St. Fursey

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XI

About the same period, St. Fursey founded a monastery near Burgh Castle, in Suffolk, where he was kindly received by Sigbert, King of the East Angles. From thence he proceeded to Lagny, in France, where his missionary zeal was long remembered. His brothers, St. Foillan and St. Altan, were his constant companions. St. Fursey died on the 16th January, 650, at Macerius. His remains were subsequently translated to Peronne, in Picardy. The evangelic labours of many of his Irish disciples, are matter of history in the Gallic Church. It is said that the fame of the Irish for their skill in music, was so well known on the Continent at this period, that St. Gertrude, daughter of King Pepin, and Abbess of Nivelle, in Brabant, invited the brothers of St. Fursey to instruct her community in sacred music. They complied with her request, and soon alter erected a monastery at Fosse, near Nivelle. Nor were the Scoti without their missionary martyrs, amongst whom the great

St. Kilian holds a distinguished place. The spirit of devotion to the Holy See seems almost to be an heirloom in the little island of the western sea. True to the instincts of his native land, the martyr-saint would not undertake his mission in Franconia, great as was its necessity, until he knelt at the feet of the Vicar of Christ to obtain his permission and blessing. Thus fortified, he commenced his glorious race, so happily crowned with the martyr's palm. His bold rebuke of the open scandal given by the conduct of the ruling prince, was the immediate cause of his obtaining this favour. St. Kilian was assassinated at midnight, while singing the Divine Office, with two of his faithful companions. Their remains were interred in the church of Wurtzberg, where St. Kilian is still revered as its patron and apostle.

We can but name St. Mailduf, from whom Malmsbury has been named; St. Livin, who converted the inhabitants of Flanders and Brabant; St. Cataldus and his brother, St. Donatus, the former patron of the metropolitan see of Tarentum, and whose name is still preserved in the little town of San Cataldo, the latter Bishop of Lecce, in the kingdom of Naples, and both famous for miracles and sanctity of life; St. Virgilius, called in the ancient annals "Ferghil the Geometer," and by Latin writers Solivagus,[5] or the "solitary wanderer," who died Bishop of Saltzburg, distinguished for literary fame; St. Fridolin, "the traveller," son of an Irish king, who evangelized Thuringia, and was appointed by the Pope Bishop of Buraburgh, near Fritzlar, in the year 741; St. Sedulius the younger, who wrote commentaries on Holy Scripture, and assisted at a council held in Rome, in the year 721, under Gregory II. It is noticeable that this saint was consecrated Bishop of Oreto, in Spain, while in Rome. When he entered on the mission thus confided to him, he wrote a treatise to prove that, being Irish, he was of Spanish descent; thus showing that at this period the idea of a Milesian origin was common to men of learning in Ireland.[6]


[5] Solivagus.—Four Masters, p. 391.

[6] Ireland.—The elder Sedulius, whose hymns are even now used by the Church, lived in the fifth century. The hymn, A solis ortis cardine, and many others, are attributed to him.