Wednesday, May 09, 2012

May 8 -- St Indract

I would have thought St Indract to be about as close to unknown as any saint in the calendar. If it comes to that, he's only in one calendar, a medieval calendar applicable only to the area around Glastonbury Abbey. Wikipedia, of all things, has quite a long piece about St Indract. You can find it here. Admittedly a good bit of it consists of arguing back and forth with itself about the details of the saint's life.

Mrs D'Arcy comes at the story a bit differently. There's a bit more about the Irish in early medieval England than there is about St Indract:

“Glastonbury of the Gael”, the monastery which, alone in all England survived through the centuries, under British, Saxon, and Anglo-Norman rule, is believed to be one of the places occupied by the Irish in the fourth century when they were making settlements in western Britain. While the influence was still Irish, at least at a very early date, a Celtic monastery was founded at Glastonbury. Legend links the Saints Patrick, Brigid and Benignus with Glastonbury. Its first church was dedicated to Blessed Mary and St Patrick. A parish was called “Beokery, otherwise Little Ireland.” The lives of many Irish saints were collected or written at Glastonbury, supposedly the source of John of Tynemouth's section devoted to Irish Saints in his Sanctilogium. Tenth century St Dunstan was educated and became a monk at Glastonbury with Irish scholars as his teachers and Irish books for his studies.

Indract, an Irish prince and the 21st Abbot of Iona, was martyred near Glastonbury. He had come to Iona about 832 in a time of constant danger from Norse pirates. Blathmac had been murdered on the altar steps. Already the “minda”, sacred articles connected with Colmcille, had been moved back and forth to Ireland several times. Kenneth McAlpin had removed relics of Colmcille to Dunkeld and made it the chief church of Scotland and the Iona brethren transferred the Columban headquarters to Kells in Ireland.

Sometime before 854, Indract, his sister Drusa and other religious made a pilgrimage to Rome, setting out, perhaps, from one of the places in Cornwall or Somerset with which tradition connects their names. On the return they were murdered near Glastonbury by pagan Saxons. And in that place fostered, if not founded, by the Irish, were enshrined the relics of Indract and his companions.