Lucien-Leopold Lobin (1837–1892). Asicus, the first bishop of Elphin. Sligo Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Third stained glass window in the ambulatory (counting from left to right, beginning from the west transept)
Évêque en Irlande (Ve siècle)
Ballina St. Muredach's Cathedral East Window Irish Saints Detail. Two major rows of the four-light stained glass window behind the main altar in the east, depicting in the upper row the four saints Laurence O'Toole, Patrick, Bridget, Kevin, and in the lower row the four saints Muredach, Dympna, Asicus, and Columbkill. The window was erected in memory of bishop Thomas Feeny who died in 1873 and who bequeathed the sum of £ 200 for it. Created by Mayer & Co., Munich. (See The Cathedrals of Ireland, ISBN 0-85389-452-3, p. 25.)
Married coppersmith and silversmith. Convert. Disciple of Saint Patrick. First bishop of the diocese of Elphin, Ireland. Late in life, citing his unworthiness to lead his parishioners, he retired to live as a prayerful hermit on an island in Donegal Bay; monks from his diocese followed and tried to get him to return.
Battersby’s Registry for the Whole World
“Saint Asicus of Elphin“. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 December 2019. Web. 14 April 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-asicus-of-elphin/>
Statue of Saint Asicus, Sligo Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
ASICUS (Saint) Bishop (April 27) (5th century) One of the earliest disciples of Saint Patrick in Ireland. The Apostle placed him at the head of the monastery and Diocese of Elphin, of which he is venerated as the Patron-Saint. He lived to a great age, dying after the year 500, having passed the evening of his life as a hermit. He is famous for his extraordinary skill as a metal-worker, and some remarkable specimens of his handiwork yet remain.
St. Asicus, also called Ascicus and Tassach, is the patron saint of the Diocese of Elphin. The patron saint of coppersmiths, St Asicus is buried at the top of a field between Donegal Town and Ballyshannon near Ballintra. He was a skilled coppersmith and silversmith, and copperwork can be seen on the shamrock patterned beaten brass alter screen in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Sligo. He was one of the earliest of St. Patrick’s diciples and after St. Patrick established the diocese of Elphin in County Roscommon, circa. 450 AD, he appointed Asicus as it’s first bishop. He was later Abbot-Bishop of Ireland.
It is said that he was a humble man and often trouble by thoughts that was not worthy of his high office in the Church. He left Roscommon and travelled to Rathlin O’Birne Island in Donegal Bay where he resigned his office and became a hermit, living for a while at the top of Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) along the area called The Pilgrim’s Way.
He remained there for seven years until he was found by the monks of Elphin who persueded him to return to Elphin with them. However, he was not in good health and died on the journey back to Elphin (circa. 490 AD). He is buried where he died ~ near the village of Ballintra between Ballyshannon andDonegal Town in County Donegal. His feastday is the 27th of April.
You can find his grave along the road from Ballyshannon to Donegal Town, just before the turn off to Rossnowlagh. Turn off the main road to the left and a short distance along the narrow lane you will see the gateposts on your right, as in the picture in the gallery here below. The grave is just up the hill beyond the gates.
In the "Tripartite Life of St Patrick" (ed. Whitley Stokes) we read:
Bishop St Assic was Patrick's coppersmith, and made altars and square bookcases. Besides, he made our saint's patens in honour of Bishop Patrick, and of them I have seen three square patens, that is, a paten in the Church of Patrick in Armagh, and another in the Church of Elphin, and a third in the great-church of Donough-patrick (at Carns near Tulsk).
St. Assicus was a most expert metal worker, and was also renowned as a bellfounder. Of his last days the following graphic description is given by Archbishop Healy:
Assicus himself in shame because of a lie told either by him, or, as others say, of him, fled into Donegal, and for seven years abode in the island of Rathlin O'Birne. Then his monks sought him out, and after much labour found him in the mountain glens, and tried to bring him home to his own monastery at Elphin. But he fell sick by the way and died with them in the wilderness. So they buried the venerable old man in the churchyard of Rath Cunga, now Racoon, in the Barony of Tirhugh, County Donegal. The old churchyard is there still, though now disused, on the summit of a round hillock close to the left of the road from Ballyshannon to Donegal, about a mile to the south of the village of Ballintra. We sought in vain for any trace of an inscribed stone in the old churchyard. He fled from men during life, and, like Moses, his grave is hidden from them in death.
