Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fleming, Patrick

FLEMING, PATRICK (1599–1631), a Franciscan friar of the Strict Observance, was born on 17 April 1599 at Bel-atha-Lagain, now the townland of Lagan, in the parish of Clonkeen and county of Louth, Ireland. His father, Gerald Fleming, was great-grandson of Christopher Fleming, baron of Slane and treasurer of Ireland. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Cusack of Cushinstown, a baron of the exchequer, by Catharine Nugent, daughter of Christopher, heir to the barony of Delvin. He was baptised by Father William Jacson, and received the family christian name of Christopher. At the age of thirteen he was sent by his parents to Flanders, and placed under the care of his uncle, the Rev. Christopher Cusack, who was administrator of the Irish colleges for the secular clergy in that country. Having studied humanities at Douay he removed to the college of St. Anthony of Padua at Louvain, where, on 17 March 1616–17, he took the probationary habit of St. Francis from the hands of Anthony Hickey, the superior; and on the same day in the following year he made his solemn profession, assuming in religion the name of Patrick. In 1623 he journeyed to Rome in company with Hugh Mac Caghwell, then definitor-general of the Franciscan order, and afterwards archbishop of Armagh. In passing through Paris, Fleming contracted a close friendship with Father Hugh Ward, to whom he promised a zealous co-operation in searching out and illustrating the lives of the early saints of Ireland. He completed his philosophical and theological studies in the Irish college of St. Isidore at Rome (Wadding, Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, ed. 1806, p. 185), and afterwards he was sent to teach philosophy at Louvain, where he continued to lecture for some years. He removed to Prague in Bohemia on being appointed the first superior of, and divinity lecturer in, the college of the Immaculate Conception, recently founded in that city for Irish Franciscans of the Strict Observance. When the elector Palatine invaded Bohemia, Fleming fled from the city, in company with Matthew Hoar, a deacon. On 7 Nov. 1631 they were suddenly attacked near the small town of Beneschau, by a party of armed peasants, who killed them on the spot. Fleming's body was conveyed to the monastery of Voticium, about four miles from the scene of the murder, and solemnly interred in the presence of forty brethren.

His works are: 1. ‘Vita S. Columbani, Abbatis Bobiensis, cum annotationibus.’ This work, and the lives of some other Irish saints, with their ‘Opuscula,’ Fleming, before his departure for Prague, gave to Moretus, the famous printer of Antwerp, with a view to publication, but the design was not then carried into effect. The manuscripts afterwards were edited by Thomas Sirinus, or O'Sherrin, jubilate lector of divinity in the college of St. Anthony of Padua at Louvain, who published them under the title of ‘Collectanea Sacra, seu S. Columbani Hiberni Abbatis, magni Monachorum Patriarchæ, Monasteriorum Luxoviensis in Gallia, et Bobiensis in Italia, aliorumque, Fundatoris et Patroni, Necnon aliorum aliquot è Veteri itidem Scotiâ seu Hiberniâ antiquorum Sanctorum Acta & Opuscula, nusquam antehàc edita, partem ab ipso brevibus Notis, partem fusioribus Commentariis, ac speciali de Monastica S. Columbani institutione Tractatu, illustrata,’ Louvain, 1667, fol. pp. 455. This work is of even greater rarity than the scarce volumes of Colgan. A detailed account of its contents, by William Reeves, D.D., will be found in the ‘Ulster Journal of Archæology,’ vol. ii. 2. ‘Vita Reverendi Patris Hugonis Cavelli [Mac Caghwell],’ 1626. This biography was incorporated by Vernulæus in the panegyric of the deceased primate which he delivered at Louvain; and its chief facts are preserved by Lynch in his manuscript ‘History of the Bishops of Ireland.’ 3. ‘Chronicon Consecrati Petri Ratisbonæ,’ manuscript, being a compendium of the chronicle of the monastery of St. Peter at Regensberg. 4. Letters on Irish hagiology addressed to Hugh Ward, and printed in the ‘Irish Ecclesiastical Record.’

[Life by O'Sherrin, prefixed to Fleming's Collectanea; Ware's Writers of Ireland (Harris), p. 112; Preface to Colgan's Acta Sanctorum; Ulster Journal of Archæology, ii. 253; Sbaralea's Suppl. et Castigatio ad Scriptores Trium Ordinum S. Francisci a Waddingo aliisve descriptos, p. 573; Irish Ecclesiastical Record, vii. 59, 193; Brenan's Eccl. Hist. of Ireland, p. 512; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 809.]

T. C.