St. Theilo, before his appointment to Llandaff, had travelled much, and is even supposed to have been ordained bishop in Constantinople.
After a missionary expedition of one year to Germany, Buite, with sixty companions, set out for the country of the Picts of Scotland. Here King Nectan, whom he is reported to have raised from the dead, bestowed on him the castrum or fort in which he lived, and the memory of the gift is perpetuated in the name of the place Carbuddo (Cathair-Buiti), near Dun-Nechtain, now Dunnichen, in Forfar.
Crossing over Scotland, he reached the Irish Sea, and embarking arrived at Dalriada, in the north of the county of Antrim, the territory of the Cruithni, or Picts of Ireland, of the same race as those among whom he had been labouring. Here having, we are told, raised the king's daughter from the dead, he received a gift of land, on which he built a church, and, leaving a disciple in charge, passed on, and proceeded to visit the nearest settlement of his relatives, the Cianachta (‘primum solum Kyanacteorum’). There were two branches of the Cianachta, one situated near Dalriada, in that part of the north of the county of Londonderry now the barony of Keenaght, and who were known as the Cianachta of Glen Geimhin; the other, more to the south, in the present counties of Meath and Lowth, were called the Cianachta Breagh. It was to the former and nearest of these that Buite now went, but the king, who was a heathen (gentilis), refused to receive him (Mr. Skene has misunderstood this passage). Afterwards, however, he relented, and admitted him, when ‘he preached the word of salvation to the whole region, and baptised the king and all his household with many others.’ Here again he obtained a grant of land and built a monastery. His next journey was to the Cianachta of the south, where his brothers resided; after a brief visit to them he returned again to the north. Here he was admonished by an angel to settle in the ‘Bregensian land,’ that is the land of his southern relatives, and leaving Nechtan, the bishop, in charge of the monastery, probably at Dun-Geimhin (Dungiven), where a century and a half afterwards we find another Nechtan, he obeyed the call, and arriving at his destination was honourably received by the king.
In course of time and under his auspices he erected Monasterboice, i.e. the Monastery of Buite (or, in the Latin form of the name, Boëthius), in the south of the county of Louth. There also ‘he, with his company, shed blessings as a shower, and amended the lives of many.’
From this as a centre other establishments were formed, and numerous pastors sent forth, and the writer of his life adds: ‘It is impossible to give the full praises of the man.’
The death of Buite took place on 7 Dec. 521; and thirty years afterwards St. Columba is said to have visited his tomb and enshrined his remains. The word ‘elevatio,’ which is that generally used for taking up and enshrining a saint's remains, has been misunderstood by the author of his life, who took it to mean his ascension to heaven in the flesh. St. Columba afterwards consecrated a cemetery there. The place is called in the ‘Martyrology of Donegal,’ ‘elaidh Indaraidh.’ But as Buite's disciple, Nechtain, son of St. Patrick's sister, Liamain, who seems to have been the person left by him at Glen Geimhin, had subsequently a monastery at Finnabhair or Findabhairabha, now Fennor-on-the-Boyne, it would seem that this is the place intended, and that elaidh Indaraidh stands for ‘Eillgheadh [Fh]mdabhairabha,’ ‘The tomb of the fair meadow on the river,’ which would therefore have been the burial-place of St. Buite.
The four masters have preserved the following distich referring to him:—
Let Buite, the virtuous judge of fame, come each day to my aid,
The fair hand with the glories of clean deeds, the good son of Bronach, son of Bolar.
And in the ‘Calendar of Oengus’ he is thus noticed:—
The feast of white victorious Buite
Of treasurous Monaster.
His name is interpreted by the scholiast on Oengus as ‘living to God,’ for unto God he was alone, referring to 2 Cor. v. 15.
He was the contemporary of St. Patrick, whose nephew was one of his disciples, and an obscure quatrain exists (Oengus, p. clxxx) which connects Ailbe of Emly with Buite in the foundation of Monaster. His fame was considerable at a very early period, but he has been overshadowed by more recent saints, and especially by St. Patrick, and very little is therefore recorded of him in Irish history; but the importance of his chief church (‘primh-chell’) of Monasterboice is indicated by the ruins of two very ancient churches, a round tower, and three sculptured crosses. Two of these are among the finest in Ireland, one being fifteen feet high and the other twenty-seven.
[MS. Life of St. Buite; Ware MSS. in British Museum, Cod. Clar. 39, Add. No. 4788; Annals of the Four Masters at A.D. 521; Adamnan's Life of St. Columba, ed. Reeves, p. lxviii; Martyrology of Donegal, pp. 329, 333; Skene's