9. Once he was tending kine. A miserable wolf came to him. Now this was a habitual expression with him, "Mercy on us." [He said to the wolf in compassion][13] "Rise and devour the calf and break or eat not its bones." The wolf went and did so. When the cow lowed a-seeking the calf, his mother spake thus to him: "Tell me, Ciaran, where is the calf of this cow? Let the calf be restored by thee, whatsoever death it has died." Ciaran went to the place where the wolf had devoured the calf, and collected the bones of the calf, and brought them before the cow, and the calf arose and stood up. Ut dixit--

    One day when, assiduously Ciaran the kine was havening, He a calf for charity Gave to a wolf ravening.[14]

    X.

    HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM ROBBERS

    10. A certain day there came robbers from Ui Failge to slay people [in the land][15] of Cenel Fiachach, and they found Saint Ciaran a-reading with his herds; and they went forward to slay him. But they were smitten with blindness, and could stir neither foot nor hand, till they wrought repentance, and were loosed by the word of God and of Ciaran.

    XIV.

    HOW CIARAN GAVE THE KING'S CAULDRON TO BEGGARS AND WAS ENSLAVED

    11. Another time his father sent him to present a cauldron to the king, even to Furban. There met him poor men on the way, and [Ciaran][16] gifts the king's cauldron to them. So he was put in bonds then, and slavery was imposed on him at the king's hands; and this was the labour put upon him, to grind at the quern. Then great marvels came to pass, for when he went to grind at the quern, it would turn of itself, and did so continually. They were the angels of the Lord who used to grind for his sake. Not long thereafter there came smiths from the lands of Muma, with three cauldrons for Ciaran as an alms, and thus was Ciaran delivered from servitude to the king.

    XVII.

    HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN

    12. Now after those things Ciaran thought it time to go a-schooling to Findian of Cluain Iraird, to learn wisdom. He begged a cow of his mother and of his father, to take it with him to serve him.[17] His mother said that she would not give it him. He blessed one of the kine, to wit the Dun Cow of Ciaran, as she was called thenceforward, and she went with her calf after Ciaran thence to Cluain Iraird. Afterwards he drew a line with his staff between them, for between them there was no fence, and the cow used to lick the calf and neither of them transgressed the mark. Now the milk of that cow used to be divided between the twelve bishops with their folk and their guests, and it was sufficient for them; ut dixit,

    Ciaran's Dun was wont to feed, three times fifty men in all; Guests and sick folk in their need, in soller and in dining-hall.

    The hide of the Dun is in Clonmacnois, and whatsoever soul parteth from its body from that hide [hath no portion in hell, and][18] dwelleth in eternal life.

    XVIII.

    THE ANGELS GRIND FOR CIARAN

    13. Now there were the twelve bishops[19] of Ireland in the school of Findian in Cluain Iraird, ut dixit,

    Two Findians, holy Colums two, Ciaran, Cainnech, Comgall fair; Two Brenainns, Ruadan bright of hue, Ninned, Mo-Bi, Mac Natfraeich there.

    This was their rule, that every bishop[19] should grind at the quern on his day. But angels used to grind at the quern for Ciaran's sake on the day that was his.

    XIX.

    CIARAN AND THE KING'S DAUGHTER

    14. The daughter of the King of Cualu was brought once upon a time to Findian to read her Psalms, after offering her virginity to God. Findian committed the maiden to Ciaran, so that it was with him that she used to read her Psalms. Now Ciaran saw naught of the body of the maiden, so long as they were together, save her feet only. As is verified in the stanza--

    A maid, rich in stateliness with Ciaran there was reading; Of her form or shapeliness, he was all unheeding.[20]

    XX.

    HOW CIARAN HEALED THE LEPERS

    15. There came then twelve lepers to Findian for their healing. Findian sent them to Ciaran. Ciaran welcomed them, and went with them westward from the cell, and tears a sod from the ground, so that a stream of pure water breaks forth from thence. He poured three waves of the water over each of them, so that they were healed forthwith.

    XXI.

    CIARAN AND THE STAG

    16. Further, into that school there used to come a stag to Ciaran, and he would place his book on the horns of the stag. One day there Ciaran heard the bell. He arose suddenly at the sound of the bell, but still swifter was the arising of the stag, and it went off, with his book on its horns. Though that day and the following night were wet, and though the book was open, not a letter in it was moistened. The cleric arose on the morrow, and the stag came to him with his book uninjured.

