Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Name of four Irish saints. O'Hanlon enumerates twenty-five saints bearing the name Ernan, Ernain, or Ernin; it is, therefore, not surprising that their Acts have become confused.

(1) St. Ernan, Son of Eogan

Died about 640. He is mentioned in the Martyrology of Tallagh on 1 January. He was a nephew of St. Columba, Feilim or Feidhlimidh (St. Columba's father) being his paternal grandfather. Owing to this relationship, some writers have mistaken our saint for Ernan of Hinba, an uncle of St. Columba. His monastery in Ireland was at Druim-Tomma in the district of Drumhome, County Donegal. Adamnan relates the wonderful vision he had on the night St. Columba died (Vit. S. Col., III, 23). Ernan, with some companions, was fishing in the River Finn, in Donegal. Suddenly at midnight he beheld the whole sky brightly illuminated. Looking towards the east he perceived an immense pillar of fire shining as the sun at noonday. This marvellous light then passed into the heavens, and a great darkness followed, as after the setting of the sun. This wonderful occurrence was related to Adamnan by Ernan himself, who at the time is described as "a very old man, a servant of Christ, whose name may be rendered Ferreolus, but in Irish Ernene (of the clan Mocufirroide), who, himself also a holy monk, is buried in the Ridge of Tomma (Drumhome) among the remains of other monks of St. Columba, awaiting the resurrection of the saints ". Some writers style this St. Ernan, Abbot of Druim Tomma. It is uncertain whether he visited Scotland, nevertheless he is regarded as patron saint of Killernan, in Ross-shire; and it may be that the dedications of Kilviceuen (church of the son of Eogan) in Mull, and of Kilearnadale in Jura, Argyleshire, are in his honour. In the "Scottish Kalendars", collected by Bishop Forbes, his name appears as Ethernanus, and his commemoration is assigned to 21 and 22 December (pp. 170, 222, 243).

(2) St. Ernan, Abbot of Hinba

Lived in the sixth century. He was uncle of St. Columba, and one of the twelve who accompanied him from Ireland to Iona. He was brother of Ethnea, St. Columba's mothier, and son of Dima, the son of Noe of the race of Cathaeir Ivor (Reeves, notes, p. 263). St. Columba appointed him superior of the community which he himself had established on the island of Hinba. The identity of Hinba has not been established with certainty. It may be Canna, about four miles N. W. of Rum (ibid., p. 264); but more likely it is Eilean-na-Naoimh, one of the Gaveloch Isles, between Scarba and Mull (Fowler's Adamnan, p. 87). Hinba was a favourite place of resort for St. Columba. There he was visited by St. Comgall, St. Cannich, St. Brendan, and St. Cormac. At the request of these holy men, St. Columba celebrated Mass, during which St. Brendan beheld a luminous globe of fire above St. Columba's head. It continued burning and rising up like a column of flame, till the Holy Mysteries had been completed ( Adamnan, III, xvii). On another occasion, while visiting St. Ernan's monastery in Hinba, St. Columba was favoured with heavenly visions and revelations which lasted three days and nights ( Adamnan, III, xviii). The death of St. Ernan was tragic. Being seized with an illness, he desired to be carried to Iona. St. Columba, greatly rejoiced at his coming, started to meet him. Ernan likewise hastened but when he was twenty-four paces from his nephew he fell to the earth and died. Thus was the prophecy of St. Columba fulfilled, that he would never again see Ernan alive ( Adamnan, I, xlv).

(3) St. Ernan of Cluvain-Deoghra

St. Ernan of CLuvain-Deoghra in Meath (or in County Longford), sixth or seventh century. He is commemorated on 11 January in the Martyrology of Tallagh. When St. Fechin visited St. Ernan at Cluvain-Deoghra the grinding noise of the mill outside the guest-house gave him much annoyance. St. Fechin blessed the mill, and it is said that in consequence thereof the noise ceased to be heard in the guest-house for the future.

(4) St. Ernan of Torach

Died 17 August, about 650. He was son of Colman of the race of Eogan, son of Niall, and is numbered by some among the disciples of St. Columba. The latter saint founded a church and monastery on the island of Torach or Tory, off the N. W. coast of Donegal. It is uncertain whether St. Ernan actually accompanied St. Columba thither (the chronology would seem to preclude it), but he was chosen to be its abbot, and in after years was regarded as the local patron. Colgan has erroneously identified him with Ernan of Cluvain-Deoghra. It has been conjectured that this Ernan is identical with the Ernan whose name appears in the epistle of John, the pope -elect, to the prelates of North Ireland in 640. If this be so, he must have been a person of some importance. The whole question of the separate identity of the last three Ernans, as discussed by Colgan, Lanigan, and O'Hanlon, is exceedingly complex and obscure.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 26:1-9
1 At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:6, 8-10, 14
6 Those who hope in you must not be made fools of, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58
54 and, coming to his home town, he taught the people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 1st, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori
August 1: Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter