Saint of the Day – 24 November – Saint Colman of Cloyne (c 530 – c 600) Bishop, Monk, Founder and Patron of Cloyne Monastery from which the area took its name, converted by St Brendan the Navigator, Poet (one of the earliest known Irish Poets to compose his works in the vernacular). Born in c 530 in Munster, Ireland and died in 600 of natural causes. Patronage – the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland. Also known as – Colman MacLenini, Colman Mac Lenine, Colman MacLenine.
According to the Book of Leinster, Colman, son of Lenin, was a descendant of the King of Munster. The year of his birth, which has not been ascertained exactly, is believed to have been 530
Colman, brought up in heathenism, adopted the profession of bard. He became attached to the Court of the King of Cashel and the range of his duties may be inferred from an ancient description of the order generally. Bards were historians, as well as poets; their duty was to record the deeds of the kings, chieftains and heroes; to register the genealogies and privileges of noble families, together with the bounds and limits of their lands and territories. He was engaged in these activities until about the forty-eighth year of his life.
In 570, a dispute as to the succession to the throne of Cashel took place between two relatives and a meeting was arranged between the rival candidates at which Saint Brendan the Navigator (c 484–c 577) and the son of Lenin, our Saint, were present. Through their influence, a compromise was effected by which Aodh-caomh was acknowledged as King. He was the first Christian King of Cashel. It was at this time, that the Shrine of Ailbe of Emly, which had been stolen, was discovered. Amongst those who found it, was Colman. Brendan said that it was not right that the hands which had held this Sacred relic should be defiled henceforth, thus it was ,that the son of Leinin offered himself to God. Brendan blessed him and gave him the name Colmánand (a name that corresponds to Colum, the equivalent of the Latin columbus, a dove).
Colman then went to the school of Saint Iarlaithe of Tuam and after his studies, he was Ordained by St Brendan. He is next mentioned as preaching to the heathen population in the east of County Cork. He is described as a “religious and holy presbyter, who afterwards became a famous bishop.” The Prince of Déise, in the present County of Waterford, presented his child to Colman for baptism. Colman baptised him Declan and urged his parents to educate him well in his faith. This child became Saint Declan.
Colman was given churches in Erry and Killenaule by Coirpre Cromm mac Crimthainn, King of Munster (Cashel), as well as lands in Cloyne. The Cloyne estate was large and contained some of the best land in the area.
Many places in the counties of Cork and Limerick are linked with the name of Colman but his earliest settlement appears to have been Cloyne. It is said that the ruins of St. Colman’s ancient oratory known as Colman’s Chapel, were still to be seen at the beginning of the last century. This small oblong building, situated in the grounds of Cloyne Cathedral and known as the Fire House, was the repository of St. Colman’s relics. Another tradition is that the Fire House was used for maintaining a Sacred Fire such as had been maintained by the nuns of St. Brigid in Kildare’s Holy Shrine.
Magraiden, who died in 1405, relates in his life of St. Brendan that “this Colman, son of Lenin, was distinguished amongst the saints by his life and learning. He was a Founder of the Church of Cloyne, a celebrated Cathedral in Munster”.
According to some historians St. Colman died on 24 November in 600..
There is also in the vicinity of the Town of Cloyne, a holy well dedicated to St Colman and which had become a place of pilgrimage and miracles.