St. Ninian - Encyclopedia

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ST NINIAN, a Briton, probably from Strathclyde, who was trained at Rome and founded a church at Whithorn on the west side of Wigtown Bay. Whithorn has been identified with the Leukopibia of Ptolemy, but this is uncertain. Bede, writing three centuries after Ninian, ascribes the name Ad Candidam Casam to the fact that the church of Ninian was built of stone. We are told by Bede that St Ninian dedicated his church to St Martin of Tours, who died between 397 and 400, but Ailred of Rievaulx is our only authority for the statement that St Martin supplied him with masons. The population of the north shore of the Solway Firth at the beginning of the 5th century were probably either Picts or Goidels or a blend of both, and naturally hostile to the Romanized Britons. Bede records that Ninian preached among the Picts within the Mounth, which indicates that he was acquainted with the Pictish language. The legends of his work in Ireland probably arise from the influence exercised in that country by the church of Whithorn. The date of Ninian's death is given by Archbishop Ussher as 432, but there is no authority for this statement.

See Bede, Hist. Eccl. (ed. C. Plummer, Oxford, 1896), iii., iv.; Ailred of Rievaulx, "Life of St Ninian," in the Historians of Scotland vol. v. (Edinburgh, 1874); W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland (Edinburgh, 1877), ii. 2 ff.; and J. Rhys, Celtic Brita i n (London, 1904), p. 173.

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