Died on Eigg, c. 616-618. Saint Donnan was an Irish monk of whom
little is known except that he was one of the most active early Scottish
saints judging from the trail of place names (usually "Kildonan")
stretching from Galloway to Perth and Aberdeenshrie in Uig, South Suist,
Sutherland, Arran, and Eigg. Many were converted to Christianity through
his efforts. Some say he was a monk of Iona under
(f.d. June 9);
others that he was associated with the Pictish Church and
followed the missionary path of
(f.d. September 16).
He eventually established a community of monks on the island of Eigg at
Loch Ewe in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. While he was offering the
Sacrifice on Easter eve, a gang of armed men arrived. When the Offering
was over, they herded the 52 monks into the refectory, set fire to it.
Those who tried to escape were killed by the sword.
According to D'Arcy, the record of Columba's death in the "Martyrology
of Aengus" prophesies Donnan's end: "Donnan then went with his monastic
family to the Western Isle and they took up their abode there in a place
where the sheep of the queen of the country were kept. 'Let them be
killed,' said she. 'That would not be a religious act,' said her
people. But they were murderously assailed. At this time the cleric
was in church. 'Let us have respite till the Offering is ended,' said
Donnan. 'Thou shalt have it,' said they. And went it was over they
were slain, every one of them."
Thus, it is said that the deed was prompted by the local chieftainess,
who resented the monks' presence on the island, or by
a local woman who had lost her grazing rights; but it may simply have
been a Viking raid. The monks, whose names are recorded in the
"Martyrology of Tallaght" compiled c. 792, are viewed as martyrs. His
feast is kept at Argyll and the Isles. His staff was venerated at
Husterless until its destruction during the "Reformation."