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E06256: Tírechán, in his Collection, describes how *Patrick (missionary and bishop of Ireland, 5th c., S01962) gave Bishop Olcanus relics of the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008) and other *unnamed saints (S00518), which he wrapped in a veil. Written in Latin in Ireland, probably shortly after c. 668.

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posted on 2018-08-27, 00:00 authored by bsavill
Tírechán, Collection (BHL 6496)

For an overview of this text, see E06131.

[...] (3) et fecit alias cellas multas in Eilniu, et per Buas fluium foramen pertulit et in Duin Sebuirgi sedit supra petram, quae petra Patricii usque nunc, et ordinauit ibi Olcanum sanctum episcopum, quem nutriuit Patricius et dedit illi partem de reliquiis Petri et Pauli et aliorum, et uelum quod custodiuit reliquias; et reuersus est in campum Elni et fecit multas aeclessias quas Coindiri habent.

'... (3) and he built many other cells in Eilne, and (crossed?) the river Bush, and in Dún Sobairche he sat on a rock which is called Patrick's Rock until now, and there he consecrated holy Olcanus a bishop, whom Patrick had fostered, and he gave him a portion of the relics of Peter and Paul and others and a veil to protect the relics; and he returned to the plain of Elne and built many churches which are owned by the Coindiri.'

Text and translation: Bieler 1979, 160-61.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Patrick, missionary and bishop of Ireland, 5th c. : S01962 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Saints, unnamed : S00518

Saint Name in Source

Patricius Paulus Petrus alii

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Literary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Britain and Ireland

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

St Albans St Albans Verulamium

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Other

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Contact relic - other


Tírechán’s now-untitled account of Patrick’s life (Collectanea is a modern editor’s invention) survives in only one 9th century Irish manuscript, the Book of Armagh (Trinity College Dublin Ms 52), where it almost immediately follows Muirchú’s Life of the same saint (E06132). The text as we have it is probably incomplete or unfinished, and its division into two books may not be Tírechán’s own. We are told that Tírechán was a bishop, although not where he held his see. His naming of Ultán of Connor (bishop of Ardbraccan, ob. c. 655) as both his source and mentor would seem to date the work to the second half of the seventh century, while his reference to a recent plague (ch. 25) suggests a terminus post quem of 664-8, although there were further outbreaks in 680 and 700. Bieler suggested in his edition of 1979 that there was no clear indication as to whether Tírechán wrote before or after Muirchú, but ‘there is now a general agreement’ (Sharpe 1991) that the Collectanea is the earlier work, probably composed not long after the devastations of the 664-8 epidemic. For an overview of Tírechán's Collection, see E06131.


Relics of Peter and Paul are also linked to Patrick and, through him, to the church of Armagh, in the Book of the Angel (E06933).


Edition and translation: Bieler, L., The Patrician Texts of the Book of Armagh (Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 10; Dublin, 1979), 122-67. Further reading: Bury, J.B., "Tírechán’s Memoir of St Patrick," English Historical Review 17 (1902), 235-67. MacNeill, E., "The Earliest Lives of St Patrick," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 58 (1928), 1-21. Sharpe, R., "St Patrick and the See of Armagh," Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 4 (1982), 33-59. Sharpe, R., Medieval Irish Saints’ Lives: An Introduction to Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford, 1991). Swift, C., "Tírechán’s Motives in Compiling the “Collectanea”: An Alternative Interpretation," Ériu 45 (1994), 53-82.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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