Celtic- St. Donatus of Fiesole, Bishop  – 22 October

St. Donatus of Fiesole, Bishop(Donagh)

Andrea del Verrocchio – Madonna with Sts John the Baptist and Donatus – WGA24995

22 October

Born in Ireland; died 874-876. Legend has it that Donatus who decided to goon a pilgrimage to Rome with his friend Andrew. On his return home about 829, he went to Florence, Italy, and visited nearby Fiesole. Donatus, who was small and unaggressive by nature, slipped into the cathedral just when the people had come together to pray for enlightenment before electing a new bishop.

The moment Donatus entered the cathedral of Fiesole, the bells began ringing. All the cathedral lamps and candles lit of their own accord, without any human help. The Christians present could only conclude that this was a divine sign, indicating that the stranger who had just come in was destined to be their next bishop. Unanimously the puzzled Irishman was elected, and Andrew (f.d. August 22) became his deacon. It could well be that none of the locals would accept the office. Six years earlier the feudal barons had murdered the local bishop by drowning him!

Fortunately, Donatus was a man of exemplary piety and cultivation. In addition to many other works, Donatus authored two separate lives of Saint Brigid of Kildare (f.d. February 1), one in prose and the other in verse, as well as a preface for Coelan’s life of Brigid, which Colgan found at Monte Cassino. A manuscript in his own handwriting is preserved by the Dominicans in Rome. He also wrote his own epitaph, which still survives and describes him as a splendid teacher, specialising in grammar and fine writing. The epitaph adds that the bishop loyally advised and served the Frankish King Lothaire of Italy (who had been a pupil of Saint Clement (f.d. March 20)) and the Emperor Louis. Almost certainly he taught them and members of their household for he was ever willing to instruct the young.

Source: Celtic and Old English Saints – 22 October