Saturday, August 7, 2010

St. Flannan of Killaloe (7th century)

For the past week, I've been thinking about buying a bicycle. Nothing fancy. Just a simple woman's bicycle that I can ride to the beach or down the country road that I live on in the summer.
So, this morning, when I was driving through Green Hill and Charlestown, to get an iced coffee and string beans at the farmstand not far from the ocean, I was excited to see my friend, Phil, from Providence, on his bike on a side road.
Because he was so far from home, I wasn't sure it was him at first so had to loop around onto the main road and back again to check, before stopping to say hello.
Phil had taken the bus from the city down to South County then pedaled around to several beaches before camping out in Charlestown for the night. It wasn't at a traditional campground. He put up his tent on Narragansett Indian land near a lake, cooked himself dinner, made some tea, and played his tin whistle before going to sleep to the sound of the katydids.
Phil was born in Killaloe, County Clare, Ireland and came to this country at age 14. Although he has many friends, interests, and plays in a band, Phil also seems to live a solitary life. He worked at Amos House (a nonprofit social services agency that helps the homeless and the poor) for many years. He doesn't own a car (or even have a driver's license), but manages to get along just fine. And Phil is not the type of person that brags about all the good things he does for people.
It's possible that saints walk among us. Phil lives a life driven by his beliefs: world peace (he accompanied a Buddhist monk on walk for peace), helping others, and living unselfishly. He doesn't appear to need any more material possessions that a bicycle, a button accordion, and a bag of tin whistles. He loves to dance, laugh, and play music.
Phil is from the same town as St. Flannan, the patron saint of Killaloe, who was born in the 7th century to an Irish chieftain. St. Flannan joined Molua's monastery and was a wonderful preacher.
He was consecrated by Pope John IV and was the first bishop of Killaloe. St. Flannan was such a convincing speaker that his father gave up a life of power and became a monk.
His feast day is Dec. 18.

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