Patriarche des moines irlandais (+ 603)
Abbé de Clonegah, disciple de saint Columba. Aux disciples qui voulaient se ranger sous sa conduite, il traça une règle du plus sévère ascétisme, tempérée par une sincère humilité et sa grande douceur à l'égard de tous. On le considère comme l'un des pères de l'Irlande monastique.
A lire (en anglais): St Fintan of Clonenagh, célèbre ascète - illustration - catholicireland.net
Au monastère de Cluain Ednech en Irlande, saint Fintan, abbé, fondateur de ce monastère, célèbre par son austérité.
The Grave of St Fintan at Kilfountain on the Dingle peninsula, a pillar stone with his name written on it.
Fintán of Clúain Ednech
Spiritual student of Saint Columba. Austere hermit at Clonenagh, Ireland. Many would-be students gathered around him that he founded a house for them and served as their abbot. He set such an austere example that neighboring monasteries complained they could not keep up; though he was very severe on himself, Fintan was known to be gentle and forgiving with others. Spiritual teacher of Saint Comgall of Bangor.
Legend says that Fintan’s mother received an angelic visit to explain what a holy son she would have. Fintan was reputed to have the gifts of prophecy and knowledge of distant events. Witnesses say that when he prayed by himself, he was surrounded by light.
603 of natural causes
Lives of Irish Saints, by Father Albert Barry
“Saint Fintán of Clonenagh“. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 May 2020. Web. 16 February 2022. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-fintan-of-clonenagh/>
Clonenagh St. Fintan's Tree
This tree, an acer pseudoplatanus, was planted in the late 18th or early 19th century at the site of the Early Christian monastic site of Clonenagh. The monastery was founded in the 6th century by St. Colum and then left to his disciple St. Fintan when St. Colum moved on to Terryglass. The tree is dedicated to St. Fintan and it became custom to insert coins into the tree from which the tree suffered and was already believed to be dead until the tree started to recover with some new shoots.
St. Fintan of Clonenagh
A Leinster saint, b. about 524; d. 17 February, probably 594, or at least before 597. He studied under St. Columba of Terryglass, and in 550 settled in the solitude of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, near what is now Maryborough, Queen's County. His oratory soon attracted numerous disciples, for whom he wrote a rule, and his austerities and miracles recalled the apostolic ages. Among his pupils was the great St. Comgall of Bangor. When he attained his seventieth year he chose Fintan Maeldubh as his successor in the Abbey of Clonenagh. He has been compared by the Irish annalists to St. Benedict, and is styled "Father of the Irish Monks".
Grattan-Flood, William. "Sts. Fintan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 16 Feb. 2022 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06078a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by David M. Cheney. Dedicated to Ceil Holman (1907-1996), my grandmother.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2021 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
St. Fintan, Abbot of Cluain-Ednech, in Ireland
WHICH Usher interprets the Ivy-Cave, in the diocess of Lethglean, in Leinster, in the sixth century. He had for disciple St. Comgal, the founder of the abbey of Benchor, and master of St. Columban. Colgan reckons twenty-four Irish saints of the name of Fintan; but probably several of these were the same person honoured in several places. Another St. Fintan. surnamed Munnu, who is honoured on the 21st of October, was very famous. See Colgan, Usher, and Henschenius
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866
Abbot of Clonenagh, born Gorey barony, Wicklow, Ireland, 524; died c.597. He was a pupil of Saint Columba of Terryglass. In 550 he retired to the solitude of Slieve Bloom Mountains, Leix County, where he attracted numerous followers (among them Saint Comgall of Bangor), for whom he composed an austere rule. He is often called the “Father of Irish monks” and the “Benedict of Erin.” Feast, 18 February.
“Saint Fintan”. . CatholicSaints.Info. 30 January 2013. Web. 17 February 2022. <https://catholicsaints.info/new-catholic-dictionary-saint-fintan/>
Saint Fionntan was born at Cluain-mac-Trein (near New Ross) in the year 526. His father was Gabhren and his mother was Fionndath, An angel made known to them that their new-born child would be great and holy; and Saint Columba also foretold his holiness.
