Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Finnian of Moville

Article

Born about 495; died 589. Though not so celebrated as his namesake of Clonard, he was the founder of a famous school about the year 540. He studied under Saint Colman of Dromore and Saint Mochae of Noendrum (Mahee Island), and subsequently at Candida Casa (Whithern), whence he proceeded to Rome, returning to Ireland in 540 with an integral copy of Saint Jerome’s Vulgate. Saint Finnian’s most distinguished pupil at Moville (County Down) was Saint Columba, whose surreptitious copying of the Psaltery led to a very remarkable sequel. What remains of the copy, together with the casket that contains it, is now in the National Museum, Dublin. It is known as the Cathach or Battler, and was wont to be carried by the O’Donnells in battle. The inner case was made by Cathbar O’Donnell in 1084, but the outer is fourteenth-century work. So prized was it that family of MacGroarty were hereditary custodians of this Cathach, and it finally passed, in 1802, to Sir Neal O’Donnell, County Mayo. Saint Finnian of Moville wrote a rule for his monks, also a penitential code, the canons of which were published by Wasserschleben in 1851. His festival is observed on 10 September.

MLA Citation

  • William Grattan-Flood. “Saint Finnian of Moville”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. Saints.SQPN.com. 26 February 2013. Web. 23 September 2014. <>