We begin the month of April with the culminating observances of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. The Lenten liturgical color of violet gives way to white for Holy Thursday, red for Good Friday, and white for Easter and the Easter season. It is hoped that many Hibernians will be able to participate really, not just virtually, in the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. The Sunday following Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, so designated by Pope Saint John Paul II, building upon the mystical experiences of the Polish contemplative nun, Faustina Kowalska (d. 1938).
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF APRIL
|April 4||Easter Sunday||Solemnity|
|April 11||2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)||Solemnity|
|April 21||Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church|
|April 23||George, Martyr|
|April 29||Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor||Memorial|
|April 25||Pius V, Pope||Memorial|
IRISH SAINTS OF APRIL
April 4 Tigernach, Bishop (d. 549)
St. Tigernach (or Tierney) was baptized by St. Conleth of Kildare; St. Brigid may have been his godmother. One might say that St. Tigernach suffered the fate of St. Patrick in reverse: as a boy, he was kidnapped from Ireland by raiders from Britain. A British king gave him his freedom. After spending some time at the monastery of Rosnat in Scotland, he embarked upon a pilgrimage to Rome, returning thence to Ireland. He was consecrated bishop at Clogher and lived at his monastic foundation at Clones, County Monaghan. Tigernach became blind in his old age and spent his time in contemplative prayer.
April 7 Celsus, Archbishop of Armagh (1079-1129)
Celsus (Ceallach mac Aedha) was a member of a family in which the see of Armagh had become hereditary. Like many of his predecessors, he was a layman when chosen to succeed to the archbishopric in 1105, at the age of 26. Upon consecration, he proved to be a model bishop, conducting visitations, conserving the temporalities of the see, and restoring discipline. He held a great synod at Rath Breasail, at which he sought to enforce liturgical reforms and a new organization of the diocese. Celsus met considerable resistance to these measures. He is said to have rebuilt the cathedral of Armagh. He suffered from depredations carried out by the O’Briens and the O’Rourkes and was called upon at times to mediate among warring chiefs. Celsus was supported by St. Malachy in his efforts. At his death, Celsus broke the tradition of hereditary succession by nominating Malachy to succeed him. He is buried at Lismore. Some calendars place his feast on April 1.
April 10 Paternus of Abdinghof (d.1058)
St. Paternus was probably an Irishman, whose sojourning on the Continent brought him to Westphalia. There he entered the monastery of Abdinghof founded by St. Meinwerk. He adopted the life of a walled-up hermit. From his hermitage, he predicted the destruction of the city by fire unless the inhabitants repented. The fire came to pass; Paternus was among its victims. The Gregorian reformer St. Peter Damian was very impressed by St. Paternus.
April 15 Ruadan of Lothra, Abbot (d.c. 584)
This saint was born in western Leinster. He was a disciple of St. Finian of Clonard. In Tipperary, he founded a monastery at Lothra and served as its abbot. Beyond these details, much of what comes down to us about him is considered unreliable.
April 17 Donnan and his Companions, Martyrs (d. 618)
St. Donnan was one of the many Irish who followed St. Columba to Iona. Later, with 52 companions, he founded a monastery on the island of Eigg, in the Inner Hebrides. Robbers descended upon the place during the Easter liturgy in 618. The monks were permitted to finish and then murdered. Though robbery is cited as the motive, a story also recounts that the crime was instigated by a woman resentful of the loss of sheep pasturage to the foundation. A St. Donnan’s Well survives on Eigg, as well as several Scottish churches named for him.
April 18 Laserian, Abbot and Bishop of Leighlin (d.639)
Also known as Laisren or Molaisse, the early life of this saint is poorly documented. He may have spent several years at Iona, and then went to Rome, where he was ordained by Pope Gregory the Great. Later, he appears at Leighlin, in a monastery run by its founder, St. Goban. At a local synod held at White Fields, St. Laserian was notable as a defender of the Roman usages for Easter, as opposed to the Celtic usages still prevalent in Ireland. The synod could not reach agreement, and Laserian was sent to Rome with a deputation to seek the Pope’s assistance in settling the matter. There, Pope Honorius consecrated him bishop and named him legate for Ireland. Upon his return to Ireland, the saint seems to have settled the Easter controversy, at least in southern Ireland. Upon the resignation of St. Goban, Laserian assumed the abbacy at Leighlin, an office which he held until his death.
