Posted by: anna | March 23, 2010

St. Kessog the Wonderworker

Today (10 March) we commemorate St. Kessog the Wonderworker (560). From Dr Baring-Gould a very brief notice indeed:

‘Kessog or Makkessog, as he is otherwise called [or Kecsag, Kessoge, Mackecsog, Machessagus, Makkessog], an Irish prince by birth, and an itinerary bishop in the province of Boyne, laboured for the spread of the Gospel in Scotland. He is said to have settled in Lennox; and Thomas Dempster says he was represented in art dressed as a soldier with a bow in his hand and a quiver at his back. ‘

Considerably more information is provided by the Dictionary of Christian Biography, and from Fr O’Hanlon, vol 3 p.285:
St. Kessog, Mackessog, or Makkessagus, Bishop, and Confessor, Patron of Lennox, Scotland. [Sixth Century] This holy bishop is venerated, and not unmeritedly, in the church of Scud, on his natal day, as elsewhere in Scotland. There, while living on earth, he sought out the true way of living for ever in heaven. The Bollandists have the Acts of St. Kessog, at the l0th of March. These consist of two preliminary sections, with the lection of his Life, as found in the Breviary of Aberdeen. From this we learn, that it had been compiled, from a special Life of St. Kessog. Bishop Forbes gives an interesting account of this Scottish bishop. The Rev. S. Baring-Gould has some notices about St. Kessog. He was born, as we are told, in Cashel, the capital city of Munster, while his name and family were derived from the royal race of Irish Kings. From early youth, his virtues were remarkable, and he was distinguished for his miracles. His father was King of Cashel ; and, in that station, he not only desired to cultivate the friendship of other Irish kings, but he hospitably invited them to banquets, and he even desired, that his noble guests should be accompanied by their sons. We learn, from the Aberdeen Breviary, that the King of Cashel was accustomed to receive his visitors, in great state, when trumpets and musical instruments welcomed them to his royal city.

On one of those occasions, while Kessog, still a child, played with two other handsome young princes, who were sons of a visitor, near a lake, or pond, all fell into it, and Kessog alone escaped with life. He told the tale in secret to his father. A certain Elinthus, a citizen of Cashel, feared that such intelligence should cause a great commotion among the kings ; and, he endeavoured, as best he could, to relate all the circumstances of the sad accident, so as to excuse Kessog, who, in some manner, seems to have been blamed, in connexion with its occurrence. Filled with grief and indignation, the strange kings vowed they would burn the city of the King of Cashel, and that they should devastate all his province. But, after a night spent in prayer by Kessog, at the request of his affrighted father, the boy heard an angel of the Lord say to him, towards morning, “Kessog, rise at once from prayer, for the Lord hath heard you, since the kings’ sons, for whom you prayed, have come to life and are restored.” Soon were their parents satisfied on the matter, and their rejoicing was very great. Many other miracles were wrought by him, as related in his special Life.

According to their National Breviary, St. Makkessagus ruled over the Scots, as a bishop. His feast occurs, on the l0th of March, and he flourished, it is said, a.d. 520. According to Dempster’s conjecture, he was elected from the Culdee order. His church was in Levinia, near the county of Menteth, and, it was called ” Templum Portus.” Celebrated for its fair, the place was much resorted to by crowds. He is stated to have written “Manipulum Precum,” lib. i., and ” Catechesin ad Neophytos,” lib. i. He is thought to have lived in the Island of Inchta-vanach, where he devoted himself to prayer and to evangelizing the neighbourhood. According to tradition, St. Kessog suffered martyrdom for the truth, at Bandry. There a cairn, and a large stone, on which an ecclesiastic’s effigy is carved, were erected to his memory. Another account has it, that he was martyred in a foreign land, and that, embalmed in sweet herbs, his body was brought to the church of Luss, his native place. There he was buried, according to the Breviary of Aberdeen. These herbs, called Luss, in Gaelic, germinated, and gave name to the parish.

At the place of his burial is Carn-ma-cheasaig. Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, granted a charter to John of Luss, “for the reverence and honour of our patron the most holy man, the blessed Kessog.” In 1313, Robert Bruce granted a sanctuary-girth of three miles, “to the church of Luss, in a charter,” which is preserved at Buchanan. In the Lennox, a bell of St. Kessog was held in reverence, during the seventeenth century. The church of Auchterarder is dedicated to him, and he was honoured at Callander. In this latter place was a curious conical hill, or mound, which seems to be artificial. It is called Tom-ma-chessaig, and there an old church stood. In like manner, the fair of Fel-ma-chessaig is held, on the 21 St of March, the l0th, old style. There is a Kessog’s fair in Cumbrae, on the 3rd Wednesday in March, and there is a Kessog Ferry at Inverness. The Rev. Dr. Todd identifies this saint with Moshenoc, of Beitheach, at the 11th of March. According to the Kalendar of Arbuthnott, we find, at the l0th of March, or vi. Ides, St. Kessog, Bishop, and Confessor ; while, the same notice occurs in the Kalendar of the Breviary of Aberdeen, having the addition, that his Office was celebrated with Nine Lessons. Adam King’s Kalendar, at the loth of this month, enters S. Makkessage bisch. and conf. in Scotl. Dempster, in his “Menologium Scoticum,” at this same date, has in Levinia, Makkessag, bishop, who is depicted in a military habit, and whose intercession is earnestly implored by soldiers. Also, in the Scottish entries, as found in the Kalendar of David Camerarius, we have, at the l0th of March, St. Makkessog, who is also called Kessog, Confessor and Bishop “in Boina Scotie provincia,” celebrated for the lustre of his miracles. The ” Circle of the Seasons ” has its note of St. Kessog, at this date. In art, it is said, he was represented as a soldier, with a stretched bow and arrows in his hand, and a quiver at his back.

Holy St Kessog, pray to God for us.

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