St. Kiaran, Bishop and Confessor
[Called by the Britons, Piran.] AMONG the Irish saints who were somewhat older than Saint Patrick, the first and most celebrated is Saint Kiaran, whom the Irish style the first-born of their saints. According to some he was a native of the country of Ossory, according to others, of Cork. Usher places his birth about the year 352. Having received some imperfect information about the Christian faith, at thirty years of age he took a journey to Rome, that he might be instructed in its heavenly doctrine, and learn faithfully to practise its precepts. He was accompanied home by four holy clerks, who were all afterwards bishops, their names are, Lugacius, Columban, Lugad, and Cassan. The Irish writers suppose him to have been ordained bishop at Rome; but what John of Tinmouth affirms, seems far more probable, that he was one of the twelve, whom St. Patrick consecrated bishops in Ireland to assist him in planting the gospel in that Island. For his residence, he built himself a cell in a place encompassed with woods, near the water of Fuaran, which soon grew into a numerous monastery. A town was afterwards built there called Saigar, now from the saint Sier-keran. Here he converted to the faith, his family, and whole clan, which was that of the Osraigs, with many others. Having given the religious veil to his mother whose name was Lidan, he appointed her a cell or monastery near his own, called by the Irish Ceall Lidain. In his old age, being desirous to prepare himself for his passage to eternity in close retirement, he passed into Cornwall, where his led an eremitical life, near the Severn sea, fifteen miles from Padstow. Certain disciples joined him, and by his words and example formed themselves to a true spirit of Christian piety and humility. In this place he closed his mortal pilgrimage by a happy death: a town upon the spot is to this day called from him St. Piran’s in the Sands, and a church is there dedicated to God in his memory, where was formerly a sanctuary near St. Mogun’s church, upon St. Mogun’s creek. 1 See John of Tinmouth, Usher, &c. collected by Henschenius: also Leland’s Collections, published by Hearne, t. 3. p. 10. and 174. 1
Note 1. A great number of other Irish saints retired to Cornwall, where many towns and churches still retain their names. Thus St. Burian’s is so called from an Irish virgin called Buriana, to whose church and college here King Athelstan, in 936, granted the privilege of sanctuary. See Leland. Collect. t. 3. p. 7, 8.