of Shanrahan and Taranto
Feast Day May 10th
Following the arrival of St. Patrick, Holy men established small monasteries throughout Ireland. It is not surprising then, to learn that in the seventh century a Holy man named Cathal, having studied at the University of Lismore, made his way through the pass in the ancient SlieveCua mountains and arrived at Rathan where he established his monastic settlement. He was appointed Bishop of the area even though it must be remembered that in those early years of the Christian Church this did not mean that he was in charge of a diocese.
After some years at Shanrahan, Cathal set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On his return journey he was shipwrecked off the coast of Southern Italy. There he realized that the people of the area had reverted to paganism, so he resolved to stay amongst them in an effort to reconvert them to Christianity.
Within a few years the people of Taranto in Southern Italy had selected Saint Cataldo (in Latin, Cathaldus or Cataldus) as their Bishop. Today the popularity of Saint Cathaldus in Southern Italy is equal to, if not greater than, the popularity of St. Patrick in Ireland. Over one hundred and fifty churches are dedicated to him in that country and the Cathedral-Basilica in Taranto proudly bears his name. He is the Saint Protector of Corato (Bari), of Gangi (Palermo) and of many other places. A town in Sicily is called San Cataldo.
In 1071, during the reconstruction of the Basilica in Taranto, the tomb of Cathaldus was discovered and opened. With his body was found a gold cross bearing his name and the word Rathcau.
In 1963, Fr. Frank Mackin, a Jesuit priest from Boston, came to Clogheen to research his family history. Following that visit, he went to Taranto to research the life of the Irish Saint. He was amazed that there was neither a statue nor a stained glass window commemorating the Irish Saint in the Clogheen Church even though it was obvious from the writings of the Historian Fr. Everard – Clogheen’s Parish priest in the early years of the twentieth century – and from local tradition, that Clogheen people were aware of the historic link between Taranto and Shanrahan. He resolved to do something about it. In 1986 the Mackin family of America, Ireland and Australia installed a beautiful Stained Glass window in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, on Clogheen’s Main Street. The window, on the west wall of the church, depicts the life of St. Cathaldus in Shanrahan, his journey to the Holy Land and his being shipwrecked off the coast of Southern Italy.
In 1996, an important delegation from Taranto in Italy, accompanied by Signor Enzo Farinella from the Italian Embassy in Dublin representing the Italian Ambassador, came to Clogheen to re-establish the historic link between Shanrahan and Taranto. The delegation was formed by Mons. Dr. Nicola Di Comite, Vicar General and Archdeacon of the Metropolitan Chapter of Taranto; Mons Marco Morone, Parish Priest of the Basilica-Cathedral ‘San Cataldo’ and Don Cosimo Quaranta, secretary of theMetropolitan Chapter.
During concelebrated mass on Sunday September 22,1996 Monsignor Michael Olden gave the homily on the subject of Saint Cathaldus. Then Mons Nicola Di Comite addressed the people of Clogheen and presented his Lordship most Rev. Dr. William lee, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore with a gold replica of the Cross of St. Cathaldus.
At the time of writing, it is planned that a plaque be erected at Shanrahan to commemorate the visit of the Italian delegation and the link between Shanrahan in Clogheen and Taranto in Southern Italy.
In the Irish office of this great Saint (Gill and Son, Dublin) Die viii, Martii, p. 18, we read:
“Cathaldus in loco hodie Shanrahan nuncapato sedam suam episcpales constituit”.
(Cathaldus, in a place nowadays called Shanrahan, established his Episcopal See)