Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Modan, Abbot in Scotland, Confessor

Article

Dryburgh, situated near Mailros, was anciently one of the most famous monasteries in Scotland: in this house of saints Modan dedicated himself to God, about the year 522. Being persuaded that Christian perfection is to be attained by holy prayer and contemplation, and by a close union of our souls with God, he gave six or seven hours every day to prayer, and moreover seasoned with it all his other actions and employments. A spirit of prayer is founded in the purity of the affections, the fruit of self-denial, humility, and obedience. Hence proceeded the ardour with which our saint studied to crucify his flesh and senses by the practice of the greatest austerities, to place himself beneath all creatures by the most profound and sincere humility, and in all things to subject his will to that of his superiors with such an astonishing readiness and cheerfulness, that they unanimously declared they never saw any one so perfectly divested of all self-will, and dead to himself as Modan. The abbacy falling vacant, he was raised against his will to that dignity. In this charge his conduct was a clear proof of the well-known maxim, that no man possesses the art of governing others well unless he is perfectly master of that of obeying. His inflexible firmness, in maintaining every point of monastic discipline, was tempered by the most winning sweetness and charity, and an unalterable calmness and meekness. Such moreover was his prudence, and such the unction of his words in instructing or reproving others, that his precepts and very reprimands gave pleasure, gained all hearts, and inspired the love, and communicated the spirit of every duty. He preached the faith at Stirling and in other places near this Forth, especially at Falkirk; but frequently interrupted his apostolic employments to retire among the craggy mountains of Dunbarton, where he usually spent thirty or forty days at once in the heavenly exercises of devout contemplation, in which he enjoyed a kind of anticipation or foretaste of the delights in which consists the happiness of the blessed. He died in his retirement near Alcluid, (a fortress on the river Cluid) since called Dunbritton, now Dunbarton. His death is usually placed in the seventh century, though some think he flourished later. His relics were kept with singular veneration in a famous church of his name at Rosneith. He is also titular saint of the great church at Stirling, and honoured particularly at Dunbarton and Falkirk. See Hector Boetius, Lesley, King in his calendar, the Breviary of Aberdeen, and the Chronicle of Scone: also Bollandus.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Modan, Abbot in Scotland, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 3 February 2013. Web. 19 September 2014. <>