Saint of the Day – 3 January – St Fintan of Doon (Died 6th Century) Abbot, Founder of a Monastery, Miracle-worker. Born in Ireland and died in the 6th Century in Ireland of natural causes. Also known as – Fiontan, Fintanus. Patronage – eye diseases, against blindness, all ailments.
Fintan was a brother to St Finlug, son to Diman who was descended from Mured Manderig, King of Ulster. Alinna, of a noble Limerick family, was his mother.
St Comgall, Abbot of Bangor had founded a school at Bangor in the middle of the 6th Century and it was here that Fintan studied. At this time pirates raided these Monasteries frequently. Fintan, once, asked Finian of Maghbile to lend him a Gospel for his studies but was refused. The next night Fintan and his companions were on guard at the port, fearing an invasion. The pirates, however, firstly raided Magh Bile – the Monastery of St Finian and among the treasures they stole was the Gospel. Later they approached Bangor where Fintan was on guard. When they were about to attack the City, a storm suddenly arose and all the ships were sunk except that which carried the Gospel. The Gospel, along with other artefacts were recovered.
One Spring, a leper came to Fintan and requested some bread, made from newly ripened corn. Fintan instructed the leper to plant a seed in the newly ploughed field. The seed immediately grew and ripened and thus the leper was satisfied.
At this time a pagon king lived in a district called Calathmagh. On hearing of Fintan’s approach, the king instructed his servants to prevent the further progress of Fintan. On reaching a field where the king’s workers were, the Saint and his followers were obstructed from continuing. On requesting permission, they were insulted. Presently a storm arose and the crops were set on fire from which the smoke almost blinded the kings servants. With some Holy Water, Fintan restored their vision and they were deeply grateful to him and many converted.
After these occurrences, Fintan settled at Doon, whose name is derived from the earthen dun and from Blesc who was a vassal to the king at that time. The presence of Fintan’s well and the fact that this is the only place in the area with a name of origin “Dun” verifies that Doon is the place where Fintan settled.
Fintan’s settlement at Doon had been prophesised by St Comgall in the Leabhar Breac which has been translated thus:
“My little foster son shall obtain the fortress, Fintan, by whom the dun will be obtained His city of sacred protection shall be That which is called Doon (Dun Bleisce).”
At Doon, Fintan was welcomed with much hospitality from Columbanus, son to Kynchadhe. A feast, which consisted of a cow and calf and milk had been prepared for Fintan and his seven followers.
St Fintan’s well is situated in a grove of trees in the east corner of lower Kilmoylan townl. The well’s water is reputed to have great healing powers and previously many pilgrims journeyed there to be cured of diverse ailments but most especially of blindness and eye diseases..
“They have left their cot for the holy well Near the Cross in the valley flowing, its bright blude hide haith a spell Light and joy to the blind bestowing.”
St Fintan is believed to have lived to a very old age. The exact site of St Fintan’s Monastery in Doon is uncertain but we presume it is near the ancient graves of St Fintan’s cemetery in Doon. From St Engus’ comments and other sources, it has been learned that St Fintan’s death fell on the 3rd of January. His Feast-day is celebrated in the Parish. There is no information, however, regarding the year or place of his death.
There is another St Fintan, celebrated on 17 February – Saint Fintan of Clonenagh (c 524 – 603) “Father of the Irish Monks.”