Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ternan

TERNAN or TERRENAN (d. 431?), archbishop of the Picts, was according to John of Fordun, the earliest authority who mentions him, ‘a disciple of the blessed Palladius [q. v.], who was his godfather and his fostering teacher and furtherer in all the rudiments of letters and of the faith.’ The ‘Breviary of Aberdeen’ adds that he was born in the province of the Mearns and was baptised by Palladius (Skene, Celtic Scotland, ed. 1887, ii. 29–32). According to his legend he went to Rome, where he spent seven years under the care of the pope, was appointed archbishop of the Picts, and returned to Scotland with the usual accompaniment of miraculous adventures. He died and was buried at Banchory on the river Dee, which was named from him Banchory Ternan. His day in the calendar is 12 June, and the years given for his death vary from 431 to 455. Dempster characteristically assigns to Ternan the authorship of three books, ‘Exhortationes ad Pictos,’ ‘Exhortationes contra Pelagianos,’ and ‘Homiliæ ex Sacra Scriptura.’ At Banchory Ternan's head with the tonsured surface still uncorrupt, the bell which miraculously accompanied him from Rome, and his copy of the gospel of St. Matthew, were said to be preserved as late as 1530. A missal called the ‘Liber Ecclesiæ Beati Terrenani de Arbuthnott,’ completed on 22 Feb. 1491–2 by James Sibbald, vicar of Arbuthnott, was edited in 1864 by Bishop Forbes of Brechin from a unique manuscript belonging to Viscount Arbuthnott. It is the only complete missal of the Scottish use now known to be extant.

Ternan has also been identified with an Irish saint, Torannan, abbot of Bangor, whose day in the Irish calendar (12 June) is the same as that of Ternan in the Scottish. Ængus, the Culdee, describes him as ‘Torannan the long-famed voyager over the broad shipful sea,’ and a scholiast on this passage identifies Torannan with Palladius. Skene, who accepts the identity of Ternan and Torannan, explains the confusion of the latter with Palladius by suggesting that Torannan or Ternan was really a pupil of Palladius, brought his remains from Ireland into Scotland, and founded the church at Fordun in honour of Palladius, with whom he was accordingly confused. The identity of the Scottish and Irish saints is, however, purely conjectural.

[The fullest account is given in Bishop Forbes's introduction to the Liber Eccl. Beati Terrenani, Burntisland, 1864, pp. lxxv–lxxxv; see also Bollandists' Acta Sanctorum, 12 June iii. 30–2, and 1 July i. 50–3; Fordun's Scotichronicon, ed. Skene, i. 94, ii. 86; Reg. Episcop. Aberd. i. 327–8, ii. 185; Dempster's Hist. Eccl. Scot. ii. 607; Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. iv. pp. xxii–xxiii; Forbes's Calendars of Scottish Saints, pp. 450–1; Reeves's Kal. of Irish Saints; Ussher's Works, vi. 212–13; Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. ii. 264, vi. 128; Skene's Celtic Scotland; Dict. of Christian Biogr.]

A. F. P.