d. unknown Feastday: May 13
Irish hermit also known as Ewen whose life is largely undocumented. 2nd century. This early saint gave his name to Abingdon, formerly Abbendun, in Berkshire England. The use of "dun" ("fortress" or "seat") indicates a Celtic origin, which, if true, would make Abban the earliest Irish saint. He is saint to have come from Ireland to England, where he was baptized about 165 AD. He preached effectively and received a generous land grant in Berroccense (Berkshire) on which he founded a monastery. Another monastery, funded by Prince Cissa and founded by Hean, replaced this one in 685 (D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick, Montague,O'Hanlon)..
d. 620 Feastday: March 16
Abbot and Irish missionary. An Irish prince, Abban was the son of King Cormac of Leinster. He is listed as the nephew of St. Ibar. Abban is also associated with Kill-Abban Abbey in Leinster, serving as abbot there until March 16, 620.
Abban founded many churches in the old district of Ui Cennselaigh, in modern County Wexford and Ferns. His main monastery is Magheranoidhe, in Adamstown, Ireland. This monastery's fame is attributed in some records to another Abban (December 22), that of Ros-mic_treoin (New Ross). He is revered in Adamstown, once called Abbanstown.
St. Abban of Murnevin
d. fifth century Feastday: October 27
Abbot and missionary, called Ewin, Evin, Neville, or Nevin. He is listed as a nephew of St. Kevin and is confused with St. Abban of Magh-Armuidhe. Abban is best known for his association with the monastery of Rosmic-Treoin of New Ross. He is also called Abban of Murnevin.
Abbey and School of Clonmacnoise
Situated on the Shannon,
about half way between Athlone and Banagher, King's County, Ireland, and the most remarkable of the ancient schools of Erin. Its founder was St. Ciaran,
surnamed Mac an Tsair, or "Son of the Carpenter", and thus
distinguished from his namesake, the patron saint of Ossory. He chose this
rather uninviting region because he thought it a more suitable dwelling-place
for disciples of the Cross than the luxuriant plains not far away. Ciaran was
born at Fuerty, County Roscommon, in 512, and in his early years was committed
to the care of a deacon named Justus, who had baptized him, and from whose
hands he passed to the school of St. Finnian at Clonard. Here he met all
those saintly youths who with himself were afterwards known as the "Twelve Apostles of Erin", and he quickly won their esteem. When Finnian had to absent himself from the monastery, it was to the youthful Ciaran that he deputed his authority to teach and "give out the prayers", and when Ciaran announced his intended departure, Finnian would fain resign to him his cathair, or chair, and keep him in Clonard. But Ciaran felt himself unripe for such responsibility, and he knew, moreover, he had work to do elsewhere.
After leaving Clonard, Ciaran, like most of the contemporary Irish saints, went to Aran to commune with holy Enda. One night the two saints beheld the same vision, "of a great fruitful tree, beside a stream, in the middle of Ireland, and it protected the island of Ireland, and its fruit went forth over the sea that surrounded the island, and the birds of the world came to carry off somewhat of its fruit". And when Ciaran spoke of the vision to Enda, the latter said to him:
The great tree which thou beholdest is thou thyself, for thou art great in the eyes of God and men, and all Ireland will be full of thy honour. This island will be protected under the shadow of thy favour, and multitudes will be satisfied with the grace of thy fasting and prayer. Go then, with God's word, to a bank of a stream, and there found a church.
Ciaran obeyed. On reaching the mainland he first paid a visit to St. Senan of Scattery and then proceeded towards the "middle of Ireland", founding on his way two monasteries, in one of which, on Inis Ainghin, he spent over three years. Going farther south he came to a lonely waste by the Shannon, and seeking out a beautiful grassy ridge, called Ard Tiprait, or the "Height of the Spring," he said to his companions: "Here then we will stay, for many souls will go to heaven hence, and there will be a visit from God and from men forever on this place". Thus, on 23 January, 544, Ciaran laid the foundation of his monastic school of Clonmacnoise, and on 9 May following he witnessed its completion. Diarmait, son of Cerball, afterwards High King of Ireland, aided and encouraged the saint in every way,promising him large grants of land as an endowment. Ciaran's government of his monastery was of short duration; he was seized by a plague which had already decimated the saints of Ireland, and died 9 September, 544.
It is remarkable that a young saint dying before he was thirty-three, should have been the founder of a school whose fame was to endure for centuries. But Ciaran was a man of prayer and fasting and labour, trained in all the science and discipline of the saints, humble and full of faith, and so was a worthy instrument in the hands of Providence for the carrying out of a high design. St. Cummian of Clonfert calls him one of the Patres Priores of the Irish Church, and Alcuin, the most illustrious alumnus of Clonmacnoise, proclaims him the Gloria Gentis Scotorum. His festival is kept on 9 September, and his shrine is visited by many pilgrims.