Grattan-Flood, William. "St. Assicus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 14 Apr. 2021 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01800a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
DIOCESE OF ELPHIN (ELPHINIUM)
Suffragan of Tuam, Ireland, a see founded by St. Patrick. All the known facts respecting its first bishop are recorded in two important memorials of early Irish hagiography, the "Vita Tripartita" of St. Patrick, and the so-called "Patrician Documents" in the "Book of Armagh" (q.v.). On his missionary tour through Connaught, which he entered by crossing the Shannon at Drum-boilan, near Battlebridge, in the parish of Ardcarne, in 434 or 435, St. Patrick came to the territory of Corcoghlan, in which was situated the place now called Elphin. The chief of that territory, a noble Druid named Ono, of the royal Connacian race of Hy-Briuin, gave land, and afterwards his castle or fort, to St. Patrick to found a church and monastery. The place, which had hitherto been called, from its owner's name, Emlagh-Ono, received the designation of Elphin, which signifies "rock of the clear spring", from a large stone raised by the saint from the well opened by him in this land and placed on its margin, and the copious stream of crystal water which flowed from it and still flows through the street of Elphin. There St. Patrick built a church called through centuries Tempull Phadruig, i.e. Patrick's church. He established here an episcopal see, and placed over it St. Assicus as bishop, and with him left Bite, a bishop, son of the brother of Assicus, and Cipia, mother of Bite. St. Patrick also founded at Elphin an episcopal monastery or college, one of the first monasteries founded by him, and placed Assicus over it, in which office he was succeeded by Bite. Both were buried at Racoon, in Donegal, where St. Patrick built a church and a habitation for seven bishops. The "Septem episcopide Racoon" are invoked in the Festology of Ængus the Culdee.
The first bishop of Elphin is described in the "Book of Armagh" as the cerd, i.e. the wright or goldsmith of St. Patrick; and he made chalices, patens, and metal book-covers for the newly founded churches. Following the example of their masters, the successors and spiritual children of St. Assicus founded a school of art and produced beautiful objects of Celtic workmanship in the Diocese of Elphin. Some of these remain to the present day, objects of interest to all who see them. The famous Cross of Cong (see CROSS), undoubtedly one of the finest specimens of its age in Western Europe, was (as the inscription on it and the Annals of Innisfallen testify) the work of Mailisa MacEgan, successor of St. Finian of Clooncraff near Elphin, in the County Roscommon, and was made at Roscommon under the superintendence of Domhnall, son of Flanagan O'Duffy, successor of Coman and Kieran, abbots of Roscommon and Clonmacnoise, and Bishop of Elphin. It is held that the exquisite Ardagh Chalice, which was given to Clonmacnoise by Turlough O'Conor, and was stolen thence by the Danes, was made, if not by the same artist, at least in the same school at Roscommon. The Four Masters record (1166) that the shrine of Manchan of Maothail (Mohill) was covered by Rory O'Conor, and an embroidery of gold placed over it by him in as good style as relic was ever covered in Ireland. It is, therefore, fair to conclude that this beautiful work was also executed in the school of art founded by St. Assicus in the Diocese of Elphin. Within four miles of the present town of Elphin is Ratherroghan, the famous palace of Queen Meave and the Connaught kings; Relig-na-Righ, the King.' Burial Place; also the well of Ogulla, or the Virgin Monument, the scene of the famous conversion and baptism of Aithnea (Eithne) and Fidelm, the daughters of Leoghari, monarch of Ireland in the time of St. Patrick. Ware states that after the union with Elphin of the minor sees of Roscommon, Ardcarne, Drumcliffe, and other bishoprics of less note, finally effected by the Synod of Kells (1152), the see was esteemed one of the richest in all Ireland, and had about seventy-nine parish churches. The Four Masters describe its cathedral as the "Great Church" in 1235, and speak of the bishop's court in 1258. It had a dean and chapter at this time, as we learn from the mandate of Innocent IV, sent from Lyons, 3 July, 1245, to the Archbishop of Tuam, notifying him that the pope had annulled the election of the Provost of Roscommon to the See of Elphin, and ordering him to appoint and consecrate Archdeacon John, postulated by the dean Malachy, the archdeacons John and Clare, and the treasurer Gilbert.
