Fínán (d. 661), monk of Iona and bishop of Lindisfarne, was Irish-born, apparently the son of one Rímid, and was probably of Ulster origin, although his genealogy is not preserved. A priest of the Columban community, he travelled to Northumbria in 652 to take up episcopal office as successor to Áedán (qv), first bishop of Lindisfarne. His eight- or nine-year tenure of the see was certainly characterised by activity, but was not without its share of controversy, as attested by Bede (‘Historia ecclesiastica’, iii, §§17, 21–2, 25).
Early in his episcopate, Fínán rebuilt the church at Lindisfarne according to Irish custom, with walls of hewn oak and a roof thatched with reeds. His pastoral activity encouraged members of the English nobility to travel to Ireland to further their education. Controversy arose, however, because Fínán, who adhered to Columban tradition, insisted on maintaining Celtic practice in the celebration of Easter. A cleric named Rónán, who, although born in Ireland or in the Irish colony of Dál Riata, had acquired a continental education, strove without success to persuade Fínán to adopt the Roman observance of Easter. Rónán, who cannot be identified with any of the Rónáns mentioned in the Irish and other martyrologies, apparently antagonised Fínán by his efforts: ‘because he was a man of fierce temper, Rónán made him more bitter by his reproofs and turned him into an open adversary of the truth’ (Bede, ‘Historia ecclesiastica’).
Although his diocese lay within the Northumbrian kingdom, Fínán devoted much attention to securing the conversion of the Middle-Angle and Saxon rulers. In this project he had the support of Oswiu, king of Northumbria, who made the conversion of the Mercian king, Peada son of Penda, a prior condition for his marriage to his daughter Alchfleda, and used his powers of persuasion on Sigebert, king of the East Saxons. Fínán officiated at two ensuing royal baptisms, both of which, although separated by some time, were conducted in the Northumbrian village of At-Wall – probably to be identified with Walton near Newcastle upon Tyne. Subsequently, he sent the Irishman Diuma (qv) as bishop to Mercia, and the Englishman Cedd as bishop to the East Saxons.
Fínán's obit is given as 31 August 660 in the Irish annals (661 in Scottish lists and in the late Breviary of Aberdeen). His feast-day is given at 9 January in the Irish martyrologies. His successor at Lindisfarne was another Irishman, Colmán (qv), whose adherence to the traditional Irish observance of Easter led to his expulsion in 664.