> In response to Denise Inglis's query, co(m)arb means heir and is
> commonly used in medieval Irish sources for abbots, styling them as
> the "heir" of the monastery founding saint, e.g. Patrick's heir for
> abbot of Armagh.
But, what about a literal meaning of the word "heir"? I read somewhere
that, for awhile in Ireland during early medieval times, it became
acceptable for monks to forgo celibacy, actually marry and have
children, and to then pass on their positions within the monastery to
their sons after death? I heard St. Columba frowned on this and would
not allow it when he founded his own monasteries on Iona and the rest of
Scotland. It was one of the few things upon which he agreed with Rome,
while his Celtic Christianity was at odds with many other Catholic
traditions. Could the "coarb" next to that abbot's name possibly mean
that he had inherited his position from the previous abbot, who may have
been his father, or uncle?
MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA