Clan Mac Lea - Coarb of Saint Moluag

Coarb of Saint Moluag

See also: Saint Moluag

Saint Moluag was a Scottish missionary, and a contemporary of Saint Columba, who evangelized the Picts of Scotland in the sixth century. According to the Irish Annals, in 562 Saint Moluag beat Saint Columba in a race to the large Isle of Lismore. The nineteenth century historian William F. Skene claimed the Isle of Lismore was the sacred island of the Western Picts and the burial place of their kings whose capital was at Beregonium, across the water at Benderloch.

The Coarb, or successor, of the saint was the hereditary keeper of his pastoral staff. The Great Staff of Saint Moluag, or Bachuil Mor is thought to be the sixth century saint's crozier or staff. The Bachuil Mor is a plain wooden staff that is about 38 inches long. There is evidence that the Bachuil Mor was at one time covered with plates of gilt copper of which some remain. On December 21, 1950 on the petition of Livingstone of Bachuil, the Lord Lyon King of Arms ruled that Livingstone was the Coarb of Saint Moluag. Livingstone's ancestor Iain McMolmore Vic Kevir appears in a charter of 1544 as "with keeping of the great staff of the blessed Moloc, as freely as the father, grandfather and great-grandfather and other predecessors of the said Iain."

Since St. Moluag was the founder and head of three schools (Lismore, Rosemarkie and Mortlach) and several subordinate monasteries, he is viewed as a "sovereign lord" by the Lord Lyon. As his successor, the Coarb is viewed as a sovereign baron and is granted a unique Cap of Maintenance of Gules doubled Vair to place in his coat of arms.

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