Among the early bishops was Bron of Killaspugbrone, a favoured disciple of St. Patrick. He was also the friend and adviser of St. Brigid when she dwelt in the plain of Roscommon and founded monasteries there. According to Ware, of the successors of St. Assicus in the See of Elphin he found mention of only two before the coming of the English, Domhnall O'Dubhthaigh (O'Duffy), who died in 1036, and Flanachan O'Dubhthaigh, who died in 1168. There is reference to at least two other bishops of Elphin, in 640 and 1190. From St. Assicus to 1909 the names of at least fifty-four occupants of the see are enumerated in the ecclesiastical annals and public records of Ireland and Rome. Many of them were renowned for learning, wisdom and piety. During the Reformation and subsequent persecutions, there continued in Elphin an unfailing succession of canonically appointed Catholic bishops. They were faithful dispensers of the divine mysteries, like George Brann and John Max; confessors true to the Catholic Faith and the See of Peter, through years of persecution and exile like O'Higgins and O'Crean; martyrs sealing their testimony with their blood, like O'Healy and Galvirius.
The present Diocese of Elphin includes nearly the whole of the county of Roscommon, with large portions of Sligo and Galway. In the census of 1901 the population was: Catholics, 125,743; non-Catholics, 7,661. The present chapter consists of a dean, archdeacon, treasurer, chancellor, theologian, penitentiary, and four prebendaries. The parishes number 33, parish priests and curates 100. There is a convent of Dominicans at Sligo. The female orders in the diocese are: Ursulines, Sligo; Sisters of Mercy, in various places; and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, at Loughlynn. To the convents are attached primary schools attended by 2,500 girls. Three of them have also industrial schools for orphan and homeless children. The Ursulines conduct a boarding-school for young ladies. The diocesan seminary is the college of the Immaculate Conception at Sligo. The Marist and Presentation Brothers teach large schools. The cathedral of the diocese at Sligo, an early Romanesque structure, simple and massive, was erected by Most Rev. Dr. Gillooly, and consecrated in 1897. He also built St. Mary's Presbytery, and the College of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo. These, with a Temperance Hall, form a group of ecclesiastical buildings worthy of their beautiful scenic surroundings.
Bishop Gillooly was succeeded, 24 March, 1895, by the Most Rev. John Joseph Clancy, born in the parish of Riverstown, County Sligo, in 1856. He was educated at the Marist College, Sligo, and Summerhill College, Athlone, and entered Maynooth in 1876, where he spent two years on the Dunboyne Establishment. In 1883 he was appointed professor in the Diocesan College, Sligo, and in 1887 professor of English Literature and French in Maynooth College, which office he held until he was made Bishop of Elphin.
Book of Armagh (REEVES-GYWNN, facsimile edition); WARE-HARRIS, Bishops and Writers of Ireland (Dublin, 1739-46); Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O'DONOVAN (Dublin, 1856); Annals of Ulster, ed. HENNESSY and McCARTHY (Dublin, 1887 sqq.); Annals of Loch Cé (1014-1590), ed. HENNESSY; BRADY, Episcopal Succession in England and Ireland (Rome, 1876).
Kelly, James Joseph. "Elphin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 14 Apr. 2021 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05394b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by James J. Walsh.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Saint Assicus of Elphin, April 27
On April 27 we commemorate the diocesan patron of Elphin, Saint Assicus. He features in the hagiography of Saint Patrick, where he is described as a skilled metal worker who made various items for the use of the newly-established churches. The relationship of Saint Assicus to the County Down saint who ministered to Saint Patrick on his deathbed, Tassach of Raholp, is not altogether clear. The author of the paper below, published in two parts in the Irish Ecclesaistical Record of 1902 believes we are dealing with two distinct individuals and lays out the evidence from the sources:
FIRST BISHOP AND PATRON OF THE DIOCESE OF ELPHIN
IT is the peculiar good fortune of Elphin, not alone that the see was founded by the National Apostle, but that, except the feast day, all the known facts respecting the first bishop have been recorded in the two most authentic memorials of native hagiography, — the Tripartite Life and the Patrician Documents in the Book of Armagh. St. Assicus was one of St. Patrick's earliest and most remarkable disciples in Ireland and the first bishop of the very ancient see of Elphin. St. Patrick in his missionary tour through Connaught, which he entered by crossing the Shannon at Drumboilan, near Battle-bridge, in the parish of Ardcarne, according to Usher in 434, according to Lanigan in 435, came to the territory of Corcoghlan, in which was situated the place now called Elphin.
