Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Alto of Ireland, Abbot
THIS saint was a Scottish holy monk, who, travelling into Germany, was famous for many miracles, and founded, by the liberality of King Pepin, the abbey of Altmunster1 in Bavaria, about the middle of the eighth century. In the midst of a barbarous nation, at that time overrun with ignorance, vice, and superstition, the extraordinary humility and devotion of this saint infused into many the perfect maxims and spirit of holy religion, and his single life was a sensible demonstration of the power of divine grace in raising vessels of weakness and corruption to the most sublime state of sanctity. He is honoured in Germany on the 9th of February, which seems to have been the day of his death. But the British calendars commemorate him on the 5th of September. The abbey of Altmunster was repaired and given to Brigitin nuns in the fifteenth century. See Aventinus, Annales Boiorum, l. 1, Raderus, Bavaria Sancta, t. 1, p. 68; Chatelain, Not. Bolland. ad 9 Feb.; Colgan gives his life on the 9th of February; Act. SS. Hib. p. 301.
Note 1. The Scottish clergy founded many monasteries in Germany, one at Cologne, in 975, under the invocation of St. Martin; one at Erfurth in 1036; two at Ratisbon, one at Wurtzburg, one at Nuremberg, one at Vienna, and one at Aistacht, &c. In some modern writers we read of a solemn league entered into between Charlemagne, emperor of the West, and Achaius, king of Scotland; but the whole is a manifest forgery, picked up somewhere by Hector Boethius, as the learned Mr. OFlaherty has proved against Sir George Mackenzie. (See Ogygia Vindicated, Dublin, 1775.) Till the conquest of the Pictish kingdom, A. D. 842, the royal race of Fergus, the son of Eirc, bore only the title of Kings of Albany. In Charlemagnes time, the name of Scotia was confined to Ireland alone, as Usher has proved; and Eginhard, secretary to Charlemagne, expressly denominates Ireland, Hibernia Scotorum insula; he likewise informs us of the several letters of the Scottish kings to that emperor; of their great deference to his will, and the affection they declared towards him. The country of the Scots in Britain, during this period, was too inconsiderable to form alliances with foreign princes, the far better part of North Britain being still in possession of the Picts. Ireland was then, as the learned Prideaux remarks, the prime seat of learning in all Christendom; and it was from thence that Charlemagne invited the learned professors, Clement and John, the one founder of the university of Paris, and the other of the university of Pavia in Italy. Amongst the Scots who settled in Germany, and made a rapid progress in the conversion of infidels, several were raised to the episcopal dignity; as 1. St. Sidonius bishop of Passaw, who was the companion of St. Virgilius of Saltzburgh, and who is mentioned in the life of this saint published by Canisius. 2. St. Tanco third bishop of Verden, who was martyred in 815, and is honoured on the 16th of February. 3. St. Patto, who succeeded Swidbert in the see of Verden: he was in great favour with Charlemagne, and is mentioned in the Scottish and German calendars on the 13th and 30th of March. Molanus (Addit. ad Usuard.) asserts that both Tanco and Patto were ranked by the pope in the number of the saints, in the time of Havunch, eighth bishop of Verden. In the eleventh age Marianus Scotus (who is proved by Usher to have been a Scot from Ireland) having left the monastery of Dunkeld in North Britain, went to Germany and settled at Ratisbon, where he, with several of his countrymen, taught both sacred and profane learning, and where he founded a monastery for the Scots in 1074. Of the great reputation which these Scots had acquired by their piety, zeal, and knowledge, see a particular account in Aventinus, l. 6, Annal. Boior. and Lazius, l. 7, De gent. migr. Marianus Scotus was born in the year 1028, according to Usher, Antiq. Brit. c. 16, and Ind. Chron. Henry, surnamed the Lion, first duke of Austria, charmed with the piety of the Scottish monks, invited several of them to Vienna, where he founded, in 1144, a magnificent abbey under the rule of St. Bennet, which he designed for the burial-place of his family. There are still to be seen in the church his own tomb, with those of his wife Theodora, (daughter to the emperor Emanuel Comnenus,) of his two sons Leopold and Henry, and of his daughter Agnes. See Le Mire, Orig. Benedictin. [back]