Fursey (Furseus), St.

views updated


Irish missionary; b. near Lough Corrib, Ireland, possibly on the island Inisquin in that lake; d. Diocese of Amiens, France, c. 650. He became a religious and founded a monastery in the Diocese of Tuam (Cill Fursa) to which recruits came from all Ireland. Later he traveled in England and founded a monastery at Burgh Castle near Yarmouth. Between 640 and 644, having been driven out of England by Penda, he went to Gaul. There King Clovis II gave him land near Paris where he built a monastery at lagny-sur-marne. At one time he served as vicar of the Diocese of Paris. He died while traveling in the Diocese of Amiens, and his remains were taken to Peronne, France; they were found incorrupt many years later. Fursey enjoyed great literary fame in the Middle Ages because of his celebrated visions (see vision (dream) literature). These were first reported by bede (Histoire Ecclesiastique. 3.19) and by aelfric grammaticus, but the Latin vitae also devote much space to his mystical experiences.

Feast: Jan. 16 (Diocese of Northampton and throughout Ireland).

Bibliography: j. colgan, The Acta sanctorum Hiberniae (Louvain 1645; repr. Dublin 1948) 7598. Acta Sanctorum Jan. 2:399419. Monumenta Germaniae Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum (Berlin 1825) 4:423449. w. stokes, Three Months in the Forests of France: A Pilgrimage in Search of Vestiges of the Irish Saints in France (London 1895); ed. and tr., "The Life of Fursa," Revue Celtique 25 (1904) 385404. Nova legenda Anglie, ed. c. horstmann, 2 v. (Oxford 1901) v.1. c. s. boswell, An Irish Precursor of Dante (London 1908) 166169. j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: v.1, Ecclesiastical (New York 1929) 500503. l. gougaud, Gaelic Pioneers of Christianity, tr. v. collins (Dublin 1923) 1719.

[r. t. meyer]