The prince or chief of that territory, a noble druid named Ona, or Ono, or Hono, of the royal Connacian race to Hy-Briuin, gave land and afterwards his castle or fort to St. Patrick to found a church and monastery. The place, which had hitherto been called, from its owner's name. Emlagh-Ona, received the designation of Elphin, which signifies the Rock of the Clear [Spring], from a large stone raised by the saint from the well miraculously opened by him in this land, and placed by him on its margin; and from the copious stream of crystal water which flowed from it and still flows through the street of Elphin. There St. Patrick built a church called through centuries Tempull Phadruig, Patrick's Church, which he made an episcopal see, placing over it St. Assicus as bishop; and with him he left Bitheus, son of the brother of Assicus, and Cipia, mother of bishop Bitheus. St. Patrick also founded at Elphin an episcopal monastery or college, which is justly considered one of the first monasteries founded by him, and placed over it the holy bishop Assicus.
…Like so many of the towns of Ireland, the episcopal city of Elphin had its origin in the church and monastery which St. Patrick founded there, and over which he placed St. Assicus in the fifth century. The name of Emlagh-Ona is still preserved in the townland of Emlagh, which adjoins the town of Elphin. Emlagh-Ona was obviously so-called to distinguish it from this other Emlagh, coterminous with it and still retaining the name.
The first bishop of Elphin was a worker in metal. He is described in the Book of Armagh as a cerd, i.e, a wright, the faber aereus Patricii, and he made altars, chalices, and patens, and metal book-covers, for the newly founded churches. Following the example of their master, the successors and spiritual children of St. Assicus founded a school of art and produced most beautiful objects of Celtic workmanship in the diocese of Elphin. Of these, some remain to the present day, objects of admiration to all who see them. The famous Cross of Cong, undoubtedly one of the finest specimens of its age in the western world, was, as an inscription on it testifies, the work of Maelisa Mac Egan, comarb of St. Finian of Clooncraff, near Elphin, Co. Roscommon, under the superintendence of Domhnall, son of Flanagan O'Duffy, at Roscommon, who was successor of Coman and Eiaran, abbots of Roscommon and Clonmacnoise, and bishop of Elphin. It is held that the exquisite Ardagh Chalice, which was given to Clonmacnoise by Torlogh O'Conor, and was stolen thence, was made, if not by the same artist, in the same school at Roscommon. The Four Masters record A.D. 1166: The shrine of Manchan of Maothail (Mohill) was covered by Rory O'Conor, and an embroidering of gold was carried over it by him, in as good style as relic was ever covered in Ireland. It is, therefore, fair to conclude that this beautiful work was also executed in the school of art founded by St. Assicus in the diocese of Elphin….
…About seven years before his death, St. Assicus, grieved because some of the inhabitants of Magh-Ai, or Machaire-Connaught, the plain in which Elphin lies, had falsely given out that a lie had been told by him, seeking solitude, desiring to be alone with God, secretly fled from Elphin northward to Slieve League, a precipitous mountain in Donegal. He spent seven years in seclusion on the island of Rathlin, adjacent to Glencolumbkille. His monks sought him, and at last, after great labour, found him in the mountain glens. They sought to persuade him to return with them to Elphin; but he refused on account of the falsehood which had been spoken of him there. The king of the territory gave to him and to his monks after his death the pasture of one hundred cows with their calves, and of twenty oxen, as a perpetual offering. There the holy bishop died, and they buried him in the desert, far from Elphin, in Rathcunga, in Seirthe. Rathcunga is now locally called Racoon. It is a conical hill, the apex of which is entrenched like a rath, and contains an ancient cemetery, now disused, in the parish of Drumhome, county Donegal. In this sacred and celebrated place, St. Patrick had built a church and monastery, where had dwelt seven bishops: and in the same place, St. Bitheus, bishop, the nephew of St: Assicus, is buried. Their relics were held in the highest honour, and for many ages were religiously guarded by the monks and venerated by the people.
