Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bringing Brigid to Italy: Saint Donatus of Fiesole

October 22 is the feast of Saint Donatus of Fiesole, an Irishman who became a bishop in Italy and who promoted the cult of Saint Brigid in his adopted homeland. An account of his life can be found at my other site here. Donatus was among the hagiographers of Ireland's patroness and a translation of the prologue to his Life of Saint Brigid can be found here with a commentary here. You will notice that in the prologue the saint refers to Ireland as Scotia, but this was commonplace in the early Middle Ages and it was only later that the term was applied exclusively to the land we now call Scotland. The prologue extols the virtues of Ireland and its people, but more so the virtues of its patroness, which are as innumerable as the grains of sand on the shore. I find Saint Donatus a most engaging figure and his story deserves to be remembered in his own country.  As an old Life of the saint puts it: 'let Hibernia rejoice, which sent forth such a teacher; let Fiesole and the whole province of Tuscany be glad'.

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