Ciaran left but little mark upon the literary annals of the famous school he founded. But in the character which he gave it of a seminary for a whole nation, and not for a particular tribe or district, is to be found the secret of its success. The masters were chosen simply for their learning and zeal; the abbots were elected almost in rotation from the different provinces; and the pupils thronged thither from all parts of Ireland, as well as from the remote quarters of France and England. From the beginning it enjoyed the confidence of the Irish bishops and the favour of kings and princes who were happy to be buried in its shadow. In its sacred clay sleep Diarmait the High King, and his rival Guaire, King of Connaught; Turlough O'Conor, and his hapless son, Roderick, the last King of Ireland, and many other royal benefactors, who believed that the prayers of Ciaran would bring to heaven all those who were buried there.
But Clonmacnoise was not
without its vicissitudes. Towards the close of the seventh century a plague
carried off a large number of its students and professors; and in the eighth
century the monastery was burned three times, probably by accident, for the
buildings were mainly of wood. During the ninth and tenth centuries it was
harassed not only by the Danes, but also, and perhaps mainly, by some of the
Irish chieftains. One of these, Felim MacCriffon, sacked the monastery three
times, on the last occasion slaughtering the monks, we are told, like sheep.
Even the monks themselves were infected by the bellicose spirit of the times,
which manifested itself not merely in defensive, but some- times even in
offensive warfare. These were evil days for Clonmacnoise, but with the blessing of Ciaran, and under the "shadow of his favour", it rose superior to its trials, and all the while was the Alma Mater of saints and sages.
Under date 794, is
recorded the death of Colgu the Wise, poet, theologian, and historian, who is
said to have been the teacher of Alcuin at Clonmacnoise (see Coelchu). Another
alumnus of vast erudition, whose gravestone may still be seen there, was
Suibhne, son of Maclume, who died in 891. He is described as the "wisest
and greatest Doctor of the Scots", and the annals of Ulster call him a "most excellent scribe". Tighernach, the most accurate and most
ancient prose chronicler of the northern nations, belongs to Clonmacnoise, and
probably also Dicuil (q.v), the world-famed geographer. In this school were
composed the "Chronicon Scotorum", a valuable chronicle of Irish
affairs from the earliest times to 1135, and the "Leabhar na
h-Uidhre", which, excepting the "Book of Armagh", is the oldest
Irish historical transcript now in existence. In the twelfth century
Clonmacnoise was a great school of Celtic art, architecture, sculpture, and
metal work. To this period and to
this school we owe the stone crosses of Tuam and Cong, the processional cross of Cong, and perhaps the Tara Brooch and the Chalice of Ardagh. The ruined towers and crosses and temples are still to be seen; but there is no trace of the little church of Ciaran which was the nucleus of Clonmacnoise.
Transcribed by Kieran O'Shea
d. 751Feastday: August 5
Archbishop and Benedictine abbot. Abel was probably born in Ireland, and was a noted churchman, accompanying St.Boniface on his missions to the European Continent. He was chosen as archbishop of Remis by Pope St. Zachary, a nomination ratified by the Council of Soissons in 744. However, a usurper named Milo occupied the see and would not relinquish it. Abel retired to a monastery at Lobbes, and was installed as abbot. He died there in the "odor of sanctity."
d.c. 515 Feastday: May 8
Hermit also called Gibrian. From Ireland, Abran, the eldest of five brothers and three sisters, sailed to Brittany with his siblings. There all of them continued their hermitages and greatly influenced the people of the area. Abran and his brothers and sisters were all declared saints.
d.c. 740 Feastday: June 25
A missionary in Ireland whose tomb became a center for pilgrims. Adalbert was born in Northembria, England, and was educated at Rathmelgisi Monastery. Accompanying St. Willibrord and others to Friesland, he gained many converts in an area called Egmont. Adalbert was also a companion of St. Egbert to Ireland. It is believed that he became St. Willibrord's successor as the abbot of Epternach. Adelbert's shrine was noted for miracles after his death.
d. 686 Feastday: June 2
A missionary and monastic founder, born in Ireland. As part of the heroic undertakings of the early Irish monks, Adalgis, who was a disciple of St. Fursey, sailed form his home to France. He did missionary work in Arras and Laon and founded a monastery in Picardy.
