Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: N-P

The biographies of the saints listed in the nineteenth-century encyclopaedia chronological list continues with those whose names come under the letters N-P. There are only three featured, one for each letter,  but as P is for Patrick it's a rather more substantial account than most. There is also a reasonably full entry for Saint Laurence O'Toole which includes a wonderful piece of nationalist hyperbole on the foreign plague which still poisons our country's soil - the faithless invader! Saint Navel contents himself with seeing off the unwanted advances of a wicked woman, as faithless spouses seem to have been more of a concern in his day:

NAVEL SAINT, a son of the celebrated King Angus of Cashel, who was converted by St. Patrick, and is said to have been one of twenty-four children, most of whom became religious. Our Saint was brought up in his father's court, and was trained as a warrior as well as receiving all the advantages which the growing schools of Ireland possessed at that day. When grown up he was placed in the care of St. Ailbe bishop of Emly, with whom he remained until he had completed his education for the holy office of the priesthood. He had well imbibed the lessons of his saintly teachers, and as his zeal prompted him to labor amongst those not yet converted, he soon became celebrated for his power and zeal as a preacher. His rank, appearance, eloquence and sanctity of life gave him great influence, and his success was marked. He established monasteries and built churches amongst the communities he converted. He traveled into Ossory, where he converted many from paganism. This was about 515, and it is said that St. Canice, first bishop of Ossory, was placed under his care. It is said that while traveling through Kilkenny he stopped at a chief's house whose wife tried to tempt the saint. He reproached her in such strong terms that she determined on revenge, and on the return of her husband made charges against the saint, who had gone on his way. The chief pursued him for the purpose of slaying him. The saint asked to be confronted with the woman, and if he did not make her confess her falsehood; he was willing to suffer. He returned, and the woman boldly renewed her charge, when the saint praying called upon God to pass judgment between them, and that the lying tongue might be paralyzed. The woman was instantly struck dumb, and throwing herself at the saint's feet, clung to his garments in terror. He then said to her, "If you will confess the truth I will release you," and making the sign of the cross on her lips speech was restored and she declared her falsehood, and both she and her husband became pious Christians. In the year 520 he founded his most celebrated monastery, that of Kilmanagh. This became a famous school, and its halls were soon filled with students from all parts. The place, which was a forest, soon became cultivated, populous, and blossomed as a garden. The monks were the first to properly cultivate the lands and bring from them rich harvests. They reclaimed marshy lands by draining and barren lands by enriching, so that abbey lands became a synonyme for rich lands. He died about 564, and his feast is kept on July 31st.

O'TOOLE, ST. LAURENCE, Archbishop of Dublin, the last of the canonized saints of Ireland, was the son of Maurice O'Toole, prince of Imaile, County Wicklow, and was born about 1120. He belonged to a brave and warlike race, and his father having had some difficulty with the King of Leinster, Laurence at the age of ten years was put into the king's hands, as a hostage, and at length treated by him with cruelty, his father suddenly captured a number of prominent adherents of the king and threatened them with death if his son was not immediately given up to him, which was acceded to. Young Laurence feeling a call for the ecclesiastical state his father placed him with the Bishop of Glendalough, under whom the young student made great progress both in learning and the science of the Saints. He was raised to the priesthood in due time and in his twenty-fifth year was elected Abbot of the Monastery at Glendalough, where he had finished his studies. His heart was overflowing with a boundless charity, and he gave so freely and abundantly that the resources of the monastery were tasked to its utmost, and the patrimony of his father was recoursed to, to meet the calls of charity. The almost constant wars with which this part of the country was troubled, arising from the broken, divided and dissipated powers which Danish invasion had entailed, created often extensive suffering and want, and strained the charities of the monasteries, often themselves pilliaged by barbarians and reduced to distress. Our saint's hands, however, were always wide open, and seemed to be gifted with never-failing means to search out new resources to meet present wants. So conspicuous were his works that before he was thirty he was nominated Bishop of Glendalough, but declined. In 1162, however, the sea of Dublin became vacant, and the clergy and people with one accord turned their eyes toward the Abbot of Glendalough as the one pre-eminently fitted for the important post. He declined and protested, but the call was persistant and loud, and he at length accepted and was consecrated Archbishop by Gelasius, the primate. Dairmaid, the infamous king of Leinster, who brought to his country the foreign plague which still poisons her soil —the faithless invader— was at this time on the throne of that province and from the first gave our saint trouble by his crimes and abuses of power. Our saint however went to work with the fearless energy and boldness of an Apostle to reform abuses, and he set the clergy and people an example in the holiness and austerity of his life and the humility and disinteredness of his ceaseless labors. He became a member of the canons regular of the Cathedral, practicing all the austerities of the order, wearing the hair shirt and habit beneath his pontifical robes, joining them in the midnight offices and prayers, and often spending whole nights in the church in prayer and meditation. Often, too, when he could escape from the cares of his office he would spend days together in St. Kevin's cave in the mountains in fasting, prayer and contemplation.

In 1167 he attended a great synod at Athboy, called by Roderick O'Connor, Monarch of Ireland, in which very likely the affairs of Leinster and its dethroned and banished king were discussed. This wretched traitor and outcast returned in 1169 with his English allies whom he had purchased by the promise of plunder and his acknowledgement of Henry II. Thus commenced the great misfortunes of Ireland and greater troubles for our Saint, whose see was to be the principle theatre of war and carnage. St. Laurence from the first energetically opposed the invaders, and begged and prayed the native princes to forget and lay down all personal and provincial quarrels, which unfortunately had become too common, and unite to oppose a common danger. He to a great extent succeeded, and Roderick the monarch had by 1171 cooped up the invaders and their allies under Strongbow, in Dublin, (the traitor king of Leinster, his father-inlaw, having died in May of that year), and reduced them to the last straights. The monarch, too confident of success, became careless, and Strongbow, desperate from the evils which threatened him on all sides—he having been outlawed by Henry II. for refusing to obey made a sudden and unexpected sortie at the break of day, almost capturing Roderick as he was in his bath, and compelling a complete rout of Roderick's provincial forces. The other Irish princes, already dissatisfied with the monarch's methods, broke up their camp, and marched back to their provinces. In 1171 Henry II. himself landed in Ireland with a large army and succeeded in securing the acknowledgements of some of the Irish princes. In 1175 Roderick and Henry came to an agreement through the medium of St. Laurence which seemed to promise peace, and by which Roderick was to be acknowledged King of Ireland, but was to acknowledge Henry as his superior lord. St. Laurence was about this time on a mission from Roderick to Henry when he was struck down on the altar steps in Canterbury by a minion of Henry's who knew his master hated the holy prelate, because he could not use him as a tool. The saint, however did not die, and through his intercession the would-be assassin was pardoned.

In 1179 our Saint attended the third general council of Lateran where he was greatly honored for his sanctity and learning, and on his return was appointed by the Pope his legate in Ireland. In 1180 he again went to England to settle some dispute between Roderick and Henry, but not agreeing to the wishes of the tyrant he was treated with severity and orders given that he should not be allowed to return to Ireland. He, however, followed Henry, who had gone to Normandy, hoping still to persuade the tyrant to agree to just arrangements, but he was taken ill of a fever, brought on by anxiety and ill treatment, and feeling that his end was approaching he entered the monastery of Augum to prepare for death. When the abbot reminded him to make a will, he answered, "God knows that I have not at the present time as much as one penny under the sun." With his dying breath he lamented the unfortunate condition of his country, and the dreary prospect which, with prophetic eye, he beheld before her, exclaiming, "Who will cure your misfortunes? Who will heal you?" He died on Friday, Nov. 14, 1180, and was canonized by Honorius III. in 1226.

PATRICK, ST., the great apostle of Ireland. We need not say that St. Patrick was not a native of Ireland, but it has so been claimed, and is just as likely as that he was a native of Scotland, or any other part of Britain, as has been also claimed. He was, however, a Celt, and no man in the history of the ages ever so indentified himself with a country as St. Patrick did with Ireland. Other apostles became great spiritual benefactors of the countries which they converted, and out of gratitude were adopted as patrons; but St. Patrick became as if it were a part of Ireland itself, united to it by an indissoluable bond, the father of its people; the incarnation of its individuality, and biographies of its people would be incomplete without him. If anything were wanting to show how universally he fills the hearts of the Irish race, the fact that even the Presbyterian Irish claim him as of themselves, would complete it. St. Patrick himself states in his confessions that his father was Calpurnius, a deacon, son of Potius, a priest of the town of Bonaven Tibernia, being the same as Boulogne-sur-mere in Piccardy, France; his mother, Conchessa, was a near relative of St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. The clerical character of his ancestors is explained by the fact that it was very common in those days for men who had been married to become priests afterward, and for married persons out of religious motives to separate for the purpose of embracing a religious state. It was in a little village near this place that St. Patrick was captured by a predatory excursion from Ireland under Niall of the Nine Hostages, about the year 403, he being then sixteen years of age. Little is known of his early years, except what he tells us himself. He himself tells us that his captivity was deserved because he did not keep the laws of God, nor hearken to the admonitions of his pastors, and that through his captivity he became humbled and acknowledged the error of his past life and became sincerely converted. He was held as a slave and put tending sheep on the mountains in the County Antrim by his master, Milcho MacCuboin. Of this he says: "My business was to feed the flocks; I was frequent in prayer; the love and fear of God more and more inflamed my heart; I said a hundred prayers bv day and as many more by night." Although arising before day for prayers, and laboring in snow, and frost, and rain, he says he received no damage, "for the spirit of God was warm within me." He remained a captive six years, and he tells us that he heard a voice in his sleep telling him he would soon go to his own country, and again that "a ship is ready for you." He had to travel about 200 miles to go where the ship lay, and on reaching the place he was at first roughly refused a passage, when he prayed and was called back and offered a passage on faith, i.e.: credit. They were three days reaching land, and for many days traveled through a desert, that is woods, and became almost famished. The others being Gentiles appealed to Patrick if his God was so powerful to save them, and he prayed and almost immediately they got succor in the appearance of a drove of swine and the finding of wild honey. According to two ancient histories published at Rhiems the place they landed was at Tregnier, Brittany, and it would take fully a month for pedestrians to travel through the woods, there being no connecting roads, and reach Patrick's birth place, Boulogne-sur mere. He was received with great joy by his family, they long having given him up as dead. Soon after returning he entered the monastery of St. Martim at Tours, and devoted himself to study and preparation for the priesthood. He spent four years here and received tonsure and minor orders, and then returned home, where he remained practicing charity and good works until he was again made captive, by whom he says not, and was delivered after two months, as had been revealed to him. After his return his parents, who were growing old, desired that he should not leave them. It was at this time that he saw in a vision "a man coming as from Hibernia named Victricius, who handed him a letter, which contained the words 'The voice of the Irish,' and at the same time he heard voices of persons from near the woods of Foclut, said to be in County Mayo, who cried out,"We entreat thee to come and walk still amongst us." This was about the year 418, when Patrick was thirty years old. Being filled by those and other visions with an ardent desire to bring to the Irish people the one only saving faith, he took an affectionate leave of his family and placed himself under the instruction and discipline of St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre. After remaining some time with him, by his advice he went to a celebrated school and monastery on the island of Lerins.