Of the church and monastery of Racoon, hallowed by the relics of the holy bishop and anchorite Assicus, and the holy bishop, Bitheus, and by the presence of St. Patrick and seven bishops, even the ruins have perished. But the children of St. Assicus, the first bishop and patron of Elphin, still, even to our age, have piously preserved his memory, and hold before their eyes his example of the union of labour and contemplation. St. Assicus probably died before the close of the fifth century. His feast is observed on the 27th of April, on which day he is honoured as patron of the diocese of Elphin, where his festival is celebrated as a double of the first class with an octave. It is a major double for the rest of Ireland.
Hennessy identifies Bite with St. Beoaedh, bishop of Ardcarne, in the county of Roscommon. 'He was,' he says, 'nephew of St. Assicus, bishop of Elphin, who was also buried in Rathcunga. St. Beoaedh died on the 8th of March, 624, on which day he was venerated. The Chronicon Scotorum has his death at 518. But Beoaedh (Vividus Hugo) of Ardcarne — Beoaedus de Ardcharna in Connacia, qui erat episcopus, obiit 523 : Mart Dungall, Mart, of Tallaght, pp. xvii., 3 — does not appear to have been identical with Bite, nephew of St. Assicus. Bite was a bishop and is often mentioned in the Tripartite and Book of Armagh with Essu and Tassach (Assic), as one of Patrick's cerds. He was left at Elphin with Cipia his mother, and, there can be little doubt, succeeded the founder, St. Assicus. There is a St. Biteus, abbot of Inis-cumhscraidhe, now Inishcoursy, co. Down, at the 29th of July. St. Biteus of Elphin is given in the list of St. Patrick's disciples furnished by Tirechan, Asacus (recte Assicus), Bitheus, Falertus (Felartus). But the equation of Bite and Beo-Aed calls for no refutation. The latter died, according to the rectified chronology of the Annals of Ulster, in 524. He was seventh in descent from Lugaid Mac Con, king of Ireland, slain A.D. 207. Amongst the saints of Lugaid's sept mentioned in the versified Genealogies of Saints, Bite is not included, — an omission which effectively disposes of the allegation that he was nephew of Beo-Aed.
Assertions have been made regarding St. Assicus which are not borne out by the ancient authorities, and serious mistakes have been committed by various writers in treating of him. It has been said that Elphin derives its name from a white rock or stone: that Assicus was a druid: that he was the husband of Cipia and father of bishop Bitheus: that he retired from Elphin through shame because he had told a lie there. There seems to be no warrant for these statements in the reliable sources of our knowledge respecting St. Assicus… St. Assicus fled from Elphin, not because he had told a lie there, but (which is quite another thing) because a lie had been told there of him.
The author of the Life of St. Patrick in the Book of Armagh says: The holy bishop Assicus was the goldsmith of Patrick, and he made altars, and quadrangular book-cases. Our saint also made patens in honour of Patrick the bishop ; and of them I have seen three quadrangular patens, that is, the paten in the church of Patrick in Armagh, and another in the church of Elphin, and the third in the great church of Saetli, on the altar of Felart, the holy bishop. The altar of Felart, on which was this beautiful paten of St. Assicus, was in the church founded by St. Patrick on Lough Sealga, called Domnagh-Mor of Magh Sealga, in the townland of Carns, near Tulsk and Rathcroghan, the royal residence of Connaught.
Ware says : —
Elphin, or as others write it Elfin, is situated on a rising ground in a pleasant and fertile soil. St. Patrick built the Cathedral Church there about the middle of the fifth century, near a little river flowing from two fountains, and set Asic, a monk, over it, who was a great admirer of penance and austerity ; and by him consecrated bishop, who afterwards filled it with monks. He died in Rathcung in Tirconnell, where he was also buried. Some say that this Assic (the correct form) was a most excellent goldsmith, and by his art beautified the Cathedral with six pieces of very curious workmanship.
