St Finnian of Moville

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Irish Abbot and bishop. He is sometimes called Finbar. This sixth century saint is said to have been an Ulsterman, from the royal race of Dal Fiatach. He was educated at Dromore and then Whithorn in Galloway. He was probably ordained in Rome, before returning to Ireland, bringing with him a manuscript of a Latin biblical text.

Finnian founded a monastery at Dromin in Louth, and another at Moville in County Down where a great school grew. He became famous as a scholar and teacher. Finnian's most distinguished pupil at Moville was Columba.

Tradition has it that Columba's surreptitious copying of a psalter led eventually to his exile on Iona. What remains of the copy is housed in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The casket that contained it is now in the National Museum of Ireland. It is known as the Cathach of St Columba, Cathach, or Battler, and was sometimes carried by the O'Donnells in battle.