Near this, on an island in the Tuscan sea, lived a hermit called Justin, celebrated for his sanctity. Our saint visited him and was received with great respect. The hermit placed in his hands a staff which he said he miraculously received from our Lord, and which was to be given to Patrick. Patrick remained with the holy hermit some time, and when leaving took with him the staff. This celebrated staff, called "Baculus Jesu," is mentioned by many of the ancient Irish writers, and St. Bernard speaks of it in his life of St. Maiachy, and says it is one of the insignia of the See of Armagh, and was used as the crosier by his successors. In his day it was adorned with gold and precious stones. It was held as most sacred and twas used to give more solemn effect to many public acts. In the bag marked "Ireland" in the chapter house of Westminister Abbey, is a paper No.53, "an examination of Sir Gerald Mackshagne, sworn 19th March, 1529, upon the Holy Massbooke and the great relike of Ireland called Bachlum Christi in presence, etc." The staff was afterward burned by the Christian Reformers under Henry VIII. The old annals in Trinity College, Dublin, says, "The staff of Jesus, which wrought so many miracles, and which was in the hands of Christ himself, with images, crosses, and sacred relics, were all destroyed." St. Patrick, after leaving Lerins, returned to St. Germanus, and must have been ordained a priest, for he appears to have been engaged in performing the sacred duties of the ministry, and while here converted Mineria, daughter of the prince of that district. He accompanied St. Germanus and Lupus to Britain for the purpose of preaching against the Palagian heresy, and while there sought information in regard to the state of Ireland.

It was about this time that Pope Celestine sent Palladius and companions there as missionaries, but they seemed to have met with poor success and gave up the work. St. Germanus, knowing St. Patrick's fitness for this mission on account of his knowledge of the people and their language, as well as his holiness and zeal, encouraged him in his desires to seek the conversion of the Irish people, and gave him strong letters of recommendation to the Pope. In 431 we find St. Patrick in Rome. Celestine received him with great kindness and finding him well fitted for the work, commissioned him to assist Palladius, and in case of Palladius' death or failure, to receive consecration and enter upon the missson himself. Having received the papal benediction and some relics of the saints and other necessary presents for the establishment of missions and churches, he returned to St. Germanus, who also supplied him with chalices, vestments, books, etc. While on his way to take shipping and join Palladius, he met Augustine and Benedict, two of the missioners who had accompanied Palladius to Ireland, and they informed him of their misfortunes and the death of Palladius in Scotia. St. Patrick, as instructed by the pope, immediately sought consecration and received it at the bands of Amator, Bishop of Iberia. His friends tried hard to dissuade him from so dangerous a mission, but St. Patrick was moved by a stronger power and knew that that power which filled his heart with an ardent love and desire for the mission would work out His holy will in his behalf. All things being ready he gave his blessing to his friends and sailed. He landed in Britain and passing through that country and Wales, he preached by the way, and is said to have built a monastery in Cornwall. He landed in Ireland in 432 with about twenty companions, the fourth year of the reign of Laghaire, son of the Neill who had brought him a captive nearly thirty years before. Ireland at this time was in the full tide of military enterprise and success, the Britons were in constant fear of them, threatened by them from their colony in the north, Scotland, and from the coast, by their predatory excursions by the sea, and even the Romans in Gaul felt the power of their arms. Dathy, the successor of Neill as monarch of Ireland, carrying his successful arms through Brittany and Normandy to the very foot of the Alps, when he was killed by lightning. Laghaire, who succeeded him, and who ruled at the landing of St. Patrick, compelled the Britons to purchase peace by a heavy tribute. The religion of Ireland was Druidical, the Pythagorean doctrine of the immortality and transmitigation of souls being taught. It seems to have been of a more refined and rational kind than that practiced in Gaul, for there is no evidence of their having offered human sacrifices to their idols or Gods. They seemed to honor the sun and moon as lesser divinities, and every spot around them seemed hallowed by unseen beings of a superior kind, such as Fairies, etc. They were essentially a religious people. It is generally supposed his first landing place, Inbher-Dea, was about the present town of Wicklow, but he was compelled to leave, and the next attempt was made at Anat-Cailtrim, supposed to be between Navan and Kells in the county of Meath, which also proved unsuccessful. He at length landed at Ulidia in the county Down, probably near the present, Lough Strangford, and proceeded a little ways into the county, when he came across a herdsman who fled to his master Dicho. Dicho, on approaching, was so impressed with the appearance of the saint that he invited him to his house and paid him the greatest deference. St. Patrick opened to him his mission, and through God's grace he and his whole family were converted and baptized. He gave to St. Patrick, a piece of land on which to erect a church, which received the name of Sabhal Padruic. Here he afterward built a church and monastery. This Dicho had a brother, Rus, who upbraided him for forsaking the Gods of his fathers, and on whom our saint was obliged to perform a miracle before he would believe. From this Patrick sought his old master Milcho, but he was an obstinate heathen and refused to see him, and was either by accident or otherwise burned to death in his own house. His daughters, as Patrick had many years before foretold, were converted and became nuns and his son, became bishop of Granard. Our saint returned to Lecale and preached the Gospel with great success, and among others converted Mochua, a young man who followed him, and by his instruction afterward became a priest, abbot and Bishop of the church of Edrum. 

St. Patrick's success was already marked, having converted several chiefs of Dalradia and their followers but he resolved to invest the stronghold of paganism at once, and as there was to be a great festival of the kings and nobles at Tara about the season of Easter he resolved to attend. He landed at Colbdi, mouth of the Boyne, and leaving the vessel in charge of his nephew, Laman, with instructions to wait for forty days, he pushed into the interior parts of the country to preach the Gospel, intending to celebrate the festival of Easter on the plains of Bregia, in the neighborhood of Tara. On his way he stopped at the house of a man named Segnen, who received him kindly and after listening to his exhorhortations believed and was baptized with his whole family, and amongst the rest a little son whom the saint called Benignus or Sweet, and who afterward became his disciple and successor in the See of Armagh. On Easter Eve St. Patrick arrived at Fearta-fir-feic on the north banks of the Boyne, and rested, with the intention of celebrating the festival in sight of Tara. It was penal to light a fire within the province before the kings' bonfire was lit at the celebration. St. Patrick, probably ignorant of the law, caused a blazing fire to be made in front of his tent, which, although eight miles away, was plainly visible at Tara. This sight created great indignation in the court, and consternation amongst the Druids, who told the king that unless the fire was that night extinguished, he who lighted it will reign over the island. Whether this was to excite the king's anger, or whether on account of some prophecy amongst them, is hard to tell, However, the monarch was very indignant and vowed to punish the intruder. Accompanied by a large retinue he hastened in his wrath to extinguish the fire and punish the intruder. When the Saint saw them approach he commenced chanting a hymn. The Druids cautioned the king against Patrick's enchantment. The king sent messengers ahead to summon him into his presence, all being warned by the king not to use or show him any honor as he approached. But when he came near with his disciples a certain youth named Eric, the son of Dego, rose up in sight of all and did him honor. St. Patrick immediately blessed him and prophesied for him great things and eternal reward, and he afterward became one of his disciples, noted for his virtues and miracles and was made Bishop of Slane.

Patrick boldly proclaimed the truths of Christianity, and made such an impression on the king that he invited him to preach his religion before the assembled nobles at Tara the next day. St. Patrick and his disciples spent the night in prayer, begging God to open the hearts of the king and people. The Druids, who saw the danger, were busy trying to avert it and to harden the heart of the king, and it is said the king, whose fears were excited by their malice, had resolved to destroy Patrick and all his followers. St. Patrick appeared the following day in court, dressed in the full canonicals, with his staff or crosier, and confident of the irresistible power which sustained him, he appeared the prophet he was. The machinations and snares of his enemies and the enemies of his Master, dissolved before the living light whose effulgence he possessed. The contest, as related by the ancient biographers, was like that of Moses with the sorcerers of Egypt before Pharoah. It is related that the last test was one of Patrick's disciples and the arch-priest of the Druids entering a house which was to be consumed by fire. Patrick prayed, and the sorcerers used all their malign powers, but the Druid was consumed while the Christian was unharmed. The multitude immediately acknowledged the God of the Christians, and the arch poet, Dubtach sang of the wonders of the occasion.

Common sense would indeed indicate that something wonderful must have been done to produce the results which history tells us followed, for the field which no christian heretofore could penetrate, was thrown wide open and Patrick was henceforth more honored even than a king, and his preaching was crowned with a success that had no parallel since the days of the Apostles, neither has there been any since like to it. St. Patrick was indeed an inspired apostle, he labored with great prudence, he did not rudely attack the predjudices, or babies, or customs of the people or even traditional ceremonies, where the intended purpose was good, and they might be directed to honor the one true God, where before they were misdirected by the arch enemy of men. King Laghaire, although granting perfect freedom to our Saint, does not seem to have been converted, but the Queen and Conall, his brother, were among the believers, the latter giving the Saint lands to build, for himself and people. The next day Patrick attended the national games at a place called Tailton, at which assembled the chiefs, nobles and immense numbers of people. Here he also preached and was threatened with violence by Carbre, one of the King's brothers. The Saint built his first church on the land given him by Conell, and now called Donaghpatrick, and with his staff marked out a plan for Conall’s dwelling and blessed it, and him, and his throne. The Saint remained Easter week, during a great fair held at Tailton, and following after the games, and baptized many. Those who were present at this festival were from all parts of Ireland, and on returning brought with them news of the great things they had seen and heard. He now visited other parts of Meath, everywhere meeting success. Perhaps his great success might be attributed in part to the fact that no great violence was done to the religious feelings of the people. Their heathenism was of a poetic mould, and contained many suggestions or figures of the truth. Their adoration of the sun, the great material light of the world, which they mistook for the true light which illumnes all things; the immortality of the soul, corrupted by transmigration, which but only seemed to hide a truth that the brave and good shall advance higher and enjoy eternal blessings, and the bad be transmitted down through brutes to lower depths. The lesser deities, who were around them in a thousand shapes, were only a mistaken conception of guardian angels, and thus the substitution was easy. St. Patrick next preached in West Meath, and converted and baptized large numbers, occasionally meeting great opposition from some chief. He erected churches also for the celebration of the Divine Mysteries and put in charge some of the priests who accompanied him. He next proceeded to Longford and met with uniform success, preaching, instructing, baptizing and marking out with his staff the sites for churches. These churches were generally simple structures, about twenty-five by eighty feet, and soon gave place to more imposing ones as the people became universally Christians.

Patrick next proceeded toward the plains of Magh Sleacht in the county of Cavan, where King Laghaire and his people were worshipping the great idol, Crom-Cruach, or head of all the Gods, and which was said to utter responses. Around this idol were twelve inferior ones made of brass. Our saint having failed to make any impression on the worshippers, he retired to a little distance and prayed, and stretching his staff against it the idol fell to pieces, and with the inferior ones was swallowed up. This idol was supposed to be symbolical of the sun and the smaller ones the twelve signs of the zodiac. Many of those present immediately acknowledged the God of Patrick and were baptized. He remained three years in this part of Ireland organizing the church, establishing religious houses schools of instruction, etc. After this he set out for Connaught. He crossed the Shannon at Suav-daen, probably Dunnanave in Leitrim and proceeded to Dumhagraidh, where he ordained one of his followers St. Ailbe. He then proceeded to the plain of Connaught, until he reached a fountain called Cleback, near the royal residence and rested for the night. In the morning two young daughters of King Laghaire came to the fountain with two druids, their teachers, and they beheld with wonder our Saint and his companions, who were singing their office dressed in white garbs, and supposed them to be some gods of the earth or phantoms, and they ask, "who are ye?" and Patrick entered into a conversation with them and exposed to them the truth of Religion, and they, believing, asked to be received, and were baptized, as were also the druids. St. Patrick mentions at this time having baptized another illustrious young lady, who some days after came to him and said she was admonished to become a Virgin of Christ, and she received the white vail, and he further says the number of those who desire to consecrate themselves to God is great and increasing.

About this time he also converted Ono, grandson of Bryan, King of Connaught, who bestowed on him his place called Imleach Ono, where the Saint founded a church, which became the Cathedral of Elphin, over which he placed Assicus as bishop. This Assicus was an artist, and worked in gold and made altars and church services, and also beautified the staff of Patrick. Our Saint next visited Cashel and Sligo, where he converted, baptized, established churches and placed over them his disciples. He did the same in what is now Roscommon, Galway, Sligo and Mayo. In the town of Carragh he baptized great numbers, planted a church, and placed over it Conan, a priest; it was here a pagan again attempted to take his life. He next entered the territories of the O'Malleys and founded a church at what is now Aghagower, and placed over it Senachus, who was elevated to the Episcopacy. During the holy season of Lent Patrick retired for meditation, prayer and fasting to a mountain in Connaught called Mount Eagle, or Croagh-Patrick. It was at this time, it is said, that he banished the venomous reptiles from the land. None of the early writers, however, make allusion to it, and others claim that the island was free before the introduction of Christianity. After the Saint left his retirement he baptized many thousands and built three churches in Toga, and came to the fountain of Slane, which was honored with superstitious practices.

Patrick exposed the absurdity and untruthfulness of its legend, converted and baptized those who came to it in great numbers. He went from here northwards until he came to what is now Tirauley, when the seven sons of King Amalgaidh were disputing the succession, which had been decided by King Laghaire in favor of Edna Crom. St. Patrick went amongst them and preached with such success that the seven princes, the king and twelve thousand others were converted and baptized, and St. Manchen was placed over the new church. He also founded a church at the present Donaghmore, over which he placed Bishop Muena, and another at Killalu, over which a disciple, Muredach, was placed. Another attempt at this time was made upon his life by the instigation of two druids. It appears from his own account that he was imprisoned, robbed and threatened with death, but after fourteen days he was delivered out of their hands by good friends, and his goods restored. It was Conall, son of Edna, chief of the territory who rescued him, and Patrick, with his staff, stamped the sign of the cross on his shield, and prophesied that none of his race would be conquered in war who bore that sign on their shield. He at this time converted Eochad, son of Dathy, former monarch, and also visited the Gregories in Sligo, but the druids compelled him to leave. He, however, baptized many in Sligo and erecting churches, placed over them Bishop Brone. He returned to Mayo and built a monastery at Drumlias over which he placed Benignus, who governed it for twenty years, and from this he went to Ulster, having spent seven years in Connaught. About this time, through the influence of Patrick and other Christians, the laws of Ireland were revised and purified. The work has been called "Senachus Mor."

In Ulster he commenced his preaching in the territory of Tyrconnel (Donegal), and erected a church. He went to the River Erne to meet Prince Conall and blessed him and his son Fergus, and it is said foretold the greatness and sanctity of Columba, who was to descend from him. After erecting and providing for a number of churches in Donegal he passed into Derry, where he built seven churches, he returned and founded a church at the foot of Slieve Snaght, over which he placed Mac Carthan. He crossed Lough Foyle, entered Londonderry, convened many, built churches and established pastors, from whence he passed into Dalradia, where he erected at least sixteen churches. He was opposed by the chieftain Carthen and compelled to leave the territory. He had, however, baptised his brother and family. After making many and important converts in these districts he entered the present County Monaghan, baptizing, erecting churches, ordaining priests, consecrating Bishops, and giving the veil to hundreds of holy virgins. He baptized Owen, son of Orian, chief of this district, and in the next district, over which ruled Victor, he was equally successful, although at first meeting opposition. Victor was afterward consecrated a bishop. He next visited Meath and repeated his victories, consecrating as Bishop, Secundinus, to preside over the church in these parts.

From this our saint went to Leinster and baptized Ailid and Iland, sons of the King Dunluny. In Wicklow, he was badly received by the Prince Duchir, son-in-law of King Laghaire, but hospitably by a poor man named Killan, whom he blessed, with all his substances, whichever afterward prospered. He next went to Kildare where he converted great numbers, erected many churches and placed over them Isernius and Auxilius. From this he proceeded to Queen's county where he was not so well received but met Dubtach, the poet, whom he had converted at Tara and who had helped to spread the faith around about in those parts. St. Patrick raised one of the poet's disciples named Fiach to the priesthood and afterwards to be Bishop of Sletty, who built a monastery and became famous for his sanctity. In Ossory, the Saint renewed his successes. From this he entered Munster and went at first to Cashel, the spring of 445. Core was king at this time. It appears that the people here had a traditional prophesy about the coming of Patrick; be that as it may, he was well received, the king, himself, having previously met him at the council to revise the laws. It is said that the idols in the temples fell and were broken as Patrick passed. The king and his son were soon after baptized. Aengus, the son, became fervent and zealous and anxious to have the truth spread, and Patrick blessed him and his race. The saint spent seven years in this province and religion was established everywhere, churches and monasteries dotting all the land.

The Saint occasionally met violent opposition, but he usually conquered the stubborn. Some of the people of Thomond (Clare) crossed the Shannon to hear and see Patrick, for his fame and wonders had long since spread to the uttermost parts of the Island. They entreated him to visit their county, he could not then, but ascended Mount Fintine and blessed Thomond and foretold the advent of St. Senan. He also prophesied the birth of St. Brendan. He did not enter Kerry, but blessed all the county beyond Luachra. He next visited South Munster, founded many churches and at Desii, Waterford, arranged the ecclesiastical affairs of that territory, he continued his preaching along the Suir through Tipperary and brought both princes and people to the fold. On leaving Munster, Aengus with a large retinue of nobles and guards accompanied him while the people followed, thousands calling for his blessing. While in Munster,Patrick was grieviously afflicted over a predatory descent on the coast, by a British prince named Caroticus, who murdered some of his converts and took others as slaves. He wrote to the pillager, who pretended Christianity, and demanded the liberation of the prisoners, but he refused with insult, and Patrick excommunicated him.

St. Patrick left Munster in 452. A little before this occured the first death amongst the bishops he had placed over the church, St. Secundinus, of Meath, in his 75th year. Shortly after leaving Munster his life was again threatened by a chief, in the present King's county, an obstinate pagan. One of Patrick's attendants, learning of the design, feigned sickness knowing the Saint would place him in his conveyance, and thus being mistaken for the Saint, he was killed. But the vengence of God fell upon the chief, the same day he was struck dead. The Saint again entered Ulster and a chief—a robber and desperado— named Maccaldus, resolved to kill him and with his band awiating him on a lonely road, one of the robbers was made to feign sickness and covered with a cloak. They were to ask Patrick to heal him and when the Saint would lift the covering, then to kill him. But Patrick said to them, "he is sick indeed, and they, lifting up the cloak, found him dead, and they were filled with fear and the chief was converted, and going to the Isle of Man to do penance, became renowned for his virtues and was afterwards Bishop of that Isle. St Patrick next entered Louth determining to erect his permanent see there, but receiving divine intimation that he should fix his see at Ardmacha, Armagh, he completed his work in Louth and turned his face towards Armagh.

He had now about completed his missionary labors. He found Ireland all pagan, a warlike but chivalrous people, with a religion full of poetry, to which its people were attached as well by its weird and wonderful tradition as by the skill and learning of its priests, yet in the short space of twenty-three years, directed by the finger of God, had he changed the whole face of Ireland, exalted and purified a whole people, so that they became not merely Christians, but Saints. The whole Island became dotted with churches and monasteries, which were filled with holy men and women. A Christian triumph, the like of which has no parallell in the entire history of God's dispensation to men. St. Patrick having arrived at Armagh asked from the Chief of the District, Daire, a certain elevated piece of land, which was at first refused, but was afterwards freely offered. Patrick here laid out his city, and built his metropolitan cathedral, which was of stone, and 140 feet in length. Around this sprung up the city with its great religious houses and schools of learning. After completing his cathedral, and arranging and defining the bounds and relations of the various sees established over the Island, he made a journey to Rome to have confirmed all he had done. It is said that he visited Rome once before during his mission. He was received with great kindness by the Supreme Pontiff, who confirmed all his acts and bestowed upon him many marks of esteem, also precious gifts and relics for the Irish church. On his return to Ireland, St. Patrick spent the remainder of his life at his see of Armagh, making occasional visitations to other parts to encourage, strengthen and bless his spiritual children. He also held the first synod called St. Patrick's, which contained thirty-one chapters and the "Synod of Bishops Patrick, Auxilius and Isiminus," whose canons define better than ought else the condition of the Irish church, its foundations, orders and also the social condition of the country. They also show the relationship to the holy see, acknowledging its supreme authority. This was held about the year 456. In his work of conversion, St. Patrick chiefly traveled on foot in imitation of the apostles, his outer garment being a simple white habit. He received for himself no gifts or presents, but received them only as almoner for the poor or the church. His appearance was mild but dignified and saintly. He was exalted in his humility and wonderful in his spirit of prophecy, foretelling the advent of some of his saintly successors. He was also extremely mortified in his life, sleeping on the bare ground and wearing hair-cloth around his loins. His nights were mostly devoted to prayer and his days to good works, and he observed the Sunday with singular solemnity and devotion never even traveling on that day. It is said that having entered a harbor on a Sabbath morning, he would not go ashore, but celebrated the Divine Mysteries on board, being disturbed by some heathens who were engaged in building a fort on the shore, he asked them to desist from labor, but they laughed at him, and he foretold them that their labor would be in vain; and so it came to pass for the next night it was entirely destroyed by the sea.

St. Patrick died at his monastery of Saul, at Ulidia, his favorite retreat, built on land given to him by his first convert, Dicho, as he himself had long before foretold. His death was a glorious one, surrounded by multitudes of holy men, his children in Christ, and after receiving the bread of life from the hands of Bishop Tassach, lifting up his holy eyes in adoration, he beheld the heavens opened, raising his hands he blessed his people and giving thanks expired. This event took place on the 17th of March, 456, according to the most probable authorities. According to the four Masters, he built seven hundred churches, ordained 3000 priests and consecrated a great number of bishops. Some of his writings are still extant, among them his epistle to Caroticus, the robber prince, besides his canons and proverbs. We will conclude with a stanza from the sweet pen of Father Faber on

St. Patrick's Day.

All praise to St. Patrick, who brought to our mountains
The gift of God's faith, the sweet light of his love.
All praise to the shepherd, who showed us the fountains
That rise in the heart of the Savior above.
For hundreds of years
In smiles and in tears,
Our saint hath been with us, our shield and our stay.
All else may have gone
St. Patrick alone,
He hath been to us light when earth's lights were all set,
For the glories of faith, they can never decay;
And the best of our glories is bright with us yet,
In the faith and the feast of St. Patricks day.


James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).


Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: M

The biographies of the saints cited in the nineteenth-century encyclopedia's list continues with those listed under the letter M. It's another interesting selection including saints associated with both Saint Patrick and Saint Declan. There are no women among the group but two connected with the Irish mission to Europe, plus an English antiquary is put firmly in his place:

MACARTIN, SAINT, a disciple of St. Patrick and first Bishop of Clogher, was a descendant of the kingly family of the Arads. He was one of the early followers of St. Patrick and gave up all things to devote himself to the work of salvation. His great master was his model, and he exhibited in his life Christian virtues little if any less wonderful. He was placed by him over the See of Clogher, which he governed for many years with great wisdom and prudence. He appears to have had the power of working miracles in an extraordinary degree, of which tradition has handed down many examples. He died in the early part of the sixth century.

MANNON, ST., A.D. 1202, was a native of Ireland and a disciple of St. Remulch. He is acknowledged as patron of Massoin in Ardenne where he was buried. He was put to death in the forest of Ardenne, and Molanus puts him amongst the saints of Flanders.

MANSURY, or MANSUETUS, ST. a native of Ireland, is said by Usher to have been a disciple of Peter and a native of Scotia. He preached the Gospel in Lorraine, was first bishop of Toul and was canonized in the tenth century by Leo IX., who had also been bishop of the same See. Some place his time a little latter.

MOCHELLOE, or KELLOE, St. A.D. 600, a man celebrated in the ancient Irish calendar for his learning and piety, was a disciple of St. Declan of Ardmore. He founded a school and monastery near the present parish of Moeallop, near Lismore, and also the church at Kilmallock, County Limerick. He died about the middle of the seventh century. Mrs. Hall, in writing of this latter place, says, "It was a walled town before the Roman invasion. The remains of the ancient houses are of hewn stone, generally these houses are ornamented with an embattlement and tasteful stone mouldings; the carvings are in a bold and massive style, and retain nearly their original sharpness." Sir K. Hoare, an English antiquary, observes of one of the ruins, "It surpasses in decoration and good sculpture any I have yet seen." Such facts may impress the dubious more powerfully than history or tradition of the advanced state of Ireland in those early ages.

MOLOCUS, SAINT, of Cong, founder of a monastery at Cong, a place, anciently of note, and situated between Lough Corrib and Lough Maske, Co. Mayo, residence of the Kings of Connaught, was also first bishop of a see of the same name since joined to Tuam. He was probably aided by Donald II. , King of Ireland, whom Ware credits with founding the monastery. This was one of the finest monasteries in Ireland as its ruins plainly indicate. It was here that Roderick O'Connor, the last King of Ireland, retired to end his days in peace. The architecture of the Abbey, as it now appears, is of the decorative Roman style, and some of the carvings even as they now appear on the ruins are rich and artistic. The cross of Cong, now in the possession of the Royal Irish Academy, is a richly wrought memorial of antiquity, and is said to contain a portion of the true cross. At the time this religious house was confiscated it contained 700 monks. Our saint's name appears in the calendar on the 17th of April.

MUNCHIN SAINT, first bishop of Limerick, was born about the time St. Patrick commenced his missionary labors, and was the son of Sedun. He received a liberal education in one of the monasteries and became Abbot at Lumneach, Limerick. He built a cathedral church, which was subsequently rebuilt and known as St. Munchin's parochial church. Our saint was very learned in scriptural lore, and was placed by St. Patrick over the converts of a part of Connaught. He died about the year 500.

MUREDACH, SAINT, a disciple of St. Patrick and first Bishop of Killala. Murdeach early became a follower of St. Patrick, and although quite a youth was of great service to him on account of his knowledge of the country and his connection with some formidable clans. He took his master as his model in austerities, and with his companion, St. Asicus, strove to make daily advances in perfection, singing hymns and psalms together, and encouraging each other in mortification and self-denial. He is said to have been miraculously saved from a pack of hungry wolves who surrounded him. He was an indefatigable opposer of paganism and all its superstitions, freely exposing his life amongst the most bitter, threatening them with divine vengeance if they would not give up their idolatry. He destroyed their idols and denounced their wicked practices. He was also a stern opponent of slavery and secured the freedom of many. A pagan chief having captured in a raid a beautiful Christian maiden he determined that she should submit to his wishes. The saint hearing of it boldly demanded her liberation, at which the chief laughed at him as a meddling fool. The saint, in his indignation, told him that the moment he attempted to defile the vessel of the Holy Spirit in that moment he should die, and it so happened. The maiden was immediately let free and returned to her rejoicing friends. Our Saint, assisting Patrick in the conversion of Connaught, was placed over the See of Killala about 434. He died in about 455.

James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).

Friday, 31 July 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: I-L

We move on to details of those saints whose names begin with the letters I through L from this chronological list of Irish saints. There is another worthwhile selection here starting with the so-called 'pre-Patrician' Saint Ibar and moving on to some of our most famous Irish saints, Ita, Kevin and Kieran of Clonmacnoise, plus the patron of Tuam, Saint Jarlath. The European contingent is also represented with the inclusion of Saints Kilian and Livinus:

IBAR, SAINT, an abbot and bishop was co-temporary with St. Patrick. It appears that he was a missionary on the coast of Wexford at the time St. Patrick, came to Ireland, and for some time refused to acknowledge his authority, till it is said admonished by an angel. That there was some converts in Ireland before St. Patrick is evident from the fact that Palladius was sent to preach to the Scots—the ancient name of the Irish—believing in Christ. St. Ibar was of an illustrious family in Ulster. The extraordinary success of St. Patrick and the miracles he performed, must alone have moved St. Ibar and forced him to acknowledge St. Patrick's mission and authority, and we find him present at the consecration of St. Conlaith. He also preached before St. Bridget and her community. He founded a celebrated monastery at Beg Erin, an isle near Wexford, noted as a school of learning and piety. He died about 504.

IDA, SAINT, or Ita called the Bridget of Munster. She was of the princely family of Desie. Her father's name was Kemfoeland and her mother's Necta. She was born sbout 480. Her parents were christians, and she was trained up to the practice of every virtue, and from an early age she exhibited an extraordinary spirit of fervor and self denial. It is stated that while yet a child, the little bed on which she was asleep, was seen to blaze up as if on fire, and when the observer in alarm rushed up to save the child from the supposed fire, she was found sweetly sleeping with an angelic expression on her face. When she indicated a desire to lead a religious life, her father strongly opposed, and wanted her to wed a powerful young prince who proposed for her hand. After a special fast, she earnestly besought God to change her father's purpose, and it is said that, admonished by a vision, not to oppose her design, he gave her full permission to make her own choice. She soon after took the veil, and proceeding to the terrritory of Hy-Conaill, established herself at the foot of a mountain called Luachra. She was soon joined by many other pious maidens, and thus was established the first convent in that section. She was offered large gifts of lands, but she only accepted a small garden. Her great holiness made the house famous, and many extraordinary miracles are said to have been performed by her, and she is even said to have received knowledge of the state of souls in the other world. She was often visited by holy men for advice and counsel, and she was said never to be deceived as to who her visitors were, although she might never have seen them before. She led a life of great austerity and foretold her own death some time before, and gave her blessing to all her nuns, the clergy, and the people of Hy-Conaill. Miraculous cures were said to have been effected over her remains, even before burial. Her feast is kept on the 15th of January, she having died on that day in the year 569.

JARLATH SAINT, First Bishop of Tuam, was son of Loga of the noble house of Conmacnie and was born about the year 500. He is said to have been founder of the Cathedral of Tuam, anciently called Tuam-de-Gauland. It was afterwards dedicated to his memory, and is called St. Jarlath's still. Ware says that St.Jarlath was a disciple of Benignus, from whom he received holy orders. He is said to have been fond of field and military sports when a young man and much praised for his skill and sagacity and looked upon as a promising young warrior, if is said also that he was moved to a religious life by a young maiden, the daughter of a neighboring chief, to whom he was deeply attached. She said to him on hearing his declarations of love, "I respect and admire you Jarlath, but I am pledged to be the spouse of Our Divine Master, to His services have I vowed my life and virginity, for to enjoy him in heaven is far preferable to any fleeting vanity of the world. Give your heart to him also, as I have done, and then we may indeed realize in time what love and happiness means." They both embraced religious lives with the hope that they would be united in Heaven. After a regular preparation he received ordination and founded the Monastery of Clounfois, near Tuam. It soon became celebrated as a school of learning, and had for its scholars many holy and learned men, amongst them St. Brendan Abbott, of Clonfert, and St. Column, Bishop, of Cloyne. He afterwards built a Monastery at Tuam, about the year 545. He died about 550. He was author of religious works, and also, it is said, of a prophecy concerning his successors.

KEVIN, SAINT, a holy abbot and bishop who was cotemporary with St. Patrick. He was born in 498 and was baptized by St. Cronan, and placed by his pious parents, who were of high rank under the tuition of a pious Briton, named Petrocus, who came to Ireland to profit by its institutions of learning. He was afterwards under the charge of some holy anchorites, Dogain, Lochan and Euna, with whom he perfected himself in the study of the holy scriptures, after which he took the monastic habit. He subsequently founded the monastery of Glendeloch, which afterwards grew up to be a large and religious city and See and which in 1216 was annexed to Dublin. The situation of this church and abbey is one of the most picturesque that can be imagined, and here still may be seen the ruin of its seven churches, its celebrated school and abbey and the two round towers. Some of the legends regarding this saint are immortalized in verse, especially one by Moore, when the saint flees from the unfortunate love of a beautiful maiden to a dangerous retreat in the side of a cliff over the lake, now called St. Kevin's Bed, and when on awaking from his sleep he finds her looking into his eyes, and impulsively pusuing her away she falls into the lake. St. Kevin lived to a great age, and his school became celebrated and extensive, long before his death. He was succeeded by his nephew, Bishop Tibba. He died in 618, and his festival is kept June 3rd.

KIARAN SAINT, founder of the celebrated Abbey of Clonmacnois, the magnificent ruins of which still attest its greatness. Our saint was born about 514 in the reign of the monarch Tuathal, and belonged to the Sept of the Arads. His father Boetius was a carpenter, and the son for that reason was called Mac Steir— i.e. son of the Artificer. He received his education at the school of St. Finean, University of Clonard. After completing his education St. Kiaran for a time retired to a cell or hut, in a solitary place on the banks of the Shannon, the spot where he afterwards built his great monastery and school of learning. It is said that Diarmid, afterwards Monarch of Ireland, who was a fugitive in his youth, found with our Saint a secure retreat from his enemies, and while here he planned with his protector the future monastery which he vowed to endow when he succeeded to his rights. The monarch fulfilled his promise to the letter, and one of the most celebrated schools and monasteries then in the world arose around the hut of the hermit. In the height of its fame and prosperity it is said to have contained nine churches with two round towers, and over 3,000 students from all parts of the Christian world were within its halls. For a thousand years it was the burial place of kings, and it was extended and enriched by their endowments and monuments many times. It was plundered during the intestine and Danish wars, and afterwards in the Norman invasions, until at last it was utterly ruined by worse than barbaric hands. Our saint died a year after completing his great work in 549, and his feast is kept on the 9th of September, and is yet celebrated with great devotion by pilgrims who still flock to this ancient shrine.

KILIAN, SAINT, apostle of Franconia, was a native of Ireland. He left Ireland with two companions, Colonat, a priest, and Totan, a deacon, and came to Rome, by the way of Flanders and Germany. Having been presented to Pope Conon, and the holy father finding him full of zeal and learning, appointed him to preach the gospel to the infidels of Franconia. Going thither with his companions, he converted the Duke Gospert,- and great numbers of his subjects, and fixed his See at Wirtzburg, of which he was the first bishop. Notker in his martyrology says "In a district of Austria, where stood a castle of New France, nay a city as in the Teutonic dialect, Wirtsburg situate near the river Meuse, signifies the martyrdom of St. Kilianus, the first bishop of that city, and that of his two diciples, Colonatus, a presbyter, and Totanus, a deacon. They came from Ireland, the island of the Scots. By the authority of the apostolic See they preached the gospel to the people of that district," and Cardinal Bellarmini also alludes to him as an Irish monk and apostle of the Eastern Francks. The cause of his martyrdom was that learning that Gospert's wife, whom he married when a pagan, had been his brother's wife, Kilian insisted on a separation, which so enraged the woman that she instigated the assassination of Kilian and his companions, July 8, 689, on which day their feast is kept.

LIVINUS, SAINT and MARTYR, Colgan says he was Bishop of Dublin, and Meyerus calls him Archbishop of Scotia (Ireland). He was of royal descent, and born in Ireland in the reign of Coleman Rimhe. He early embraced a religious life and for some time labored in Britain, and after a few years returned to Ireland and became Bishop of Dublin. He at length left his See in charge of an Arch-Deacon "Syloanus," and went to the continent, where he preached with great zeal and success, converting many. He was put to death by the Pagans, November 12, 633, at Escha, in the low counties. His life was written by Boniface, Archbishop of Mentz. Masseus and Molandus in the Lives of the Saints of Flanders' give similar accounts, and Bale speaks of his writings. Benedict XIV, in a decree dated July 1st, 1747 calls him Bishop of Dublin.

James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).

Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: F-G

The biographies of the saints listed in this nineteenth-century encyclopedia's chronological list continue with those listed under the letters F-G. We have no female saints in this selection but those who flourished in Europe are well represented with Fearghal (Virgil), Fridoloinus and Gunifort, as well as the two Saints Finnian (of Moville and Clonard), plus as a royal saint and a twelfth-century Archbishop of Armagh:

FEARGHAL (FARRELL), ST. an eminent philosopher and divine of the eighth century, was born in Ireland and educated in all the learning of her schools. He then passed over to the continent, whither so many of his learned countrymen had preceded him, reviving learning amid the wreck of the empire, taming and civilizing the Northern barbarian by the inculcation of the divine truths of the Christian religion, and spreading the light of science and philosophy. Our saint visited Pepin, with whom he remained two years, teaching science and philosophy, and then passed over to Bavaria, where he took ecclesiastical vows and was ordained priest. He continued to publically teach the sciences and was accused before Pope Zachary with teaching heretical doctrines. He was perhaps the first, at least of the moderns, who taught the sphericity of the earth, the existence of antipodes, and in fact the solar system substantially as it is held now. Pope Zachary, instead of condemning him, acquitted him of any violation of faith, and was convinced of the soundness of his scientific theories as well as his sincere and uneffected piety and learning, and made him bishop of Salzburg. Our saint was wonderfully proficient in all the learning of the day, and familiar with all the continental languages, as well as master of the ancient classics, besides being one of the most profound and original mathematicians of any age. His missionary labors were not less admirable. He died in 784 amid the lamentations of a people to whom he had been an apostle. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1223. He was known in his early life as "Virgil the Wanderer," and at his death as the "Apostle of Carinthia."

FIONACHTA, ST., a celebrated, monarch of Ireland, A.D. 675, was grandson of Hugue III, and was a wise and able ruler. In the twelfth year of his reign he retired to a monastery with the design of dedicating his life to the special service of God, but the affairs of the state becoming critical, he at the solicitations of the principal men of the kingdom resumed the reigns of government. He defeated the King of Leinster in Meath, but at the request of St. Moling abolished the tribute which had been for many years imposed on that province, and which had caused so many wars. He had previous to his retirement defeated the forces of Gen. Berte, whom Ecgfrid, King of the Northumbrians had dispatched to make a descent on the Irish coast, and who plundered churches, monasteries and villages, and of which mention is made by Bede in his history. Cumasgach, King of the Picts also invaded the Island, but he paid the penalty with his life, and the complete destruction of his forces by Fionachta at the battle of Rathmore. This brave and pious prince was killed in battle A.D. 695, and is honored as a saint, on November 14, his feast day.

FINIAN, ST., of Moville, founder of the renowned Abby of that name, County Down, was son of Corpreus, of a princely house, and his mother was Lassara. They placed their son when very young under the care of St. Colman of Dromore, by whom he was sent after some time to Caylan, Abbot of Antrim. He finished his ecclesiastical studies under St. Ailbe, of Emly. He then started for Rome, but stopped for some time at the school of Nennis, in Britain, on his way. He studied in Rome seven years, and was then ordained priest. After returning from Rome he spent some years in missionary labor and built his first monastery on the banks of the Lagan, and others in different parts of his missions. He finally founded the Abby of Moville, in the County of Down, over which he ruled as Abbot and Bishop. This, under his wise care, soon became a flourishing community of religious, and a famous school of learning, and around it rose, as was usual in those days, a city. These monasteries not only were great schools of learning, free to those who had no means, but they were also great houses of refuge for the poor and unfortunate who always were sure to find food and shelter within their open doors. St. Finian lived to see his school rank among the foremost in Ireland, and died full of years and grace in 576.

FINIAN, SAINT, was the son of Christian parents, and descended from a noble family. Ware says he was baptized by St. Abban and educated in his youth under St. Fortkern, bishop of Trim, who taught him the offices of the church and other Biblical learning, but as he was born before that saint it is not likely. His father's name was Fintan, and his mother's, Talech, natives of Leinster. When about thirty years of age he determined to devote himself to missionary labors among the heathens, and to prepare himself he spent some time with St. Caiman, near Wexford, who was a disciple of St. Patrick, and well calculated, both by learning and experience, to instruct and counsel him. After leaving St. Caiman he crossed over to Britain and spent some time with St. David of Wales, and here acquired a knowledge of Saxon and Pictish tongues, his ambition being to spread the gospel among these people, most of whom were as yet pagans. He preached the gospel among these people about ten years, converting many and founding monasteries and churches. Many wonderful things are related by his biographers as happening to him. He returned to Ireland, and after paying a visit to his old instructor Caiman, he went on to Wexford and sent a messenger to King Muirdeach, who came to visit him, and knelt to receive his blessing, and offered him any lands he would desire for the foundations of monasteries and churches. After establishing several monasteries and schools, he established his celebrated one at Clonard. Ware says after returning home he was made a bishop and fixed his See at Clonard, in Meath, where he also opened a school which produced men eminent for their learning and sanctity, and he himself got the surname of ‘Finian the Wise.' This was about the year 530. This school became one of the most famous in Ireland, and students from all parts soon filled its halls, numbering at one time as high as 3000. St. Finian himself led a most austere life, his food consisting of but vegetables, and his drink of cold water. After presiding at this crowning work of his life for twenty-two years, he was at length called to his reward on the 12th of December (552), on which day his feast is celebrated.

FRIDOLINUS, SAINT, an eminent Irish missionary, was converted in the time of St. Patrick, and was the son of an Irish King. After embracing a religious life and being elevated to the priesthood, he traveled on the continent preaching the gospel to the heathens. He went through France and Germany preaching and building churches, and founding monasteries, especially in Austrasia Burgandy and Switzerland. He was titular patron of the Swiss Canton of Glaus, and was surnamed Viator on account of his unceasing travels and labors. He died about 498 at Sekingen, an Island in the Rhine, where he had established a monastery.

GELASIUS, ST., Archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland A.D.,1160 was celebrated for his learning and great sanctity. He lived a most austere life and although worn out by by age and fasting he was vigilant in every apostolic duty till his death. His feast is kept on the 27th of March.

GUINIFORT, SAINT, whose feast according to the Roman martyrology is kept at Pavia, August 1st. His acts written by Mombriteus says he was of noble parents in Scotia, where he was converted to the christian religion with his brother Guribald and two sisters and came into Germany where they all sealed their faith by martyrdom. They were before the days of St. Patrick.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: D-E

Moving on with the biographies linked to this nineteenth-century chronological list of Irish saints by looking at those saints whose names begin with the letters D and E. We begin with Saint Declan and end with Saint Enda but will also meet two women saints, Dymphna and Eithne, mother of Saint Colum Cille, plus two saints who flourished in Europe, Desibod and Eliph:

DECLAN, SAINT, a contemporary of St. Patrick, and Bishop of Ardmore. He was a son of Erc, a chief of Waterford. It is said that his future holiness was predicted by Coleman, a holy missionary, who happened to be preaching in the neighborhood at the time of his birth, and who had converted his parents, and also baptized the child. His education was committed to the care of a Christian priest called Deinma, under whom he made great progress in sanctity and learning. It is said by Usher that he went to Rome and was ordained there. On his return he converted his house and place into a church and school. He met St. Patrick at the Synod, or meeting in Cashel, and was recognized by him as the chief bishop of the Disies. He was greatly attached to Saints Ibar and Ailbe, two of the early missionaries. His school became celebrated and attracted students, not only from all parts of Ireland, but also from the continent. Like all his saintly contemporaries he was remarkable for his piety and zeal. The ruins of those monuments of zeal and learning are still visible, and near by one of those celebrated round towers, which are supposed to have been belfries to cathedral churches. It was surmounted by a cross, which was shot away by the Cromwellian pagans. In the churches are carvings in bass-reliefs of scriptural subjects. St. Declan died about 525.

DESIBOD, ST., was born in Ireland, of noble parents, about A.D., 620. He was educated under the most famous masters, and soon became celebrated for his great talents and profound learning. He became a priest, and shortly after was made bishop of Dublin. After governing this church for ten years, he resigned, and with several holy companions, he went to the continent, and preached the gospel in different parts of Germany. He at length settled on a lofty mountain for retirement and prayer, which was called after him Mont. Desibod, now Disingberg; and was joined by several monks and a monastery was founded. Here he lived a mortified life for thirty-seven years, dying at an advanced age, on the 8th of July, on which day his feast is kept. His life was written by Hildigardis, a nun of Disinberg, and published by Surius.

DYMPHNA, SAINT, a holy virgin and martyr, was a daughter of Oriel, pagan king of an extensive territory, comprising Louth and Monaghan, and was a maiden of wondrous beauty. Her father was an obstinate pagan, but the daughter and mother embraced Christianity. The mother dying, and the father conceiving an unnatural passion for his daughter, desired to make her his wife, there being nothing in the Druidical religion opposed to it as instanced, also in Persia in its proudest days. The Christian maiden was horrified at the proposal and informed her spiritual director of her danger. He told her to explain to her father that it was contrary to the Christian religion, and besides was wicked and unnatural, but her trouble was vain. He appointed the days for the ceremonies. Her director, a venerable and holy priest, knew that her only safety was in flight, and made arrangements for conveying her and some of her intimate companions over to the continent. The old priest accompanied them, and they settled near a small town called Gheel, now Brabant. She and her companions led holy and religious lives, and converted by their good works and example, many from paganism. The old king at length found their retreat. Her faithful old protector, although in feeble health and worn out with labor, denounced the infamy of his intentions, and was slain by the enraged pagan, who looked upon him as the cause of his daughters disobedience. The young girl was horrified at the savage butchery and denounced the wickedness of her father with an heroic courage, and told him that she detested his gods and their vile works, and would never return with him. In his blind fury he ordered her beheaded, but none of his soldiers would execute the order, and in his fury he did it himself. The bodies of the two martyrs were piously preserved. Dymphna's in a collegiate church called in honor of her at Gheel, and her festival is kept on the 15th of May. Her death occurred about the year 500.

EITHNE, Mother of St. Columba or Columbkill. She was the aunt of St. Conan and sister of St. Feargue or Virgnous. It is said that before the birth of her saintly son, she made him the subject of constant prayer, and that one night she had a dream or vision of an angel coming to her, and bringing a most beautiful garment of varied hue. This the angel afterwards took away, and as he sped through the air the garment kept unfolding and extending over mountain and plain until it was lost to sight in the distance. She thought that she grieved at the loss when the angel returned and comforted her with the assurance that the garment was a symbol of the influence her child would exercise over Ireland and Albania, (Scotland), bringing multitudes of souls into the fold of Christ.

ELIPH, ST., an Irish missionary and martyr, was, according to his acts written by Rupert Abbot of Duitz, near Cologne, the son of the King of Scotia (Ireland), and having resigned all his possessions and ambitions to serve God, he came to Toul with a number of disciples, when they were cast into prison as spies, but were delivered in a miraculous manner, when our saint preached with great zeal and fruit everywhere the word of God. In a short time he baptized over 400 persons, which coming to the knowledge of Julian the apostate he ordered him beheaded, which happened on the 6th of October on the banks of the river Vere, near Toul, toward the end of the 4th century. He was buried on a mountain called after him, Mount St. Elph, and was afterwards transferred by Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne and deposited in the church of St. Martin Major, which formerly belonged to the nation of the Scots. Rupert also mentions as a brother Euchar who was a bishop, and was also martyred with their sisters, Meuna, Libaria and Susana.

ENDA, SAINT, of Arran, was descended of the princely house of Orgiel, and was brother-in-law to King Aengus. He was in his youth a disciple of St. Patrick and also received instructions from St. Ailbe of Emly. He also traveled to Rome and is said to have been ordained there. King Aengus at the request of St. Ailbe, gave him the Isle of Arran on which to found a religious house, sometime after his return in 480, and he immediately set to work with other pious associates and established a monastery and school which even in his life time became a celebrated seat of learning. The Isle became dotted with retreats of piety and learning, and students came from all parts of Ireland, Britain and the continent to drink at its pure founts. This saint was held in high esteem and was eminent for learning as well as virtue. The great St. Brendan of Clonfert visited him before starting on his voyage to the Northern Islands and New World, a little after which time our saint died about 540.

James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: C

Continuing the series of biographies from this chronological list of Irish saints with those whose names begin with the letter C. Once again there is a good spread of saints here including our tertiary patron, Colum Cille, plus his namesake of Terryglass and Saint Brigid's Bishop of Kildare, Conlaeth:

CAILAN, SAINT, first bishop of Down was probably a disciple of Patrick, was for a time abbot of a monastery at Nendrum, the situation of which is now unknown, and was placed over the see of Down about the year 500, which he governed for upwards of twenty years. But little has come down to us regarding his life and labors. He was cotemporary of St. Macnisse bishop of Connor, which see was united to that of Down in 1441. He died in the early part of the sixth century.

CATHOLICUS, (O'DUBTHAY), Archbishop of Tuam, A.D., 1165, was a prelate noted for his great learning and piety. He was a member of the Third General Council of Lateran, and was called Catholicus on account of the extent of his knowledge.

CELLACH, ST., an illustrious Primate of Ireland, born about 1074, and elevated to the See of Armagh in 1106. In 1111 he held a great synod in Westmeath, which was attended by over fifty bishops, and three hundred priests, besides great numbers of the inferior clergy. The Monarch and all the principal princes of the country assisted, so as to be able to carry out the reforms necessary, and to cure the evils which two centuries of devastating war with the Danes had entailed. In 1118 he called another, at which Gilbert, Bishop of Limerick presided, as Apostolic Legate. In this, the church lands were declared free from tribute and rent.

Our Saint was author of a "Summa Theologicae." "Testamentum Ecclesia" and De Successione Malachiae." He was anxious that Malachy O'Moore, (St.Malachy) already famed for his piety and wisdom, should be elected to succeed him, and he sent to him his staff (St. Patrick's staff,) as an earnest of his wishes, and also wrote to the Monarch and Princes of the country on the subject. He died at Aidpatrick, in County Limerick, April 1st, 1129, and the see was usurped for a while by an ambitious prelate of noble birth, named Maurice MacDonald, whom St. Malachy succeeded after a short time.

COLMAN, ST., first bishop of Dromore, equally renowned for his learning and sanctity, was born about 516 in Ulster, and belonged to the sept or clan of the Arads. He was also first abbot of Muckmore, and was sometimes called Mocholmore to distinguish him from other St. Columns, of whom there are more than 200 in Irish records. He died in 610, and his feast is kept on the 7th of June.

COLMAN, ST., a celebrated Irish, divine and missionary, is Patron Saint of Austria, was born about the middle of the tenth century, and acquired a great reputation for learning and sanctity. He was going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem while Austria was at war with some of the Western Provinces, and being suspected as a spy was executed at Stockheran, a town six miles from Vienna, October 13, 1012, on which day his feast is kept.

COLUMBA, SAINT, of Tirdiglas, abbot and founder of a celebrated monastery of that name, was the son of a princely family of Leinster, and became disciple of St. Finian of Clonard. After completing his studies he associated with himself three other holy youths named Coemharn, Finian and Mocumen, whom he directed in learning and the spirit of self-denial. They traveled about for some years studying the rules and discipline of different religious houses and doing good. They all became heads of communities in due course of time. Our Saint settling at Tirdiglas, about the year 548, and died there in the oder of Sanctity, December 13, 552. This institution flourished and became one of the most celebrated schools of learning in Ireland.

COLUMBKILL, ST., sometimes called Columba, one of the most eminent of the Irish saints and missionaries, the apostle of Caledonia, was born at Garton, in Donegal, December 7, 521. He was of royal descent, being of the blood of Niall, of the nine hostages, Monarch of Ireland. It is said that his mother, before the birth of our saint, had a vision symbolic of his future work and destiny. An angel seemed to give her a veil covered with most beautiful flowers. Immediately the veil seemed to be carried by the wind and rolled out, covering hill and dale and mountain. "This, said the angel, represents the son who is about to be born to you, who will blossom from heaven, and be reckoned among the prophets of God, leading numberless souls to Him." He seems, indeed, to have been a child of Heaven, from his earliest years, according to his biographer, Adamnan, ninth Abbot of Iona, (See Montalambert's Monk, of the West, and Dr. Reeves, Protestant rector of Ballymena, translation of the old MSS. life, of the Eighth century) who testifies that his guardian angel was personally visible to the holy child, and held conversations with him. The priest who baptized him was his first instructor in letters, and when old enough, he entered one of the great monastery schools which abounded then in Ireland. Under his special master, St. Finian, founder of the great school of Clonard, he advanced in knowledge and in virtue. While here, still pursuing his ecclesiastical studies, and already advanced to the holy orders of Deacon, the following incident is said to have occurred. An old Bard lived near the college, and our saint who was a passionate admirer of poetry as well as highly gifted in that art, used frequently to visit him for study, and to perfect himself in the noble art. On one occasion while thus engaged outside the door of the Bard's habitation, a young girl ran toward them crying for protection from a robber, who was pursuing her, but before assistance could reach her the robber struck her with his lance, and she fell dead at the feet of the horrified Bard. How long, exclaimed he, will God leave unpunished this crime which dishonors us." "For this moment only, exclaims Columbkill, with prophetic indignation —for while the soul of this innocent victim ascends to Heaven will the soul of this wanton murderer be judged by an angry God," and the words were scarcely uttered when the assassin fell dead.

The dignity of our saints birth, together with the "extraordinary gifts with which he was endowed, both by nature and grace soon made his name famous throughout Ireland, and his influence proportionately great in accomplishing good works. He early founded monasteries, which in those days were schools of learning, as well as houses of prayer and charity, the most important of which, were Derry and Durrow. He appears to have traveled much in the early part of his career, being equally celebrated as Bard and Missionary, while he had a passion for the collection of books of learning, traveling far and wide to find them and make copies. This passion frequently got him into trouble, by the refusal of those who possessed rare books to let him see or copy them, and which always made him indignant at their selfishness, and at last compelled him so to speak—to take up the great work of his life. Our saint desiring a copy of his old master's, the Abbot Finian, Psalter, which was secured in his church, he secretly visited the church in the night, when no one was there, and succeeded in making a copy. Finian learning of the—as he termed it—theft, demanded the copy which Columbkill refused to give up. The matter was referred to the Monarch, who decided against our saint. He strongly protested against the unjust decision, and was still sore from the supposed wrong, when an outrage occurred which he bitterly denounced, and threatened swift vengence on its author—the Monarch. A young Prince at court, son of the King of Connaught, having offended the Monarch, sought refuge with Columbkill, but was seized by force and put to death by Carmid the Monarch. This was a violation of the laws of refuge, and the sacredness of asylum. Columbkill highly indignant denounced the Monarch, and threatening swift vengeance, said to him, "as you have humbled me before the Lords and powerful ones of the land, so will the just God humble you before your enemies in battle." The Monarch sought to detain him at Tara, but he escaped by night to Tyrconnell, and his denunciation of the Monarch stirred up the North against him, and they defeated him in battle, as our saint threatened. It was at this time that he wrote his "Song of Trust" one of the oldest and most authentic records of the ancient tongue. The Latin Psalter, which was the first cause of trouble, was afterwards enshrined in a kind of portable altar, and became the great race relic of the O'Donnell clan, carried by them for a thousand years in battle and still preserved. This conduct of Columbkill drew upon him much censure,and his act was condemned, and he himself excommunicated by a synod at Teilta for causing the shedding of Christian blood. He was condemned before he arrived at the Synod, and of course, without a hearing. He having appeared soon after, the great Abbot Brendon advanced to meet him, and gave him the kiss of peace, and defended him in the Synod. When asked how he could meet an ex-communicated man, he said, “could you see what I do, you would not have ex-communicated him. A pillar of fire goes before him, and angels accompany him, and I dare not disdain a man whom God honors, and who is destined for great things." The sentence was withdrawn, but our saint was troubled on account of the death of so many through his acts. He sought consolation and advice for some time in vain, but at length a holy hermit named Abban, gave him both, but as a penance condemned him to perpetual exile. He accepted the penance with a true spirit of humility, and bidding adieu to all his relations and friends, he sailed for Albania, or the Northern part of Britain, now called Scotland, where the Picts had settled, and which, at this time, was also being colonized by his kinsmen of the North, who afterwards conquered it, and gave it the name of Scotland. The Irish race of that day and for centuries afterwards, being called Scots, from the race of Scoto-Milesians. The Picts who were by far the most numerous, were still heathen, and to their conversion our saint devoted his life. Twelve of his disciples accompanied him from Ireland. He choose a little island near the coast for his home, which was called after him, Colmkill, and known as Iona, here he founded his first monastery, and from this little island began the great work of his life, the Conversion of the Picts, and of those of his own race in Albania, who had not as yet received the faith. Into this, his predestined work, he threw all his energy and power. Like his Divine Master, to win souls he humbled himself as the servant of all, and by constant prayer, humility and mortification he armed himself with power to confound the devil and all his followers, and win the doubting to heaven by fear if not by love. After establishing his first monastery, he immediately set to work to spread the gospel over all the land, and from the first met with extraordinary success, baptizing thousands, and bending the stiff neck of the warlike heathen to the humble yoke of the cross. For over one-third of a century did he traverse those wild mountains of North Britain, established civilization as well as Christianity, building monasteries and churches in every valley, filling them with pious and learned men who dispensed knowledge both religious and secular, as well as charity to the needy and the travelers. The extent of his works in this way is attested by the remains which still exist over all that land. Many traditions exist of his extraordinary acts in the conversion of that people and the wonderful powers of miracles and prophecy with which he was endowed. He accomplished the conversion of the entire Pictish nation, and destroyed forever the authority of the Druids in that portion of Britain. He is also said to have blessed Aidan in 514 and consecrated him King of the Scoto-Milesians, which is said to have been the first consecration of a Christian King.

