Western Saints of the Orthodox Church 12th December
ABRA, little is known of St. Abra’s life. She was the daughter of St. Hilary of Poitiers (13th January), and devoted her short life to good works amongst her fellow Christians in Poitiers. St. Abra reposed, apparently of natural causes, at the age of eighteen in 360.
COLMAN of GLENDALOUGH, an Abbot of Glendalough Monastery in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. He reposed in 659, and aside from being listed in the various Irish Kalendars nothing further is known of his life.
COLUMBA, this St. Columba was a native of Leinster, Ireland who after receiving monastic tonsure became a disciple of St. Finnian of Clonard (vide infra). He later served as Abbot of Tyrdaglas in Munster, Ireland. St. Columba was known for his great sanctity, and when St. Finnian was dying, it was St. Columba who is said to have given him the Viaticum. St. Columba reposed 548 at Tyrdaglas.
CORENTINUS (CURY), a hermit at Plomodiern in Brittany who is said to have been consecrated first Bishop of Cornouaille (present-day Quimper France) by Saint Martin of Tours (11th November). St. Corentinus reposed circa 490.
CORMAC, little is known of the life of St. Cormac, beyond his listing on various calendars on this date, as a sixth century abbot of great holiness. According to some sources he was a friend of St. Columba of Iona (9th June). The calendar of the Moscow Patriarchate lists a St. Cormac of the Sea who reposed 590, and whose feast is kept on 21st June.
Magister Sanctorum Hiberniae Sui Temporis
FINNIAN (VENNIANUS) of CLONARD, an early sixth century Irish abbot, founder of churches and monasteries, teacher, and wonder-worker. The twelve Apostles of Ireland were amongst his disciples, and St. Finnian is considered one of the fathers of Irish monasticism.
Little is known about his early life, which has led to him being confused with St. Finnian of Moville (10th September) at times, and there have been those who have even argued that he is merely a local manifestation of the Ulster saint. However, various Irish annals and genealogies clearly differentiate between the two.
St. Finnian went to Wales and became a disciple of SS. David (1st March), Gildas (29th January), and Cadoc (24th January). It should be noted that one or two sources assert he may have spent time at the monastery of St. Martin in Tours before going to Wales, though the majority opinion does not concur. No one is certain how long St. Finnian stayed in Wales. What is known is once he returned to Ireland, St. Finnian set about preaching and founding churches. He first founded the monastery at Aghowle, Co. Wicklow, and aside from Clonard, his most notable foundation was the church cum monastery at Skellig Michael (12 km / 8 mi off the coast of Co. Kerry). However, his most important contribution to the Church in Ireland as Clonard monastery, where at least three thousand clerics, abbots, bishops, and laymen from all over the British Isles, and Europe took advantage of both its sanctity as well as outstanding scholarship. St. Finnian and Clonard’s greatest claim to fame was training those great saints who went on to found important monasteries of their own.
St. Finnian reposed on 12th December, most likely a victim of plague. At the end, he is said to have been attended by his former pupil St. Columba of Tyrdaglas (vide supra) who gave him the Viaticum. The year of his repose has been the subject of some debate, the Four Masters list his repose as taking place in 548, though the Chronicon Scotorum lists him as one of the victims of the plague in 551. St. Finnian is the patron saint of Roman Catholic Diocese of Meath, of which some believe he was an early bishop. However, the Annals of the Four Masters, Martyrology of Donegal, as well as other Irish calendars all list him as only an abbot.
Troparion of St. Finnian of Clonard
As one who laboured with zeal in the vineyard of God,
by ascetic struggles and toils thou didst ascend
from glory to glory, O God-bearing saint.
Wherefore, joining chorus now with all the venerable on high,
thou standest with boldness before the throne of the King of all,
Whom do thou beseech, O Finnian most wise,
that He have mercy and save our souls.
Kontakion of St. Finnian of Clonard
Imitating the desert-dwellers of old, forsaking all the allurements of this world,
O venerable one, thou didst found houses for monastics throughout the Irish land,
filling its hills and vales with a host of noetic warriors who,
trained by thee, cut down the evil serpent with the sword of patience
and put his vile minions to flight through prayer.
Wherefore, we cry out to thee: Rejoice, O Finnian our father,
radiant beacon of the grace of God!
GREGORY of TERRACINA, a spiritual child of St. Benedict of Nursia (11th July) from whom he, and his brother St. Speciosus (15th March), received monastic tonsure. St. Gregory, later living at a monastery at Terracina, 55 km (35 mi) south-east of Rome. St. Gregory reposed circa 570.
MAXENTIUS, CONSTANTIUS, CRESCENTIUS, JUSTIN, and COMPANIONS, martyrs in Trier (circa 287), during the Diocletianic Persecution.
SYNESIUS, a young reader in Rome who, in 275, was martyred by beheading for preaching the Christian faith during the reign of Aurelian.
Prior to the Schism the Patriarchate of Rome was Orthodox, and fully in communion with the Orthodox Church. As Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco +1966 said “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable Liturgy is far older than any of her heresies”.