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The Nine Maidens – Medieval Saints of Scotland

Many churches throughout Scotland are dedicated to The Nine Maidens, One of these churches was that of Strathmartine, near Dundee, with which is connected the well-known tradition of the “Nine Maidens of Pitempten”.

The Nine Maidens, lived during the eighth century, in what is now the parish of Glamis, in Forfarshire, to date I have the names of only three of the sisters, St Fincana (St Fink), St Findoca and St mayota (St maik).

On the death of their Father St. Donivald, after a long life of incessant toil, the sisters were canonised as the “Nine Maidens and took refuge in Abernethy Abbey during the reign of King Garnard.

Following death, the sisters were buried at the foot of a large oak, much frequented by pilgrims up to the time of the Reformation.

This legendary story has been commemorated in a ballad which tells how-

Barbaric darkness shadowing O’er,
among the picts in days of yore,
St Donivald, devoid of lore,
Lived in the Glen of Ogilvy.

Beside the forest’s mantling shade,
His daughters nine a temple made,
To shelter rude his aged head,
Within the Glen of Ogilvy.

Charred wood-burned ashes formed the floor,
The trunks of pine around the door,
Supporting walls of branches hoar,
Turf-roofed in Glen of Ogilvy.

Nine maidens were they spotless fair,
With silver skins, Bright golden hair,
Blue-eyed, Vermillion-cheeked, nowhere.
Their match in Glen of Ogilvy.

Yet these fair maids, like muses nine,
God-like, etherealised, divine,
To perfect some high-souled design,
Within the Glen of Ogilvy.

Did with the aged hermit toil,
With their own hands in daily moil,
Hard labouring rude the barren soil.
Around the Glen of Ogilvy.

Poor barley bread and water clear,
And that but once a day, I fear,
Was all their fare from year to year.
Within the Glen of Ogilvy.

A chapel built they rude at Glamis,
From whence, like sound of waving palms,
Arose on high the sound of Psalms’
Near by the Glen of Ogilvy.

The hermit dead they left the glen,
E’er shunning dread the haunts of men,
In oratory sacred to them,
Far from the Glen of Ogilvy.

On Abernethy’s holy ground,
From whence their fame spread soon around,
Although no more their songs resound
In thier loved Glen of Ogilvy.

Nine maidens fair in life were they,
Nine maidens fair in death’s last fray,
Nine maidens fair in fame always,
The maids of Glen of Ogilvy.

And to their grave from every land,
Come many a sorrowing pilgrim band,
The Oak to kiss whose branches grand.
Wave O’er the maids of Ogilvy.

The Nine Maidens, in virtue of their being sisters, are unique in Scottish hagiology; but it is not uncommon to find maidens associated in groups.

Thus in the train of St Boniface a certain number of bishops and other clerical attendants are mentioned along with two virgins,Crescentia and Triduana.

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