Feastday: January 9
Irishman who went with his mother, St. Kentigem, to Scotland, where he became a monk. His other relative was St. Comgan. Foellan died at Strathfillan after missionary activity.
St. Felan, or Foelan, Abbot in Ireland
HIS name is famous in the ancient Scottish and Irish Calendars. The example and instructions of his pious parents, Feriach and St. Kentigerna, inspired him from the cradle with the most ardent love of virtue. In his youth, despising the flattering worldly advantages to which high birth and a great fortune entitled him, he received the monastic habit from a holy abbot named Mundus, and passed many years in a cell at some distance from the monastery, not far from St. Andrew’s. He was by compulsion drawn from this close solitude, being chosen abbot. His sanctity in this public station shone forth with a bright light. After some years, he resigned this charge, and retired to his uncle Congan, brother to his mother, in a place called Siracht, a mountainous part of Glendarchy, now in Fifeshire, where, with the assistance of seven others, he built a church, near which he served God for several years. God glorified him by a wonderful gift of miracles, and called him to the reward of his labours on the 9th of January, in the seventh century. He was buried in Straphilline, and his relics were long preserved there with honour. This account is given us of him in the lessons of the Aberdeen breviary. 1 The Scottish historians 2 attribute to the intercession of St. Felan a memorable victory obtained by king Robert Bruce, in 1314, over a numerous army of English, at Bannocburn, not far from Sterling, in the reign of Edward II. of England, who narrowly escaped, being obliged to pass the Tweed in a boat with one only companion. See Lesley, l. 17. Boetius, l. 14. Chatelain certainly mistakes in confounding this saint with St. Finan, bishop of Lindisfarne. 1
. St. Felan flourished in the county of Fife, and probably in the monastery of Pettinuime, where his memory was famous, as is testified by the author of MS. memoirs on the Scottish saints, preserved in the college of the Scots at Paris, who declares himself to have been a missionary priest in Scotland in 1609. The county of Fife was famous for the rich and most ancient monasteries of Dumferling, Lindore, St. Andrew’s, or Colrosse, or Courose, Pettinuime, Balmure, and Petmoace; and two stately nunneries, Aberdaure, and Elco. All these noble buildings they levelled to the ground with incredible fury, crying, “Pull down, pull down. The crow’s nest must be utterly exterminated, lest they should return and attempt again to renew their settlement.” Ib. MS. fol. 7.
FROM THE BOOK OF
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume I: January.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.