A pious youth, he founded three churches in Ireland while still a layman. Studied in Wales under Saint Cadoc of Llancarvan and Saint Gildas the Wise. He was a great admirer of Saint Patrick and was considered one of the great founders of Irish monasticism. He founded the monastery at Clonard, Meath, Ireland c.520 which lasted a thousand years, and was a training center for great Irish saints. St. Finnian was known to be a spiritual teacher of Saint Columba of Iona, Saint Columba of Terryglass, Saint Ciaran of Clommacnois, Saint Brendan the Voyager, Saint Nathy, Saint Nennius, Saint Ruadhan of Lorrha, Saint Daig MacCairaill, and others. He maintained close relations with the British Church and was often referred to as a bishop; there is no evidence he was ever so consecrated.
Legend attributes many miracles to him. It's said that birds would gather around him because of his gentle holiness and there are reports that he cleared parasitic insects, worms and vermin from the island of Flathlom and the regions of Nantcarfan. One story says that he fended off a party of Saxon raiders by causing an earthquake to swallow their camp.
One of our homes in Red Deer chose St. Finnian as their patron Saint because he was known to be a very gentle man with much of his life devoted to teaching. The people we care for at this home "are also very gentle. They teach and learn as they engage with others every day."