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Born in Ireland; died in Belgium, c. 655. Among the brothers of Saint Fursey (f.d. January 16) were Foillan and Saint Ultan (f.d. May 1), who went to England with Fursey about 630. There they built a monastery at Burgh Castle in Suffolk near Yarmouth, and were missionary monks under him among the East Angles.

When Fursey departed for Gaul, Foillan succeeded him as abbot, but the destruction of their monastery and the depredations of the Mercians under Penda, drove Foillan and Ultan to follow their brother across the sea.

They were welcomed to Neustria by King Clovis II. Abbess Blessed Ida of Nivelles (f.d. May 8) gave Foillan land at Fosses, Belgium, where he set up a monastery and did missionary work among the Brabanters of the surrounding country, on whom he made a lasting impression.

He kept up close relations with Saint Gertrude's establishment at Nivelles, and this was the occasion of his untimely end: It was when returning from saying Mass at Nivelles that he was set upon by robbers in the forest of Seneffe and murdered with three companions. Their bodies were not found until nearly three months later.

Ultan succeeded Foillan as abbot of Fosses, and he too was revered as a saint.

In September every seventh year at Fosses, there is a spectacular procession, called the March of Foillan, to honour the saint. Foillan's relics are honoured by an official mounted guard and salutes are fired seven times along the route of the procession. (Attwater, Delaney, Encyclopaedia, Montague).

Foillan is depicted as a bishop with two armed men under his feet. Sometimes he is shown (1) refusing the cup at the table of Pepin; (2) carrying hot coals in his vestment for incense; (3) praying before the church while the city burns; (4) kneeling, pierced by a spear; (5) beaten with a club; or (6) with sword and palm (Roeder).

Foillan is the patron of children's nurses, dentists, surgeons, and truss-makers (Roeder). He is widely honoured in both Ireland and northern France (Montague).

Troparion of St Foillan tone 8
Pagan robbers bestowed upon thee the crown of martyrdom, O righteous Foillan,/ for thy life was a reproach to the impious and cruel men./ Having laboured with thy holy brother, our Father Fursey,/ in East Anglia and later in the Netherlands,/ pray to God for us, we beseech thee, that both in word and deed/ our lives may be a missionary witness, that we may be found worthy of His great mercy.

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