The little river of Ware and the spring of the Tripartite and O'Flaherty, are the present stream from St. Patrick's Well; and the two fountains were no more than two fissures in the Ail out of which two tiny streams flowed separately for a short distance, when they united. This is the case to the present time. The water flowing from the spot where the Ail stood is conveyed in two covered drains as far as the water-shed. The original fissures in the rock did not contain much water at any time ; and, as described by a nonogenarian who had drawn water from it, the ail was a large rock considerably raised over the surface of the surrounding earth, and in its centre or between its shafts, were the fissures or crannies from which sprang the clear water that produced the rivulet. This celebrated rock, which, together with the crystal stream that flowed from it, has given a name to the most ancient diocese of Connaught, was shattered to pieces by the application of blasting powder, by Rev. William Smith, Protestant Vicar-General of Elphin, between the years 1820 and 1830. Owing to this vandalism, there is now no trace of the Ail-finn or Rock of the Clear Spring. It is a mistake to say that, when it was broken, the Ail stood several perches from the present St. Patrick's Well at Elphin. It stood close beside the well. I have seen the roots or the part of the rock beneath the surface of the earth which had been dug to erect a new fountain over the well. I have also seen portion of a stone crucifix, dug up at the same time, which once had stood over the Holy Well of St. Patrick and St. Assicos (and had doubtless been also shattered by the men of England), now in possession of the Very Rev. Canon Mannion, parish priest of Elphin. O'Flaherty, in his Ogygia, says that a person predicted the falling of this stone on a certain day, and that it fell on that day [Wednesday], 9th of October, 1675. But there were two remarkable stones in Elphin, one over St. Patrick's Well, and the other in the middle of the town. Near Elphin is the townland of Lahausk, i.e, Leacht h As[i]c; flag-stone of Assic. The tradition is that the place was so called, because St. Assicus, in the course of his missionary labours, broke his leg on a flag there.
It remains to deal with the attempt to identify Assicos or Assic with Tassach, who administered the viaticum to St. Patrick. The accessible authorities for Tassach are:
(1.) Irish Hymn of Fiac on St. Patrick : —
Tassach remained with him (Patrick),
When he gave Communion to him :
He said that soon Patrick would go (die), —
The word of Tassach was not false.
Tassach is glossed : ‘namely, wright of Patrick . . . Raholp, by Downpatrick, to the east, is his church.'
(2.) The Calendar of Aengus : —
April the 14th:
The royal -bishop Tassach
Gave, when he came [to visit the dying Saint],
The body of Christ, the King truly strong.
With [i .e. in] Communion to Patrick.
The fourth line of the quatrain is glossed — i.e., it is the body of Christ that was Communion for him. The gloss adds : — Tassach is venerated in Baholp in Lecale, in Ulster ; i.e., Wright and bishop of Patrick was Tassach, and this is the feast of his death.
(3.) The imperfect Martyrology of Tallaght, a copy of the short recension of the so-called Hieronyman Martyrology with native saints added to each day (Book of Leinster, page 358 fg.), XVIII. Kal. Mai.; the first Irish name is Sancti Tassagi.
(4.) The List of Irish saints who were bishops, in the Book Leinster, page 365 : Nomina episcoporum Hibernensium incipiunt: the sixth name is Tassach.
(5.) The Drummond Kalendar : XVIII. Kal. Mai : Apud Hiberniam, Sanctus Episcopus et Confessor Tassach hoc die ad Christum migravit.
Two instances remain, in which the patron of Raholp is confounded with the first bishop of Elphin, — the glosses already given on the hymn of Fiac and on the Calendar of Aengus. The first is of the eleventh century; the second, of the fifteenth. In the present case, they are accordingly devoid of importance.
Colgan observed that the Natalis of Assicus, under that name, cannot be found in the Irish martyrologies, although the name is thus written in the Acts of St. Patrick; and, to account for this omission, supposed that he was identical with Assanus, whose feast occurs on the 27th of April, according to the Martyrology of Donegal. Yet, in the Martyrology of Tallaght, which he had under his hand, it is the second name given under April the 26th, disguised as Isaac which Dr. Matthew Kelly, of Maynooth (clarum et venerabile nomen), all but succeeded in rightly amending. His reading is 'Assach'; the true lection is As[s]ic. The transposition of the vowels (c/. Falertus for Felartus), and the error of a day may be attributed to the fact that the compiler belonged to southeast Leinster. As to the omission from the (metrical) Calendar of Aengus (end of eighth, and beginning of ninth, century), the only other ancient martyrology which Colgan possessed, suffice it to say that the bard preferred to commemorate foreign saints. For instance, at April 26th, the Tallaght Martyrology has six Irish names; the Calendar selects the first saint of the day, the martyr Grillus. At April 27th, the former gives four natives; the latter, the first foreign name, Alexander, abbot of Rome.
