Finnian, Ss.

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The name of several Irish saints, of whom two are important.

Finnian of Clonard, abbot; b. Leinster, Ireland;d.549, Annals of Ulster. Finnian, or Finian, was one of the most important personalities in early Irish monastic history, he studied in Leinster before going to Wales, where he visited several important Welsh monasteries. Upon returning to Ireland, he made his principal foundation at Clonard (three miles east of Kinnegad on the Dublin-Galway road), one of the first great Irish monasteries. It combined Irish and Welsh monastic traditions and teachings. From Clonard, monastic enthusiasm spread throughout Ireland. Finnian's students included such Irish saints and monastic founders as columba of iona, brendan, Kieran of Clonmacnois, and kenneth of derry. Finnian is the author of the oldest of the surviving Irish penitentials, compiled sometime after 525.

Feast: Dec. 12.

Finnian of Moville, abbot; b. north of Ireland; d. 579, Annals of Ulster, or 576, Annals of Inisfallen. After having studied at the famous Scottish priory of whithorn, founded by St. ninian, he made his own principal foundation at Moville, near Newtownards on Strangford Lough, Ireland. Surviving evidence presents Finnian who is sometimes known also as Findbarr, both names meaning "fair-haired"as a notable scholar. There are chronological difficulties in the belief that he taught columba of iona, and there appears to be no real historical basis for the legend that the two saints quarreled over a stolen copy of the Psalter.

Feast: Sept. 10.

Bibliography: Finnian of Clonard. j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: v.1, Ecclesiastical (New York 1929) 374376. p. grosjean, "Mention de S. Finnián de clúain Iraird , " Analecta Bollandiana 72 (1954) 347352. The Irish Life of Saint Finnian of Clonard, ed. e. hickey (Tara 1996). k. w. hughes, "S. Finnian of Clonard," summary of thesis, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 25 (1952) 7678; "The Cult of St. F. of Clonard , " Irish Historical Studies 9 (195455) 1327; "The Historical Value of the Lives of St. F. of Clonard," English Historical Review 69 (1954) 353372; "The Offices of St. F. of Clonard , " Analecta Bollandiana 73 (1955) 342372; "Additional Note on the Office of St. F. of Clonard," ibid. 75 (1957) 337339. A tr. of Finnian's penitential in j. t. mc neill and h. m. gamer, Medieval Handbooks of Penance (New York 1938) 8697. Finnian of Moville. j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: v.1, Ecclesiastical (New York 1929) 390391. o. davies, "Movilla Abbey," Ulster Journal of Archaeology 8 (1945) 3338. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:531532. For the legend of the quarrel with Columba, d. d. c. pochin mould, The Irish Saints (Dublin 1964) 9597, 169171.

[d. d. c. pochin mould]