Fionntan was sent to the monastic school of Tir-da-Ghlas, on the bank of Loch-Deirgdheire (Lough Derg), and there he was taught by Saint Columba-mac-Crimthan. After staying at that school for many years he went with Saint Coemhan and Saint Mochumin to Cluain-Eidhneach (Clonenagh, near Mountrath), a fertile spot, amidst a bog, at the foot of Sliabh Bladhma (Slieve Bloom), and there built a church and monastery, in the year 548. Saint Columba saw angels come down there.
Fionntan and his Monks led a very hard and holy life at Cluain-Eidhneach. They tilled the land; fasted and prayed, ate neither butter, eggs, nor flesh-meat. They did not even keep a cow. He himself, as Saint Aenghus writes, never ate anything besides a little barley-bread, and never drank anything besides a little muddy water from a stream flowing through the bog hard-by.
The wooden huts amidst the lonely bog were soon filled with youths willing to bear the hard fare and to cut themselves off from the outside world. Saint Comgall came from his far northern home and put himself under the holy Superior. All these holy men worked and prayed in turn, eating little but praying much and working hard. They went forth every day to a wood on the side of Sliabh Bladhma and hewed timber for the monastic buildings: they brought firewood on their backs across the bog, and embanked the swift-flowing Fheoir (Nore) that after heavy rain often overflowed on the meadows. They also dug the marshy soil at springtide and made it ready for sowing barley. They, above all, worked very hard at the garden of their souls, and uprooted their sinful habits and sowed instead the seed of good works.
One day whilst the Monks were at their scanty meal the wooden roof of the room took fire and began to blaze. The Monks started from their seats in fright, but Fionntan blessed the fire and at once it died out. Another day whilst he was sitting at table with Lorcan-mac-Cathen he suddenly burst into tears, and Lorcan in wonder said: “Why do you weep?”
He answered: “If you had seen what I have now seen you would say that I had good cause for weeping. A war has been waged to-day in southern Mumhan, and I have seen the souls of many of the slain going down to everlasting punishment: that is why I am so very sad. A few only have been saved. They had always led good lives, and fought only because they could not help it. You shall hear of this war in a short time.”
Before the meal was ended Fionntan said: “Your man-servant shall die this evening in a wood and his body shall not be found for many days.” It all happened as he had foretold.
Sinchell, one of his Monks, said to him: “My father and my foster-father as you know are leading wicked lives. I would like to go to them in order to strive to get them to give up their evil way.” Fionntan said to him: “Go in the name of the Lord.” When Sinchell had come back to the monastery, he said: “I altogether failed to get them to give up their bad life.” Fionntan then said to him: “Go back again and fetch them to me.” When they had come Fionntan put one on his right hand and the other on his left hand, and then spoke to them strongly for a long time of the sufferings of hell and of the unending happiness of heaven. When he had made an end of speaking, turning towards Sinchell, he whispered into his ear: “As these men are now seated, one at my right hand and the other at my left hand, so they shall be on the last day.” And as soon as they had gone away he said: “Your father shall die in his sins, and his land and goods shall be laid hold of by some neighbouring Chieftains; but your foster-father shall give up his sinful life and shall die well.” And all happened as he had foretold. “The father of Sinchell,” says the writer of the life of Saint Fionntan, “died as he had lived, and his ill-gotten goods were lost to his family, and thus the first half of the prophecy has come true; and the second half will most likely come true also.”
When Fionntan had come to Achad-Finnglass (County Carlow), Bishop Braadubh of Hy-Ceannsellagh coming there to see him, humbly begged to be allowed to live in his monastery with him, but Fionntan said: “The life led by the Monks there would be too hard for you, and it would be better for you to stay here where the life is more easy.” But the Bishop answered: “I have governed others until now, and I wish to yield my soul to God whilst living in obedience to another. I therefore give myself to you and to the Lord, and I will do whatever you give me to do. I beg only this favour, that I may not live long after you, and that should you die before me you may come speedily to take my soul with you.”Fionntan then said to him: “I give you my word that I will grant you what you have now asked.” He soon after left the monasteiy and crossing the river Bearbha (Barrow) went back to Cluain-Eidhneach.
