Posted by: anna | April 15, 2010

St Rufus of Glendalough

Today (2 April) we commemorate St. Rufus (Rufin) of Glendalough. From O’Hanlon:

According to accounts furnished in our Calendars, this holy man appears to have enjoyed the episcopal dignity—or, at least, he led a religious life, in two different and very distant localities of Ireland. Thus, St. Rufin, or Ruffinus, is said to have been Bishop of Glendalough, in the county of Wicklow, and likewise to have been of Bangor, in the county of Down, according to a statement furnished by Archdall and on the authority of Ward. This is to be found in the Historic Dissertation concerning the country of St. Rumold, as postfixed to his Acts. In the Tallagh Martyrology, the festival ” Rufini Glinn da locha” is entered, at the x. of the Kalends of May, corresponding with the 22nd of April. In this instance, therefore, nothing is to be found which warrants an assumption that he was bishop. Nor do we find any reference to him in the Annals of the Four Masters. He seems to have had a religious connexion, both with Bangor and with Glendalough ; and probably he exercised the monastic profession in both places. We are inclined to believe, however, that Rufin possibly received his education only at Bangor; for his name does not appear in the list of its abbots or bishops which has come down to our times. It may be that this holy man, attracted by the reputation of the great St. Kevin, left Bangor to place himself under direction of such a master of the spiritual life, and in his quiet retreat at Glendalough; for both appear to have lived as contemporaries some time after that monastic establishment had been built by the founder.

Here, at the entrance to a gorge, within over-topping mountains, and below the deep Upper Lake, the monastery was situated ; and, afterwards a city grew up, the chief traces of which are now to be found in what the inhabitants are accustomed to designate ” The Seven Churches,” although, indeed, the ruins of no fewer than ten are to be distinguished…

St. Kevin is said to have died in the year 617 or 618, while St. Rufus is made to precede St. Colman, Abbot of Glendalough, who departed on the 2nd of December, 659. Therefore we may suppose him to have lived about the middle of the seventh century. From notices regarding St. Rufin, and the position he is made to occupy, we should be inclined to infer that he must have immediately succeeded St. Kevin. Our holy bishop’s name, Rufin, sometimes rendered Rufus, usually occurs after that of Molibba; but the date for his death has not transpired. It is likely St Rufin had been interred at Glendalough. According to Ward and Archdall, St. Rufin’s commemoration was observed on the 22nd of April. His name appears in the Martyrology of Tallagh at the same date, and it is entered, as Rufin Glinn da locha, while to this should probably be added, Bennchair. It is registered, in the Martyrology of Donegal, that veneration was paid, on this day, to Ruiffine, Bishop of Gleann-da-loch, and of Bennchar. The name of this saint has received the Latin form, Ruffinus. At the x. of the May Kalends—corresponding with April 22nd—the Irish Calendar, which is in the Royal Irish Academy, has an entry of this saint, in connexion with Glendalough and Bangor. Under the head of Glenn-da-locha, Duald Mac Firbis enters, Ruifin, Bishop of Glenn-da-locha, and of Bangor, at April 22nd. Further particulars we cannot make out, regarding the present early saint, who found a daily need for Christ to obtain righteousness, strength and sanctification, sitting on a throne of grace himself, yet becoming the great introducer of disciples to His own Heavenly Father, the Christian’s God.

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Which is a long way of telling us very little about St Rufus himself. NB this is the Bangor in Ireland, founded by St Comgall and known as ‘the Light of the World’ for its long tradition of training and sending out missionaries including St Columbanus – not to be confused with Bangor in North Wales, site of St Deiniol’s monastery, or with Bangor-is-y-Coed (Bangor-on-Dee), where St Dunod founded another great seat of monastic learning.
Holy St Rufus, pray to God for us.
Day 105 of the year
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