CANDIDA CASA (WHITHORN)
It is now hardly realized that Candida Casa, besides being a great ecclesiastical community under S. Ninian, became, like its prototype S. Martin’s, Tours, a great school and training centre for Celtic missionaries. S.Ninian, as we have seen, broughtthe nucleus of a community with him from Tours; and by the importation of the institutional namesbelongingtothe parent community seems tohave desired to be regarded as presiding over one ofthe outposts of the novel missionary system which S. Martin had set up in Christendom. One of theearly Irish names, therefore, besides those already mentioned, for Candida Casa was Taigh Martain,that is. House of Martin; and, indeed, the first ‘White-Hut’ on S. Hilary’s farm which was givenby the latter for S. Martin’s experiment in communal asceticism and culture became ‘ Taigh ‘Mariain,a. ‘house’as distinct from a Church. We have forgotten now that S. Martin was an innovator,suspected by the orthodox clergy in Gaul ; that no recognized ecclesiastical names fitted his novelties; and that muinniir (family) and taigh (house) were taken from common secular speech and appHed to his institutions. To the Christians of the Imperial Roman garrison and colony among the Britons, S. Ninian, also, would appear an introducer of strange methods. His use of S. Martin’s own name and of S. Martin’s institutional names to cover his work was designed to throw the responsibility on S. Martin for any departure from usual methods.
The Irish sources inform us that S. Ninian, besides his mission to the Picts of Alba (Scotland), conducted a mission to the Pictsof Ireland.This mission cannot be treated in detail here; but it is necessary to refer to it, because from the converts which it produced, or from their successors, came some of the most famous of thepupils of Candida Casa, and some of the most zealous of the missionaries who took up and continued S. Ninian’s work in Pictland of Alba(Scotland). The Irish have preserved S. Ninian’s name in its original Britonic form, namely, Nan or Nen. They add the honorific prefix Mo-. The name becomes Monann or Monenn.
Across the North Channel, nearly opposite Candida Casa, in the shelter of ‘ Loch Cuan,’ now Strangford Loch, in the territory of the Irish Picts,a mission-community was organized in the fifth century at ‘n-Aondruim, corrupted into ‘Nendrum.’ The first resident president of Aondruim, towards the end of the same century, was S.Mochaoi, son of Bronag, daughter of Maelchon, the man to whom S. Patrick was a slave for six years. The community of Aondruim was dependent on Candida Casa; because we find that the’ships’ of S. Ninian’s house were in the habit of calling there; and also that S. Finbar, by order of S. Caolan, his master, who was second Ab of Aondruim, took passage on one of them to Candida Casa for the purpose of completing his education. In the same Pictish district as Aondruim, S. Finbar in the sixth century organized his own ommunity at Maghbile (Movilla) ; and S. Comgall the Great organized the most famous of allthePictish communities at Bangor. The relations of thesePictish communities with one another and with the communities among the Southern Irish Picts,on the one hand, and with the parent community at Candida Casa on the other, explain why so many Irish Picts figure among the pupils of Candida Casa, and why so many of the same people took up and continued S. Ninian’s mission-work in Pictland of Alba (Scotland).
One of the first of S. Ninian’s pupils to follow his master’s example and to organize missions under his own leadership was Caranog ap Ceredig, a Briton, more easily recognized under the later spelling of his name, Caranoc ap Ceretic He was of the family of Ceredig, ‘Guletic,’ who acceded to the supremacy of the British chiefs in the districts between Severn and Clyde after the Imperial Roman legions had retired. His name will appear again in connection with S. Ninian’s work in Pictland of Alba; but his missions extended to all the Celts, to his fellow-Britons, to the Irish Picts across the North Channel, and tothe Gaidheals or Scots of Ireland, at that time dwelling nearer the Atlantic seaboard than a century later. The Gaidheals regarded S. Caranoc as the first evangelist to visit them. He baptized his fellow-Briton the historical S. Patrick. The Gaidheals also declared that he bequeathed tothem his ‘Miosach,’ which the Nialls carried at the head of their armies.Caranoc is not to be confusedwith Carnech, son of Saran, a Gaidheal who belonged to a much laterperiod, and with whom he had nothing in common but similarity of name.
In one of their ancientbooks it is stated that he belonged to ‘ Taigh Martain’ among the Britons, that is, Candida Casa.He is designated as ‘Ab,’ and so must have filled the presidency for a time between S. Ninian’sdeath and the appointment of S. Ternan. Hewas, however, constantlyengagedon mission journeysuntil his martyrdom. He had communities which he himself had organized, and a settled place forrest and ‘retreat’ at the Cave ‘Edilg.’ He kept S. Ninian’s most distant converts in touch withthe parent community at Candida Casa, and extended S. Ninian’s mission enterprises both inPictland of Alba (Scotland) and in Ireland. One of the Pictish Church-sites bearing his name isas far north as the banks of the Deveron, near Turriff. He is regarded as having introduced the Celtic monastic system into Ireland, as being thefirst Christian Brehon, and as the first martyr.Inthe ancient Irish poem which deals with S. Patnck’s muinntir it is stated that Caranoc baptized S. Patrick. ‘Carniuch (Caranoc) was the presbyter that baptized him (Patrick).’The baptism apparently took place, as we know from other information,during one of Caranoc’s early missions while he was yet a presbyter
This, according to the Life of thehistorical Patrick, must have taken place someconsiderable time after he was fifteen years ofage; because in the Confession Patrick writes : ‘I know not, God knoweth, whether at that time I was fifteen years old, but I believed not in the living God, neither had I from infancy, I remained in death and unbelief The fabulists forgot Patrick’s testimony about himself; and also that infant baptism was not a practice of the time.When S. Patrick began to work in Ireland, Caranoc and he agreed that the one (Patrick) should work to the left,’ that is, the southward, and the other(Caranoc) would continue to work to ‘the right,’ in the northward part. The range and influenceof S. Caranoc’s work in Pictland (Scotland),among the Britons, and among the Picts and partof the Gaidheals of Ireland, show that he considered Candida Casa adequately equipped tofurnish a steady supply of ministers to occupyandhold the spheres of work which he was opening up to the Church.
