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St. Blathmac

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A distinguished Irish monk, b. in Ireland about 750. He suffered martyrdom in Iona, about 835. He is fortunate in having had his biography written by Strabo, Benedictine Abbot of Reichenau (824-849), and thus the story of his martyrdom has been handed down through the ages. Strabo's life of this saint is in Latin hexameters, and is to be found in Messingham's "Florilegium Insulæ Sanctorum" (Paris, 1624). A scion of a noble family he early showed a religious turn of mind, and longed to be enrolled in the noble army of martyrs, a wish which was afterwards fulfilled. His name was latinized Florentius (from the fact of the Irish word Blath meaning a flower), and as a religious, he was most exemplary, finally becoming abbot. In 824 he joined the community of Columban monks at Iona, and not long afterwards the Danes ravaged the island. One morning, as he was celebrating Mass, the Scandinavian rovers entered the monastic church and put the monks to death. St. Blathmac refused to point out the shrine of St. Columba, which was really the object of plunder, and he was hacked to pieces on the altar step. His body was afterwards reverently interred where the scene of martyrdom took place, and numerous miracles are claimed to have been wrought through his intercession. The date of his death is given by the "Annals of Ulster" as 825, although Mabillon places it thirty-six years earlier.


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