Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 27 November – St Secundinus of Ireland (c 373-448) Bishop

Saint of the Day – 27 November – St Secundinus of Ireland (c 373-448) Bishop, Missionary, Founder, first Bishop and Patron Saint of Domhnach Sechnaill, Co. Meath, who is traditionally believed to have been as a disciple of St Patrick and one of the first Bishops of Armagh, Poet and Hymnist. Born in c 375 in Gaul (modern France, possibly the area of Auxerre) and died on 27 November 448 of natural causes. Also known as – Secundinus of Dunsaghlin• Secundinus of Dunseachlin• Secundinus of Dunshaughlin• Seachnal, Seachnall, Sechnall, Secundin. Additional Memorial – 6 December (joint celebration of the missionary work of Secundinus and Saint Auxilius).

St Secundinus Church in Dunsaghlin

Secundinus is a well known Late Latin name, a derivative of Secundus … Several known fifth-century Bishops bore the name and in Gaul it continued to be used into the 7th Century when we find bishops of Lyon and Sisteron called Secundinus.

The Irish annals report that in 439, Bishops Secundinus, Auxilius (who was the brother of Secundinus and thus, also a nephew of St Patrick) and Iserninus arrived in Ireland to the aid of St Patrick in his mission. Secundinus preached in the north and east. There are many conflicting documents about him – whether he was a Priest or Bishop when he arrived, if he had been there before, etc. Later tradition, appears to suggest that Secundinus and Auxilius were of Italian origin. Details to this effect are first given in the Irish preface to the Hymn of Secundinus, as found in some manuscript versions of the Liber Hymnorum. It states that Secundinus was a son of Restitutus and St Patrick’s sister, thus making him the nephew of St Patrick.

Secundinus wrote two important Hymns found in the Irish Liber Hymnorum and the Bangor Antiphonary. the earliest poems of the Irish Church, one of which was an alphabetical Hymn in honour of Saint Patrick, that is the Hymn of Secundinus spoken of above.

St Patrick, according to his Tripartite Life, entrusted his See of Armagh, to Secundinus when he went to Rome to obtain Relics of Sts Peter and Paul, while the preface to the Hymn of Secundinus, tells that Patrick had sent Secundinus off to obtain them in person.

The beautiful but long Hymn in honour of St Patrick by our Saint is available here:

An account of Saint Secundinus (Seachnall) from Father Cogan’s 1862 Diocesan history of Meath, includes:

The first notice of Dunshaughlin which occurs in our annals, a very remarkable one indeed, is its connection with St Secundinus In fact it owes its origin to this Saint and derives its name from him. …
St Secundinus was a native of Gall and son of Restitutus, a Lombard, by, it is said, Liemania, otherwise named Darerca, who is usually said to have been the sister to St Patrick.
According to Tirechan’s list, Secundinus and Auxilius, his brother, were disciples of St Patrick and seem to have accompanied him from the commencement of his mission to Ireland. After a few years they were sent to Britain or Gaul to be Consecrated, as, according to the established usage of the Church, three Bishops are required for the consecration of another.
The Annals of Ulster and Innisfallen remark, at 439, that the Bishops Secundinus, Auxilius and Isserninus, were sent this year (439) to aid St Patrick.
Seachnall fixed his See at Dunshaughlin and was reputed a very wise, prudent and holy man. In the Four Masters he is called “St Patrick’s Bishop without fault.”. So high was the opinion St Patrick had of him that when he went to preach the Gospel in Leinster and Munster, he appointed Secundinus to preside over the converts of Meath and the North. Hence he is called “St Patrick’s Vicar or Suffragan.”
It is recorded that on one occasion, he expressed disapprobation at St Patrick’s extreme disinterest in refusing presents from the wealthy, by means of which he could support the religious Converts who might be in distress. On St Patrick explaining his reasons, St Secundinus asked forgiveness and composed a Hymn in his honour which, most probably, was the first Christian Latin Hymn composed in Ireland. It has been published by Father Colgan and republished by Ware, who calls it an alphabetical Hymn because the strophes, consisting each of four lines, begin with the letters of the alphabet, following in order. It appears too in the ancient Antiphonarium Benchorense, a work certainly beyond one thousand years old, which has been republished by Muratori. There are different readings in the various editions but substantially the same. Secundinus’s Hymn is frequently referred to in our ancient writers and many favours are promised to those who reverently recite it.

After a holy and edifying life, … Secundinus died on the 27th of November, 448, in the seventy-fifth year of his age,and was interred in his own Church of Dunshaughlin. He was the first Bishop who died in Ireland and has been held in special reverence throughout the Diocese of Meath. As an instance of this, the name Maol-Seachlan (servant of St Seachnall) was common amongst the ancient Irish (but particularly in the royal race of Meath. The O’Maolseachlains, or O’Melaghlins, who belonged to the great branch of the Southern Hy-Nialls or Clan Colman, took their name from their ancestor Maolseachlain (Latinised Malachias and Anglicised Maiachy), who again took his name from the first Bishop of Dunshaughlin. This name O’Maelseachlain, has been Anglicised MacLoughlin since the reign of Queen Anne.


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