St. Cathan

I’m not sure if this is the right forum, but I’m looking for more information on this saint. As it is I have what Wikipedia tells me.

Ideally I’m looking for books, websites, or even icons of St. Cathan.
From the Wikipedia article it seems he was a very important saint in Scotland at one point, why did his Cult die out? Why was he so popular in the first place. This is the kind of information I’m looking for.

I’m not optimistic about finding much information, but if anyone can help me find more it would be greatly appreciated.


Don’t waste your time. There just isn’t much known about him that has survived the 2,000 years since his time. In fact not too much is known about the Catholic Church in England, Scotland and Wales in those early centuries. You know about as much now as you will ever know. The only possibility is that some scholar might turn up something in the dusty halls of some library like the Vatican library.


Yeah, I have a feeling that is the case. Google searches and Amazon searches show up absolutely nothing. This was more of a hopeful toss in case anyone knew anything more about him.

There are a lot of obscure Scottish, English, etc. saints where we have a name but generally no information about them. It can be frustrating.

Have you tried looking for scholarly/academic works about the history of the Church in the British Isles (specifically, Scotland)? Bede, a 7th-8th century English monk, wrote a work (“Ecclesiastical History of the English People”) that describes the history of the Church in Roman Britain. Though I’ve heard that it focuses mostly on England, it does talk about early Christianity in Roman Britain. I don’t know if that will be of any help to you and learning about St. Cathan but it could give you ideas as to what to look for in other sources.

I found some books on Amazon about the early Scottish Church (do not know if it includes anything on St. Cathan or not; I don’t even know if I would consider these works reliable):

The best that I have managed to come up with is a short article from the ‘Saint wiki’:

May 17 – St. Cathan, Bishop, 6th century.
This saint was probably of Irish nationality. He dwelt for the greater part of his life in the Island of Bute. St. Blaan, whose ruined chapel is still to be seen in Kingarth parish in that island, was his nephew. No particulars of the life of St. Cathan remain to us. His name survives in Kilchatten village, mill and bay, in Kingarth parish, and a hill near is called St. Cathan’s Seat. There is another Kilchattan in Luing Island, Argyllshire, and in the same county is Ardchattan. Churches were dedicated to the saint in the islands of Gigha and Colonsay. The confederation of clans known as Clan Chattan is thought to have originated in Bute, and to have taken its name from St. Cathan. Gillichattan and Macgillichattan are characteristic names belonging to Clan Chattan; the latter was common in Bute in the 17th century. They signify respectively “Servant of Cathan” and “Son of the servant of Cathan.”

As others have mentioned, there is little to nothing known about many of the early Saxon and Celtic saints, and of what is known I suspect a significant amount is embellished or myth/legend, or the victim of ‘Chinese Whispers’.

While Augustine, who was sent from the Pope in Rome to visit King Aethelbert of Kent, is credited with sowing the seed of the religion in Britain, it is also clear that Christianity already had a toehold in England, perhaps as early as 100 AD - with stories and lessons about Jesus being brought over by Roman traders. There is archeological evidence, including what appears to be Roman Christian style burials, and early ‘convert rings’.

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