Calendar of Scottish Saints – Saint Fillan or Faolan, Abbot (8th century)

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3 February, Saint Fillan or Faolan, Abbot, 8th century.

He was the son of Saint Kentigerna, and consequently of Irish birth, and is said to have taken the monastic habit at Taghmon, in Wexford, under the rule of Saint Fintan-Munnu; later on he came to Scotland. After spending some time with his uncle Saint Comgan at Lochalsh, where Killillan (Kilfillan) bears his name, the saint devoted himself to the evangelization of the district of Perthshire round Strathfillan, which is called after him, and where he was greatly venerated. The success of the Scots at Bannockburn was attributed to the presence of the arm of Saint Fillan, which was borne by its custodian, the Abbot of Inchaffray, on the field of battle. The crozier of the saint is still in existence; it is preserved in the National Museum, Edinburgh. This also, as one of the sacred battle-ensigns of Scotland, is said to have been present at Bannockburn. A small bell which formerly hung in his church in Strathfillan is now in the museum of the Antiquarian Society in Edinburgh. Several traces of the saint are to be found in the district in which he preached. Killallan, or Killellen, an ancient parish in Renfrewshire, took its name from him; it was originally Kilfillan (Church of Fillan). Near the ruins of the old church, situated near Houston, is a stone called Fillan’s Seat, and a spring called Fillan’s Well existed there until it was filled up, as a remnant of superstition, by a parish minister in the eighteenth century. Other holy wells bore his name at Struan (Perthshire), Largs and Skelmorlie (Ayrshire), Kilfillan (Wigtonshire), Pittenweem (Fifeshire), etc. A fair used to be held annually at Houston and another at Struan, both known as Fillan’s Fair. In Strathfillan are the ruins of Saint Fillan’s chapel, and hard by is the Holy Pool, in which the insane were formerly bathed to obtain a cure by the saint’s intercession. Scott refers to it in Marmion (Cant. I. xxix):

“Saint Fillan’s blessed Well,
Whose spring can frenzied dreams dispel
And the crazied brain restore.”

Pope Leo XIII re-established the saint’s feast in Scotland.

MLA Citation

  • Father Michael Barrett, OSB. “Saint Fillan or Faolan, Abbot (8th century)”. The Calendar of Scottish Saints, 1919. Saints.SQPN.com. 31 December 2013. Web. 28 December 2014. <>