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San Finnian di Moville.
Saint Finnian or Saint Uinniau of Movillemarker (495 - 589), was a Christian missionary who became a legendary figure in medieval Irelandmarker. He should not to be confused with his namesake Finnian of Clonard. Traditional scholarship has it that he was a descendant of Fiatach the Fair and born in Ulster, however this has been questioned lately by the American Celticist Thomas Owen Clancy. He apparently studied under Colman of Dromore and Mochae of Noendrum, and subsequently at Candida Casa (Whithornmarker), whence he proceeded to Romemarker, returning to Ireland in 540 with an integral copy of St. Jerome's Vulgate. He was the founder of a famous school of Druim Fionn at about this time. Legend has it that he tried to convert Tuan mac Cairill, a mythical figure who was the last survivor of the Partholonian race, and that while doing so had the famous Scéal Tuáin maic Cairell recounted to him. This is a text about takings of Ireland, a source for the famous Lebor Gabála Érenn.

Finnian's most distinguished pupil at Moville was Columba. Tradition has it that Columba's surreptitious copying of a psalter led eventually to his exile on Ionamarker. What remains of the copy, together with the casket that contains it, is now in the National Museum of Irelandmarker. 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.

Finnian wrote a rule for his monks, also a penitential code, the canons of which were published by Wasserschleben in 1851.


  • Saint Finnian of Moville's feast-day as it stands is the 10th of September.

External links


  • Clancy, T. O. "The real St Ninian," in Innes Review, 52 (2001), pp. 1–28
  • MacKillop, James, A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, (Oxford, 1998)

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