April 21 Malrubius, Abbot (d. 722)
Also known as Maelrubha, this saint became a monk at St. Comgall’s monastery at Bangor, County Down. At the age of 29, he went to Scotland, likely spending some time at Iona before going to the mainland. He established a church and monastery at Applecross in Ross, which served as his base of operations for the remainder of his life. He preached to the Picts, extending his reach to the Isle of Skye. The coast of Scotland between Applecross and Loch Broom contains a number of places named after him. An island in Loch Maree contains a spring dedicated to him which till recent times was sought for its healing properties, especially for insanity. The saint ruled as abbot at Applecross for 51 years, dying at the age of 80, though some accounts say he was martyred. His tomb is pointed out nearby.
April 23 Ibar, Bishop of Beggery (5th century)
Few reliable details are known of this man. He was likely a disciple of St. Patrick. He ran a famous monastic school on the island of Beggery (Beg-Eire) and is reputed to have lived to a great age.
April 27 Asicus, Bishop of Elphin (d.c. 470)
Also known as Tassach, this saint was a disciple of St. Patrick, a monk, and probably the first bishop of Elphin. He was said to have been a skilled brass worker or coppersmith, and also a married man. He resigned his see–accounts vary as to the reason–and retired to solitude on the island of Rathlin O’Birne in Donegal Bay for seven years. His monks eventually tracked him down. They tried to bring him back to his see, but he died on the way.
April 27 Maughold, Bishop of Man (d.c. 498)
Of Maughold, also known as Maccul, we know only what is found in some early lives of St. Patrick, who converted him from a life of crime and violence. To free him from association with his former companions, St. Patrick imposed exile from Ireland as a penance. He is said to have set off alone in a coracle without rudder or oars, finding his way to the Isle of Man. There, he was welcomed by two missionaries sent there by Patrick. From that time he led an austere and penitential life. He was chosen bishop over the Manx, possibly by acclamation and succeeded in evangelizing many there.
April 28 Cronan of Roscrea, Abbot (d.c. 626)
Cronan came from what is now County Offaly. He first entered monastic life at Puayd. He practiced the unusual charity of building houses which he then vacated to provide a home for any anchorite who needed one. He is said to have built about fifty, taking nothing with him when he left. St. Cronan is probably the founder of monasteries in Offaly at Lusmag and Monahincha, near Roscrea. By the bog of Monela, near Senross, he built himself a cell, where he spent the remainder of his life.
April 30 Forannan, Abbot (d.c. 982)
Forannan is said to have occupied an Irish bishopric at Domhnach-Mor, which cannot be identified. He is reported to have embarked for the Continent with twleve companions on the basis of a dream, in which an angel showed him a beautiful valley to which he was supposed to travel. Forannan concluded that the abbey of Waulsort on the Meuse was the placed pointed out to him. He was apparently appointed abbot in 962.
Forannan spent some time later at the abbey of Gorze in Lorraine on a trip back from Rome. There, he was seeking instruction in the Rule of St. Benedict, which Waulsort had either abandoned or never embraced. He succeeded in reforming the relaxed practices that had developed at Waulsort, and also persuaded the local nobles to observe the Truce of God in regard to all pilgrims visiting the abbey.
DEVELOPMENTS OF INTEREST:
–Numerous incidents have emerged over the past few months of Catholic individuals and groups facing censorship on social media. Some of these are likely attributable to algorithms not working as intended; in other incidents, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the bias is intentional. On January 24, Catholic World Report found its Twitter account suspended after tweeting a news item describing Dr. Rachel Levine, the President’s appointee as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, as “a biological man identified as a transgender woman.” Twitter at first stood by the action, citing rules against hateful content, then reversed itself, with no explanation other than that an error had been made.
–As chronicled here, The U.S. Catholic bishops have been sounding the alarm about the threats to religious liberty and free speech, among other things, which the Equality Act represents. The measure has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives If you would like to send a message to your Senators regarding it, check the bishops’ website: www.usccb.org, click on “Issues and Actions,” then “Contact Public Officials.”
–The Catholic bishops of Ireland are concerned about a bill currently wending its way through the legislative process that would legalize the procedure. The Dail passed the bill in October, 81-71. It is backed by Sinn Fein, the Social Democrats, and the Labour Party. Besides the Catholic bishops, many Irish medical professionals and advocates for better palliative care for the elderly and terminally ill have expressed reservations about the act.
[Sources consulted for this report include: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, complete edition, ed. and rev. by Herbert Thurston and Donald Attwater; 4 vols. (New York, 1956); The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite (New York, 1975); The National Catholic Register; ewtn.com; catholic.org; priestsforlife.org.]
Patrick J. Lally