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Fintan Munnu

(d. 635)


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St Comgall (d. c. 600)

St Columba (c. 521—597) monastic founder

 

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(d. 635),

abbot of Taghmon (Wexford). The son of Talchan of the Ui Neill clan, Fintan was trained in monastic life under Comgall of Bangor, under Sinell at Cleenish on Lough Erne, and in one of Columba's monasteries at Kilmore. This was the regime he liked best, so he decided to join Columba at Iona. When he arrived (597), Columba had just died; his successor, Baithene, refused to receive him as a monk, claiming an instruction from Columba soon before his death that Munnu was coming but should not be any abbot's monk, but rather an abbot himself. Accordingly Fintan returned to Ireland and founded the monastery of Taghmon, which soon became famous enough for its founder to be mentioned in the Lives of Canice, Mochua, and Molua.

Towards the end of his life Fintan took part in the synod of Magh Lene, at which he strenuously defended the Iona calculation of Easter, opposing Laserian and others, whose views ultimately prevailed, bringing Ireland into line with the rest of western Europe in this matter. Fintan suffered from a skin disease, probably leprosy. Hagiographers did not claim that he cured this by miracle, but that he voluntarily prayed to be afflicted by it, so that he could at least equal the merit and the heavenly reward of Molua. There is a cult in Scotland based on a series of dedications of local churches to him. These may be due to disciples or to a saint of similar name. He is sometimes identified with the Scottish saint Mundus. Feast: 21 October.

Latin Lives in W. W. Heist, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (1965), 198–209 and V.S.H., ii. 226–39;A. O. and M. O. Anderson, Adomnan's Life of Columba (1961), 206–15; K.S.S., pp. 414–16; The Irish Saints, pp. 174–7.

Subjects: Christianity.


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