    XVII.

    THE STORY OF CIARAN'S GOSPEL

    17. Now into that school there came Ninned the Squinting, from the lochs of Erne, to read with Findian; and he had no book. "Seek a book," said Findian. Ninned went a-searching round the school, and did not obtain a book from any of them. "Hast thou gone to the gentle youth on the north side of the lawn?" said Findian. "I shall go now," said Ninned. Now when Ninned reached him, Ciaran was going over the central text of the book of Matthew: Omnia quaecumque uultis ut faciant homines uobis, ita et uos faciatis illis. "I have come for the loan of a book," said Ninned. "Mercy on us," said Ciaran, "for that do I read this, and this is what the text saith to me, that everything that I would that men should do to me, I should do to all. Take thou the book," said Ciaran. On the morrow his companions asked of him, at the time of the lesson, where his book was. "He gave it to me," said Ninned. "Let 'Ciaran Half-Matthew' be his name," said one of the school. "Nay," said Findian, "but Ciaran Half-Ireland; for his shall be half of Ireland, and ours the other half."[21] As Findian said--

    Holy Ciaran zealously under Findian studying pored; Half his book he left unread, half of Ireland his reward.

    From this was the well-known saying Non legam Marcum quousque compleueram Mattheum carried to Rome, to Alexander.

    XXIV.

    THE STORY OF THE MILL AND THE BAILIFF'S DAUGHTER

    18. Now it came to pass that there was scarcity of corn and sustenance in that school, so that it was necessary for a strong man of them in turn to protect the sack of grain that was being carried to the mill.

    It happened that Ciaran, in his turn, was carrying a sack of oats to the mill. As he was opening the sack, he said, "O Lord," said he, "I would that this were fine wheat, so that it were a great and a kindly and a pleasant satisfaction to the elders." And so it came to pass: the angel of God took the mill in his hands, and he [Ciaran] was rendering his Psalms in purity of heart and mind, and the oats which were being put in were choice wheat as they were coming out.

    Now the daughter of the bailiff of the mill came, amorous for Ciaran; and she gave her love to him, for fairer was he in form than any other of his time. "Most hard for thee is that,"[22] said Ciaran. "Is it not these things to which thou shouldest give heed--the passing of the world, and the Day of Judgment, and the pains of Hell to shun them, and the rewards of Heaven to earn them?" When the maiden went home, she tells that tale to her father and her mother. They came and offered the maiden to Ciaran. "If she sacrifice her virginity to God," said Ciaran, "and if she serve Him, I will be in union with her." Then the maiden offered her virginity to God and to Ciaran, and her folk offered their perpetual service and perpetual subjecthood to Ciaran from that onward.

    When they went to their house, a portion was sent to Ciaran by them, to wit, three wheaten cakes, with their meed of suet and flesh, and a vessel full of ale. When the servants left it, and received a blessing, he said, "Mercy on us," said he, "it is not right for us to eat of this, with exclusion of the other brethren." Thereafter he cast all the food, after shredding it fine, upon the mill, and he cast the ale likewise, so that all was turned to fine flour.

    When Ciaran perceived the servant spying on him at the roof-ridge, he spake a word against him, saying, "May the crane," said he, "take thine eye out of thy head!"[23] And so it came to pass; for a pet crane plucked his eye out of his head, so that it was on his cheek as he was going home. The bailiff came straightway with the servant, and they did obeisance to Ciaran, and he offered the mill with all its land to Ciaran for the healing of the lad. Ciaran laid his palm on the eye and put it in its place, and he made the sign of the cross upon it so that it became sound.

    When he finished the grinding of the corn, four full sacks of consecrated wheat were there, by the grace of God and of Ciaran. When he reached his house with the wheat he made cakes for the elders. Now these cakes were the best ever given to them; for from the time when the mystic manna was received yonder by the sons of Israel, there was not received the like of that food. For in this wise was it, with the taste of every food of excellence, [both bread and flesh, and of every excellent drink][24] both wine and mead; so that it filled and healed all of them. For every man in sickness who was in the whole city, whosoever ate any of it was whole forthwith.

    The elders did not observe the nocturn that night until prime on the morrow.

    When Findian asked of Ciaran regarding the miracle that had taken place, Ciaran related from beginning to [end][24] how the mill and the land with its implements, or its men, had been offered to him as a gift; "and there for thee, Findian, is all that land," said Ciaran. Then did Findian give his blessing fervently to Ciaran; ut dixit Findian--

    Ciaran my little heart, whom for holiness I love, Princely lands shall be thy part, favour, dearest, from above.

    Ciaran, famous all around! wealth and wisdom on thee pour! So may, in thy Church renowned, knowledge grow yet more and more.

    Now this blessing was given fervently to Ciaran through his great love and spiritual exaltation.[25] So that there he left half of the charity, and the nobility, and the wisdom, among the men of Ireland to Ciaran and his monastery. Moreover Ciaran left wealth to him and to his monastery, so that thence is the wealth of Findian.

    That corn sufficed for the congregation of Findian for forty days with their nights; and a third part of it was stored up for sick folk, for it would heal every malady, and neither mouse nor worm dared to destroy it. [It endured a long time][26] until it turned at last to clay. And every disease for which it was given would be healed.

    XXV.

    THE STORY OF CLUAIN

    19. One day when Ciaran was collecting a band of reapers, there met him a youth named Cluain. "Help us at the reaping to-morrow," said Ciaran. "I will," said Cluain. But when Cluain went home he said to his folk, "Should one come from Ciaran for me," said he, "say that I am sick." When this was told to the lad who went to summon Cluain, he reported it to Ciaran. When Ciaran heard it he laughed, and he understood that Cluain was practising deception, for he was a prophet of God in truth. Now when the folk of Cluain went to awake him, thus they found him, without life. Sorely did his folk bewail him, and there came the people of the neighbourhood to ask them the cause of their weeping. "Cluain," said they, "went to his bed in health, and now he is dead; and Ciaran hath slain him with his word, for that he went not to reap for him." All those people go to Ciaran to intercede with him for the raising again of the dead: "we shall all," said they, "reap for thee, and we shall give our labour and our service to thee and to God for ever, if thou raise the dead for us." Then said Ciaran to his servant: "Rise," said he, "and take my staff with thee to the dead, and make the sign of the cross with the staff on his breast, and speak this quatrain--

    Cluain did say He would reap with me today; Living, by a dread disease, Dead within his house he lay."

    Then Cluain arose forthwith and went with speed to Ciaran. "A blessing on thee, holy Ciaran," said he, "good is what thou hast done for me; for I am grateful to have come from the many pains of hell. Now know we the profit of obedience, and the unprofit of disobedience, and we know in what great honour the Lord and the folk of Heaven hold thee." Then he did obeisance to Ciaran, and gave him labour.

    XXVIII.

    ANECDOTES OF CLUAIN IRAIRD

    20. (a) Certain of the clerks asked of Findian which of them would lead the prayer when Findian should be no longer here. "Yonder youth [Ciaran] is he," said Findian. "Thou givest the abbacy to him above us all," said Brenainn. "It hath been given, it is given, it shall be given," said Findian. All the saints except Colum Cille were envious because of this.

    (b) Then certain of them asked which of the saints should have the greatest reward in heaven. "Mercy on us," said Ciaran, "that will be made known in our habitations on earth." Then Brenainn of Birra made a prophecy of him: "We shall take two habitations," said Brenainn, "on two streams between chief cities, and the difference that shall be between the two streams shall be the difference between the size of the cities."

    (c) When it was time for Ciaran to depart from Cluain Iraird, after learning letters and wisdom, he left the Dun Cow with Saint Ninned; but he said that her hide should come to him afterwards, and Ciaran said further, "Though many be succoured by her milk, yet there shall be more to whom her hide will give succour." And he said, "Every soul that parteth from its body from the hide of the Dun Cow shall not be pained in hell."

    (d) Findian saw a vision of him [Ciaran] and of Colum Cille, namely, two moons in the air with the colour of gold upon them. One of them went north-east over the sea, [and the other][27] over the middle of Ireland. That was Colum Cille, with the glory of his nobility and his good birth, and Ciaran with the glory of his charity and his mercy.

    XXVI.

