Ninian was born in the Celtic kingdom of Rheged, located over what are now Galloway and the northern parts of Cumbria. We do not know how he became a follower of Christ, but it was at the time when Britain was still part of the Roman Empire. A desire was stirred in him to travel to Rome to study the faith. Somehow he heard about Martin (see November 11th), who was noted for his monastic communities, established as a reaction against the increasing trend for the Church to become more worldly and militaristic. On his way home through France, therefore, Ninian called on Martin in Tours and was immediately at one with his aims and pattern of life.

He resolved to establish similar communities in his home area and began in Galloway with his “Candida Casa”, the “White House”, built of stone in the Roman style. Later the Saxons would name the whole village “Whithorn”, which is Saxon for “white house”. This white monastery could be clearly seen out at sea, and attracted many to travel from the neighbouring lands, as Ninian had travelled in Europe, to learn of the love and kindness of Christ. He taught them also to seek God’s protection by drawing around them and their loved ones a circle of prayer. These visitors took this message far and wide, and there are many dedications to Ninian, or Trinian (his Gaelic name) and to Martin of Tours throughout north and west Scotland, Cumbria and the Isle of Man. In Man monks from Whithorn established a community in memory of Ninian.

Lord God, our protector, we would draw all people of our world into Your circle of protection, peace and salvation. Let Your love shine from us, as Ninian’s White House shone across the sea, attracting people to Your love and light. May our words and actions reflect our prayer; in the name of Christ. Amen.