Amidst all his labors and work, however, his soul ever yearned for his native land, his lost Erin was always before his eyes. "My sad heart ever bleeds," he exclaimed. "There is a grey eye which ever turns to Erin, which never in this life shall it see—nor her sons nor her daughters. I look over the sea and great tears are in my eyes." The greatest penance which to his mind, he could inflict on the most guilty sinner amongst the Scots, was that they should never return to their native land. The spirit of prophecy with which he was filled however, gave him knowledge of events happening in his native land and which he would speak of at the time as of something present to him. It is said that when absorbed in prayer, his people often saw a halo of light surround him. On one occasion of this kind his face which seemed lit up with a supernatural joy, was suddenly clouded with sorrow. His companions begged him to tell them what made the change. He said, "I have long prayed that my exile might end with the thirtieth year of my labors and sorrows, and my prayers seemed to have been heard, for a band of angels were coming to take my longing soul to its heavenly country, but they stopped yonder, for the prayers of the churches which I have established, asking God to retain me, here, have prevailed and my exile is extended four years, but in four years these holy angels will come back, and I shall take my flight with them to my Lord." He continued his labors to the last day, and conscious of his approaching end, although without sickness, he passed around the little island and blessed the monks at their labors and the island itself, which tradition says freed it from all venimous reptiles. Having done this, he said to his faithful attendant, Dermid, "This very night I shall enter into the path of my Fathers. Weep not but console thyself, it is my Lord Jesus Christ who deigns to invite me to rejoin him and who has revealed to me that my summons will come to-night." He continued his customary duties, transcribing at the time that Psalter and as far as the 33rd psalm on which he was engaged when he stopped and said, "I must stop here, Baithen will write the rest." When the midnight bell rang for the matins, the almost glorified old saint, poet, priest and apostle, went joyfully to the chapel to take his usual place before the altar, and prostrated himself in prayer and thanksgiving for the last time, for when his faithful disciple Dermid, reached him, he was dying. He was soon surrounded by his brethren, who, with tears, beheld their dying chief and master. Raising himself by the aid of Dermid, he lifted his right arm in benediction, and the sanctified spirit immediately took its flight to the arms of the master he had served so well.

Our saint was the author of numerous poems and religious hymns. Montalambert says, "After Oisin (Ossian) Columbkill opens a series of two hundred Irish poets, whose memories and names in default of their work have remained dear to Ireland, and Dr. Reeves says, three Latin Hymns of considerable beauty, are attributed to him, in the ancient Liber Hymnorum" and in the Irish "Farewell to Aran," a poem of twenty-two stanzas, and the "Song of Trust," of seventeen stanzas, besides fifteen other poems in one of the ancient O'Cleary MSS., preserved in the Burgundian Library, at Brussels, and a larger collection still in the Bodlein Library, Oxford. The so-called prophecies of Columbkill are pronounced by the best authorities to be a forgery of very modern date, no ancient biographer ever refer to them. His remains were removed to Ireland sometime in 800, on account of the Danes plundering the island and destroying its churches and monasteries. Up to that time it was the burial place of the Scoto-Milesian Kings of Albania or Caledonia.

CONLAETH, SAINT, first bishop of Kildare, The establishment by St. Bridget of her own community at Kildare, after her travels through Ireland, organizing holy women into religious communities, soon made the place famous, and it grew rapidly, especially in religious importance, and at her request it was placed under the rule of a Bishop. Conlaeth or Conlian, a priest and hermit whose virtues were widely known, was pointed out by St. Bridget, as a proper person for the dignity, and consequently, about the year 490 he was consecrated, there being a large assemblage of bishops and ecclesiastics present on the occasion. Conlaeth laid the foundation of his Cathedral, which not being completed till after the death of Bridget, was dedicated to her memory. He governed his see for twenty-nine years, and was buried in his Cathedral near the high altar. His bones were placed in a silver case about the year 800. Many miraculous cures were attributed to the saint while living, and to his relics when dead. He died about 520. This see is one of the few ones in Ireland, and in fact in any country, which presents an unbroken succession of prelates for nearly 1400 years.

James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).

Monday, 27 July 2015

A Chronology of Irish Saints: B

We continue the series of biographies of Irish saints listed on this chronological list, now looking at saints whose names begin with the letter B. Needless to say Saint Brigid has the largest entry in this category, but it also includes the two saints Brendan, Saint Benignus, plus two lesser-known female saints with Patrician associations as well as an Irish saint who gave his name to a town in France:

BENIGNUS, SAINT, BISHOP of Armagh, and first successor of St. Patrick in that see; was son of Singen, one of the chief men of Meath, and who hospitably received Saint Patrick, when on his journey to the court of King Laghaire in 433. Our future saint, then a bright boy, was baptized by Patrick, who gave him the name of Binen, or Sweet, on account of the loveliness of his person and character. The boy became so attached to Patrick that he begged his parents to allow him to follow him, but they, dearly loving him, were unwilling, but Patrick told them that it was the Divine will that the boy should dedicate himself to God, and tearfully they let him go. He quickly increased in knowledge, and every Christian virtue, and became a great assistance to his Apostolic master. His zeal and example made many converts, and he became, as it were, a substantial image of his great leader. He was perhaps the most beloved of all the disciples of Patrick, and continued with him from the first to the last, his coadjuter as if it were, and he succeeded him in the government of the See of Armagh. Benignus resigned his See after some years, for the purpose of visiting Rome, and was succeeded by St. Jarlath; another disciple of Patrick.

Benignus wrote in Latin and Irish, amongst others, "Virtue and Miracles of St. Patrick," Poems and "Munster Book of Rights." He is said by some authors to have died in Rome, and by others to have died near Glastonbury, England, in the monastery of Ferlingmere where he went to retire from the world. William, of Malsmsbury, says, "That the miracles of his former life, and those of his new translation proclaim in what high degreee he stands with God," and gives the following epitaph as being on his tomb at Ferlingmere:

"Father Beonna's bones in this tomb lie
Of old the father of the Monk's hereby
Disciple to St. Patrick so much famed,
The Irish say he was, and Beon named."

Lanigan however thinks this must refer to another saint of the same name.

BREACA and BURIAN SAINTS, two holy maidens of Ireland, who were greatly honored in Britain. The former was baptized by St. Patrick, became a religious, passed over into Britain and established a community on the bank of the river Hagle, now called the Alan in Penrith. Her life was so saintly that she was honored by the erection of a church, which became famous for miracles performed through her intercession. Her companion was also held in great veneration. King Athelstan erected a church over her remains which was privileged as a sanctuary, and which had also a noted school of learning attached. These holy women died early in 500.

BRENDAN, ST., of Clonfert, one of the most famous of the Irish saints, not only celebrated for his missionary labors but also for his voyages and discoveries, was born about 483 in Kerry, and as a child was under the care of St. Ita, who devoted herself to the care and instruction of children. He received his classical education under Bishop Ercas, and was raised to the priesthood. He was noted for his zeal and apostolic spirit, and desirous of spreading the gospel among a neglected people he made inquiry among the original inhabitants (Tuatha—Danians) of the island, who were always noted as a seafaring people, as to traditions of Western lands that had been visited at earlier periods. Among those he visited was St. Enda who had a monastery on one of the Arran Isles, and who was well versed in all the early traditions on the subject. St. Brendan returned home and prepared for his western voyage fitting out his vessel in the Bay, now known by his name, and at length set sail on the broad Atlantic, directing his course south-west. The accounts of this voyage which are numerous, state that: "After a long and rough voyage, his little bark being well provisioned; he came to summer seas, where he was carried along without the aid of sails or oars for many days (undoubtedly the gulf stream). He at length reached land, and with a portion of his companions landed and pushed into the wilderness to seek inhabitants. They traveled for fifteen days, and then came to a large river flowing from east to west, (probably the Ohio). They did not penetrate the country any further, nor does the traditions state what work was performed or conversions made. The saint returned after about seven years, and undoubtedly must have been actively employed during that time.

Scandinavian accounts of voyages and attempted settlements in America by princes of that race from Greenland about the year 1000 are very definite, and of undoubted authority. One of their accounts translated and published by Rafn, the Danish historian, admits that the Irish had already settled on the coast of America at more southerly parts, before their time, and they called the place "Ireland it Mekla" or Great Ireland,'and that some of the Norse voyagers visited them, "a white people different from the Esquimaux of the north, having long robes or cloaks and frequently bearing crosses in religious processions and their speech was Irish." Those undoubtedly were the remains of colonies who settled in the days of St. Brendan and prior to that time… St. Brendan after his return settled at Clonfert where he founded one of the most eminent of the early Irish schools, and which gave to Ireland and Europe many great saints and scholars. Its schools were of vast extent and contained at times thousands of students, not only from all parts of Ireland, but from Britain and the continent. He himself became famous for his wisdom and sanctity, and was constantly consulted by the most eminent bishops and scholars. He was the author of several works, among them, "Life and Miracles of St. Bridget." He died about the year 577 at a great age (94 years,) and was buried in his Monastery at Clonfert. In confirmation of his voyage there are still many old MSS. In the "Bibliotheque Imperiale" at Paris there are eleven Latin MSS., dating from the eleventh century, besides many other scattered over the continent in Latin and Irish, besides the confirmation of the fact by the Scandanavian MSS. according to the testimony of Prof. Rafn, the Danish Historian.

BRENDAN, SAINT, of Birr, a man eminent for his learning and sanctity, was the son of Loralgine, a member of a distinguished family of Munster. He became a disciple of St. Finian, of Clonard, by whom he was held in the highest honor for his virtues, learning and supernatural gifts. He was intimate with the great Columbkill; and foretold him on his leaving Ireland, what some of his future labors would be. He wrote some of his works in verse, and founded a monastery and school at Birr. He died in November, 571. A fact known to St. Columbkill at the time, although then in Iona.

