Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Fennenus, Abbot

illustration of Saint Fennenus, Abbot, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberThose whom the Almighty permits to work miracles for the conversion of unbelievers and for the protection of the Faithful have often been distinguished in infancy by special signs of grace. Thus it was with Saint Fennenus. While yet in his mother’s arms, he was often noticed to make the sign of the Cross on his forehead, to lisp prayers, and to offer himself to God. As was naturally to be expected, such piety soon found its proper home in a monastery, and in that good soil the innocence, which the boy brought with him, blossomed forth into a splendid bloom of religious virtues. The veneration of his brethren for his sanctity and for the miracles he had already begun to perform caused his selection as head of the colony of monks requisitioned for a newly-built monastery by Maredachius, the king of the country.

Heaven granted to our Saint’s prayers whatever he needed. Once when he was travelling, Sunday came round, and found the Saint without either church or altar or chalice, or any means of saying Mass. In his extremity he appealed to the Almighty; and in the open plain, on the spot on which he had bent his knees, there arose an altar, and on it were a chalice and vestments, and everything else necessary for the Holy Sacrifice.

On another occasion the Saxons, that fierce and heathen German tribe, had invaded our Saint’s native land. The country became a prey to rapine and conflagration. The barbarians spared neither age nor sex, and, destroying as they went, they at last came to the district in which was situated the Monastery of Saint Fennenus. The good Abbot’s heart bled that his house should be pillaged and burnt down, his brethren slain, and the whole province devastated; so, with intrepid courage, he confronted so many thousands of armed men, and commanded them, while they had yet time to do so in safety, to fly to their own shores; for God, he prophesied, would surely not long delay the punishment of such outrageous crimes. His inspired words were flouted by the Saxons. Their army was drawn up in a narrow valley. The Saint having climbed a mountain opposite, from which he could look down on the tumultuous hosts of the enemy, with prayers and tears most earnestly besought Heaven to avert the ruin that was impending. Then on a sudden the mountains on both sides of the valley were upheaved, and, as they toppled over, the whole army was buried beneath the piled-up masses of earth and rock.

This great Saint, to whom Almighty God vouchsafed many similar marks of Divine favour, passed away A.D. 565.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.