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.
St Nidan | 7th Century
A disciple of St Kentigern who is honoured in Wales at the Old Church of St Nidan, Llanidan, in the south of Anglesey. He probably followed St Kentigern from Wales back up to Scotland and from Strathclyde went North to Deeside to evangelise in a place near Midmar. This was close to important administrative and cultic Pictish centres which would of been key places to share the faith from.
St Englat/Murdebar | 7th or 10th Century
This has been an interesting Saint to explore because it is quite possible this Saint is fictitious, or at least mistaken through translations. St Englat is recorded in the Aberdeen Breviary, Scotland’s main source of information on our Saints, who is associated with Tarves in Aberdeenshire. In Tarves you will find a bridge, a ford and a well all named after a St Tanglan and yet there is suggestion that Tarves had a much older foundation in a 7th Century Irish Priest called Murdebar. There is indeed a Murdebar recorded in the great Irish Martyrology of Tallaght or (The martyrology of Oengus, the Culdee). It says of him; ‘Murdebar a synod's diadem’ and all we know of him is that he was from Leinster. It is worth noting that this area had a number of saintly missionaries going around in the 6th and 7th centuries including Saint’s Drostan, Machar, Fergus and Nathalan - could it be one of them?
There is very little information about him other than his name given to sites and roads around Fowlis Wester in Perthshire (Same area as St Bean). There was a chapel by the a crossing at Buchanty going over the River Almond and there was once a fair held in this area called Methvenmas. However it is possible it has more to do with our St Bean as the bridge was called Mo-Bheathan along with a well and mill. Incidentally, anything with a Mo in it - like MO-Luag - is the affectionate prefix ‘My’. There is a dedication to Mo-Bheathan in church records of Ulster pre-800 stating he was of British origin, which just muddies the waters even more when we are trying to consider who the Bean was!
Saint Gerardine (St Gernadius) | 10th Century
An Irish Saint who was said to have left Ireland to flee the Vikings and take up residence as a Hermit in a cave at Lossiemouth, a popular seaside town of Morayshire. The cave is no longer present as it was blown for quarrying but you will see dedications to him as ‘Geradine’ in local places names as well as a recent organised walk to commemorate his role in protecting ships coming close to Lossiemouth on stormy nights with his lantern.
St Machar | 6th Century
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St Devenick | 6th Century
St Devenick was a contemporary of St Machar and indeed was very close to him. It is said St Devenick and Machar agreed that whilst St Machar would concentrate on the North east, Devenick would spread the gospel in Caithness. This he did but with the request that once he died his body would be borne back to a Church of his friend St Machar and be buried there.
Below is an old poem in the Saints honour:
Nocht lang eftire apone a day
(To) sanct Machor a mane cane say:
That sanct Dewynnik In-to Catnes
Thru gret eilde falyeit and ded was;
And quhene he one his dedstra lay,
To thaime that nest war he cane say:
Sene that ye se ded sail me tak,
I coniure you for godis sak
That yhe for na trawall be Irke
To bere my body to sume kirk,
Quharfor sanct Machor has keping,
And pray hyme for the hewynnis king
That he meyne one and thochtfull be
Of his hicht that ye mad to me
Of his gud will at our partyng.
With this of spek he mad ending
And yaulde the gast but mare abad.
And thai that this commawndment had,
To tak his body war nocht Irk
And one a bere brocht till a kirk
That was bot litill fra that place
That befor to thaime lentyne was.
And quhene that sanct Machor this tale
Has herd as I haf tald yu hale,
He mad regrat and had disese.
But, for he durst nocht god disples,
That nycht but slepe all haile he lay
In his prayere, till it wes day:
And in that kirk with fleschely eyne
Full feile brycht angelis he has sene
Flc upe and doune, makand thairc play.
Quhar at the cors of Dewynnik lay.
Thane was sanct Machor blyth and glad
For this fare sicht that he sene had.
And one the morne quhene it was day,
Till his discipulis this cane say:
Lowe we all god, my brothir dere,
That has ws send a gud gestenere!
Tharfor mak we ws redy tyt
Hyme, as a spe afferis, to visidte
And yeld till hyme forout delay
That office that we acht to say
For worthi mene, quhene thai ded are!
With that thai passit furthmare
To the kirk quhar at sanct Machor
The angelis play had sene befor.
Bot thai that the cors brocht thiddire,
With It had gane thar way to-giddir
Ner-by of Creskane to the hill,
And thare abad, to reste in will.
Bot sanct Machor forontyne firste.
Folouit and fand thaime thaire tak reste.
And he and his thar with thame abad
Till thai the seruice all had mad
That to sic deide mene suld parteyne
Ar ony wink come in thar eyne.
And syne bare the cors deuotely
Till a place callit Banchory.
And thare solempni with honoure
Thai grathit for it a sepulture,
And one hyme thare thai mad a kirk.
Quhar god yeit cesis nocht to wirk
Thru his prayere ferleis full fele,
To sek and sar folk gyfand heile.
Mene callis that place quar he lay
Banchory Dewynnik till this day.
St Andrew | Patron Saint of Scotland
If you click on the links below you will be taken to an article on St Andrew (Anndra) as well as another with a traditional Novena to him.