Posted by: anna | June 29, 2010

St. Cettin, bishop (5th C)

Today (16 June) we commemorate St. Cettin, bishop  of Oran (5th C).

from celt-saints: ‘(also known as Cethach, Cethagh). Saint Cettin was consecrated by Saint Patrick as an auxiliary bishop. Some authorities distinguish Cethagh and Cettin, but they appear to be the same person. His shrine at Oran was a pilgrimage centre for 13 centuries (Benedictines, Montague).’

I feel as though I am gradually filling in the hierarchical structure of the early Irish church. It’s a bit mechanical and impersonal when there seem to be no further details and I don’t have access to a copy of HP Montague’s Saints and Martyrs of Ireland (1981). This is an unscientific impression, but it seems to me that a) there are many fewer female saints b) those there are often have a few scraps at least of an interesting story attached. Why am I looking for stories anyway? The stories are personal, individual – am I falling into the very trap I have more than once deplored? The recent trend in ‘feminist’ scholarship on medieval mystics (male and female, but especially female) concentrates almost entirely on individual mystics who have strange visions, exhibit antisocial behaviour, do mad things like eat dirt and roll in broken glass, think they can fly, and do and say other things that were considered peculiar and dangerous in their own day. This kind of ‘thrill-seeking’ research is not usually grounded in a good understanding of the history and relevant norms of medieval spiritual life, and gives at best a deeply distorted view of ‘those funny people back then.’ That is not the kind of story I’m looking for in saints’ lives. I don’t need to concentrate on details of individuals’ stories. All we know about St Cettin and many others is that he said, ‘Here I am’ and did his job. Would details of his extraordinary exploits, miracles, missionary work, diplomatic advances to pagan kings, extreme asceticism, perfect charity etc have survived if he had been that sort of person (or one of those sorts of person)? Or if he had been a roistering heathen and then converted to a humble yet zealous bishop? Well, maybe they would. Perhaps he did not have strange adventures or turn the world upside down. Perhaps he was a good and faithful servant and that is all that needs to be said about him.
On the other hand somebody must have known something about him for his shrine to be venerated for 13 centuries. But perhaps not very much.
Holy St Cettin, Bishop of Oran, pray to God for us.


  1. Saints and Martyrs of Ireland when I googled this and looked at (US) they had one seller from the UK for only 15 something American… FYI 🙂

    Rolling in Glass – yikes! never heard of a Saint like this!

    I personally love the stories of St. Brendan the Voyager's travels…

    Blessed day to you today!

  2. I don't know if knowledge has much to do with veneration, more likely it was the cumulative effect of people feeling prayer was listened to/answered there.

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