(c. 525—600)

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Finnian (d. 549)

St Adomnán (c. 624—704) abbot of Iona and writer


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Irish abbot. Born the son of a bard in Co. Derry, he was educated by Finnian at Clonard, and became a friend of Columba, whom Adomnan mentioned several times. When plague scattered his community of Glasnevin, he went to Llancarvan in Wales for a time but returned to Ireland, where he founded monasteries in the north and the south, the principal one being Aghaboe in Laois, which became the most important church of Ossory. Other foundations included Drumahose in Derry and Cluain Bronig in Offaly.

In Scotland his principal church was Inchkenneth in Mull; other churches which bear his name include Kilchennich in Tiree, Kilchainie in South Uist, and the abbey of Cambuskenneth. He visited Columba at Iona fairly frequently; both a church and a cemetery were dedicated to him there.

Like other Irish monastic saints Canice lived as a hermit for certain periods of his life, enjoying close communion with nature and with wild animals, especially on deserted islands. Stories told of him include his expulsion of mice for nibbling his shoes and his admonition to the birds to cease their noise on Sundays. He also copied books in solitude, especially a manuscript of the Four Gospels. He was on occasion an effective preacher and he told Columba that this was due to divine illumination.

His journeys in Scotland include one with Columba to King Brude at Inverness; some churches in Kintyre and Fife also claimed to be founded by him. Feast: 11 October, in R.M., Scottish and Irish calendars.

AA.SS. Oct. V (1786), 624–6, J. F. Kenney, Sources for the Early History of Ireland, i. 305–7, 394–5, 437–9;K.S.S., pp. 295–7;C. Plummer, V.S.H., i. 152–69;The Irish Saints (1964), pp. 52–6;A. O. and M. O. Anderson, Adomnan's Life of Columba (1961).

Subjects: Christianity.

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