Calendar of Scottish Saints – Saint Finan, Bishop, A.D. 661

Saint Finan of IonaArticle

17 February. This saint was an Irishman who became a monk in the monastery founded by Saint Columba at Iona. During his monastic life he was distinguished for the virtues befitting his state, especially prudence and gravity of demeanour. He was devoted to prayer and strove zealously to live according to the Divine Will in all things. When Saint Aidan, who had been a monk of Iona, passed to his heavenly reward, a successor in his see of Lindisfarne was again sought in that celebrated monastery, and the choice fell upon Finan. His first care was to erect on the island of Lindisfarne a suitable cathedral, and in this he placed the remains of his saintly predecessor Aidan.

During the few years that Saint Finan ruled his diocese he exhibited all the virtues of a model bishop. His love of poverty, contempt of the world, and zeal for preaching the Gospel, won the hearts of his people. Under his guidance, Oswy the King was brought to realise his crime in the barbarous murder of the saintly Oswin, King of Deira, and the result was the foundation of monasteries and churches as tokens of his sincere repentance and his desire to obtain pardon from Heaven through the prayers and merits of those who should dwell in them.

The influence of Saint Finan extended beyond his own people; for the kings of more southern nations, with their subjects, owed the Faith to his zeal and piety. Peada, King of the Mercians, and Sigebert, King of the East Saxons, both received Baptism at his hands, and obtained from him missionaries to preach to their respective peoples.

The most famous work in which Saint Finan was directly concerned was the foundation by Oswy of the Monastery of Streaneshalch on the precipitous headland afterwards known as Whitby. This was to become in later years, under the rule of the first abbess, Hilda, a school of saints and a centre of learning for the whole territory in which it stood, and the admiration of after ages for its fervour and strictness of discipline.

Saint Finan died after an episcopate of ten years, and was laid to rest beside the remains of Saint Aidan in the cathedral he had built at Lindisfarne. His feast was restored to Scot land by Leo XIII in 1898.

MLA Citation

  • Father Michael Barrett, OSB. “Saint Finan, Bishop, A.D. 661”. The Calendar of Scottish Saints, 1919. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 February 2017. Web. 21 January 2019. <>