    HOW CIARAN FREED A WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE

    21. Thereafter Ciaran went to parley with the King of Ireland, Tuathal Moel-garb, to ask him for a slave-girl that he had. Ciaran put his hand on the quern for charity, and he promised that he would serve in the place of the girl. Then Tuathal gifted the girl to God and to Ciaran, and further he gave him his kingly apparel, and Ciaran gave it forthwith to poor folk.

    XXVII.

    HOW CIARAN FREED ANOTHER WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE

    22. One time Ciaran went to ask another slave-girl of King Furbaide. Then one man gifted him a cow as an alms, another gifted him a cloak, and another a kettle. Forthwith on the same day he gave them all to poor folk; and God gifted to Ciaran three gifts yet better, a cauldron instead of the kettle, twelve robes instead of the one robe, twelve kine instead of the one cow. When the king saw that, he gave him the slave-girl.

    XXIX.

    THE PARTING OF FINDIAN AND CIARAN

    23. When the time came for Ciaran to bid farewell to his teacher, he offers to put his monastery at his service. "Nay," said Ciaran,[28] "sever not thy monastery for any save for God alone, Who hath given thee favour beyond us all." ["The monastery I give thee," said Findian.][29] Ciaran weeps, for he thought it noble of his teacher to offer him his monastery. "Well, then, let there be unity between us henceforth," said Findian, "and let him who breaketh that unity have no part in earth or in heaven." "Be it so," said Ciaran. Then Ciaran went his way; and Colum Cille uttered this testimony of him--

    A wondrous youth from us departs, Ciaran, craftsman's son; Of greed, of pride, reviling, lust, satire, he hath none.

    XXXII.

    CIARAN IN ARAN

    24. Thereafter Ciaran went to Aran to hold converse with Enda, and Enda and Ciaran saw one and the same vision--a great fruitful tree beside a river in the middle of Ireland, a-sheltering the island of Ireland, and its fruit was going over the sea that was around the island outside, and the birds of the air were coming and taking of the fruit. Ciaran went and told the vision to Enda. Said Enda, "That great tree which thou hast seen is thyself; for thou art great before God and man, and Ireland shall be full of thine honour. This island shall be protected under the shadow of thy grace, and many shall be satisfied by the grace of thy fasting and of thy prayer. Rise therefore at the word of God, and go to the shore of the stream, and found a church there."[30]

    XXXIII.

    HOW A PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED

    25. Once when he was in Aran a-drying corn in the kiln, and Lonan the Left-handed with him (one who ever was contradictious of Ciaran) they saw a ship foundering in their sight. "Methinks," said Lonan, "yonder ship shall be drowned to-day and this kiln shall be burned with the greatness of the draught." "Nay," said Ciaran, "yonder ship shall be burned, and this kiln with its corn shall be drowned."[31] And this was fulfilled; for the crew of the ship escaped, and the ship was cast on shore close to the kiln. The fire seized the kiln, and the ship is burned. A blast of wind struck the kiln and its corn into the sea, so that it was drowned, according to the word of Ciaran.

    XXXIV.

    HOW CIARAN VISITED SENAN

    26. When Ciaran left Aran a poor man met him on the way. Ciaran gives him his linen cloak, and goes to Inis Cathaig to salute Senan. That he was in one mantle only was revealed to Senan, and he went to meet him, with a linen cloak under his armpit. And he said to Ciaran, "Is it not shame," said he, "for a priest to travel without a cowl?" "Mercy on us," said Ciaran, "God will have pity [on my nakedness];[32] there is a cloak for me under the covering of mine elder."

    XLIII.

    HOW CIARAN SENT A CLOAK TO SENAN

    27. When Ciaran arrived at Cluain maccu Nois he wished to send another cloak to Senan. The cloak was laid upon the stream of the Shannon, and it travelled without being wetted to the harbour of Inis Cathaig. Said Senan to his monks, "Rise and go to the sea, and ye shall find there a guest, which bring with you, with honour and dignity." When the monks went out they found the cloak on the sea, dry, and they brought it with them to Senan, and offered an offering of thanks to the Lord. That is now called "Senan's cloak."

    XXXV.

    CIARAN IN ISEL

    28. Thereafter he went to his brethren to Isel, and Cobthach son of Brecan gave Isel to God and to Ciaran; and he lived there with his brethren. One day when he was doing his lesson outside in the field, he went to attend upon his guests, and left his book open till morning under the rain; and not a damp drop fell upon the book.

