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Saint Ninian:

Bishop and confessor- date of birth unknown; died about 432. Generally held as the first missionary for Christianity in Scotland.

The earliest account of St. Ninian is from Bede (Hist. Eccles., III, 4): "the southern Picts received the true faith by the preaching of Bishop Ninias, a most reverend and holy man of the British nation, who bad been regularly instructed at Rome in the faith and mysteries of the truth; whose episcopal see, named after St. Martin the Bishop, and famous for a church dedicated to him (wherein Ninias himself and many other saints rest in the body), is now in the possession of the English nation. The place belongs to the province of the Bernicians and is commonly called the White House (Candida Casa), because he there built a church of stone, which was not usual amongst the Britons".

This summarizes what who St. Ninian was and what he did; it doesn't, however, cover any detail- of which there is at least a little more than what Bede was able to give to us in that passage. History has him being born in Galloway and being educated in Rome. His eagerness to learn drew the attention of the then Pope, St. Damascus who took it upon himself to teach St. Ninian himself. Upon the passing of St. Damascus, St. Sircius, the new pope, consecrated St. Ninian as a Bishop and told him to go back to the English Isles to bring Christianity to his people. Leaving Rome, he traveled back to the English Isles, stopping for a time in a monastery in France because of his hearing of the great works being done by St. Martin de Tours. During his stay, he became friends with St. Martin and brought help from St. Martin's monastery to build his first church. This church, estimated to have been built in 397, was the first Christian settlement north of Hadrian's Wall. It had a unique characteristic for a building of that time- it was whitewashed such that it was visibile for some distance. While St. Ninian named this church "Candida Casa", the peoples of the area came to call it Whitethorn. Recent archaeological excavations have turned up remnants of a white plastered wall that is suspected to be part of this first church. St. Ninian used this church as his base of operations, going forth to spread the word of Christ. During the period of this work, he has been attributed with many miracles of God, including healing one of the Chieftains of blindness. In later days, a Cathedral was built to house the Saints and to this day, regular pilgrimages to "Whitethorn" are made.

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