Feastday: September 23
Adamnan, born in Drumhome, Donegal, Ireland, became a monk at the monastery there. Later at Iona, of which he became ninth abbot in 679. He gave sanctuary to Aldfrid when the crown of Northumbria was in dispute after the death of Aldfrid's father, King Oswy. In 686, when Aldfrid had ascended the throne, Adamnan visited him to secure the release of Irish prisoners. Two years later Adamnan visited several English monasteries and was induced by St. Ceolfrid to adopt the Roman calendar for Easter. Adamnan worked ceaselessly thereafter with much success to get Irish monks and monasteries to replace their Celtic practices with those of Rome. His success in convincing the Council of Birr that women should be exempt from wars and that women and children should not be taken prisoners or slaughtered caused the agreement to be called Adamnan's law. A scholar noted for his piety, he wrote a life of St. Columba, one of the most important biographies of the early Middle Ages. He also wrote DE LOCIS SANCTIS, a description of the East told to him by a Frank bishop, Arculf, whose ship was driven ashore near Iona on the way back from Jerusalem. Adamnan is thought by some in Ireland to be the same as St. Eunan, though this is uncertain. He died at Iona on September 23 which is his feast day.
St. Adamnan (Eunan), the biographer of St. Columba, tells many interesting incidents in the life of St. Baithen, but the mere fact of being the immediate successor of St. Columba, by the express wish of that apostle, is almost sufficient to attest his worth. The "Martyrology of Donegal" records the two following anecdotes. When St. Baithen partook of food, before each morsel in invariably recited "Deus in adjutorium meum intende". Also, "when he worked in the fields, gathering in the corn along with the monks, he used to hold up one hand towards Heaven, beseeching God, while with the other hand he gathered the corn". St. Baithen of Iona is generally known as Baithen Mor, to distinguish him from eight other saints of the same name -- the affix mor meaning "the Great". He wrote a life of his master, and some Irish poems, which are now lost, but which were seen by St Adamnan. He only ruled Iona three years, as his death took place in the year 600, though the "Annals of Ulster" give the date as 598. Perhaps the true year may be 599. His feast is celebrated on October 6th.
St. Adamnan of
d.c. 680 Feastday: January 31
Confessor and prophet who was born in Ireland and undertook a series of penitential pilgrimages. Adamnan arrived on the southwest coast of Scotland where he met St. Ebba at the Monastery of Coldingham of the southeast coast of Scotland. He became a monk in this monastery and lived a life of severe austerity. Adamnan was noted for the gift of prophecy until his death. His cult was confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1898.
d.c. 875 Feastday: March 4
A bishop and missionary, possibly of royal blood. Adrian was born in Pannonia, in modern Hungary, and was appointed bishop of the local diocese. He resigned to undertake a missionary project. After laboring among the Scots, he retired to a monastery in the area of Firth of Forth. He and his fellow religious were murdered by Danish Viking invaders. In some records, St. Adrian is identified with St. Odhern of Ireland, and in other accounts he listed as a missionary to Ireland.
Feastday: June 17, 680
Bishop and missionary, venerated with his brother, Butulf. They were nobles of Saxon or Irish lineage who became monks. Both went as missionaries to Germany. There Adulf was made the bishop of Utrecht. Butulf returned to England and founded a religious house in 654, becoming widely respected for his holiness.
St. Aedh MacBricc
d. 589 Feastday: November 10
Miracle worker and founder who reputedly cured St. Brigid of a headache. Aedh was the son of Bricc, or Breece, of the Hy Neill. He was robbed of his inheritance by his brother and came under the influence of bishop Illathan of Rathlihen, Offay. Admitted into the monastic life, Aedh founded a religious community in Westmeath. He is listed in some records as a bishop.
St. Aedh Dubh
d. 639 Feastday: January 4
King of Leinster, he abdicated in 592 to enter the monastery of Kildare and was named its bishop in 630.
St. Aedh Mac Bricc
d. 589 Feastday: November 10
The life of this saint is full of extraordinary tales of miracles of healing, transit through the air, and other marvels. The son of Breece of the Hy Neill, he worked on his father's farm, was dissuaded by Bishop Illathan of Rathlihen, Offaly, from kidnapping a girl from his brothers' household when they refused him his inheritance on his father's death, and remained with the bishop. He founded the monastery at Cill-áir in Westmeath and eventually became a bishop. he is reputed to have cured St. Brigid of a headache, so is often called on to cure headaches.
St. Aengus (Oengus)
d. 824 Feastday: March 11
Called Dengus and "the Culdee," a hermit and author of the Festlology of the Saints of Ireland, The Felire. The term Culdee refers to Aengus' love of solitude: Ceile De was a name given to the hermits of the time. Aengus, born in Clonengh, Ireland, became a solitary monk on the banks of the river Nore, where he communed with angels. In time he sought a more remote site near Maryborough, erecting a small hermitage there. Visitors drawn by his reputation for holiness drove Aengus to the monastery of Tallaght, near Dublin, then under the control of St. Maelruain. He tried to enter as a simple lay brother, not telling anyone who he was. Aengus, along with Maelruain who had discovered the Culdee's real identity, wrote the Martyrology of Tallaght together in 790. Aengus completed his Felire in 805 in his Maryborough hermitage, having returned there when Maelruain died. Aengus passed away on March 11, 824, and was buried in Clonenagh.
