St Finnian of Clonard

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Abbot. St Finnian is one of the most outstanding saints of Ireland after St Patrick. Born in Leimster, during the fifth century, after his education at Idrone, Co Carlow, he established three religious communities at Rossacurra, Drumfea and Kilmaglush. He then went to Wales to study the traditional monasticism of David, Cadoc and Gilda. When he returned to Ireland he established foundations at Aghowle, Co Wicklow and Mufna Sulcain. He then went on to the most important achievement of his life, the foundation of Clonard in Co Meath. Here he is said to have gathered 3,000 disciples.

Finnian was known as the Master or teacher of the Saints of Ireland. Many of his students went on to become celebrated religious leaders. They included Saints Brendan the Voyager, Columba and Ciaran. When the monks left Clonard they would carry a gospel book, crozier and reliquary round which they built their churches. Finnian died of the plague on this day in 549.

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