St. Baithen of Iona Feastday: May 22
An Irish monk, specially
selected by St. Columba as one of the band of missionaries who set sail for Britain in 563. Born in 536, the son of Brenaron, he was an ardent disciple of St. Columba,
and was appointed Abbot of Tiree Island, a monastery founded by St. Comgall of Bangor. St. Adamnan, in recording the death of St. Columba, tells us that the dying words
of the Apostle of Iona, as he was transcribing the fifty-third Psalm, were:
"I must stop here, let Baithen write what follows". Baithen had been
looked on as the most likely successor of St. Columba, and so it happened that
on the death of that great apostle, in 596, the monks unanimously confirmed the
choice of their founder. St. Baithen was in high esteem as a wise counsellor,
and his advice was sought by many Irish saints, including St. Fintan Munnu of
St. Adamnan (Eunan), the biographer of St. Columba, tells many interesting incidents in the life of St. Baithen, but the mere fact of being the immediate successor of St. Columba, by the express wish of that apostle, is almost sufficient to attest his worth. The "Martyrology of Donegal" records the two following anecdotes. When St. Baithen partook of food, before each morsel in invariably recited "Deus in adjutorium meum intende". Also, "when he worked in the fields, gathering in the corn along with the monks, he used to hold up one hand towards Heaven, beseeching God, while with the other hand he gathered the corn". St. Baithen of Iona is generally known as Baithen Mor, to distinguish him from eight other saints of the same name -- the affix mor meaning "the Great". He wrote a life of his master, and some Irish poems, which are now lost, but which were seen by St= Adamnan. He only ruled Iona three years, as his death took place in the year 600, though the "Annals of Ulster" give the date as 598. Perhaps the true year may be 599. His feast is celebrated on October 6th. Some writers assert that St. Baithen of Iona is the patron of Ennisboyne, County Wicklow, but this is owing to a confusion with St. Baoithin, or Baithin mac Findech, whose feast is commemorated on 22 May. Another St. Baoithin, son of Cuana, whose feast is on 19 February, is patron of Tibohin, in Elphin.
Feastday: March 6
A Celtic Bishop of Strathclyde, b. about 643; d. at Aldhame, Haddingtonshire, about 607. He is said to have been the immediate successor of the great St. Kentigern, or Mungo, the fo9under of the See of Glasgow, Scotland. Like St. Kentigern, he was of Irish ancestry, but is reckoned as a British saint, inasmuch as Strathclyde was part of Britain. The chronology of the period when he flourished is somewhat obscure, but the best authorities on Scottish history agree that St. Baldred was born towards the middle of the sixth century. Previous to his consecration, St. Baldred had ;laboured for many years in Strathclyde, and had founded numerous houses for monks as also for holy virgins in addition to the churches of Aldhame, Tyinguham and Preston Kirk. Owing to the disturbed state of the kingdom, he was forced after a short rule to retire from the spiritual government of the Strathclyde Britons as also happened to his predecessor. His feast is observed on 6 March.
d. 7th century Feastday: September 3
Confessor and disciple of St. Colman of Lindisfarne. He was the brother of St. Gerald. Balin was the son of an Anglo-Saxon king. He accompanied St. Colman to lona, in Scotland, and then took up residence in Connaught, Ireland.
d. 756 Feastday: March 6
Irish Benedictine hermit of Lindisfarne, also called Baldred. Balther went to Tynningham on the Scottish border to live in retirement, settling at Bass Rock in Northumbria. He lived a life of great asceticism and died at Aldaam. His remains were enshrined with the relics of St. Bilfrid at Durham, England.
d. 6th century Feastday: May 21
Irish missionary, possibly a bishop, and friend of Sts. Columba and Brendan. Barrfoin took charge of a church founded by St. Columba in Drum Cullen, Offaly. He lived at Killbarron. He also journeyed to spread the faith. Barrfoin repeated his adventures on a voyage to the Americas to St. Brendan the Navigator.
Feastday: October 26
On December 16, there is named in the Roman Martyrology and in certain Irish calendars a Saint Bean in Ireland, who had been confused with the St. Bean whose feast is still observed in the Scottish diocese of Aberdeen, but on October 26, as founder of the bishopric of Mortlach in Banff which was the forerunner of that of Aberdeen. Nothing else is known about him. The fourteenth century chronicler Fordun, states that he was made bishop by Pope Benedict VIII, at the request of Malcolm Canmore, who is said to have founded an episcopal monastery at Mortlach. If true, this would be between 1012 and 1024; but the See of Mortlach is generally said to date from 1063. St. Bean's dwelling place is supposed to have been at Balvanie, near Mortlach (Bal-beni-mor, "the dwelling of Bean the Great"). His feast day is October 26th.
St. Becan of Cork
Feastday: May 26
6th century. The Irish Saint Becan lived as a hermit near Cork during the time of Saint Columba (Benedictines).
Troparion of St Becan Tone 4 >br>O holy Becan, kinsman of Saint Colum Cille and partaker of his sanctity,/ from thy monastery at Kill Baggan thou didst glorify Christ our God./ Entreat Him to save our souls.