One of the Monks died. When his younger brother, also a Monk, came back from the wood where he had been hewing timber and learned that his brother was dead, almost beside himself with sorrow, he ran to where the Monks were sino-insj psalms over the dead body; and throwing himself on his knees before Fionntan begged him, with floods of tears, to pray to God that he too might die and go to heaven with his brother. Bat Fionntan gently chided him for his words, and said to him: “Your brother has already gone to the heavenly kingdom: you are alive and cannot go with him unless he were to come to life again.” Fionntan besought God to enlighten him what to do, and God heard the prayer of the holy man, and made known to him that as he had always done his will He would now enable him to do a wonderful work. Fionntan sent for the young Monk, and said to him: “Your wish is pleasing to God: stay here and you shall behold your brother alive again.” Fionntan then prayed, as Elias did once before in presence of the dead child of the widow of Sarepta, saying: “O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech Thee, come back into his body;” and as God then heard the prayer of His Prophet, so now He heard the earnest prayer of this holy old man: and the soul of the dead Monk came back into his body. Then Fionntan said to the younger Monk: “Behold your brother is alive.” And the newly risen Monk said to him: “Make haste and receive the holy Eucharist, for angels have come with me to bear us both to heaven together.” When the younger Monk had got the Viaticum he lay down beside his brother and they both slept in the Lord. They had lived together, and now they died and went to heaven together.
One day Fionntan, when driving along the road, met a good man, called Ferghna, and alighting from the chariot, knelt before him. Ferghna, ashamed, said: “Why do you kneel before a sinner,” Fionntan answered: “I would not have knelt before you were it not that I have seen you amongst the angels in heaven. I beg you to leave the world and its amusements and to become a Monk.” But Ferghna said to him: “I cannot do it because I have many children to watch over and provide for, and there are many persons also devoted to me whom I could not leave.” Fionntan then said: “Go to your home and when I am on my way back I shall call to see you.” Fionntan went to see him and found him full of the love of God, and willing to forsake all and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. He became a holy Monk at Cluain-Eidhneach.
When Saint Columb, of Nuachonghbail (Aughaval), was going to set sail from the island of Iona for Ireland, he said to Saint Columcille: “Father, how can I live in mv native land and still continue to confess my sins to you?” Saint Columcille answered: “Go to the holy man whom I behold standing every Sundey evensong with the angels before the throne of God.” And Columb said: “Father, who is that holy man?” Saint Columcille answered: “He is indeed a holy man and is beautiful to behold, and he is of your own kindred. He has rosy cheeks and bright eyes, and a few grey hairs are beginning to show themselves on his head.” Then Columb said: “I do not know any one in my own country like that except Fionntan of Cluain-Eidhneach.” Columb came to Cluain-Eidhneach and told Fionntan all that Saint Columcille had said of him; but the holy man, full of true wisdom, forbade him to speak of it to any one else. However he told it to the Monks after the death of the holy Abbot.
Fionntan was wont to go forth every night to the graveyard of the monastery, and to kneel for hours in prayer upon the grass. A Monk stole after him one night to watch him, and on coming near where the old man was kneeling in prayer saw a bright light shining over his head.
Fionntan, “the prayerful of great Cluain-Eidhneach,” had now grown old, and the end of his wandering in this vale of tears was drawing nigh. He was worn out with prayer and fasting, but was very rich with good works. Falling sick, he gathered his weeping brethren about him, and having blessed them, gently breathed out his soul to God, February 17th, in the year 616. His Feast is kept on that day. The Office for it was written by Bishop de Burgo. The people of Cluain-Eidhneach have great devotion to his holy well at Cromogue.
Father Albert Berry. “Saint Fionntan”.
Fintan Of Clonenagh
St Fintan (Approx. 524 – 594) was born in Leinster, Ireland. His Christian parents were named Gabhren and Findlath.
St Fintan was taught by the then Abbott, St Columba, who entrusted the monastery of Clonenagh to him when he moved to Terryglass, Tipperary.