St. Aengus MacNisse
d. 514 Feastday: September 3
According to unreliable legends, Aengus MacNisse was baptized by St. Patrick, who years later consecrated him bishop. After a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome, he founded a church and monastery at Kells, which developed into Connor, of which he is considered the first bishop. His story is filled with extravagant miracles, such as changing the course of a river for the convenience of his monks and rescuing a child about to be executed for his father's crime by causing him to be carried by the wind from the executioners to his arms.
St. Aid of
Feastday: April 11
Date unknown. Abbot Saint Aid of Achard-Finglas, County Carlow, Ireland, may be identical with Saint Aed Maedhog. He is the titular of a church, an abbey, and several chapels (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
d. 626 Feastday: January 31
Monastic founder, bishop,
and miracle worker known for his kindness to animals. Known as Edan, Modoc, and
Maedoc in some records, Aidan was born in Connaught, Ireland. Tradition states
that his birth was heralded by signs and omens, and he showed evidence of piety
as a small child. Educated at Leinster, Aidan went to St. David monastery in Wales. He
remained there for several years, studying Scriptures, and his presence saved St. David from disaster. Saxon war parties attacked the monastery during Aidan's stay, and he supposedly repelled them miraculously. In time, Aidan returned to Ireland, founding a monastery in Ferns, in Wexford. He became the bishop of the region as well. His miracles brought many to the Church. Aidan is represented in religious art with a stag. He is reported to have made a beautiful stag invisible to save it from hounds.
St. Aidan of Ferns
d. 632 Feastday: January 31
Bishop and missionary, born in Inisbrefny, in County Cavan, circa 550, who is probably to be identified with Aidan. As a small boy he was held as a hostage by AedhAinmire, High King of Ireland, probably to insure the loyalty of his family. Released, Aidan studied at Kilmuine, in Wales, a famed institute of Christian learning conducted by St. David. In 580, he returned to Ireland, going to the coast of Wexford. He served the area and was honored by Bran Dubh at the synod held to celebrate victory over King Aedh. Ferns, the area in which Aedan conducted his priestly ministry, was elevated at this time to the status of a diocese. Aidan was appointed the first bishop of Ferns and became Ard-Escops or Chief bishop of the region. In time he was called Mogue, "the beloved Aidan." The episcopal seat is no longer in Ferns but in Enniscarthy, where a cathedral was dedicated to Aidan.
Feast Day: 8 October
Monk of lona, first bishop
and abbot of Lindisfarne. Nothing is known of his early life except his Irish
origin; Bede is virtually the only source. Aidan came to England in 635 when Oswald, who had become a Christian during exile at lona, had regained the throne
of Northumbria from Mercian invaders. He looked to lona for help in the work of
conversion: first a severe monk was sent, who soon returned complaining that
the Saxons were uncivilized and unteachable; he was replaced by Aidan, who
enjoyed a reputation for discretion and prudence.
Oswald gave him the island of Lindisfarne, close to the royal palace of Bamburgh, better suited for evangelizing Bernicia (Oswald's power-base of northern Northumbria) than York and the south ern kingdom of Deira, evangelized by Paulinus.
Aidan's evangelistic activity seems to have been principally, if not exclusively, in the Bernician kingdom. Oswald himself sometimes was Aidan's interpreter in early days; later Aidan founded churches and monasteries, liberated Anglo-Saxon slave-boys and educated them for the Church, and encouraged monastic practices among the laity, such as fasting and meditation on the Scriptures. He himself lived in poverty and detachment, which enabled him to reprove the wealthy and powerful when necessary.
After Oswald's death in 642 Aidan supported King Oswin of Deira and enjoyed his personal friendship. Once Oswin gave him a fine horse, but soon Aidan gave it away to a poor man.
During Lent he retired to the Inner Farne Island for prayer and penance; from there in 651 he saw Bamburgh being burnt by Penda, the militant king of Mercia, and prayed successfully for the wind to change. But Aidan did not long survive the death of
Oswin at the hand of Oswiu, who united Bernicia with Deira afterwards. Aidan died at Bamburgh and was buried at Lindisfarne in the cemetery. Later his bones were translated into the church. Some of these were removed to Ireland by Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne, when he retired to Ireland after the Synod of Whitby.
St. Ailbhe (Albeus, Elvis, Ailbe) Bishop of Emly
d. 541 Feastday: September 12
5th or 6th century (died 526-540?). Although many are under the mistaken belief that Saint Patrick was the first to bring Christianity to
Ireland, Saint Ailbhe was converted by British missionaries. Some traditions say that he was baptized by a priest while a boy in northern
Ireland; another that he was baptized and raised in a British settlement in Ireland. In either case, he had travelled to Rome before Patrick's
arrival-- and some say that he was consecrated bishop there.
