St. Ninian, Enlightener of the Picts
Also spelled NYNIA and NINIAVOS;
Scots RINGAN or RINGO
Ninian lived at a time when monasticism was sweeping
the Roman Empire and attracting many of the most serious
Christians. He settled in what is now southwestern Scotland;
in the IV Century, "Alba", the country north of Hadrian's Wall,
was an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous territory
inhabited by non-Indo-European Picts, Q-Celtic-speaking
"Scots" from Ireland, P-Celtic-speaking North Britons,
Latin-speaking Romans, and possibly the first waves of
St. Ninian built a monastery at
Casa Candida (known since the early Middle Ages by the
Old English equivalent "Whithorn"). Besides pursuing the
ascetic life, he and his brethren attempted to revive the
faltering Romano-British churches of the North, and reached
out to the pagans as well, especially it would seem to the
Picts. The extremely ancient Pictish Orthodox churches
to St. Ninian or to St. Martin
of Tours, the patron saint of the Whithorn community and
Ninian's role model, in places as remote as the Orkneys and
Shetland attest that this missionary outreach must have been
both rapid and amazingly extensive.
After St. Ninian's repose, Whithorn continued for centuries
as one of the most important monastic and educational centres
of Orthodox Alba. During the period of Anglo-Saxon rule,
St. Bede's mention of Ninian in the Ecclesiastical
History made the saint famous all over Europe, and
his relics were one of the three chief objects of pilgrimage
in mediæval Scotland. (Unfortunately, they were destroyed
by the Calvinists.)
Norman Hugh Redington
1911 Encyclopædia Britannica:
1912 Catholic Encyclopedia: (Read with caution)
Catholic Patron Saints:
St. Ninian and Early Christianity in Whithorn.
--- Royal Burgh of Whithorn
St. Ninian Sites.
A list of places associated with St. Ninian, mainly ancient
--- Whithorn Trust
Ailred of Rievaux:
Life of St. Ninian:
Ailred was not Orthodox, and his XII Century life of St.
Ninian, although based on extensive research including
sources no longer available, must be read with some
caution. It was written to make specific political and
religious points at a time when control of Whithorn Abbey was an important
strategic objective in the struggle to unite Scotland
politically and religiously. Ailred, a Cistercian, supported
the central authority of both the Roman Church and the royal
house of Malcolm against the Lords of Galloway, who wanted to
maintain their independence and were invoking the ancient religious
traditions of the Southwest as proof of their right to autonomy.
--- British Orth. Church
Ninian of Galloway.
Essentially an Anglican lectionary entry, but makes an
interesting case that Casa Candida was named for St. Martin's
monastery in Gaul.
--- Lectionary Page
Rev. J. A. Wylie:
History of the Scottish Nation.
Opinionated (Presbyterian fundamentalist) 1896 book with some
interesting material, along with much that is offensive,
highly speculative, or
just factually incorrect. The Ninian part is Volume 2,
[Read with extreme caution]
--- Electric Scotland
- NINIAN AND PLEBIAS:
According to Ailred, St. Ninian had an associate named Plebias.
In the XII Century Celtic tall-tale Culhwch and Olwen, an
romance or parody thereof included in the Mabinogion, two Pictish
chiefs named Ninian and Pebian are transformed into fantastical oxen for
their sins; the question of whether this is a
satirical reference to Whithorn has been much debated.
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