St Fintan’s life was one of solitude, prayer and deep penance. He attracted many like-minded followers despite his very austere expectations. St Fintan was well known for his many miracles and prophesies. His legacy lives today, mainly in Ireland where his works have often been compared to that of St Benedict.
St Fintan’s Feast Day is 17th February.
Pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fintan of Clonenagh, Abbot (RM)
Born in Leinster; died 603. A disciple of Saint Columba (or according to Montague, Saint David), Fintan led the life of a hermit at Clonenagh in Leix. Soon numerous disciples, including Saint Comgal, attached themselves to him, and he became their abbot. Such was the austerity of the life led at Clonenagh that neighboring monasteries protested. Fintan himself was reputed to live on a diet of barley bread and clayey water; however, he established a less strict rule for some neighboring monks. One day some soldiers brought the severed heads of their enemies to the monastery. Fintan had these buried in the monks cemetery hoping that by the Judgment Day they would have benefitted from the prayers of generations of monks: "since the principal part of their bodies rest here, we hope they will find mercy." Fintan's feast is celebrated throughout Ireland (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth, Montague).
St. Fintan of Clonenagh
Yesterday the 17th of February marked the feast day of another great Laois saint. St. Fintan of Clonenagh is regarded as one of three patron saints of county Laois which include St. Colman Mac ua Laoise and St. Mochua of Timahoe.
There are a number of sites in the county associated with Fintan both modern and historic. These include most notably the Early Medieval monastic site which he founded in the mid-6th Century A.D at Clonenagh or Cluain Eidhneach (the ivy retreat). Other sites include St. Fintan’s Well at Cromoge Co. Laois, as well as more modern examples which included schools, hospitals and a number present day churches, tributes to his former greatness.
Fintan is said to have been born near Clonkeen in Co. Laois and went on as a young ecclesiastic student to study under St. Columba at Terryglass in Co. Tipperary. Whilst on his journeys to find a new monastery near the Slieve Blooms, Fintan received a vision and was instructed to find a monastery at Clonenagh which he duly did. This was to become one of the most important foundations in the country at the time in the 6th Century. Fintan was known to have a strict rule and forbade the use of the plough, didn’t allow cattle to be held at the monastery (cattle being units of wealth at the time), practiced fasting regularly and prayed almost constantly. His rule was so austere that it prompted a visit from St. Canice to appeal for a more relaxed practice. Fintan agreed but continued adopting this rule for himself. It is said that many monks came to study at Clonenagh from around and even abroad, it became known as a Gallic school due to the number of French student who flocked there during Europe’s “Dark Ages”.
The Book of Leinster describes Fintan as being one of the three most important saints in Ireland, behind Patrick and Brigit. There are quite a few references to Fintan in the annals of the time from all over Ireland. He is regarded to have died in the year 603 A.D and his obituary is recorded all the major chronicles from the time. The Fragmentary Annals record as follows:
“Fintan moccu Echdach,
abbot of Cluain Eidnech, chief of the monks of Europe, died on a Thursday” a
poem by Colman reads;
“On Thursday Fintan was born
and was brought forth on earth;
and on Thursday he died on my fair thighs”.
Today people still venerate the Holy Well at Cromoge Co. Laois attributed to Fintan. There has been some that have had their prayers answered by using its blessed waters.
This text is courtesy of Sean at Laois Archaeology. Click here for the Facebook page.
Saint Fintan of Clonenagh, February 17
We commemorate one of the great Irish masters of the ascetic life, Saint Fintan of Clonenagh on the 17th of February. The sources for his life and feast have been summarized by diocesan historian, Father Michael Comerford:
On the 17th of February the Feilire of Aengus records, "The Feast of Finntan, the prayerful, of vast Cluain-Ednich;" and the Gloss in the Leabhar Breac, and the Martyrology of Donegal, on the same day, add:- Fiontain, son of Gaibhreine, son of Corcran, son of Eochaidh, son of Bresal, son of Den.- Here he and (St.) Brigid meet (in their pedigrees), Abbot of Cluain-eidhniach in Laoighis (Leix). Great was the abstinence of this holy Fiontain, as is evidenced from this verse (of Aengus)-
Fiontain the generous
Never ate during his time
But bread of barley corn
And water of earthy clay.
