St. Fintan of Clonenagh, Hermit and Abbot

February 17 is the Feast of St. Fintan of Clonenagh.
fintan saint
St. Fintan of Clonenagh, was an Abbot and disciple of St. Columba. Fintan was a hermit in Clonenagh, Leix, Ireland. When disciples gathered around his hermitage he became their abbot. A wonder worker, Fintan was known for clairvoyance, prophecies, and miracles. He also performed very austere penances.

“Saint Fintan was born in Leinster about 524. He received his religious formation in Terryglass, Co. Tipperary under the abbot Colum mac Crimthainn, and was deeply influenced by his penitential practices and the severity of the Rule.
Fintan spent his early years in Carlow before making his own foundation in Clonenagh, Co. Laois. His disciples included St Colmán of Oughaval, St. Comgall of Bangor, and St. Aengus the Culdee. He has been compared by the Irish annalists to St. Benedict, and is styled “Father of the Irish Monks”.
Though he is sometimes confused with Saint Fintán or Munnu, abbot of Taghmon, they are distinct. He died in 603. His feast day is on February 17.”
st fintans
Clonenagh, originally called Cluainadnach, is a very remote antiquity. A monastery was founded here by St. Fintan, who became its first Abbot. He was succeeded by St. Columba, who died in 548. This Abbey was destroyed in 838 by the Danes, who in 843 carried its venerable Abbot aid, who was also Abbot of Tirdaglass, into Munster where he was martyred on the 8th of July.

After being frequently plundered and destroyed by the Danes, it continued to flourish until the Cromwellian invasion of the 17th century. Clonenagh was a very important seat of learning and it is said that students came there to study from all over Europe and, indeed, perhaps further afield. There was also a famous book of Clonenagh which disappeared during the English invasion and was never found.

There are said to be a number of saints buried in Clonenagh, including St. Fintan and St. Aengus.
st fintans tree
There is the famous St. Fintan’s Tree at Clonenagh, where a well sprung up in its trunk when a farmer who lived across the road refused to allow people to visit a holy well in his field. The well miraculously transferred to the tree. This tree came to be known as “The Money Tree” in later times as people hammered coins into its bark having invoked the Saints’ help for some intention. It was blown down in a storm in 1994.
st fintans well
There is a holy well in Cromogue called St. Fintan’s well.


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