St. Becan (Began, Beggan) of Kill-Beggan,
d. 6th century Feastday: April 5
6th century. Saint Becan, named as one of the 12 Apostles of Ireland in the life of Saint Molossus, is said to be the son of Murchade and Cula, of the royal house of Munster and a blood relative of Saint Columba (f.d. June 9). Becan has been declared one of the three greatest champions of virtue, together with Saint Endeus (f.d. March 21) and Saint Mochua, all of whom were leaders of saints in that fruitful age of holy men. He founded a monastery at Kill-Beggan, Westmeath. While building his church, he worked frequently on his knees, and while his hands were thus employed, he prayed with his lips and his eyes streamed with tears of devotion. He also gave his name to the church and parish of Imleach-Becain, Meath (Benedictines, Husenbeth, Montague).
St. Bega (Bee) Nun,
d. 7th century Feastday: September 6
The legend is that St. Bega, commonly called St. Bee of Egremont, was the daughter of an Irish king and was the most beautiful woman in her country. She was to be married to the King of Norway, but she had, from her infancy, vowed herself to a religious ascetic life and, in token of her betrothal to Christ, had received, from an angel, a bracelet marked with the sign of the cross. The night before her wedding-day, while the guards and attendants were revelling or sleeping, she fled, taking the bracelet with her. Finding no ship to speed her escape, she cut a turf from the ground and, on it, crossed the Irish Sea to the English Coast opposite. She landed on a promontory - thenceforth called St. Bee's Head - in Cumberland, then part of the Kingdom of Northumbria. She lived there, in prayer and charity, as a hermit, fed by the wild birds, but with an increase in piratical raids, she was advised by King Oswald to enter the safety of a nunnery. She received the veil from St. Aidan, Bishop of Northumbria and travelled the district, preaching at places such as Kilbees in Scotland, before founding the nunnery of Copeland Priory, near Carlisle, as well as "St. Bee's" around her old hermitage. She is said to have cooked, washed and mended for the workmen who erected its buildings.
In the Middle Ages, she was especially appealed to against oppressors of the poor, to whom she had been devoted in her lifetime, and against Scottish Border Rievers. She was Patroness of the north-west of England and also of Norway. In the 12th century, her bracelet was kept at St. Bees as a holy relic on which persons were called upon to swear, as it was believed that a false oath made on that relic would be immediately exposed and incur a dreadful vengeance.
Some say that St. Bega moved even further inland and finally settled on the opposite coast of Northumbria, where Northern Christianity was centred and protected. On this supposition, she is identified, by some authorities - amongst them the Aberdeen Breviary - with St. Begu of Hackness and St. Heiu of Hartlepool. This is unlikely as all three appear to be distinct personages. In fact, St. Bega's name is so close to the Anglo-Saxon word for a bracelet - beag - that it seems likely that she was conjured up from the reverence afforded to her holiest relic. Her feast day is usually given as 31st October, but this appears to be due to confusion with St. Begu of Hackness.
Partly edited from Agnes Dunbar's "A Dictionary of Saintly Women" (1904).
Saint Bega or Saint Bee was an Irish princess, whom a Norwegian prince sought in marriage. She, however, had already pledged herself and her virginity to Jesus and been given a bracelet by an angel marked with a cross as a token of her heavenly betrothal. On the eve of her wedding, as her father and her groom were celebrating in the hall, she escaped with the help of the bracelet. Seated on a clod of earth, she was taken across the sea to the coast of Cumberland.
There she lived as an anchoress, who was fed by the wild birds and, if left in peace, would have continued in this fashion. After being
attacked by marauders, King Saint Oswald of Northumbria advised her to enter a convent. She therefore received the veil from Saint Aidan and established a monastery at Saint Bees (Copeland near Carlisle) which later became a cell of the great abbey of Saint Mary at York.
While the details as related above may be uncertain, Saint Bega is venerated in Northumbria. The promontory on which she lived is named
Saint Bee's Head, and she is the patroness of the local people who were injured by the exactions of their lords and the invasions of the
In her hermitage at Saint Bees (Cumbria) was kept what is presumed to be her miraculous bracelet, which has the Old English name beag that so closely resembled her that it may have given rise to her cultus. Oaths were sworn on the bracelet. The people treasured equally the stories of how Saint Bega in her earthly life had been devoted to the poor and oppressed and had cooked, washed and mended for the workmen who built her monastery. There is also a place in Scotland called Kilbees, named after this saint (Benedictines, Farmer, Delaney, Husenbeth, Walsh).
For a fictionalised account of her life and the 664 Synod of Whitby read Malvyn Bragg's novel "Credo," published in the States as "The Sword and the Miracle."
Through the intercessions of St Bee and of all the Saints of Britain,
Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us!
