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John Colgan

(c. 1592—1658) hagiographer


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(?1592–1658), hagiographer. Born near Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, he entered the Franciscan Order at St Anthony's College in Louvain about 1618, before going to Germany. Returning to Louvain he became closely involved in 1635 in the Franciscan scheme of compiling a series of publications on the ecclesiastical history of Ireland. Fr. Hugh Ward (d. ?1634) [see Mac an Bhaird] and Fr. Patrick Fleming (d. 1631) had already done most of the groundwork, but Colgan undertook the task of editing the collections of manuscript material in Louvain. In 1645 Colgan published Acta Sanctorum Veteris et Maioris Scotiae seu Hiberniae, Sanctorum Insulae, on the saints whose feast-days fell in the period 1 January–30 March. The lives of Patrick, Brigit, and Colum Cille formed the subject of a second substantial volume, Triadis Thaumaturgae (1647). He was put in charge of the Franciscan colleges at Louvain, Prague, and Viehen, but he completed a study of Duns Scotus, Tractatus de vita, scriptis Johannis Scoti (1655), claiming Scotus as Irish. Colgan's work drew attention to the scholarship and piety of the early centuries of Christianity in Ireland, and to the richness and detail of Irish ecclesiastical records.

From The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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