Upon his return to Ireland, he became the disciple of Patrick and, according to some, was consecrated the first archbishop of Munster by
him. Ailbhe fixed his see at Emly (Imlech, County Tipperary, though the cathedral is now at Cashel), which is officially listed by the Vatican
as being founded in the 4th century, making it the oldest continuous see in Ireland.
He was known as a powerful preacher and a model of sanctity, who won many souls to the faith. Although he lived in the world in order to care for the souls of his flock, he was careful for his own soul, too. He made frequent retreats and engaged in habitual recollection. Saint
Ailbhe especially loved to pray in front of the sea. King Aengus of Munster gave him Aran Island (Co. Galway) on which he founded a great
monastery and established Saint Enda as abbot. He also drew up a still extant rule for the community.
When in his old age he wanted to resign and retire to the solitude of Thule (Shetland? Iceland? Greenland?) to prepare for death, the king
stationed guards at the ports to prevent his flight. Thus, Saint Ailbhe died in the midst of his episcopal labours and is deemed the principal
patron of Munster.
There are many accounts of Saint Ailbhe: that he baptized Saint David of Wales; that an angel showed him the "place of his resurrection"--Emly; that he was in constant dialogue with the angels. Even his name points to a legend: Ailbhe, said to mean "living rock" in Gaelic, was a
foundling left under a rock and suckled by a she-wolf, and thus named by his adoptive family. The story continues that later, while he was
hunting with some companions, an aged female wolf ran to him for protection (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Husenbeth,
< http://www.alvyray.com/Ailbhe/AilbheSaint.htm >
St Ailbhe comes from an uncertain and controversial period of Irish history. There is evidence that he is one of the first Christian
missionaries in Ireland - before St Patrick! - but then the Patrician history contradicts this - perhaps with a political agenda? Who knows.
Anyway, he is acknowledged to be the patron saint of the current Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly located in south central Ireland
comprising parts of Counties Tipperary and Limerick. He is probably the founder of the first, ancient cathedral at Emly. A typical "history" of
him can be found on the Cashel and Emly Archdiocese website, <http://ireland.iol.ie/~pjackson/acesaint.htm > which tells us that
Ailbhe was able to save the wolf (see name list item above) when she was to be killed and that the wolf thereafter ate from his table.
Learned information appears in a translation of the Life of St Declan of Ardmore < http://www.ccel.org/d/declan/life/declan.html > which clearly states that Ailbhe and Ciaran (both now Saints) preceded Patrick in the Irish mission, that the Life of St Patrick affirms this, that St Patrick came to Ireland only slightly after Ailbhe and Ciaran as a superior to them in the Catholic hierarchy. Unfortunately, the Life of St Declan contains obvious contradictions, so these facts are controversial. The Life of St Declan, by the way, appears to establish Declan as another of the pre-Patrician Irish Christian missionaries. Other candidates for membership in this elite corps are Ibar, Brigit, Senan, "perhaps Mac[son of] Cairthinn" (see Life of St Senan <http://www.solaw.com/jg4/senan/ > ). Another example of the confusion
rampant here is evidenced by the Celtic baby name list item above which claims St Ailbhe lived in the 6th century. This is consistent with the website entry above for the Cashel and Emly Archdiocese which lists 528 as his death year. The website points out that this contradicts the claim that he preceded Patrick who was in Ireland in the 5th century. But the Life of St Declan goes on and on about just how and when Ailbhe, Declan, Ibar, and Patrick met and interacted, both in Ireland and in Rome before that.
The best information I have found comes from The Flowering of Ireland: Saints, Scholars & Kings by Katharine Scherman, Little Brown & Co, 1981(reissued 1999 for St Patrick's Day). Excerpts:
p 83: "But he [Patrick] had predecessors. Through the nimbus of myth that surrounds early Irish church history there emerge four holy figures who were there when Patrick came. ... Not much remains to us but the names - St Ciaran of Saighir and Ossory, St Ailbe of Emly, St Ibar of Beg Erin and St Declan of Ardmore - and some lively legends of their miraculous activities."
pp 84-85: "The figure of St Ailbe is almost as nebulous as that of St Ciaran. His life is said to have spanned 167 years, from 360 to 527. He
is probably a composite: the saints of early years, the recording of whose deeds was dependent on the spoken word of recent converts steeped in the magic and mysticism of their pre-Christian youth, tended to blend together. Their deeds, later recorded in writing by monks themselves enveloped in the climate of unquestioning faith, took on a cloudy aura, and several saints merged into a single hyperbolic monument to saintliness.