    Once Ciaran was sowing seed in Isel. A poor man came to him. Ciaran gives him a handful of the grain into his breast, and the grain was forthwith turned into gold. A chariot with its horses was gifted to Ciaran by Oengus son of Cremthann. Ciaran gave it to the poor man in exchange for the gold, and the gold turned into grain, and the field was sown with it.

    XXXVI.

    THE REMOVAL OF THE LAKE

    29. Moreover there was a lake near Isel, and country-folk and despicable people used to occupy the island that was upon it. The noise and uproar of those worthless people used to cause disturbance for the clerics. Ciaran prayed to the Lord that the island should be removed from its place, and that was done. The place where it was in the lake is still to be seen as a memorial of that miracle.

    XXXVII.

    CIARAN DEPARTS FROM ISEL

    30. As the brethren could not suffer the almsgiving of Ciaran, so great was it, and as they were envious of him, they said unto him, "Rise and depart from us," said they, "for we cannot be in the same place." Said Ciaran, "Had I been here," said he, "though this spot be lowly (Isel) in situation, it would have been high in glory and in honour." Then he said--

    Although lowly, it were high, Had not censure come me nigh; Had I not been censured so, It were high though it be low.

    Then Ciaran put his books upon a wild stag; afterwards he accompanied the wild stag wheresoever it would go. The deer went forward to Inis Aingin. He went into the island and dwelt there.

    XXXVIII.

    CIARAN IN INIS AINGIN

    31. Then his brethren came to him from every side. There was a certain archpresbyter in the island, Daniel his name. Of the British was he, and the devil incited him to be jealous of Ciaran. A royal cup with three birds of gold was given him by Ciaran as a token of forgiveness. The presbyter marvelled thereat, and repented, and did obeisance to Ciaran, and gave the island to him.

    XXXIX.

    THE COMING OF OENNA

    32. Once Ciaran was in Inis Aingin and he heard a cry in the port. He said to the brethren, "Rise and go for your future abbot." When they reached the harbour they found no man save a weak unconsecrated youth. They tell that to Ciaran. "For all that, go again for him; it is clear to me from his voice that it is he who shall be abbot after me." Thereafter the youth was brought into the island to Ciaran, and Ciaran tonsured him, and he read with him. That was Enna maccu Laigsi, a holy man, held in honour of the Lord; and it is he who was abbot after Ciaran.

    XL.

    HOW CIARAN RECOVERED HIS GOSPEL

    33. It happened that the gospel of Ciaran fell into the lake from the hand of a heedless brother, and it was a long time in the lake. Upon a day in the time of summer the kine went into the water, so that the strap of the gospel attached itself to the hoof of one of the kine, and she brought it dry [from below][33] to haven. Thence is "Port of the Gospel" in Inis Aingin. When the gospel was opened it was in this wise--white and clean, dry, without the loss of a letter, through the grace of Ciaran.

    XLI.

    HOW CIARAN WENT FROM INIS AINGIN TO CLONMACNOIS

    34. A certain man of Corco Baiscind came to Ciaran, Donnan his name, brother's son of Senan mac Gerginn; and he had the same mother as Senan. "What wouldest thou, or wherefore comest thou?" said Ciaran. "Seeking a place wherein to abide and to serve God." Ciaran left Inis Aingin to Donnan. Donnan said, "Since thou hast a charity towards me, leave me somewhat of thy tokens and of thy treasures." Ciaran leaves him his gospel--that which was recovered from the lake--and his bell, and his bearer Mael Odran. Three years and three months was Ciaran in Inis Aingin.

    He came thereafter to Ard Manntain, close to the Shannon. When he saw the beauty of that place, thus he spake: "If we dwell here," said he, "we shall have much of the wealth of the world, and there shall be few souls going to heaven from hence."

    Then he came to this town; Ard Tiprat was its name at that time. "Here will we stay, for there shall be many souls going to heaven from hence, and God and man shall visit this place for ever."

    On the eighth of the calends of February Ciaran settled in Cluain, the tenth day of the moon, a Saturday. Eight men went with him--Ciaran, Oengus, Mac Nisse, Cael-Cholum, Mo-Beoc,[34] Mo-Lioc, Lugna maccu Moga Laim, Colman mac Nuin. Wondrous was that monastery, set up by Ciaran in Cluain with his eight men after coming from the waves of the water, as Noah son of Lamech took the world with his eight after coming from the waves of the Flood.

