Enda (DNB00)

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ENDA, or, in the older spelling, ENNA, Saint, of Arran (fl. 6th century), was son of Conall the Red, one of the chiefs of Oriel. His mother, Brig (the vigorous), was a daughter of Ainmire, chief of Ardciannachta, in the county of Louth. On the death of his father Enna was chosen chief of his clan, and at the urgent request of his followers he made a raid on some of his enemies, thus inaugurating his rule. Returning from the expedition and singing a song of victory, they passed by the hermitage of his sister Fanche. She warned her virgins of a heathen's presence. Enna approached her as she stood in the doorway, but she repulsed him. He urged that as holder of his father's heritage he must fight his enemies, and demanded as wife a royal pupil of his sister. St. Fanche offered the girl her choice to become the wife of the chieftain or else, as she expressed it, ‘to love Him whom I love.’ The girl chose to die to the world. The circumstance is described in the usual fashion of the lives as an actual death, and St. Fanche is represented as preaching to him in the presence of her dead body. He was so moved by her exhortations that he abandoned his wild life and became a monk. As an evidence of his zeal it is mentioned that he excavated a deep trench round his monastery with his own hands. While he was thus engaged, a hostile tribe, descendants of Criomthann, making a raid on Enna's territory, passed near his abode. They were pursued by the people of Oriel, and fighting took place near the cell of Enna. Then his old nature asserted itself, and he joined in the conflict, using a stake as a weapon. To avoid further temptation, and acting on his sister's advice, he crossed to Britain to Rosnat, and stayed with Mansen, who was master there. The place referred to has been shown by Dr. Todd to be the famous Candida Casa or Whithorne in Galloway, and the ‘master’ St. Ninian. In course of time he was ordained presbyter, and collecting some followers he built a monastery called in his life Latinum. Colgan erroneously suggested that this was either Latiniacense in Gaul founded by St. Fursey, or Lætiense in Belgium, but these will not answer, and there can be no doubt that ‘Latinum’ stands for the Irish word ‘Letha,’ which originally meant, as it means here, Armorica or Brittany (called in mediæval usage Letavia), although it afterwards came to mean Latium or Italy. This explains the statement that his sister in going to visit him landed at a port in Britain, i.e. in Bretagne. With this correction the story of his visit and stay at Rome and of the pilgrims from Rome bringing tidings of his fame falls to the ground.

Enna on his return to Ireland landed at Inver Colpa, at the mouth of the Boyne, and engaged in missionary labours. But with the consent of Œngus, son of Nadfraoch, king of Munster, whose wife, Dairinne, was his sister, he soon took possession of the largest and most western of the islands of Arran, called afterwards Arran of the Saints, from the number of holy men buried there. The island had been occupied by heathen inhabitants from the mainland of Corcomroe in the county of Clare, all of whom fled except their chief, Corban. It is mentioned incidentally that a species of corn, far, had been introduced by divine interposition into the island, and was still to be found there in 1390, when Augustine Magraidin composed the ‘Life’ published by the Bollandists, from which these facts are taken. Enna founded ten monasteries in the island, but discussions arose about the division of the land. An angel is said to have brought him a book of the four evangelists and a casula or hood decorated with gold and silver, which were still preserved and held in the highest reverence in 1390. After one or two visits to the mainland and one to a chieftain termed Crumther Coelan or Coelan the presbyter, who lived in an island on Lough Corrib, Enna appears to have stayed at Arran for the rest of his life. He offered three prayers at the close of his life, one of which was that every contrite person who desired to be buried in the burial-ground of his monastery should have as a privilege ‘that the mouth of hell should not be closed upon him.’ The Bollandists, who do not consider this orthodox, explain that it means he should not suffer the pains of purgatory or be detained long there. The remains on the great island connected with St. Enna are Cell Enda, the parish church, Teglach Enda, where the saint is buried with 120 others (this is the privileged spot referred to in his prayer), and lastly, Tempoll mor Enda. So severe was the discipline at Arran that, in order to test the purity of the monks, St. Enna had a corrach or boat made without a hide, that is, consisting of framework and ribs only and no covering, into which each monk had to go every day, and if any water entered it he was thereby proved a sinner; ‘thus he kept up their angelic purity.’ Ussher assigns his death to 530 in the ninetieth year of his age, but he appears to have been alive up to 540, according to Colgan. Earlier than this he cannot be placed, as he belonged to the second order of Irish saints (542–599); but as the annals have no mention of his death, the actual year cannot be ascertained with any certainty. His day is 25 April.

[Bollandists' Acta Sanct. 21 March, iii. 269; O'Flaherty's Iar Connaught, pp. 77–9; Book of Hymns, Rev. J. H. Todd, i. 103; Colgan's Acta Sanct. p. 704 seq.; Ware's Antiquities, p. 249.]

T. O.