Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Cronan, Abbot

Article

Abbot-Bishop and Patron of Roscrea, a see afterwards incorporated in that of Killaloe, Ireland; born in the territory of Ely O’Carroll; died 28 April 640. After spending his youth in Connacht, he returned to his native district about the year 610 and founded Abbey Roscrea, where he established a famous school. Previously he settled at a place known as Sean Ros or Loch Cre, a wooded morass far from the haunts of men; in fact, it was utterly wild, so much so, that Saint Cronan abandoned it and moved to the wood of Cre, that is Roscrea, County Tipperary. Like those of so many other Irish saints the Acts of Saint Cronan abound in miracles. The most surprising, perhaps, is the legend as to the transcribing of the Four Gospels by one of his monks, named Dimma. It appears that Dimma could only undertake one day’s task, from sunrise to sunset. Saint Cronan, however, bade him write, and then Dimma set to work, never ceasing till he had finished the Four Gospels, the sun continuing to shine for the space of forty days and forty nights – the scribe himself being unconscious that the work occupied more than one day. Whatever may be thought of this legend, it is certain that a magnificent Evangelistarium, known as the “Book of Dimma”, was for centuries preserved in Saint Cronan’s Abbey at Roscrea, and is now in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. The scribe, Dimma MacNathi, signs his name at the conclusion of each of the Gospels, and he has been identified with Dimma, subsequently Bishop of Connor, who is mentioned with Saint Cronan in the letter of Pope John IV in 640, in regard to Pelagianism in Ireland, but this identification cannot be sustained. The case containing the “Book of Dimma” was richly gilt by order of O’Carroll, Lord of Ely, in the twelfth century. Notwithstanding the conflicting statements arising from the number of contemporary Irish saints bearing the name Cronan, it is more than probable that Saint Cronan of Roscrea, as les Petits Bollandistes say, lived as late as the year 640, and his death occurred on 28 April of that year. His feast is celebrated on 28 April and as such is included in all the Irish calendars, as also in the Kalendar of Drummond.

MLA Citation

  • William Grattan-Flood. “Saint Cronan, Abbot”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. Saints.SQPN.com. 28 April 2013. Web. 28 July 2014. <>