Old Calendar, New Year! Happy New Year, again! Today (1 January) we commemorate St. Connat (Comnata, Comnatan), abbess of Kildare (590). Miss Dunbar says only ‘abbess of Kildare. Colgan’ so we turn to O’Hanlon:
‘Article XIV.—St. Connat, or Comnatan, Abbess of Kildare, County of Kildare. [Sixth Century.] Meekly have the true spouses of Christ chosen the better part by retiring from the world to the cloister. Like the dove, with its emblem of rest, the ark and the sanctuary receive them in safety.
Comnatan, a virgin without further designation, is met with in the “Martyrology of Tallagh,”‘ at the 1st of January.’ Elsewhere she has been particularized. We find at the same date a festival to Comnat, virgin, abbess of Cill-dara, in Leinster. This ancient city was very renowned after the death of its early foundress, St. Brigid; and venerable ruins there yet attest its former importance. St. Comnat is noticed by Marianus O’Gorman, and her feast occurs in the “Martyrology of Donegal.” According to Colgan, she must have flourished in the sixth century. How long she ruled over the nuns at Kildare does not appear, Her death is assigned to A.D. 590. We may rest assured, likewise, that her thoughts and affections were purified by the holy life she led, and that they procured her a peaceful dissolution. The virgins of Christ hear the Gospel, and the evangelical counsels are practised by them on earth. When death seals their eyes to its scenes, like those newly recovering sight, or like those awaking from sleep, their souls open to the transports of light supernal. No more can shadows return, for their crowns of glory are encircled with a radiance that can never pale.’
Well, that does not tell us much about St Comnata, and that last bit is the sort of sentimental pi-jaw for which I usually have a sort of schoolboy allergy. It is less nauseating in Latin, for some reason. However, as St Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association says, ‘it is an excellent opportunity to recall to mind the many excellent women of the Convent of Kildare, particularly her sister Abbesses, St. Darlaugdach, Abbess of Kildare, who was the immediate successor of St. Brigid and lived for but a year after the great foundress, St. Tulalla, a near contemporary of St. Connat, St. Sebdana, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 726, St. Affrica, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 738, and St. Finnia, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 801.’
Holy Connat and all the abbesses of Kildare, pray to God for us.