    XLII.

    THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH

    35. Then Ciaran set up the first post in Cluain, and Diarmait mac Cerrbheil along with him. Said Ciaran to Diarmait when they were planting the post, "Warrior, suffer my hand to be over thy hand, and thou shalt be over the men of Ireland in high-kingship." "I permit it," said Diarmait, "only give me a token thereof." "I will," said Ciaran; "though thou art solitary to-day, thou shalt be King of Ireland this time to-morrow." That was verified; for Tuathal Moel-garb King of Ireland was slain that night, and Diarmait took the kingship of Ireland on the morrow, and he bestowed a hundred churches on Ciaran. Wherefore to prove that, it was said--

    I'll speak both choice and truly, although thou now art lonely, Thou shalt rule Ireland duly, after one's day's space only.

    The chosen Tuathal's slaughter, a crying without glory. Thence is it said thereafter, "That deed was of Mael-Moire."

    Without a court or slaughter, great Diarmait Uisnech lifted; A hundred fanes thereafter, to God and Ciaran gifted.

    Then was the post made fast; and Ciaran said in fixing it, "Be this," said he, "in the eye of Tren." Tren was a youth who was in the fortress of Cluain Ichtar, and who had adventured arrogance against him. Forthwith his one eye burst in his head, at the word of Ciaran.

    XLIV.

    CIARAN AND THE WINE

    36. One day the brethren were sore athirst, while they were reaping in Cluain. They send a messenger to the cleric, that water be brought to them in the field. Then Ciaran said, "If to-day they would endure thirst, it would procure great riches of the world for the brethren who would come after them." "Truly," said the brethren, "we prefer to exercise patience, whereby profit will be secured for ourselves, and advantage to the brethren who follow us; rather than to have satisfaction of our thirst to-day."

    A cask full of wine was brought from the land of the Franks to the steading, to Ciaran, in reward for their patience; and a fragment of that cask remained here till recently.

    When the evening was come, Ciaran blessed a vessel full of water, and it was changed to choice wine, and was divided among the monks; so that there was no feast that excelled that feast. For the folk of Colum Cille came from I, after a long time, to this city. A feast was prepared for them, and it was noised abroad through the whole city that never before or since was there a feast its equal. Then an aged man who was in the house of the elders said, "I know," said he, "a feast that was better than this feast. Better was the feast that Ciaran made for his monks when they were sore athirst,[35] so that he changed water into wine for them. That it be no story without proof for you," said the elder, "it was myself who divided that wine, and my thumb would go over the edge of the cup into the wine. Come and perceive now the savour of my thumb, which then was dipped into the wine." They came and were all satisfied with the savour of that finger. And they said, "Better," said they, "than any feast was that feast of which the savour remains after a long time on a finger. A blessing," said they, "on Ciaran and a blessing on the Lord Who allotted every good thing to him."

    XLV.

    THE STORY OF CRITHIR

    37. Crichid [sic] of Cluain, a servant of Ciaran, went to Saigir and stayed there a long time. The devil tempted him to quench the sacred fire which the monks had in the kitchen. Said Ciaran of Saigir, that he would not eat food till there should come guests who would bring him fire. Crichid then went from them a short distance outside the city, and wolves slew him, but did not injure his body. When Ciaran the wright's son heard of the death of his attendant, he went to Ciaran of Saigir to seek for him. When he arrived, Ciaran of Saigir said, "First of all ye need water for your feet; but we have no fire to heat water for you. Let you as guests give us fire, for God hath decreed this for you." Then Ciaran the wright's son raised his hands to heaven, and made fervent prayer. When the prayer was finished, there came fire from heaven, and rested on his breast. He protected his breast from the fire, and carried it with him to the monastery. He cast from him the fire on to the floor, and it did not hurt so much as the fur of the robe of white linen which he was wearing.

    Then he revived his servant who had died before that, and he ate food with them. The two Ciarans then made a covenant together. "The wealth of the world," said Ciaran son of the wright, "be in great Saigir." "Knowledge and dignity incorruptible be in Cluain maccu Nois," said Ciaran of Saigir.

    XLIX.