Although no connected history of CandidaCasa has survived,we are able to secure glimpses of it after S. Caranoc’s time in the Lives of its various pupils. Alcuin, in the eighth century, by his remarks of appreciation, indicates that he knew about its early history.The names of two other Abs whoruled between S. Ninian’s death, a.d. 432, andthe early years of the sixth century have been preserved from oblivion, namely, ‘Tervanus,’ a scribe’s error for Ternanus, and ‘Nennio,’ or ‘Monen,’ a bishop.f Nennio, to distinguish himfrom his namesake the founder, S. Ninian ‘the Old,’ or ‘the Great,’ was called in Latin ‘Mancenus,’ and in native speech ‘Manchan,’ which is Manach, a monk with the diminutive of endearment. He is also referred to as ‘Manchan, the Master’ of the community.One of the features of the parent-muinntira S. Martin’s, Tours, had been that education wasprovided for high and low,the people were trained in agriculture, and gifts of seed distributed toencourage them. S. Ninian, and his communityafter him, faithfully followed S. Martin’s example.One of the pupils who went to ‘Rosnat.’ thename given by the Irish sailors to the locality of Candida Casa,(this is evidently Ros-Nan(t), the promontory of Ninian, and applied to the ‘Isle-head’ at Whithorn, was S. Endeus or Eany.
He was there in the latter half of the fifth century. Hebelonged to the district evangelized by S. Caranoc and the community at Aondruim. His devotedsister Fanchea had been converted first, and inher enthusiasm moved her brother to train for areligious life. S. Eany was a man of influence, an Irish Pict, son of Conall Derg, Prince of Oriel, his mother, Aebhfhinn, being daughter of Ainmire Mic Ronan, king of the Ards (Ulster).After finishing his education at Candida Casa he organized a community of his own and settledat Aranmhor in Ireland. ‘Thrice fifty’ was the number of his ‘family’ there. Through him the influence of Candida Casa and its methods reached to his pupils S. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise,S. Finian of Clonard, and S. Kevin of Glendalough ; and through them again to some of themost distinguished missionary saints of Ireland. S. Eany died on the 21st of March A.D. 540.
While Nennio, known as the ‘ little monk,’ was ‘Master’ at Candida Casa, two Pictish boys were kidnapped from their homes in Ireland, probably to be detained as hostages, and they were carried into the territory of the Britons. The queen ofthe Britons pitied them, and, at her entreaty, the king sent them to be educated at the monastery of ‘Rosnat,’ called ‘Alba or the White,’ that is, to Candida Casa. These boys were called respectively Tighernac and Eogan. Tighernac was son of a Leinster captain who had married Dearfraoich, daughter of the king of Oriel. Eogan was son of Cainech Mac Cuirp of Leinster, who hadmarried Muindecha, who belonged to the district now called Down. After they had been educatedat Candida Casa both these men organized communities and settled with them in Ireland. S.Tighernac’s headquarters were at Cluain-Eois in Monaghan, where still exists the’Cloichteach’or Bell-house, similar to the Round-towers of Eastern Scotland. Angus the Culdee records of Tighernac, ‘Out of him burst a stream of knowledge.’ He died on the 4th of April a.d. 548. Eogan, with his Community, settled first at Kil-na-manach in Cualann, in East Wicklow, andafterwards at Ardsratha, on the river Dearg in Tyrone., He died on the 23rd of August A.D. 570, in extreme old age. At Candida Casa one of S.Eogan’s other fellow-students was Coirpre, whosettled at Coleraine among the Irish Picts, and was ordained a ‘bishop.’
We have noted a ‘ bishop ‘ at Candida Casaand, in this instance, at Coleraine; but it is necessary to remember that at this time there were nomonarchic or diocesan bishops among the Celts. The bishop might be an Ab,but more frequentlyhe was simply a member of a ‘family’ or community, and subordinate to an Ab. The only precedence which he was sometimes allowed was that he dispensed the Sacraments before a presbyter. About A.D. 520 S. Finbar came as a scholar to Candida Casa. He had been a pupil at Aondruim in the territory of the Irish Picts under S. Caolan, the second Ab, When the ‘ships’ of Nennio ‘the little monk ‘came to Strangford Loch from Candida Casa, S. Caolan directed Finbarto sail with them in order to complete his education at the parent-house. Finbar was at Candida Casa, or connected with its work, for ‘twenty years.’ Calculating back from his settlementat Maghbile, this period must have been from about A.D. 520 until a.d. 540. The scholars at Candida Casa when Finbar was a teacher, we learn incidentally, included Rioc, who afterwards became one of the most popular missionary-saints in Ireland; Talmag, a layman; and Drusticc, daughterof Drust, sovereign of the Picts. Another lady, Brignat,(one of the ‘family’ of S. Mo’enna, in the minds ofthe Scottish people,and by some writers, she is confused with S. Brigid), waseducated at Candida Casa, and S. Mo’enna herself (her name of endearment is sometimes varied to Moninne,her proper name was Darerca),worked in communion with the same house.During S. Finbar’s period at Candida Casa, Nennio ‘the little monk’ ceased to rule; and Mugent, who is also referred to as ‘Master in the city called Candida,’ became Ab.