A very ancient vellum book . . states that Fiontain of Cluain-eidhniach, chief of the monks of Erin, in his manners and life resembled Benedictus, head of the monks of Europe.
Colgan styles him "Fintanus Stationarius de magno Cluaineadnach;" the epithet of stationarius being applied to him from his praying, like many others of our early saints, with his arms extended in the form of a cross.
St. Fintan received his early education from a holy priest by whom he was baptized. Whilst yet a boy, he was visited by St. Columbkille, who, on that occasion, foretold St. Fintan's future distinguished career. When he arrived at man's estate, he entered the Monastery of Tir-da-glass (now Terryglass, Co. Tipperary), where St. Columba, son of Crimthain then presided over a famous school. Having passed a novitiate here, he and two, some say three, companions, being anxious to find a retired place where they might devote themselves to the service of God, consulted St. Columba, and, accompanied by him, they came to Clonenagh. Here, it is said, St. Fintan and his companions passed a year, but, finding their solitude greatly broken in upon, they determined to abandon the place, and directed their course to the Slieve Bloom mountains, again accompanied by St. Columba; this saint, looking back upon Clonenagh, saw a multitude of angels hovering over it. His disciples seeing him sorrowful, asked the cause; the saint replied: "Because I see the place we have left filled with the angels of God, and these angels unceasingly minister between it and heaven". "One of us", he added, "should return and abide there for the future". Whereupon Fintan said: "Whomsoever, O Father, you direct to return, he will instantly obey". Columba replied: "Go you in peace to that spot, O holy youth, and the Lord be with you. It has been divinely revealed that for you it shall be the place of your resurrection." St. Fintan accordingly retraced his steps to Clonenagh and established himself there; this was about the year 548. Great numbers flocked to this place to serve God under the guidance of our saint, amongst whom was St. Comgall, afterwards the founder of the famous Monastery of Bangor, who passed some years under his direction. The discipline observed at Clonenagh was very rigorous; the fasting and abstinence were so severe that St. Canice of Aghaboe and other holy men remonstrated with St. Fintan on the subject. Yielding to their representations, he relaxed the rigour of his rule in favour of his community, but, himself, adhered to his former mode of life. Finding his end approaching, St. Fintan assembled his monks and named Fintan Maeldubh as his successor.
Rev M Comerford" Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin" Vol.3, (1886).
Clonenagh, originally called Cluainadnach, is a very remote antiquity. A monastery was founded here by St. Fintan, who became its first Abbot. He was succeeded by St. Columba, who died in 548. This Abbey was destroyed in 838 by the Danes, who in 843 carried its venerable Abbot aid, who was also Abbot of Tirdaglass, into Munster where he was martyred on the 8th of July.
San Fintan Abate di Cluain Ednech
Martirologio Romano: Nel monastero di Clúain Ednech in Irlanda, san Fintáno, abate, fondatore di quel cenobio e celebre per austerità di vita.
San Fintan nacuqe a Leinster in Irlanda e fu educato da San Columba di Tirda-Gals. Un’antica litania lo presenta quale discendente di Eochaid e tutte le fonti pongono in risalto l’eccezionale austerità che contraddistinse la sua vita. La tradizione vuole infatti che il santo si nutrisse esclusivamente di pane d’orzo e di alcune erbe e bevesse solo acqua torbida. Non a caso molti giudicarono eccessivo il suo ascetismo, quasi una sorta di fanatismo. Stabilitosi come eremita a Clùain Ednech nel Leix, accrebbe il numero dei discepoli che presero a circondarlo, a tal punto da dover fondare un vero e proprio monastero, presso Cluain Ednech.