The investigation of the most reliable authorities regarding St. Assicus, first bishop and patron of Elphin, affords fresh proof that the closer the study of our ancient and authentic documents, the more evident becomes the truth of the popular traditions respecting the lives of our native saints.
J. J. Kelly.
Sant' Asaco (Asico) Vescovo
Martirologio Romano: A Elphin in Irlanda, san Tassac, vescovo, che si ritiene sia stato discepolo di san Patrizio e primo vescovo di questa Chiesa.
Den hellige Asicus av Elphin (d. 470/490)
Minnedag: 27. april
Skytshelgen for bispedømmet Elphin
Den hellige Asicus (Ascicus, Assicus, Assic, Asic, [Tassach]) var fra Irland, en dyktig koppersmed og en av de tidligste disiplene av den hellige Patrick. I The Tripartite Life of St Patrick kan vi lese: «Den hellige biskop Assic var Patricks koppersmed og lagde altere og rette bokhyller. I tillegg lagde han våre helgeners patenaer til ære for biskop Patrick, og av dem har jeg sett tre rette patenaer, det vil si en patena i Patricks kirke i Armagh, en annen i kirken i Elphin og en tredje i den store kirken i Donough-patrick (i Carns nær Tulsk).»
Asicus var gift da han møtte Patrick. Da Patrick i 450 etablerte klosteret og bispedømmet Elphin i Roscommon i grevskapet Mayo, utnevnte han Asicus til dets første biskop og abbed (de tidligste biskopene i Irland var alltid abbeder). Men Asicus var ydmyk og mente at han ikke var verdig til embetet, så derfor dro han til en øy i Donegal Bay hvor han sa fra seg sin rang og ble eremitt.
Legenden forteller at han flyktet etter at han hadde sagt en løgn, enten med vitende eller ved et uhell, men dette kan være basert på en lignende legende om den hellige Antonius den Store. Etter syv år fant munkene fra Elphin ham og overtalte ham til å vende tilbake til klosteret. Men han ble syk og døde i Ballintra eller Raith Cungilor i Racoon på tilbakereisen. Dette skal ha skjedd rundt 470 (eller 490). Munkene gravla ham på kirkegården i Rath Cunga, nå Racoon i baroniet Tirhugh i grevskapet Donegal.
Asicus ble helligkåret ved at hans kult ble stadfestet den 19. juni 1902 (gruppen «Albert, Asicus og Carthagus, biskoper, og deres 22 irske ledsagere») av pave Leo XIII (1878-1903). Hans minnedag er 27. april og han står i Martyrologiet i Tallaght på denne datoen. Han feires over hele Irland. Han er skytshelgen for bispedømmet Elphin. Den hellige Oengus' viktige Félire fra tidlig på 800-tallet kaller ham «den kongelige biskop» og beskriver hvordan han ga kommunion til Patrick.
Asicus var en ekspert i metallhåndverk og var også berømt som klokkestøper. Noen bemerkelsesverdige eksempler på hans kopperarbeider er bevart. Tassach angis vanligvis som en annen form av hans navn, men dette er tvilsomt. Resultatet er at det har blitt en viss sammenblanding med den hellige biskop Tassach av Raholp i grevskapet Down. Det sies at denne Tassach ga Patrick de siste sakramentene. Begge var dyktige metallhåndverkere, deres navn ligner og de døde omtrent samtidig. Selv om noen mener det er snakk om en og samme person, er det nok to forskjellige.
Kilder: Attwater/Cumming, Butler (IV), Benedictines, Bunson, Index99, KIR, CE, CSO, Patron Saints SQPN, Heiligenlexikon, celt-saints, elphindiocese.ie - Kompilasjon og oversettelse: p. Per Einar Odden - Opprettet: 2000-05-09 20:23 - - Sist oppdatert: 2007-07-24 18:20