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Summary: St Eunan (or Adomnan), was born in Donegal around 624 and died in 704. He became a monk in Iona and was chosen as abbot there in 679. In addition to overseeing the Columban monasteries, he left important writings, one of which is the Life of Colum Cille. He was known as a good and wise man, remarkably learned in Sacred Scripture.

Patrick Duffy tells his story.

adoman,eunan The Uí Chonaill family
Born in Donegal into the Uí Chonaill family, Adomnán, or Eunan, as he is more commonly known today may have spent some time at the Columban monastery in Durrow before joining the Iona community where he was chosen as its ninth abbot in 679. The image (right) is of a statue of St Eunan outside his titular cathedral in Letterkenny.

He intervened to liberate war captives and to claim safety during war for women, children and clerics. His open-mindedness also led to the ending of the conflict between the Roman and Celtic Churches.

His Life of Columba
e wrote a Life of Columba, to whom he was related. Although its purpose is not strict history, but to highlight the saint’s virtues, and is modelled on the Lives of the Desert Fathers especially Antony and Evagrius, it is full of memorable descriptions. It stresses Columba’s relationship with God and his fight against exploitation, carelessness, falsehood, and murder. Adomnan upholds Columba as an Irish saint whose faith transcends petty divisions.

De locis sanctis
Adomnán also wrote a book on the “holy places” – Jerusalem, Damascus, Constantinople and Alexandria – called De Locis Sanctis. It is  based on descriptions given him by word of mouth by a French bishop Arculfus, who had been shipwrecked in western Britain and took refuge in Iona.

St Adamnan (Eunan) - Born Ireland c628, died Iona 704. Ninth abbot of Iona

St Eunan

Conflict between Celtic and Roman usage in the Irish Church
s the ultimate superior of the Ionan monastery of Lindisfarne, Adomnán made a number of visits to Northumbria. The first was in 686. While he was there, he became aware of the unresolved conflict and tensions in the years after the Synod of Whitby (664) between Celtic observances and the Roman observances. Celtic monasteries had a different method for calculating the date of Easter, a different tonsure, and the abbot held administrative superiority to a bishop.

n visiting the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, Adomnán held long discussions with the Abbot Ceolfrith of Wearmouth. Eventually he became convinced that, whatever about the equally sacred origins of the differing customs – the Celtic way was based on St John and had long been the custom in the Eastern Church – it was better for the universality of the Church for the Celts to adopt the Roman usage. Over the next eighteen years he tirelessly worked to convince Iona and other Celtic monasteries to do so.

Setting captives free
nother reason for Adomnán’s visit to Northumbria in 686 was to persuade King Aldfrith to release sixty Irish prisoners and in this he was successful. When later he attended the Synod of Birr in 697, he convinced the participants that women, children and clerics should be exempt from war and not be taken prisoners or slaughtered. This came to be known as The Law of the Innocents or Adamnan’s law (Cain Adomhnáin) – and is a kind of preview of the present-day Geneva Convention.

St. Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

St. Eunan’s Cathedral,         Letterkenny,
       Co. Donegal.

St Eunan became Patron of Raphoe Diocese

eunanAdaomnán or Eunan, as he is now more commonly called in Ireland, is the principal patron of the diocese and the cathedral in Letterkenny is called after him.

Summary: Pio of Pietrelcina, Religious. Born on 25 May 1887 in Pietrelcina (Italy); died on this day in 1968 at San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy). Raised in a deeply religious rural home, Francesco Forgione became Padre Pio when he was ordained in the Capuchin order in 1910. A mystic who received the marks of the stigmata in 1918, a renowned holy man, and a charity worker who founded a hospital (the House for the Relief of Suffering). His ascetic life of pain led to special compassion for the suffering. He was honoured as an extraordinary confessor and spiritual director.

Patrick Duffy tells some of this holy man’s remarkable story.


padre pEvery day for fifty years from morning till evening Padre Pio heard confessions for the crowds who came to him, confronting and consoling. When he got the stigmata, the Church restricted his movements. But the crowds still came to him and many were cured.

Patrick Duffy tells some of this holy man’s remarkable story.

Early life and the stigmata
rancesco Forgione was born of agricultural worker parents in the village of Pietrelcina, northeast of Naples. He joined the Capuchins, taking the name Pius and was ordained priest in 1910. He began to experience pains and what he called “invisible stigmata”. During military service in World War I, he was sent on convalescent leave. In 1918 he contracted double pneumonia and was sent to a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo, near Foggia, where he stayed for the rest of his life.

The stigmata on his hands and feet became visible and a wound in his side bled for the rest of his life. The Capuchins made no attempt to hide his condition. The Vatican had him examined and he had to say Mass in private for a number of years.

At Sanpadre pio Giovanni Rotondo
ius, always a humble man, and always dedicated to the passion of Christ would only say he was a mystery to himself.

People for whom he prayed left donations. A new hospital complex was built and the place became a centre of pilgrimage and healing.

A story of his being in two places at the one time is told by his superior, Padre Carmelo da Sassano. There was  a concert one evening in the monastery. During the intermission Padre Pio folded his arms on a chair in front of him and rested his head. No one disturbed him and when the intermission was over Padre Pio sat upright and gave his attention to the rest of the performance.

Next day Padre Carmelo called to see a sick villager. He found the patient fully recovered and the family delighted as Padre Pio, they said, had visited them the night before. Padre Carmelo said that wasn’t possible, as Padre Pio had been at the concert. But the family insisted he had come and when asked at what time, Padre Carmelo recognised it was at the time of the intermission.

Penitents came from all over the world to confess to Padre Pio. It wasn’t always a comfortable experience. Sometimes he would reveal hidden sins to them. And if he discerned that someone was not sincerely repentant, he would shout out at them to leave the confessional. This usually provoked a crisis for the penitent, who would later return to Padre Pio with true repentance.

His death
n the fiftieth anniversary of the day he received the stigmata, while Padre Pio was saying Mass, people in the congregation noticed that the stigmata had vanished. He died the next day.

padre p dead

Praise from Pope John Paul II
ope John Paul II beatified him in 1999 and canonised him in 2002. He praised, not the “gifts” of Padre Pio, but “how he poured his charity like balm on the sufferings of his brothers and sisters.

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