"Ailbe was born to a maidservant in the house of Cronan, lord of Eliach in County Tipperary. Cronan, for reasons unrevealed, disapproved of his birth and directed that he be exposed to 'dogs and wild beasts, that he might be devoured' The baby was found by a wolf, who tended him until an unidentified passerby, possibly a Christian from Britain, noticed his beauty and his potential Christian grace, and took him away to be reared in the faith. After study and consecration in Rome, Ailbe was directed by the pope, along with 'fifty holy men from Ireland,' presumably recently converted followers, to proselytize the heathens in an unrecorded corner of Europe. Then, like 'a sagacious bee loaded with honey,' he embarked for Ireland with his companions in an unseaworthy boat. By blessing the sea, he brought them all serenely to port in northern Ireland, where he converted the king, Fintan, and brought back to life Fintan's three sons, slain in battle.
Note : "Quotations concerning the life of St Ailbe throughout this chapter are from Rev John O'Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints" [which I
have not been able to find: 10 volumes, Dublin: J. Duffy & Sons, 1875].
"St Ailbe traversed Ireland, as did St Patrick after him, converting as he went, and at last settled in Emly, County Tipperary, near the place
of his birth. There he founded a church and a school, and promulgated the 'Law of Ailbe,' supposedly the first codification of ecclesiastical
rule in Ireland. In the huge span of his life he was friend to many holy men, including, of course, St Patrick, who reputedly named him
archbishop of Munster. When he was very old he wished to retire to Tyle (Thule), the island that is now Iceland, to flee worldly honours and to meditate among the holy hermits already established on that bleak shore. But King Aengus of Munster (converted by St Patrick) refused permission and placed guards at the seaports so he could not escape his responsibilities to the multitudes of his adoring followers. Ailbe is called 'the second St Patrick,' and he may be one of those whose deeds and persons fuse into the great shadowy form of Ireland's patron saint."
p 86: "In Rome he [St Declan] had met Ailbe, already prominent, and they had formed a deep friendship that was to last their lives."
p 94: "Apocryphal as are most of the stories around the hazy figure of Ireland's patron, it is historical fact that the framework of a
Christian organisation modelled loosely on that of Rome began to take shape under the aegis of a single or composite strong, vibrant
personality. It started, probably, when Patrick went to challenge the heathen stronghold of Cashel. (This was the seat of King Aengus, the
over-king of Munster, which was one of Ireland's five provinces and at that time, with Tara, the most powerful.) Cashel was the traditional
rival of Tara ... and Patrick knew that the conversion of its king was just as important for his mission as the convincing of king Laoghaire at
Tara. The eloquent young man succeeded where his elders, Ireland's first four holy men, had failed. Aengus became one of his strongest
supporters, and Cashel was the site of Ireland's first meeting of ecclesiastics, as Patrick summoned to him Declan, Ibor, Ailbe and Ciaran
for the disposition of local ecclesiastical affairs."
Troparion of St Ailbe tone 4
When Ireland's Enlightener returned to his native land he found thee, O holy Ailbe, preaching the Faith at Emly,/ where at the bidding of an
Angel thou hadst built a church./ O wise shepherd of souls and glorious ascetic,/ O friend of animals, and fellow missionary with the
illustrious Patrick, pray to Christ our God that we might also become bastions of Orthodoxy/ and a shining example to our fellow countrymen, drawing them away from ignorance and error/ and into the true Faith that
all our souls may be saved.
The Rule of Saint Ailbe can be found in "The Celtic Monk: Rules & Writings of Early Irish Monks" Uinseann O'Maidin OCR, pub. Cistercian
Studies Series Number 162, 1996. ISBN: 0879076623 (pb) and 0879075627 (hb).
d. 664 Feastday: December 29
Monk, biographer, and
scholar, also called Sapiens the Wise. Aileran was one of the most
distinguished professors at the school of Clonard in Ireland. St. Finian welcomed
Aileran to Clonard. In 650, Aileran became rector of Clonard, and was
recognized as a classical scholar and a master of Latin and Greek. He wrote The
Fourth Life of St. Patrick, a Latin-Irish
Litany and The Lives of St. Brigid and St. Fechin of Fore. His last work was a treatise on the genealogy of Christ according to St. Matthew. A fragment of another of Aileran's works has survived: A Short Moral Explanation of the Sacred Names. Scholarly institutions across Europe read this work aloud annually. Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on
December 29, 664, is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster.
St. Albert of Cashel
d. 800 Feastday: January 8
7th century; feast day may also be January 19. A 12th-century "vita" describes Saint Albert with the pun: "by race an Angle, in speech an angel' ("natione Anglus, conversatione angelus"). According to rather unreliable accounts, Saint Albert was an Englishman who laboured in or was archbishop of Cashel, Ireland, and afterwards evangelized Bavaria with Saint Erhard (f.d. January 8). He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and died shortly after his return to Ratisbon (Regensburg, Germany). Unfortunately, the diocese of Cashel did not exist then, so this is an obscure point in his life. He is the patron saint of Cashel, Ireland (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopaedia).