BRIDGET, SAINT, one of the most eminent of the Irish saints, was born about 453. Her father's name was Dubtach and her mother's Brochessa, and were said to have been Christians at the time of our saint's birth; this is opened to doubt as according to the most ancient authorities, Brochessa was but a handmaid and slave, and it appears under the Druidical religion, so among the Hebrews, it was permissible for rich men to take a handmaid to wife. It is stated that the wife of Dubtach compelled him to dispose of Brochessa, and that he sold her to a Druid, but conditioned that he should return the child which she was then bearing in her womb. While the Druid was on his way home with Brochessa, he stopped at the house of a pious Christian, who, while praying, is said to have received a divine intimation, that the child of the slave was destined for great things; and told the Druid that he must treat her kindly, and that innumerable blessings would come to his house. Our saint was born at Faugher, a village near Dundalk, but the native place of the Druid was Connaught, where St. Bridget spent her early years and was reared by a Christian nurse. Many wonderful things are told of her infancy, which foreshadowed her wonderful gifts and graces. She grew up full of every grace and virtue, meek, kind and sweet in manner, and so entirely unselfish, that she gained the love and admiration of all, under the careful training of her mother. She developed a wonderful spirit of prayer from her tenderest years. Her spirit of charity was not less marked, while her spirit of obedience was not satisfied with carefully doing all she was desired to, but in anticipating every wish of her superiors. After some years Dubtach demanded her from the Druid according to agreement. Her parting from her mother and from her kind protector the Druid was her first great grief, but though most heartbroken, she submitted with that meekness and patience which never forsook her during life. The Druid kindly allowed her mother to accompany her which was her only consolation. Her father received her very kindly, but her step-mother with coldness and contempt, which she did not seek to conceal. She subjected her to ill-treatment, and tried to humiliate her by requiring her to do the most menial offices of the household. As her virtue and the admirable beauty of her character shone out more from the attempted degradation, winning the love and admiration of all, so did the malice of this wicked step-mother multiply and increase, and she tried to poison the mind of her father against her, by putting wrong constructions on all her actions. It is said that about this time she accompanied a pious woman to a synod held in the plains of Liffey, and that St. Iber saw in a vision, one whom he supposed was the Blessed Virgin, standing in the midst of the Bishops, but on beholding this child of grace, he recognized in her the Virgin of his vision. She was treated with great honor by the assembled Bishops, and it is said that miracles attested her great virtues and the singular favor in which she was held by "her Divine Master. After this she was allowed to visit her mother, and while there, she had charge under her mother of the Druid's dairy. Her ever burning charity could not see want go unrelieved, and when she was asked to make a return of all the proceeds, she became alarmed lest trouble might come from her generosity, and she fervently implored God to aid her. Her prayers seemed heard, for her gifts to the poor did not reduce the property of the Druid. The Druid, seeing the tender attachment of the mother and child, and the pain that separation gave, was moved with compassion and gave the mother her freeedom, and told her to go with her beloved daughter. Their gratitude knew no bounds, and weeping with joy they blessed him, and he, it is said, soon afterwards became a Christian. It is recorded also, that after returning to her father's house, she took the jewels out of the hilt of a sword which had been presented to him by the King of Leinster, and sold them to relieve the wants of the needy. This came to the ears of the King, and being present at a banquet at her father's house, he called the little maid and asked her how she dared to deface the gift of a King. She answered that she did it to honor a better King, and that rather than see Christ and his children, the poor, suffer for want, she would if she could give all that her father and the king possessed, yea, "yourself too," if necessary. The King was struck with the answer of one so young, and said to her father, she is priceless, let God work out in His own way His holy will, and do not restrain the extraordinary graces conferred on her.

About this time, according to Jocylin, Bridget assisted at an instruction given by St. Patrick and had a vision. Patrick, knowing that she had a revelation, asked her to relate what she had seen. She answered, “I beheld an assembly of persons clothed in white raiment; and I beheld ploughs and oxen, and standing corn all white, and immediately they became all spotted; and afterwards they became all black; and in the end I beheld sheep and swine, dogs and wolves, all fighting and contending together," and St. Patrick said: The whiteness represented the church of Ireland as it was then, for all the prelates and servants of the church were pure and faithful and diligent in all things. The things which were spotted belonged to the succeeding generation, which would be stained by evil works. The blackness represented the following and more remote times, when the world would be profaned by evil and the renouncement of faith. The contest of the sheep and swine, the dogs and wolves, represented the contest of the pure and unpure prelates, and good and bad men, which in the lapse of time would come to pass. Bridget's step-mother having failed in all her evil designs, urged her father to get her married. As she was very beautiful, a most desirable match could be easily arranged but Bridget firmly refused and told her father that she had long since resolved to devote herself to God. It is said her step-brother lifted his arm to strike her for disappointing their wishes, when it became paralyzed. Having communicated her intentions of consecrating herself to God to some of her pious companions, they resolved to accompany her. Having arranged all their matters, the band of pious maidens directed their steps to Ussna Hill, in the County of Westmeath, where the holy Bishop Maccaile was. He graciously received them, and the next day they made their vows before him, he placed white veils on their heads and a white mantel or habit to wear. This took place in her sixteenth year, about 469. Some authors say it was St. Mell from whom she received the veil, but they admit the presence of Bishop Maccaile. Bridget's first community was established at Bridget's Town near Ussna Hill, under the spiritual directions of Bishop Maccaile. She governed her house with great prudence, sweetness and firmness, and here her charities knew no bounds; the needy never went empty away, and her charity and miracles soon drew crowds to receive benefits from her hands. Her work partook of the nature of the apostolic, for she is credited with the power of casting out devils, which she often used. She did not confine her labors or good works to her convent, but went about serving and instructing the poor, and reproving and converting the pagans, many of whom she brought within the fold. The fame of her works spread all over Ireland, and she was invited by many pious Bishops to establish branches of her community in their diocese.

It is said that once while at Ardagh the See of St. Mell, a great banquet was given by the Prince of Longford, at which a servant let fall a, vase of great value and it broke in pieces. The Prince, in a rage, ordered the man executed, and St. Mell was called upon to intercede without avail. When he ordered the fragments of the vase to be sent to Bridget, when she immediately restored it to its original perfection, at which the man was pardoned and many conversions followed. Stopping once at the house of a pious family who had a deaf and dumb child, and being alone with the child when a beggar called, she asked the child where the provisions were kept, who immediately answered, and the parents were filled with joy on their return to find their deaf and dumb one perfect. It is also related that she confounded a wicked woman who made a false charge against one of Patrick's disciples named Bronus, by making the sign of the cross on her lips, compelling her to speak the truth. On this occasion St. Patrick appointed the holy priest Natfroich to be her chaplain and to accompany her on all her journeys. She visited the eastern part of Ulster and also Munster establishing convents and performing wonderful works of mercy, curing the sick, giving sight to the blind and even abating a pestilence. It is said while in Limerick a female slave fled to her for protection from her mistress; Bridget pleaded for her liberation, but the woman seized the slave, who clung to the saint for protection, and commenced to drag her away when her arm became paralized. She became frightened and begged the saint to restore her arm which she did on release of the slave. Bridget established her communities all over Ireland, founding convents, and placing over them the most worthy of her disciples. She spent much time in Connaught particular in Roscommon, and established many convents throughout the province, besides gaining many souls to the faith by her miracles. Her fame was now second only to St. Patrick's. He sowed the good seed and she was cultivating it to rich blossoms and an abundant harvest. While she was thus engaged, the people of her own province Leinster became uneasy lest they should not be blessed with her presence again, so a deputation of prominent men were sent to invite her back to her native home. She consented, and returned with them. When they arrived at the Shannon which they were to cross, no boats were there, and some pagans who were present taunted Bridget saying, "Why don't you walk over, if your God is so powerful? "Some of the men asking the prayer of Bridget and God's assistance immediately proceeded to walk across, which they did safely to the great discomfiture of some pagans and the conversion of others. Her tour through Ireland, establishing houses occupied about seventeen years, and they rivalled the monasteries in numbers, the sanctity of their inmates and the abundance of their charity. St. Bridget was received by the people of Kildare with great affection and joy, and a large convent soon rose which proved of inestimable benefit to its people; a source of joy to the rich and benediction to the poor. The convent of Kildare was erected about the year 487. Near it stood a great oak, which Bridget blessed, and which stood for centuries afterwards, giving the name to the place which it retains to this day Kil-dara, Church of the oak. It finally yielded to time and relic hunters. Here our saint was visited by pious souls from all parts of Ireland, and even Britain and Scotland, to seek advice, to ask her prayers and blessing. Saints, bishops and nobles came; mothers brought their children to be blessed, the poor to be fed and the sick to be healed. So great was the crowds that came that the place soon grew up into a large town, the chief one in Leinster. Kings and nobles vied with each other in favoring it, and it was made a city of refuge. Bridget desired that it might be made a see and at her request, Conlaith, who was an humble hermit, was made its first Bishop. It has preserved an unbroken line ever since, and is one of the most ancient sees in Europe. Bishop Conlaith aided by Bridget built a Cathedral which in the course of time became large and imposing. Cogitosus, who wrote about 200 years after Bridget, describes it as extending over a large surface of ground and of an imposing elevation. It was adorned with paintings and contained under one roof three spacious oratories separated by wooden screens, while the wall at the eastern end of the church ran across the whole breath of the structure from side to side, frescoed with holy figures and ornamented with rich tapestry. This had two entrances, one at each end. The one on the right was for the Bishop and his regular college, and through the other no one entered but the abbess and her community. This church contained many windows and one ornamented door on the right, through which the men entered, and another on the left through which women entered.

St. Bridget was probably first amongst the saints of Europe who gathered into communities holy women under certain rules of obedience. The Abbess of Kildare exercised control over all the convents of the Bridgetatine Order in Ireland, as is now the general custom with religious communities, being all subject to a mother house; but in those days it was not so, as the Augustinian nuns were subject only the superioress of the house in which they lived. The church of Kildare and its plate and property belonged to the nuns, and this mother house became in the course of time very wealthy from the gifts and largesses it continually received from the rich and noble. St. Bridget was held in high esteem by the holy men of her day, as well as by the kings and princes of the land, who often came to profit by her advice and instruction. She stood sponsor for the nephew of King Echodius and prophesied that he would be raised to the episcopacy. He afterwards became bishop of Clogher, succeeding St. Maccartin. She also foretold of the birth and greatness of St. Columbkill.

Bridget practiced the most severe austerities, spending her nights in prayer and contemplation, and as her body was not vigorous she suffered severely. St. Patrick highly extolled her virtues and mission, and looked upon her as one raised up by God to perfect the good work he had commenced. She frequently visited him for his blessing, advice and encouragement. She was warned of his approaching end, and set out with four of her nuns to receive his dying benediction and to attend his obsequies. Her life was filled with acts of mercy and charity. She labored in every way to promote the glory of God, and the good of souls. The consolations of a life overflowing with good works, was hers, as she calmly and serenely awaited the inevitable call, a call to her full of sweetness and hope, as coming from her Divine Spouse for whom she so ardently sighed. She was forewarned of her approaching death, and told a favorite nun named Derlugdacha of the event, who was distressed at the prospect of losing her beloved mother; but the saint told her to be consoled for one year from the day of her death she would be united with her in heaven. The prediction was fulfilled and St. Bridget having received the Blessed Sacrament from the hands of St. Neunnidh, she soon after passed away in the odor of sanctity on the 1st of February, 525, in the 72d year of her age. The venerable St. Conlath had died some time before, and was interred on one side of the high altar. On the other, the holy remains of St. Bridget found a resting place. Her tomb was the resort of pious pilgrims for centuries, and innumerable cures were attributed to her intercession. During the invasion of the Danes, her remains which had been enshrined were removed to a place of safety. This church was plundered by them in 831. The remains were subsequently deposited with those of St. Patrick in the Cathedral of Down where they remained for nearly 400 years, or until the more barbarous reformers plundered and destroyed the shrine. The relics or portions appears to have been preserved, for we find by Cardosus, that the head of St. Bridget was in a church of the Cistercian nuns near Lisbon, where her festival and an office is yearly held on the 1st of February, and that outside church door was a slab with this inscription, "In these three graves are interred the three Irish Knights who brought the head of the glorious St. Bridget who was born in Ireland, and whose relics are preserved in this chapel. Erected in the month of January, 1283."

Few saints were perhaps ever honored during their lifetime as was Saint Bridget. She was not alone regarded as a model of all sanctity, but also as a special friend of God, who could obtain any favor asked. She was consulted by holy Bishops, and it is said that her opinion was asked for by an Irish Synod and taken as authoritative and 'the people called her, "Altera Maria,“ another “Mary and Mary of the Irish." Churches in her honor were founded all over Europe. In Ireland, her name is justly held in the highest veneration, and the praises bestowed on her by the saintly writers who were her cotemporaries, show that she was indeed preeminent for saintly qualities, when so marked in days in which the Isle was filled with saints. The ruins of the ancient church of Kildare still exist.

BRIEUC, SAINT, was born in Ireland and flourished in the 5th century. He went to the continent to preach the gospel, and founded a monastery which was the origin of the present town of that name in the department of Cote du-Nord-France. He converted large numbers of the Franks and other barbarians to Christianity, and established schools where all the learning of the age was taught.

James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).