Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VIII: August. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Cumin, Bishop in Ireland
HE1 was son to Fiachna, king of West Munster, and born in the year 592. He early embraced a monastic state, and after some years was made abbot of Keltra, an isle in the lake Dergdarg, upon the river Shannon, sixteen miles from Limerick. Bishop Usher, in his sylloge of ancient Irish epistles, has favoured the public with an excellent letter of St. Cumin to Segienus, the fourth abbot of Hy, who died in 651. The purport is to persuade the monks of that house, whose authority bore great sway in the Pictish and Irish churches, to join with the Roman universal church as to the time of celebrating Easter, which conformity he enforces with great strength of reasoning, and with admirable charity, humility, and piety. (This epistle alone suffices to give us a high idea of the learning, eloquence, and extraordinary virtue of the author. In it, speaking of the relics of saints, he testifies that he had been an eye-witness to several miraculous cures wrought by them.2) But a veneration for the memory of St. Columb, who by mistake had followed that practice, fixed them some time longer in their erroneous computation of that festival. This difference, however, was only in a point of discipline, nor did it amount to the guilt of schism where it did not proceed to a breach of communion. The councils of Arles and Nice had condemned the Quartodecimans, who celebrated Easter with the Jews always on the fourteenth day of the first moon after the spring equinox, which was to revive the Jewish ceremonies; but the practice of the Scots and Irish receded from that error, though not so much as to come up to the perfect standard of the Nicene decree; for, whereas that council ordered Easter never to be kept on the fourteenth day, that the Christian feast might never fall in with that of the Jews, these remote monks, by some mistake, had adopted a practice of keeping it on the Sunday, when it fell on the fourteenth day. Obstinacy might in the end render such a practice in some a criminal disobedience; which simplicity easily excused in others. This letter and zealous endeavours of St. Cumin, disposed many to inquire into, and some time after to embrace, the discipline of the universal church.
St. Cumin was afterwards advanced to the episcopal dignity, and has left us a hymn, and a collection of penitential canons,3 in which somethings are taken from the penitential of St. Columban; but the true rite of observing Easter is confirmed. Ughelli informs us,4 that St. Cumin, resigning his bishopric in Ireland, retired to the monastery of Bobbio, in Italy, where St. Columban had left this mortal life in 615. He lived there in great sanctity twenty years, and died, according to Usher, in 682, but according to the Annals of the Four Masters in 661, the 12th of November. Luitprand, the most munificent and pious king of the Lombards, who ascended the throne in 712, erected a sumptuous monument to his memory at Bobbio. He is honoured in Ireland and Italy on the 19th of August. See Usher, Antiqu. c. ult. p. 503 and 539. Also Cave, Hist. Littér. ad an. 640, t. 1, p. 584. Ceillier, t. 17, p. 659. Mabillon in Analectis, p. 17, Sir James Ware, l. 1, de Scriptor Hib. p. 34.
Note 1. This Cumin, who was bishop of Cluain-ferta Brendain, is surnamed Foda, or the Long; to distinguish him from another Cumin surnamed Fionn, or the White, abbot of Hij, who, according to the Four Masters, died the 24th of February, 668. [back]
Note 2. Vidimus oculis nostria puellam cæcam omnino ad has reliquias oculos aperientem, et paralyticum ambulantem, et multa dæmonia ejecta. S. Cumin ep. ad Segienum abb. Hyens. ap. Usser. in Syll. Ep. Hybera. ep. 11, p. 34. [back]
Note 3. Lib. de Pnit. mensura, Bibl. Patr. t. 12, p. 41. [back]