Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Bishops of Kildare in the Early Middle Ages

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xvii, at p. 144 and following:

The see of Kildare seems indebted for its foundation to the celebrated nunnery established by St. Bridget in this place. The sanctity of this holy virgin and the excellence of her institute attracted hither vast multitudes so that it became very extensive and, in time, Kildare became a large and populous town. Hence arose a necessity for episcopal functions and thus St. Bridget was induced to make application for the appointment of a bishop. Her request was listened to and Conlaeth a person of retirement and sanctity was selected. He led for many years an ascetic life in a solitary spot on the banks of the Liffey. Conlaeth was consecrated about the year 490 and it would appear that this ceremony was conducted with more than usual magnificence as it was attended by many of the ancient and sainted fathers of the Irish Church.

Fiech, the bishop of Sletty, Ibar of Begerin, Erck of Slane, Maccaleus of Hy Falgia in the King's County and Bron of Caissel Iorra in Sligo and other prelates attended on this solemn occasion.

St. Conlaeth governed his see with great wisdom and during his incumbency the diocese of Kildare obtained a high rank among the sees of Ireland. It was not however the ecclesiastical metropolis of the province nor was its prelate recognized as an archbishop. Whatever preeminence existed in the province it pertained without doubt to the see of Sletty. Kildare enjoying this dignity at a later period when it was transferred from the see of Ferns in the 8th century. The cathedral of Kildare the most extensive and beautiful in the kingdom except that of Armagh belonged conjointly to the Nunnery of St Bridget and to the ordinary of the diocese.

Beyond the sanctuary the great aisle was divided by a partition. The bishop and his clergy entered the church by a door on the north side the abbess and her nuns entered by the south. St. Conlaeth, after a life of zeal and apostolical labors died the 3d of May 519. The names of his successors in the see of Kildare have been carefully handed down in an unbroken series until the year 1100 in which Aid O'Heremon became its bishop. St. Conlaeth was buried in the church of Kildare near the high altar. His bones or relics were AD 800 translated into a sliver gilt shrine and adorned with precious stones.

St Aid the black who, according to Colgan, from being king of Leinster became monk abbot and bishop of Kildare, died on the 10th of May 638. The annals of the Four Masters place the death of Aid abbot and bishop of Kildare in 638. It is probable that this abbot and bishop was only a member of the royal house of Leinster.

Lochen the Silent commonly called wise and styled abbot of Kildare. His memory is celebrated on the 12th of January and his death is mentioned under 694. Of him and his successor and others are doubts regarding their consecration as the annals of the Four Masters call them only abbots of Kildare. Sometimes the terms abbots and bishops are synonymous.

Farannan, whose death is mentioned in the year 697, his memory is kept on the 15th of January.

Maeldaborcon expressly styled bishop of Kildare died on the 19th of February 708.

Tola, a worthy soldier of Chris,t a bishop is omitted by Colgan. He died on the 3d of March 732.

Dima called also Modimoe was abbot of Kildare and Clonard. He died on the 3d of March 743.

Cathal O Farannan mentioned as abbot of Kildare died AD 747.

Lomtuil expressly called bishop of Kildare died AD 785.

Snedbran also called bishop of Kildare died in the same year.

Muredach O'Cathald abbot of Kildare died the same year.

Eudocius O'Diocholla abbot of Kildare died in 793.

Feolan O'Kellach abbot of Kildare died in May or June 799.

Lactan O Muctigern expressly called bishop of Kildare died in 813.

Murtogh O Kellagh abbot of Kildare died 820.

Sedulius abbot died in 828.

Tuadcar expressly called bishop of Kildare died AD 833.

Orthanac also bishop of Kildare died in 840.

Aedgene surnamed Brito, scribe, bishop and anchoret of Kildare, died AD 862 in the 116th year of his age.

Cohbtach O Muredach abbot of Kildare and a man of singular wisdom died in 868. Colgan says his festival is observed on the 18th of July.

Moengal bishop of Kildare died in 870. Lanigan puts Moengal as the successor of Aedgen

Robertac Mac Niserda bishop of Kildare, scribe and abbot of Achonry, died on the 15th of January 874.

Lasran Mac Moctigern bishop of Kildare, abbot of Fearna, died the same year.

Suibne O Finacta died in 880.

Seannal died in 884.

Largisius was slain in battle by the Danes of Dublin in 885.

Flanagan O Riagan called abbot of Kildare and prince of Leinster died in the year 920.

Crunmoel died on the 11th of December 929.

Malfinan died in 949 or 950.

Culian Mac Kellach abbot said to be slain by the Danes in 853.

Mured Mac Foelan of the royal blood of Leinster abbot of Kildare was slain by Amlave prince of the Danes and Kerbhal Mac Lorcan in 965.

Anmcaid bishop of Kildare died in 981 having spent a holy life to a good old age.

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