d. c.760 Feastday: February 9
Probably an Irishman, he became a hermit near Augsburg, Germany, about 743. Recluse and missionary in Bavaria, c. 750. Alto has been variously described as an Anglo-Saxon and an Irishman (Scotus), but the name Alt is undoubtedly Irish. We know little of his life except the broad facts that he lived for some time as a hermit, reclaiming the wild forest-land around him, and that he afterwards founded a Benedictine monastery in this spot, now called Altomünster, in the Diocese of Freising, having previously obtained a grant of land from King Pepin. St. Boniface is said to have come to dedicate the church about the year 750. A charter still exists bearing the subscription Alto reclausus [Hauck, Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands (1904), I, 541], which probably dates back to Alto's hermit days. We do not know the year of his death, but he is commemorated on 9 February. The monastery of Altomünster suffered much from the Huns and the depredations of the tyrannical nobles, but about the year 1000 it was restored again as a Benedictine monastery. Later it was tenanted by Benedictine nuns and these at the end of the fifteenth century gave place to a community of Brigittines, in whose hands it still remains despite many vicissitudes.
St. Andrew the Scot
d. 877 Feastday: August 22
Archdeacon of Fiesole, born probably at the beginning of the ninth century; died about 877. St. Andrew and his sister St. Bridget the Younger were born in Ireland of noble parents. There they seem to have studied under St. Donatus, an Irish scholar, and when the latter decided to make a long pilgrimage to the holy places of Italy, Andrew accompanied him. Donatus and Andrew arrived at Fiesole when the people were assembled to elect a new bishop. A heavenly voice indicated Donatus as most worthy of the dignity, and being consecrated to that office, he made Andrew his archdeacon. During the forty-seven years of his episcopate Andrew served him faithfully, and he was apparently encouraged by Donatus to restore the church of St. Martin a Mensola and to found a monastery there. Andrew is commended for his austerity of life and boundless charity to the poor. He died shortly after his master St. Donatus; and his sister St. Bridget is believed to have been miraculously conducted from Ireland by an angel to assist at his deathbed. After St. Andrew's holy death, Bridget led the life of a recluse for some years in a remote spot among the Apennines. St. Andrew is commemorated on 22 August.
Apostles of Erin
By this designation are meant twelve holy Irishmen of the sixth century who went to study at the School of Clonard in Meath. About the year 520 St. Finian founded his famous school at Cluain-Eraird (Eraird's Meadow), now Clonard, and thither flocked saints and learned men from all parts of Ireland. In his Irish life it is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000, and a stanza of the hymn for Lauds in the office of St. Finian runs as follows:
Trium virorum millium,
Sorte fit doctor humilis;
Verbi his fudit fluvium
Ut fons emanans rivulis.
The Twelve Apostles of Erin, who came to study at the feet of St. Finian, at Clonard, on the banks of the Boyne and Kinnegad Rivers, are said to have been St. Ciaran of Saighir (Seir-Kieran) and St. Ciaran of Clonmacnois; St. Brendan of Birr and St. Brendan of Clonfert; St. Columba of Tir-da-glasí (Terryglass) and St. Columba of Iona; St. Mobhí of Glasnevin; St. Ruadhan of Lorrha; St. Senan of Iniscathay (Scattery Island); St. Ninnidh the Saintly of Loch Erne; St. Lasserian mac Nadfraech, and St. Canice of Aghaboe. Though there were many other holy men educated at Clonard who could claim to be veritable apostles, the above twelve are regarded by old Irish writers as "The Twelve Apostles of Erin". They are not unworthy of the title, for all were indeed apostles, whose studies were founded on the Sacred Scriptures as expounded by St. Finian. In the hymn from St. Finian's office we read:
Regressus in Clonardiam
Ad cathedram lecturae
Ad studium scripturae.
The great founder of Clonard died 12 December 549, according to the "Annals of Ulster", but the Four Masters give the year as 548, whilst Colgan makes the date 563. His patronal feast is observed on 12 December.
St. Asicus or (Assic, Assicus, or Tassach) bishop. Elphin
d.c. 490 Feastday: April 27
Abbot-Bishop of Ireland and disciple of St. Patrick, also called Ascicus and Tassach. Asicus was a coppersmith and was married when he first met St. Patrick. In time he was made the first abbot-bishop of Elphim Monastery in Roscommon, Ireland. Humble and not believing he was worthy of the office, Asicus went to an island in Donegal Bay, where he resigned his rank and became a hermit. After seven years the monks of Elphin found him and persuaded him to return to the monastery. He died at Raith Cungilor on the return journey.
In the "Tripartite Life of St Patrick" (ed. Whitley Stokes) we read:
"Bishop St Assic was Patrick's coppersmith, and made altars and square bookcases. Besides, he made our saint's patens in honour of Bishop Patrick, and of them I have seen three square patens, that is, a paten in the Church of Patrick in Armagh, and another in the Church of Elphin, and a third in the great-church of Donough-patrick (at Carns near Tulsk)."
