Friday, 8 May 2015

Saint Assicus of Elphin (Ware)

From Sir James Ware's The antiquities and history of Ireland at 147:

"Elphin or as some write it Elfin is situate in a fertile and pleasant Country something rising where St. Patrick built the Cathedral near a little river that flows from two Fountains about the middle of the fifth Century and there placed Asicus a monk of an austere life. Some say that this Asicus was a goldsmith and by his art adorned the Church with monuments of excellent workmanship. After many centuries and not long after the coming of the English, the See of Roscommon being translated hither, this See of Elphin was very much enriched and endowed with large possessions. When Ardcarn, Drumclive and other Sees of less note were united to this, I confess I know not but it is probable that it was before the coming of the English. Their names are not in the distribution made in the year 1152 nor, which is strange, the See of Elphin itself. From whence I cannot but think that it was at that time namely before the said translation united to the See of Roscommon. However it is certain that the See of Elphin by these unions was esteemed one of the richest in Ireland and had more or less 79 Parish Churches. The ignorant vulgar think the name was given it from a great stone there to be seen called the stone of the giant Fin Mac Cool.

"Saint Asicus
"Promot. circ. 450

"Elphin or as some write it Elfin is situated in a pleasant and fertile country of a gentle ascent St. Patrick founded a Cathedral in this place near a little river issuing from two fountains about the middle of the 5th Century and placed over it St Asicus a Monk and a great lover of penance and austerity whom he consecrated Bishop and who soon after filled it with monks. He died at Rathcunge in Tirconnell and was there also buried. [But the time of his Death is no where related, that I know of.  His festival is celebrated on the 27th of April.] Some say this Asicus was an excellent goldsmith and that by his skill he beautyfied the Cathedral with monuments of elegant workmanship. The Author of the Tripartite Life of St Patrick saith that Asicus wrought for St Patrick in brass and that he made for him altars quadrangular, books and quadrangular chalices, one of which was preserved at Armagh, one at Elpbin and one at Domnach mór. After many centuries and a little before the arrival of the English in Ireland this See of Elpbin was enriched with many and large Estates upon the translation of the See of Roscommon to it. I confess I am at a loss to discover at what time the Sees of Ardcarn, Drumclive and others of less note were united and annexed to this. But it is very probable that they were joined either to the See of Elpbin or to that of Roscommon before the arrival of the English. Their Names indeed are not to be found in that Disposition of the Bishopricks of Ireland made in 1152 which I have so often before mentioned and which is strange the See of Elpbin itself is omitted in that Distribution. From whence I cannot but suspect that before the said translation it was for some time annexed to the See of Roscommon. However it is certain that by these unions the See of Elphin came at last to be looked upon as one of the richest of all Ireland and had subject to it about 79 Parish Churches. The foolish common People are silly enough to dream that the name of this place was taken from a huge Stone there to be seen called the Stone of the giant Fin Mac Cool. Others with more probability interpret the name to signifie a stone of a clear transparent fountain, Ail signifying in old Irish a stone and Fin or Fion white. Its name was antiently [sic] Imleach Ona being the Donation of Ono a petty Prince of that Territory to St. Patrick. Flaherty gives an account that this stone fell prostrate to the ground on the 9th of Oclober, 1675 and that the certain day and hour of its falling was foretold by some person who called out witnesses to see it fall. Possibly this was effected by some contrivance of his that he might gain the reputation of a prophet. I find no mention made of any of the Successors of St. Asicus in the See of Elpbin before the arrival of the English except of two viz., Domnald O Dubbai, who was also Bishop of Clonmacnois and died at Clonfert in 1136 or 1137, and Flanachan O Dubhai, who died in 1168."

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