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April's Saints

Discover Scotland's Saints, some are well known, but most of the rest will not be. Piecing together the lives of these early Catholics in Scotland is not easy and is beset by legend, poor translations and often quite scant information. However, there is much to learn, not least it tells us something about the people who venerated these men and women. 

April 1st

St Gilbert

St Marnock evangelised Moray leaving a church in Aberchirder in Banffshire. He had previously been under the rule of St Columba of Iona before he was sent to the mainland of Scotland. After his death, in either Aberdeenshire or the Borders, the veneration of this Saint spread with his relics (a head) being placed in a church in what is now Kilmarnock. He was also honoured on an Island near Bute, Argyllshire and Dunkeld.

April 4th

St Conval, 9th Century

Listed as a good King that received the commendation of St Columba. A King Convallus who reigned between 819-824AD is recorded in the Dunkeld Litany. 

April 11th

St Mahew/Macceus, 534AD?

This Saint is hard to pin down to an actual person. Both Forbes and Barrat cite him as a companion of St Patrick and venerated at Kilmahew in Argyll. It was also the site of a former seminary. Forbes speculates that he could also be mistaken for St Aidan of Ferns or even St Mazota.


April 16th

St Magnus, 1075-1116AD, Martyr

These were the days when Orkney was under Norwegian control and the British Isles still at this time buffeted by Scandanavian powers. It is in Orkney that only one of two pre-reformation Scottish Cathedrals lay undisturbed by the violence of the 16th century. In 1137 the great Cathedral was put up over the body of St Magnus by his nephew, St Rognvald, and it is quite possible it is still there to this day. St Magnus was of noble Norwegian birth, son of the Earl of Orkney.

The King of Norway chose Magnus as his attendant and accompanied him on pillaging in the Western Isles before turning to the Isle of Anglesey where the Norwegians slaughtered the Norman armies of Chester and Shrewsbury. However, St Magnus did not accompany the King in this slaughter and remained on the boat praying. After this he escaped to the court of King Malcolm III of the Scots, remaining there until the king of Norway died, which meant Magnus could take up his claim of the Earldom of Orkney.

However St Magnus was opposed by his cousin, Haakon, and so to prevent war Magnus went to meet his cousin to work things out peacefully, but Haakon had no intention of an amicable settlement. Haakon's forces surrounded Magnus, who became aware of the treachery too late and so Magnus took death with great fortitude, partaking of the Sacraments and prayer before being murdered. Magnus took the title of Martyr and has been held up as an example of one who seeks peace rather than war. He is also an example to us in the way he faced his death.

April 17th

St Donan, 617AD

St Donan (Donnan) was Irish and although some have thought he was connected with St Columba and Iona there is evidence that points to him being of a non-Dalriadic Scot origin. His Muinntir (Monastic Community) was based near modern day Kildonan by the Helmsdale River in Sutherland. From there he and his missionaries began daughter churches in Fordyce (St Talorcan) and Strathmore (St Ciaran) and a number in Sutherland itself. There is also a Church at Auchterless in Aberdeenshire with a special connection to him as it was said his Staff resided here prior to the Reformation.

St Donan evangelised the Isle of Eigg and established a Muinntir that was found in 2012 by Archaeologists from Birmingham University. It was Eigg that it is said he and 52 other monks were martyred for their faith, which was actually a rare moment of Christian blood being spilled on Scottish ground. Scotland saw relatively few episodes of this sort of martyrdom in its history of evangelisation.


April 21st  

St Maelrubha

Please read the in depth article on St Maelrubha by Dr Carly Macnamara of Glasgow University which you will find on our website here.

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