Nelle sue “Vite” sono riportati numerosi miracoli non però fini a se stessi, bensì come già con Santa Brigida ed altri santi irlandesi miranti a sottolineare la dolcezza e la cortesia del santo. Queste qualità emergono comenque anche da svariati episodi narrati nelle “Vite” del santo, per esempio il perdono che era solito accordare a quei monaci che partivano pellegrini senza il suo benestare, oppure l’indulgenza mostrata nel mitigare l’austerità di vita per quei monaci più in difficoltà nel praticarla. Fatto un pò macabro, ma significativo, è la sepoltura che Fintan diede alle teste di alcuni nemici appartenenti ad un clan rivale portetegli dai predoni, nella speranza che la vicinanza della parte più importante del loro corpo ad un luogo di preghiera si rivelasse propizia nel giorno del giudizio finale.
La tradizione vuole che durante la preghiera il capo del santo fosse cinto di un’abbagliante aureola luminosa Secondo una versione della vita di San Fintan, risalente probabilmente al 1225, San Columba avrebbe detto “ad un giovane uomo di nome Colmano”, assai desideroso di tornare in Irlanda, di “recarsi da quell’uomo beato che io vedo ogni sabato notte stare tra gli angeli davanti al tribunale di Cristo. Il giovane stupito disse: ‘Chi è questo santo e che tipo di uomo è?’ San Columba rispose: ‘E’ un uomo della tua razza, santo e bello, rosso in volto e con occhi splendenti, di scarsa capigliatura e canuto’. E il giovane: ‘Non conosco nessun uomo che corrisponda a questa descrizione nella mia provincia eccetto San Fintan’. [...] Allora San Colmano ricevette da San Columba il congedo e la benedizione e ritornò con gioia in Irlanda”.
Autore: Fabio Arduino
St. Fintan's Parish Church, Sutton, Dublin
Den hellige Fintan av Clonenagh (~524-603)
Minnedag: 17. februar
Den hellige Fintan (Fiontan; lat: Fintanus, Fintán moccu Echdach) ble født rundt 524 i den østlige provinsen Leinster i Irland. Fintans biografi fra 700-tallet ga hans far navnet Cremthann (Crumthann, Criomhthann), mens genealogiene kalte ham Garbhán (Gabríne, Gaibhrín, Gabrén). Men alle var enige om at han på farssiden tilhørte Fothairt, et folk som hovedsakelig var spredt i det nordre Leinster, som man også mente at den hellige Brigida av Irland (ca 452-525) tilhørte. Et annet navn på Fothairt er Ceinéal Eachdhach, og et tidlig litani beskriver Fintan som etterkommer av Eochaid. Familiebakgrunnen til hans mor Findnait (Fionnad) er ikke kjent. Han hadde en søster ved navn Díognad (Díoghnad, Díogha), som ble regnet som mor til Aonghas Láimhiodhan alias Muicín av Moyne i grevskapet Kilkenny.
Legenden forteller at Fintans mor fikk besøk av en engel som fortalte hvilken hellig sønn hun ville få. Han ble født i ødemarken og ble nesten umiddelbart overlatt til en prest for å bli oppdratt og utdannet. Han fikk sin utdannelse hos den hellige Kolumba av Terryglass (d. 552) i hans kloster Tír-dá-glas (Tir-da-glas, Tir da glas, Tirdaglas, Tyrdaglas), nå Terryglass ved bredden av Lough Derg i Múscraige Tíre i baroniet Lower Ormond nord i grevskapet Tipperary i provinsen Munster i det sørlige Irland. Kolumbas strenge regel og botspraksis hadde så stor innflytelse på Fintan at også hans eget kloster fikk ry for askese.
Fintan slo seg i 550 ned som eneboer i ensomheten i Clonenagh (Clúain Édnech, Cluain Ednech, Cluain Eidhneach, Cluain Ednig) i fjellene Slieve Bloom, nær det som nå er Maryborough. Det lå i det nåværende baroniet Maryborough West i territoriet til folkegruppen Loígsi, som delvis tilsvarer det moderne grevskapet Laois i provinsen Leinster. Han fikk snart mange disipler som strømmet til hans oratorium, og han skrev en regel for dem og ble deres abbed. Det vokste snart frem et kloster i Clonenagh med svært mange munker. Blant hans disipler skal ha vært de hellige Comgall av Bangor (Comhghall) (ca 516-ca 602), som grunnla sitt eget kloster i Bangor (Benchor), hvor han blant andre lærte opp den hellige Kolumban og en rekke andre som brakte det irske klostervesenet til Europa. Andre disipler skal ha vært de hellige Colman av Oughaval (500-t) og Óengus Culdeus (d. ca 824) (sistnevnte levde nok atskillig senere).