Asicus was a coppersmith and was married when he first met St. Patrick. In time he was made the first abbot-bishop of Elphim Monastery in Roscommon, Ireland. Humble and not believing he was worthy of the office, Asicus went to an island in Donegal Bay, where he resigned his rank and became a hermit. After seven years the monks of Elphin found him and persuaded him to return to the monastery. He died at Raith Cungilor on the return journey.
St. Assicus was a most expert metal worker, and was also renowned as a bellfounder. Some remarkable specimens of his handicraft are extant. There is confusion between this saint and Tassach (April 14), which suggests that they may be the same person. They were both skilled metal workers, their names are similar, and they died the same year.
Of his last days the following graphic description is given by Archbishop Healy:
"Assicus himself in shame because of a lie told either by him, or, as others say, of him, fled into Donegal, and for seven years abode in the island of Rathlin O'Birne. Then his monks sought him out, and after much labour found him in the mountain glens, and tried to bring him home to his own monastery at Elphin. But he fell sick by the way and died with them in the wilderness. So they buried the venerable old man in the churchyard of Rath Cunga, now Racoon, in the Barony of Tirhugh, County Donegal. The old churchyard is there still, though now disused, on the summit of a round hillock close to the left of the road from Ballyshannon to Donegal, about a mile to the south of the village of Ballintra. We sought in vain for any trace of an inscribed stone in the old churchyard. He fled from men during life, and, like Moses, his grave is hidden from them in death."
His feast is celebrated 27 April, as is recorded in the "Martyrology of Tallaght" under that date.
Troparion of St Asic Tone 4
Thou didst glorify God both by preaching the Word and by thy coppersmith's skill,/ O glorious Father Asic./ Thou wast abbot and bishop and didst die a hermit./ Pray to Christ our God that we may find grace/ to devote our gifts and skills to His service.
d. 6th century Feastday: August 11
Hermitess and co-worker with St. Patrick, also called Araght or Taraghta. A contemporary of St. Patrick from whom she received the veil. She is known as the foundress of several churches in the Counties of Galway and Sligo, Ireland. Colgan's account of her life is based on that written by Augustine Magraidin in the last years of fourteenth century, and abounds in improbable statements. However, the fact of St. Attracta receiving the veil from St. Patrick is corroborated by Tirechán, in the "Book of Armagh", as is evident from the following passage in the "Documenta de S. Patricio" (ed. Edmund Hogan, S.J.): "Et ecclesiam posuit in cella Adrachtae, filiae Talain, et ipsa accepit pallium de manu Patricii." A native of the County Sligo, she resolved to devote herself to God, but being opposed by her parents, fled to South Connacht and made her first foundation at Drumconnell, near Boyle, County Roscommon, whence she removed to Greagraighe or Coolavin, County Sligo. At Killaraght, St. Attracta established a hospice for travellers, which existed as late as 1539. Her name was so great that numerous places were named after her, e.g. Killaraght (Cill Attracta), Toberaraght, Cloghan Araght, etc., and a large village which grew up around her oratory at Killaraght in Coolavin. Colgan gives an account of the Cross of St. Attracta which was famed during the Middle Ages, and of which the O'Mochain family were hereditary keepers. A striking confirmation of the existence of this relic in the early years of the fifteenth century is afforded by an entry in the "Calendar of Papal Letters" (VI, 45l) from which we learn that in 1413 the cross and cup of St. Attracta (Crux ac Cuach Aracht) were then venerated in the church of Killaraght, in the Diocese of Achonry. By an Indult of 28 July, 1864, Pius IX authorized the Office and Mass of St. Attracta, which had lapsed into desuetude, to be again celebrated in the Irish Church. The feast of St. Attracta, on 11 August, is given special honour in the Diocese of Achonry, of which she is the patroness. The prayers and proper lessons for her Office were drawn up by Cardinal Moran.
St. Autbod (Aubeu)
A native of Ireland, Autbod was an associate of the three brothers who all became abbots, (Saints) Fursey, Foillan, and Ultan. Around the year 650, Autbod journeyed to France. Thereafter he combined an active apostolate of evangelizing Artois, Picardy, and the Belgian region of Hainaut with a private life of solitude, settling as a hermit at Laon, France. Autbod has been venerated as the patron saint of Valcourt, where it is said he brought forth a spring that has wrought miraculous cures of those with fevers.
d. 690 Feastday: November 20
Irish missionary and hermit. Autbodus preached in Hainault, Belgium, and in Artois and Picardy, France. He retired to a hermitage near Laon where he died.
d. 5th Century Feastday: December 6
With SS. Isserninus and Secundinus, he worked with St. Patrick in his missionary activities. They all signed a decree, still extant, telling the clergy that they might appeal to Rome against judgements made by the see of Armagh.