    THE DEATH OF CIARAN

    38. The soul of Ciaran was not more than seven months in this town before he went to heaven, on the ninth day of September. When Ciaran knew that the day of his death was drawing nigh, he made a prophecy with great sorrow. He said that great would be the persecution of his city from evil men towards the end of the world. "What then shall we do in the time of that crime?" said the monks; "is it by thy relics we shall stay, or shall we go elsewhere?" "Rise," said Ciaran, "and leave my relics as the bones of a deer are left in the sun. For it is better for you to live with me in heaven than to stay here with my relics."

    When the time of his death was near to Saint Ciaran in the Little Church, in the thirty-third year of his age, on the fifth of the ides of September as regards the solar month, on Saturday as regards the day of the week, on the eighteenth day as regards the moon, he said, "Let me be carried out to the Little Height," said he. And when he looked at heaven, and the height of air above his head, he said, "Awful is this road upward." "Not for thee is it awful," said the monks. "Truly, I know not," said he, "any of the commandments of God which I have transgressed: yet even David son of Jesse, and Paul the apostle, dreaded this way."

    Then the stone pillow was taken from him, to ease him. "Nay," said he, "put it under my shoulder. Qui enim perseuerauerit usque in finem, hic saluus erit." Then angels filled the space between heaven and earth to receive his soul.

    He was brought afterward into the Little Church, and he raised his hand and blessed his folk, and said to the brethren to shut the church upon him till Coemgen should come from Glenn da Locha.

    L.

    THE VISIT OF COEMGEN

    39. When Coemgen came after three days, he received no full courtesy at first from the clerics, as they were in great sadness after their head. Said Coemgen to them, "Let a doleful countenance be upon you continually!" said he. Then fear took hold of the elders, and they did the will of Coemgen, and opened the Little Church to him. The spirit of Ciaran went at once to heaven,[36] and he returned again into his body to converse with Coemgen, and welcomed him. From one canonical hour to the next they were there in converse, and making a covenant. Thereafter Ciaran blessed Coemgen, and Coemgen blessed water and made a communion with Ciaran. And Ciaran gave his bell to Coemgen as a sign of their league and as a fee for their communion. That is what is now called the Boban of Coemgen.

    LII.

    THE ENVY OF THE SAINTS

    40. The saints of Ireland were envious of Ciaran for his excellence, and they put their trust in the King of Heaven that his life might be shortened. So great was their envy against him that even his comrade Colum Cille said, "Blessed be God," said he, "Who hath taken Saint Ciaran. For had he lived to old age, there would not have been the place of two chariot-horses found in Ireland that would not have been his."

    LIII.

    A PANEGYRIC ON CIARAN

    41. Here then is Ciaran with the eight men whom I have mentioned, and many thousands of saints besides. Here are the relics of Paul and Peter, which Benen and Cumlach left in the hollow tree here. Here are the relics of the blind boy, the disciple of Peca. Here is the shrine of the guest Peca, whom a certain devout man saw borne by angels to the burial of Ciaran. There were three wonders here that night: the guest-house being without fire, without guest, without prayer, for Peca was sufficient of fire, and guest, and prayer.

    There is not one to relate completely what God wrought of signs and wonders for this holy Ciaran; for they are more than can be told or mentioned. For after the coming of Christ in the flesh there was not one born greater in almsgiving and mercy, greater in labour and fasting and prayer, greater in humility and fervour of good-will, greater in courtesy and mildness, greater in care for the Church of God, greater in daily labour and in nightly vigil.

    He it is who never put tasty food or heady drink into his body, from the time when he embraced the religious life. He it is who never drank milk or ale, till a third of it was water. He it is who never ate bread, till a third part of sand was mixed with it. He it is who never slept save with his side on the bare ground. Beneath his head was never aught save a stone for a pillow. Next his skin never came flaxen or woollen stuff.

    A man with choice voluntary full offerings to the Lord, like Abel son of Adam. A man with zealous entreaties to God, like Enoch son of Jared. A steersman full-sufficient for the ark of the Church among the waves of the world, like Noah son of Lamech. A true pilgrim with strength of faith and belief, like Abraham son of Terah. A man loving, gentle, forgiving of heart, like Moses son of Amram. A man patient and steadfast in enduring suffering and trouble, like suffering Job. A psalmist full-tuneful, full-delightful to God, like David son of Jesse. A dwelling of true wisdom and knowledge like Solomon son of David. A rock immovable whereon is founded the Church, like Peter the apostle. A chief universal teacher and a chosen vessel for proclaiming truth, like Paul the apostle. A man full of the grace of the Holy Spirit and of chastity, like John the breast-fosterling.