Klosteret Clonenagh fikk stort ry i Irland, først og fremst for fattigdommen og askesen som preget Fintans og munkenes liv. Alle kilder, inkludert Óengus Culdeus’ martyrologium Félire, legger vekt på Fintans eksepsjonelle askese. Munkenes mest luksuriøse mat var grønnsaker, mens Fintan selv ifølge Óengus levde på gammelt byggbrød, noen få urter og grumsete vann. Deres jordbruk ble drevet med de enkleste redskaper, uten bruk av noe dyr. Kommuniteten hadde ikke engang en ku, så de hadde verken melk eller smør. Noen munker som bodde i nærheten, protesterte mot en slik strenghet og sa at munkenes diett ikke kunne kombineres med hardt fysisk arbeid.
Det sies at en deputasjon av lokale klerikere ledet av den hellige Canice av Aghaboe (ca 516-ca 600) kom for å bønnfalle Fintan om å lette litt på askesen. Fintan svarte dem med all den høflighet og vennlighet som synes å ha preget hans omgang med andre mennesker, og han gikk med på lettelser for sine munker. Men han valgte å holde seg til den strenge dietten selv. Hans askese minner mest om apostolisk tid eller eksempler fra østlig tradisjon. En annen versjon sier at han ble advart av en engel så han gjorde i stand en stor fest for deputasjonen med rikelig med mat så lenge de var der, men da de dro igjen, vendte alt tilbake til slik det var før. Til tross for prøvelsene, eller kanskje til og med på grunn av dem, var klosteret fullt av unge munker fra hele Irland.
Den hellige Kolumba av Iona (ca 521-97) hadde stor aktelse for Fintan og skal ha beskrevet ham som en vakker, hellig utseende mann, med røde kinn og skinnende øyne, mens hans korte hår skulle ha vært gråsprengt. Fintan hadde ry som undergjører og var kjent for klarsyn, profetier og mirakler. Vitner fortalte at når han ba alene, var han omgitt av lys. Hans minne er bevart i mange historier om hans mirakler, som beskrives på den tradisjonelle måten, men i likhet med biografiene til Brigida og andre hellige, er ikke miraklene tatt med i biografiene for sin egen skyld, men for å vise hans vennlighet og godhet.
Fintan lempet på askesen for munker som ikke klarte å leve opp til hans standard, og han tilga også flere som dro bort som peregrini (pilegrimer) uten å be om hans tillatelse først. Da noen krigere kom med hodene til medlemmene av en rivaliserende klan som de hadde drept, fikk Fintan hodene gravlagt nær klosteret, slik at det at de viktigste delene av deres kropper lå i nærheten av et bønnens sted, kunne komme dem til gode på Dommens dag.
Fintan tilhørte samme generasjon av monastiske grunnleggere som Kolumba av Iona og den hellige Canice av Aghaboe (Cainnech) (ca 516-ca 600). Hans korte biografi har i sin eldste form blitt datert til 730-tallet. Den har som et av sine fremste anliggender hans plassering i forhold til disse andre monastiske lederne av sin generasjon. Biografien forteller at da Fintan var barn, skal Kolumba ha profetert hans storhet. Dette kan delvis være en reaksjon på det nære vennskapet som attesteres i den hellige Adomnán av Ionas (ca 627-704) biografi om Kolumba, mellom grunnleggeren av Iona og en annen helgen fra Loígsi, biskop Colmán moccu Loígse, som var forbundet med en kirke noen kilometer øst for Clonenagh. Canice av Aghaboe, som ligger bare rundt tretten kilometer sørvest for Clonenagh, men i nabokongeriket Osraige, er også fremstilt som en alliert, selv om han også opptrer som lederen for en delegasjon som forsøkte å overtale Fintan til å mildne strengheten i hans monastiske regel.
