Calendar of Scottish Saints – Saint Finian, Wynnin, or Frigidian, Bishop, A.D. 579

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22 March. In this saint we have a remarkable instance of a change of name in accordance with the character of the language spoken in the various countries in which he successively lived. Born in Ireland of the royal line of the Kings of Ulster, Saint Finian was sent early in the sixth century to be educated at Candida Casa or Whithorn, where a famous school of learning and sanctity had grown up round the tomb of Saint Ninian. Returning to his native land, Finian, by the fame of his wonderful erudition, attracted to him numerous disciples in his monastery at Moville. Here, among others, was trained the youth who became in after years the great Saint Columba — the Apostle of the north of Scotland.

After a pilgrimage to Rome whence here turned with a copy of the Sacred Scriptures — a volume rare and precious in those early times — Finian again journeyed into Italy and came to the city of Lucca, where his holiness procured him such regard from the people that they succeeded in obtaining his consecration as bishop of that city. It was during his residence there that the wonderful miracle occurred which Saint Gregory the Great, who calls the saint “a man of rare virtue,” relates in his book of Dialogues. This was the turning of the channel of the river Serchio, which had previously given much trouble to the citizens by overflowing its banks and spoiling orchards and vineyards round about. The saint after prayer made a new channel with a small rake, and commanded the river to flow in that direction for the future, which it did. He is known in Italy as Saint Frigidian.

At one time in his life this saint dwelt in the Cunningham district of Ayrshire, where his name survives in the Abbey of Kilwinning (Church of Wynnin or Finian). He is said to have come there from Ireland with a few companions and to have established monastic life in that place, which was afterwards the site of a famous Benedictine Abbey. A like miracle is related of him here. He is said to have changed the course of the river Garnoch. He seems to have preached the Faith at Dairy, in Ayrshire, also; for a hill hard by is called Caer-winning, and there, as at Kilwinning, is a holy well bearing the saint’s name. An annual fair, still known as “Saint Wynnin,” is held at Kilwinning.

The saint departed this life at Lucca, where his body is venerated in the church of Saint Frigidian. His feast occurs in March in some calendars, and in others in September. By some writers the names of Finian, Wynnin, and Frigidian have been considered as representing distinct persons; but modern research has pronounced them to be merely different forms of the same name and to refer to the same saint.

MLA Citation

  • Father Michael Barrett, OSB. “Saint Finian, Wynnin, or Frigidian, Bishop, A.D. 579”. The Calendar of Scottish Saints, 1919. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 February 2014. Web. 16 November 2018. <>