St. Laserian of Leighlin, Bishop (Laisren, Molaisse, Lamliss)
Born in Ireland; died April 18, c. 639. Probably identical to Saint Lamliss (f.d. March 3), Saint Laserian was the grandson of King Aidan of Scotland, nephew of Saint Blane (f.d. August 11), and son of Cairel and Blitha. This noble Ulster couple entrusted the education of their precious son to Saint Murin at Iona. The Celtic prefix of endearment makes his name Molaise, and in Scotland it is so accentuated that he is usually known as Molios.
He is said to have travelled to Rome, where he was ordained to the priesthood by Saint Gregory the Great (f.d. September 3). Returning to Ireland, he brought with him a new version of the Holy Scriptures, and the rules by which the Roman Church fixed the date of Easter.
He settled near Saint Goban‘s (f.d. May 23) abbey of in Carlow, built a cell, and gathered disciples around himself. He succeeded Goban as abbot of the monastery of Leighlin and is said to have founded Inishmurray in County Sligo.
At the national synod in March 630, held in the White Fields (Synod of Magh Ailbhe) he, Cummian of Clonfert (f.d. November 12), and others advocated abandoning the Irish method of calculating Easter in deference to the Nicene formulation. Because of the opposition to the change offered by such luminaries as Saint Munnu (f.d. October 21), a delegation with Laserian at its head was sent to Rome to investigate the question more fully.
As a result of the delegation’s report, all of Ireland, except Columba’s monasteries, adopted the new reckoning for Easter in 633. The final decision in favour of the Nicene reckoning in England was made at the Council of Whitby some thirty years later.
An additional outcome was Laserian’s consecration as bishop (either without a particular see or of Leighlin–this is disputed) and appointment by Pope Honorius I as apostolic legate to Ireland.
Laserian returned to Ireland with the relics of Saint Aidan of Ferns (f.d. January 31). In the 11th century an intricately wrought shrine with blue glass insets and parti-coloured enamel work was designed for the relics. Stokes details the beauty of the surviving portions of the piece which now resides in the National Museum.
Of an original 21 saints arranged in three rows, eleven figures and three pairs of feet survive. Three nuns in uniform habits with their hair hanging in long curls. Eight male figures are in varied dress and various postures, one with a sword, one ‘standing in sorrow his cheek resting in his hand.’
Devotion to him is strongest on Inishmurray, where there are notable monastic ruins and a series of praying-stations. He is also venerated in Scotland, where a cave hermitage bearing his name survives on Holy Island in Lamlash Bay, off Arran.
At Old Leighlin, there is still his well and S. Laserian’s Cross, but these are the only remains of his monastery. On Holy Island, in Lamlash Bay, at Arran, there is a cave believed to be the saint’s retreat and marked with many pilgrims’ crosses
(Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D’Arcy, Farmer, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague, Muirhead, Porter, Stokes).
St. Cogitosus of Kildare
8th century. Saint Cogitosus may have been a monk at Kildare, Ireland. Traditionally, he is named as the author of the life of Saint Brigid (f.d. February 1), which provides the legends and miracles of Bride. The work details the monastic life at Kildare and description of the church during his life, including the separate accommodation made in the church for monks and nuns.
Cogitosus expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified it in good Latin. This is what is known as the “Second Life”, and is an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cogitosus’s work is the description of the Cathedral of Kildare in his day:
Solo spatioso et inaltum minaci proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis. The rood-screen was formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated curtains. The original manuscript is in the Dominican convent at Eichstadt in Bavaria (Benedictines, D’Arcy, Kenney, Montague, O’Hanlon, Stokes, Tommasini).
And, from Catholic Encyclopedia
An Irishman, an author, and a monk of Kildare; the date and place of his birth and of his death are unknown, it is uncertain even in what century he lived. In the one work which he wrote, his life of St. Brigid, he asks a prayer
pro me nepote culpabili, from which both Ware and Ussher conclude that he was a nephew of St. Brigid, and, accordingly, he is put down by them among the writers of the sixth century. But the word nepos may also be applied to one who, like the prodigal, had lived riotously, and it may be, that Cogitosus, recalling some former lapses from virtue, so uses the word of himself. At all events, his editor, Vossius, is quite satisfied that Cogitosus was no nephew of St. Brigid, because in two genealogical menologies which Vossius had, in which were enumerated the names of fourteen holy men of that saint’s family the name of Cogitosus is not to be found.
Nor did Cogitosus live in the sixth century because he speaks of a long succession of bishops and abbesses at Kildare, showing that he writes of a period long after the time of St. Brigid, who died in 525, and of St. Conleth, who died a few years earlier. Besides this, the description of the church of Kildare belongs to a much later time; and the author calls St. Conleth an archbishop, a term not usual in the Western church until the opening of the ninth century. On the other hand, he describes Kildare before it was plundered by the Danes, in 835, and before St. Brigades remains were removed to Down.
The probability therefore is that he lived and wrote the life of St. Brigid about the beginning of the ninth century. His work is a panegyric rather than a biography. He gives so few details of the saint’s life that he omits the date and place of her birth and the date of her death; nor does he make mention of any of her contemporaries if we except St. Conleth, the first Bishop of Kildare, an Macaille from whom she received the veil. He gives the names of her parents, but is careful to conceal the fact that she was illegitimate, and that her mother was a slave. On the other hand, he dwells with evident satisfaction on her piety, her humility, her charity, her zeal for religion, the esteem in which she was held by all. And he narrates at length the many miracles she wrought, and tells of the numbers who came as pilgrims to Kildare, attracted by her fame. In his anxiety to exalt her he says she had as abbess authority over all the abbesses of Ireland, although as a matter of fact she could govern only those who followed her rule; and his statement that she appointed the Bishop of Kildare could not, of course, mean that she conferred any jurisdiction.
Cogitosus writes in fairly good Latin, much better indeed than might be expected in that age, and his description of the church of Kildare with its interior decorations is specially interesting for the history of early Irish art and architecture. [E.A. D’Alton]
*Lisa Bitel’s Commentary on the Life of Brigid in which she makes extensive use of Cogitosus’ Life of Brigid. Presented at Fordham University, February, 2001
http://matrix.bc.edu/commentaria/bitel01.html link seems to be extinct
- An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West
- These Lives are archived at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/
- Celtic and Old English Saints – 18 April . 2016. Celtic and Old English Saints – 18 April . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.CelticSaints.org/2016/0418a.html. [Accessed 18 April 2016].
- Brigit’s Sparkling Flame: ‘Cogitosus’s “Life of St Brigit” Content and Value’ Sean Connolly and J.-M. Picard . 2016. Brigit’s Sparkling Flame: ‘Cogitosus’s “Life of St Brigit” Content and Value’ Sean Connolly and J.-M. Picard . [ONLINE] Available at:http://brigitssparklingflame.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/cogitosuss-life-of-st-brigit-content.html. [Accessed 18 April 2016].