Saint Triduana lived from about 320 to about 380. She is also sometimes known as Saint Trøllhaena, Trodline or Tredwell. According to legend she was a holy virgin born in Patras in Greece who accompanied St Rule (also known as St Regulus) when he sailed to what is now St Andrews in Fife with some of the bones of Saint Andrew, arriving in 347. She has since become associated with the miraculous healing of blindness. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
It is worth saying immediately that there are some problems with the story of Saint Triduana from a purely historical perspective. The most important is that she only comes into the picture, as far as Scotland is concerned, by association with St Rule, and it seems highly likely that the story of his voyage from Patras to St Andrews in 345-7 was a fabrication. It is more likely that Saint Andrew's relics were brought to St Andrews by St Acca, who had been Bishop of Hexham until his exile in 732. St Rule's involvement (and, perhaps, his very existence) was probably invoked (i.e. invented) to make it appear to early Christians that St Andrew's relics arrived in St Andrews much earlier than they actually did. This backdating of St Andrew's credentials by nearly 400 years probably helped win the much later argument about who should be the patron saint of Scotland at a time when many in the Church believed that St Columba and not St Andrew should be accorded the honour.
Where this leaves Saint Triduana is anyone's guess, especially as aspects of her story are very similar to the stories of two other early female saints: the Irish Saint Deirbhle, and Saint Lucy, who was martyred in Syracuse in 304. As legend has it, after her arrival in what is now Fife with St Rule, Triduana settled down to a pious life at Rescobie, close to the site of the much later Restenneth Priory and a couple of miles east of modern Forfar. Her beauty brought her to the attention of King Nechtan of the Picts, however. In order to deter his attentions she blinded herself by removing both her eyes and presenting them to Nechtan. Again, history intrudes awkwardly, because the earliest King Nechtan of the Picts ruled from 456 to 480, or over a century after these events are said to have taken place.
Suspending disbelief once more, Triduana is said to have later settled in Restalrig, today an eastern suburb of Edinburgh. There she gained a reputation of returning sight to the blind who came to her for help. She was buried in Restalrig when she died. A shrine was built there to commemorate her, and in the 1400s this was incorporated into St Triduana's Aisle, which still stands today. Her reputation for miracles went on long after her death. One account tells of two English women who regained their sight after travelling to Restalrig and praying to St Triduana in the 1600s. It is also said that when Bishop John of Caithness was blinded as a punishment by Harald Maddadsson, Early of Orkney, in 1201, his sight was restored after he prayed to "Saint Trøllhaena" and visited a local shrine to her. This perhaps helps explain why Saint Triduana's memory is also preserved in the name of St Tredwell's Chapel on the island of Papa Westray in Orkney, and chapels at Ballachly in Caithness and Loth in Sutherland.