Ifølge en versjon av Fintans biografi, trolig fra 1225, skal Kolumba ha sagt «til en ung mann ved navn Colman», som var svært ivrig etter å dra tilbake til Irland, for å «dra til den salige mannen som jeg ser hver lørdag kveld blant englene for Kristi domstol». Den forbausede unge mannen sa: «Hvem er denne helgenen og hva slags mann er han?» Kolumba svarte: «Det er en mann av din rase, hellig og vakker, rød i ansiktet og med glitrende øyne, med sparsomt og grått hår». Den unge mannen sa: «Jeg kjenner ingen mann i min provins som passer til denne beskrivelsen, bortsett den hellige Fintan». [...] Så Colman mottok tillatelse og velsignelse fra Kolumba og returnerte med glede til Irland.
Da Fintan var rundt sytti år gammel, valgte han den hellige Fintan Maoldubh (Maeldubh) til sin etterfølger som abbed i Clonenagh. Fintan døde den 17. februar 603. Han er en av en håndfull helgener, hovedsakelig fra Leinster, som ble minnet i den metriske kalenderen fra Hampson fra 900-tallet. Han har blitt sammenlignet av de irske annalistene med den hellige Benedikt av Nursia, og han kalles «de irske munkenes far». Hans minnedag er dødsdagen 17. februar, som feires i hele Irland. Denne festdagen angis i martyrologiet fra Tallaght og hos Óengus, og den står også i den nyeste utgaven av Martyrologium Romanum (2004):
In monastério Clúain Ednech vocáto in Hibérnia, sancti Fintáni, abbátis, eiúsdem cœnóbii fundatóris, austeritáte célebris.
I klosteret Clúain Ednech i Irland, den hellige Fintan, abbed, grunnlegger av dette klosteret og berømt for sitt asketiske liv.
Det finnes to skoler når det gjelder opprinnelsen av navnet Fintan, en avleder det fra fionn (lys, hvit) + sean (gammel), den andre mener at det er sammensatt av fionn og teine (ild). Det er et av de vanligste helgennavnene med over femti representanter på listen over homonyme helgener, hvorav den viktigste er Fintan av Clonenagh. Colgan regner opp 24 irske helgener ved navn Fintan, men trolig var flere av disse var samme person som ble æret på forskjellige steder. Flere helgener ved navn Fintan er bedre kjent under den hypokoristiske formen Munna (gr: ὑποκoριστικος; hypokoristikos; det vil si kjælenavn). Munna eller Munnu er utledet fra mo-fhionna.
Den mest kjente Fintan blant de irske helgenene ved siden av Fintan av Clonenagh i grevskapet Laois, er Fintan Munnu av Taghmon (d. ca 635) i grevskapet Wexford, som ble feiret den 21. oktober. Óengus’ martyrologium forteller at Fintan Munnu av Taghmon og Fintan av Clonenagh dannet en oentas (pakt) om navnet til hver av dem skulle gis til den andre, in commemorationem societatis. Munnu var dåpsnavnet til mannen fra Taghmon, som tok navnet Fintan, mens Fintan av Clonenagh tok Munnu eller Munda som et andre navn. Ikke overraskende førte dette til en viss forvirring.
The Book of Clonenagh er en av de tapte kildene som siteres av Geoffrey Keating i hans Foras Feasa ar Éirinn («Historien om Irland») for informasjon om etableringen av bispedømmene i Irland på synoden i Rath Bresail i 1111. Andre hellige ved navn Fintan er de hellige Fintan av Doon (500-t) i grevskapet Limerick, Fintan av Killerr (400-t), Fintan Corach (500-t?), Fintan Maoldubh (d. ca 625), Fintan Fionn, Fintan av Myshall og Fintan av Rheinau (ca 803-78).
Kilder: Attwater/John, Attwater/Cumming, Farmer, Butler (II), Benedictines, Bunson, Ó Riain, KIR, CE, CSO, CatholicSaints.Info, Infocatho, santiebeati.it, en.wikipedia.org, celt-saints, ODNB, Butler 1866, zeno.org, heiligen-3s.nl, catholicireland.net - Kompilasjon og oversettelse: p. Per Einar Odden