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August 10, 2019

Saint Blane of Bute

St. Blane of Bute (Feast Day - August 10)

We know very little for certain about Saint Blane for nothing written about him in or near his own lifetime survives, and anything we have dates from many years after he died. We do know that he was born on the island of Bute in the Firth of Clyde, probably around the year 565.

Apparently, Blane and his mother, Ethne, were set adrift in a small boat or coracle, without any sails or oars, and ended up in Ireland, where the young Blane received much of his education under Saints Comgall and Kenneth before returning to Bute. Here he was educated at the monastery by his uncle, Cattan.

Like his uncle, Blane became a monk, and spent part of his life traveling and evangelized among the Picts. Monks would move to various communities, setting up a small monastery and church, teaching local people about Christianity before returning to base or moving on elsewhere. There being very few roads at the time, they often sailed along the coast or up rivers.

It seems that Blane spent some time in Europe, possibly going to Rome, before returning to Britain. He traveled in the north of England as well as Ayrshire and the Mull of Kintyre before setting up a monastery in what was to be called Dunblane around 602. A clue to where he visited can be found in place-names that include the name “Blane” or “Blaan” in Gaelic.

Local tradition maintains that he set up a monastery in a fort (called a Dun) in what is now known as Holmehill in Dunblane. A fort would have been necessary for protection. There was little law and order in those days, and Scotland was covered with forest in which wild animals such as bear, wolf and lynx would roam. Dunblane was an ideal centre from which Blane and his fellow monks could work. It was central, and they could travel with relative ease to other places north, south, east and west. It is said he became a Bishop here.

He is said to have performed miracles, including the healing of a blind boy and making fire with small lightning
bolts from his fingers.

It is thought that Saint Blane died around 630-635 and is buried on the island of Bute, where a ruined church still bears his name.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Drifting over the sea in a boat without oars, thou wast directed by God to the Island of Bute, O Hierarch Blane, where thou didst devote thyself to apostolic labours. O performer of miracles, thou art worthy to be praised as Equal to the Apostles. Wherefore we beseech thee, pray to Christ our God, that He will raise up labourers to recultivate that northern part of His Vineyard, so long overgrown with the weeds of heresy and apostasy, which thou didst once tend with such care, that again many may be led into the way of salvation.