Uinniau, ‘Ninian’ and the Early Church in Scotland

James E. Fraser

in From Caledonia to Pictland Scotland to 795

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780748612314
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672158 | DOI:
Uinniau, ‘Ninian’ and the Early Church in Scotland

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Beginning in 542, as the Byzantine Roman eyewitness Procopius observed, ‘there was a pestilence, by which the whole human race came near to annihilation’. In approximately 550, according to Irish chronicles, the pestilential terror claimed Ciarán, the young abbot of Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon in Offaly, a monastery he had founded in the previous year. In the year of Ciarán's death the young St Columba, some five years younger than the stricken abbot, was studying the scriptures in Ireland. His name, according to later tradition, was Crimthann. In the pestilential 540s, Crimthann studied in Leinster, as well as under the moral theologian Uinniau. Over a span of thirty-four years Columba founded a number of monasteries in voluntary exile. Adomnán calls him ‘father and founder of monasteries’. One of these foundations lay on the little Hebridean island of Í, known today as Iona.

Keywords: Ciarán; St Columba; Crimthann; pestilence; monasticism; Iona

Chapter.  10522 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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