Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Feast of St. Joseph
March 20, 2023
Today is the feast day of St. Joseph in the liturgical calendar of the church, but in keeping with our series of meditations and prayers in the Celtic tradition, our Lenten reflection focuses on Saint Moninna of the Scottish Borders. Several holy women have had this name, but one of them can be identified as an Irish abbess of the seventh century CE whom Aldfrith, son of Northumbria’s King Oswy, visited in 670 when he fled to Ireland. It is possible that he sought her help and spiritual direction in his struggle between lust and power on the one hand, and the love of God on the other. When Aldfrith became Northumbria’s king in 685 he asked Moninna to take charge of the large monastery for men and women developed by Hilda at Whitby, and there to mentor his sister Elfleda. After a brief stay Moninna returned to Ireland, but her brother Ronan, who was an Irish missionary working in Northumbria, asked her to send sisters to help him in his work in the Scottish borders. These, or perhaps Moninna herself, studied first at the Scottish seaside abbey of Whithorn, and later founded hermit faith communities in Musselburgh and perhaps in the seven towns in the region fortified by Arthur in Lothian.
Wise guardian of peoples,
Thank you for the communities of prayer Moninna planned
In Ireland and Scotland,
And for the light she brought to those in government.
May we not squander this precious birthright,
But rather build upon her example.