The young Ninian

Daily Reading for September 16 • Ninian, Bishop in Galloway, c. 430

The most blessed youth having arrived at Rome, when he shed tears, proofs of his devotion, before the sacred relics of the apostles, and had with many prayers commended the desire of his heart to their patronage, betook himself to the Bishop of the Supreme See, and when he had explained to him the cause of his journey, the Pope accepted his devotion, and treated him with the greatest affection as his son. Presently he handed him over to the teachers of truth to be imbued with the disciplines of faith and the sound meanings of Scripture. . . . Therefore with the greatest eagerness, with enlarged mouth, receiving the word of God, like a bee he formed for himself the honeycombs of wisdom by arguments from the different opinions of doctors, as of various kinds of flowers. And hiding them within his inmost heart, he preserved them to be inwardly digested and brought forward for the refreshment of his inward man and for the consolation of many others. . . .

The Roman Pontiff, hearing that some in the western parts of Britain had not yet received the faith of our Saviour, and that some had heard the word of the gospel either from heretics or from men ill instructed in the law of God, moved by the Spirit of God, consecrated the said man of God to the episcopate with his own hands, and, after giving him his benediction, sent him forth as an apostle to the people aforesaid. There flourished at this time the most blessed Martin, Bishop of the city of Tours whose life, rendered glorious by miracles, already described by the most learned and holy Sulpicius, had enlightened the whole world. Therefore the man of God, returning from the City, full of the Spirit of God, and touched with the desire of seeing him turned aside to the city of Tours. With what joy, devotion and affection he was received by him, who shall easily tell? By the grace of prophetic illumination the worth of the new bishop was not hid from him, whom by revelation he recognised as sanctified by the Holy Spirit and sure to be profitable to the salvation of many. . . . Satiated with mutual conversations as with heavenly feasts, after embraces, kisses, and tears shed by both, they parted, holy Martin remaining in his own See, and Ninian hastening forth under the guidance of Christ to the work whereunto the Holy Ghost had called him.

Upon his return to his own land a great multitude of the people went out to meet him; there was great joy among all, and wonderful devotion, and the praise of Christ sounded out on all sides, for they held him for a prophet. Straightway that active husbandman of the Lord proceeded to root up what had been ill planted, to scatter what had been ill gathered, to cast down what had been ill built. Having purged the minds of the faithful from all their errors, he began to lay in them the foundations of faith unfeigned; building thereon the gold of wisdom, the silver of knowledge, and the stones of good works: and all the things to be done by the faithful he both taught by word and illustrated by example, confirming it by many and great signs following.

From The Life of Saint Ninian by Aelred of Rievaulx; found at

Past Posts