    A man full of likeness in many ways to Jesus Christ the Head of all things. For this man made wine of water for his folk and his guests in this city, as Jesus made choice wine of water at the feast of Cana of Galilee. This man is called "son of the wright," as Christ is called "Son of the wright" in the Gospel (hic est Filius fabri, that is, of Joseph). Thirty-three years in the age of this man, as there are thirty-three years in the age of Christ. This man arose after three days in his bed in Cluain to converse with and to comfort Coemgen, as Christ arose after three days from the grave in Jerusalem, to comfort and strengthen His mother and His disciples.

    So for these good things, and for many others, is his soul among the folk of heaven. His remains and relics are here with honour and renown, with daily wonders and miracles. And though great is his honour just now in this manner, greater shall be his honour in the holy incorruptible union of his body and his soul in the great assembly of Judgment, when Saint Ciaran shall be judge of the fruit of his labour along with Christ Whom he served. So shall he be in the great assembly, in the unity of holy fathers and prophets, in the unity of apostles and disciples of the Saviour Jesus Christ, in the unity of the nine grades of angels that have transgressed not, in the unity of the Godhead and Manhood of the Son of God, in the unity nobler than every other unity, the Unity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    I beseech the mercy of the Lofty Omnipotent God, by the intercession of Saint Ciaran, that we may reach that unity. May we dwell there, in saecula saeculorum!

    [Footnote 1: Following the reading cordus in the Leabhar Breac text of the Homily from which this section is an extract, instead of the unintelligible comhlud of the MSS. of the Life.]

    [Footnote 2: This Latin extract in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 3: In this paragraph the less corrupt Brussels text is followed. In the original the Latin passages, here printed consecutively, are interspersed sentence by sentence with the Irish translation here rendered into English.]

    [Footnote 4: This is the apparent sense of the passage: the MSS. are here corrupt.]

    [Footnote 5: Only the first two words of this extract in the Lismore MS. The Brussels MS. erroneously repeats reg[i]mina after Diuulgata.]

    [Footnote 6: The last two words in the Brussels MS. only, which also adds "of the Elements" after "Lord," two lines further down.]

    [Footnote 7: Following the Brussels MS.: the Lismore text is here again corrupt.]

    [Footnote 8: The bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 9: The bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 10: The bracketed words represent the sense of a passage that has evidently dropped out of the MSS.]

    [Footnote 11: Sic MSS.: we should read "Iustus."]

    [Footnote 12: The Lismore text is slightly imperfect in this paragraph: it is completed with the aid of the Brussels MS.]

    [Footnote 13: This represents the sense of a passage that must have dropped out.]

    [Footnote 14: Ut dixit and the stanza following in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 15: Bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 16: In Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 17: Emending the dia fhoglaim of the text ("as he was learning") to dia fhognam.]

    [Footnote 18: These words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 19: "Apostle" in the Brussels MS.]

    [Footnote 20: From "as is verified" to the end of the stanza in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 21: The Lismore MS. is here illegible: the rendering follows the Brussels MS.]

    [Footnote 22: The Lismore MS. is here illegible: the translation follows the Brussels MS.]

    [Footnote 23: The Brussels MS. adds "and may it be on thy cheek as thou goest to thy house."]

    [Footnote 24: Bracketed words represent the sense of a passage evidently lost from the MSS.]

    [Footnote 25: Literally "intoxication."]

    [Footnote 26: In Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 27: The bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 28: The MSS. read "Findian."]

    [Footnote 29: These words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 30: In this incident again it is necessary to follow the Brussels MS. in places, as the Lismore MS. is corrupt and unintelligible.]

    [Footnote 31: Literally "'tis a drowning that shall drown this kiln."]

    [Footnote 32: These words in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 33: In Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 34: This name in the Brussels MS. only.]

    [Footnote 35: Here the Brussels MS. is corrupt.]

    [Footnote 36: Sic MSS. We should read "came from heaven,"]
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