9th September-Celtic Saint of the Day – Ciarán of Clonmacnoise

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Cross of the Scriptures detail - Crawford plate 146

The lower panel of the east face of the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise. The figures are a cleric (left), perhaps Saint Ciaran, and king (right), perhaps Diarmait mac Cerbaill, shown planting a stake.

Ciarán of Clonmacnoise

Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise (c. 516 – c. 544), supposedly born Ciarán mac an tSaeir (“son of the carpenter”), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland  and the first abbot of Clonmacnoise. He is sometimes called Ciarán the Younger to distinguish him from the 5th-century Saint Ciarán the Elder who was bishop of Osraige. His name produced many variant spellings, including Ceran, Kieran and Queran.

Ciarán was born in around 516 in County Roscommon, Connacht, in Ireland.His father was a carpenter and chariot maker. He was a student of Finian’s at Clonard and in time became a teacher, himself. In about 534, he left Clonard for Aran where he was ordained a priest, and studied under Saint Enda of Aran, who advised him to build a church and monastery in the middle of Ireland. Later, he travelled to Senan on Scattery Island (in about 541). In 544, he finally settled in Clonmacnoise, where he founded the Monastery of Clonmacnoise with ten fellow companions. As abbot, he worked on the first buildings of the monastery; however, he died about seven months later of a plague, in his early thirties. His feast day is 9 September. Read more here