Constantine of Strathclyde

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The holy and right-believing King Constantine of Strathclyde (Welsh: Custennin, Latin: Constantinus) c.570-c.640, was the only son of King Riderch Hael of Strathclyde and his queen Languoreth. He appears only in the Latin hagiography of St. Kentigern written by the 12th century monk Jocelyn of Furness, which regards him as a cleric, thus connecting him with the other saint named Constantine venerated throughout Great Britain. His feast day is on March 11.

Contents

Life

Constantine was converted to Christianity early in his life, possibly by Saints Columba or Kentigern, as recorded in the Annals of Ulster for AD 589.[1] He succeeded to his father's throne in 612, but resigned the throne and became a monk.[2] Living anonymously, his identity was only discovered because once, while grinding corn, he chuckled to himself, "Can this be King Constantine, who wore a helm and shield, drudging at a cornmill?" He was overheard, and encouraged to become a priest.

Later, he succeeded St. Mochuda as abbot of Rahan in Offaly, Ireland around the year 636. The Martryology of Oengus (ca.830) lists the 11th of March as the day for commemorating Constantine King of Rathen.

According to this document, Constantine was the — successor of Mochutu of Rathen in Delbna Ethra in Meath, a king of Britain, who left his realm and came on his pilgrimage to Rathen in the time of Mochutu. According to this account, it was Constantine who marked out the church of Rathen, and dug its dyke, and bettered Cepach Cusantín (Constantine’s Plot) to the south of Rathen.[3]

Still later he returned to Scotland and founded churches at Kirkconstantine, Kenneil, and Dunnechtyn, and, most famously, the monastery at Govan on the river Clyde. There he reposed and was buried. His shrine can still be seen today in the parish church of that place.

Holy Father Constantine, pray to God for us!

Historicity

There is no record of Rhydderch's son Constantine outside of the Kentigern hagiography, nor does a ruler or prince of this name appear in the Strathclyde royal pedigree, although since Rhydderch himself is absent from the latter the omission may not be unduly significant.[2]

Scholarly opinion regards Constantine as an ecclesiastical invention, probably originating at Glasgow, his creation arising from a need to identify a suitable local saint to explain the cult of the otherwise unknown earlier "St. Constantine", to whom the early church at nearby Govan is dedicated.[2]

See also

References

  1. David Nash Ford's Early British Kingdoms (EBK). St. Constantine, King of Strathclyde. Nash Ford Publishing, 2001.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tim Clarkson (Univ. of Manchester). "Rhydderch Hael". The Heroic Age. Issue 2, Autumn/Winter 1999.
  3. Howley Hayes Architects. RAHAN MONASTIC SITE: A Conservation Plan prepared by Howley Hayes Architects. Offaly Heritage Plan 2007–2011. p.28.

Sources

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