St. Benignus or Benen
d.c. 466 Feastday: November 9
Bishop of Ireland, the son of Sechnaa, the psalm singer of St, Patrick. Date of birth unknown; d. 467, son of Sesenen, an Irish chieftain in that part of Ireland which is now County Meath. He was baptized by St. Patrick, and became his favorite disciple and his coadjutor in the See of Armagh (450). His gentle and lovable disposition suggested the name Benen, which has been Latinized as Benignus. He followed his master in all his travels, and assisted him in his missionary labors, giving most valuable assistance in the formation of choral services. From his musical acquirements he was known as "Patrick's psalm-singer", and he drew thousands of souls to Christ by his sweet voice. St. Benignus is said not only to have assisted in compiling the great Irish code of Laws, or Senchus Mor, but also to have contributed materials for the "Psalter of Cashel", and the "Book of Rights". He was present at the famous synod which passed the canon recognizing "the See Of the Apostle Peter" as the final court of appeal in difficult cases, which canon is to be found in the Book of Armagh. St. Benignus resigned his coadjutorship in 467 and died at the close of the same year. His feast is celebrated on the 9th of November. Most authorities have identified St. Patrick's psalm-singer with the St. Benignus who founded Kilbannon, near Tuam, but it is certain, from Tirechán's collections in the Book of Armagh, that St. Benignus of Armagh and St. Benignus of Kilbannon were two distinct persons. The former is described as son of Sesenen of County Meath, whilst the latter was son of Lugni of Connaught, yet both were contemporaries. St. Benignus of Kilbannon had a famous monastery, where St. Jarlath was educated, and he also presided over Drumlease. His sister, Mathona, was Abbess of Tawney, in Tirerrill.
St. Beoadh (Beatus), Bishop
Feastday: March 8
Died c. 518-525. Aeodh (Aidus), an Irish saint, acquired "Bo" on account of the greatness of his virtues, and was appointed bishop of Ardcarne (Roscommon). The "Bell of St. Beoadh," a beautiful work of art, was long in veneration as a relic of this saint (Benedictines).
d. 5th or 6th century Feastday: December 16
Also called Beanus, Dabeoc, Mobeoc, and Moboac. Beoc was a Cambro-Briton, who crossed over from Wales to Ireland and founded a monastery on an island in Lough Derg, Donegal (Benedictines).
d. 6th century Feastday: February 15
Of Termonbarry, d. 595; a disciple of St. Kevin and a celebrated Irish saint, whose memory is still fresh in County Roscommon. He was of the tribe of Cinel Dobtha, or O'Hanley of Doohey Hanley, to which also belong the MacCoilidh family. Most of his long life was spent in the Diocese of Elphin and he built his church at Cluain Coirpthe since known as Termonbarry or Kilbarry. His sister, St. Midabaria, was abbess of a nunnery at Bumlin (Strokestown), of which she is venerated as patroness on 22 February. Her ancient conventual church and graveyard are still to be seen. Under the title of "Berach of Cluain Coirpthe" St. Berach is honored in several martyrologies, and his holy life attracted pilgrims to Kilbarry from all parts of Ireland. The MacCoilidh family, whose name was anglicized to Cox in the early years of the seventeenth century, were hereditary custodians of St. Berach's crosier, and were coarbs, or lay abbots, of Kilbarry. The crosier is now in the Dublin Museum. In 1890, Dr. M. F. Cox, of Dublin, the lineal representative of the MacCoilidhs, unearthed St. Berach's boat, and had it placed beside the present Catholic church of Whitehall, near Kilbarry. St. Berach's oratory at Cluain Coirpthe was replaced by a fine damhliag (stone church), built by MacCoilidh and O'Hanley in 916, and acquired the name of Termon Barry, or Kilbarry, that is the church of St. Berach. Some authorities give his feast as 11 February, but most martyrologists assign him 15 February. Kilbarrack Chureh, County Dublin, was also called after this saint, as in his early days he spent some time there and performed many miracles, duly recorded in his life. His bell was long preserved at the Abbey of Glendalough, but has disappeared since the sixteenth century.
St. Bernard of Arce
d. 9th century Feastday: October 14
A recluse of Arpino in the Campania district of Italy. He was born in England or Ireland and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome. He then became a hermit, known for his sanctity. Bernard's relics are in Rocca d'Arce.
d.c. 840 Feastday: April 6
A bishop of Scotland, called Fer-da-Leithe, "the Man of Two Countries." Berthane was a monk of lona and the bishop of Kirkwall in the Orkneys, Scotland. He died in Ireland and was buried at Inishmore in Gaiway Bay, hence his name. He is sometimes listed as Berchan.
d. 8th century Feastday: March 6
Benedictine hermit, the silversmith who bound the Lindisfarne Gospels. He was a hermit in Lindisfarne, Ireland, off the coast of Northumbria, in northern England, where he aided Bishop Eaddfrid in preparing the binding of that masterpiece. He used gold, silver, and gems to bind the famous copy of the Gospels of St. Cuthbert. His relics were enshrined in Durham, England, in the eleventh century.
Ss. Bitheus and
Feastday: April 18
6th century. The British monks Bitheus and Genocus accompanied Saint Finnian of Clonard (f.d. December 12) to Ireland, where they gained a reputation for sanctity (Benedictines).
St. Blaithmaic or
d.c. 823 Feastday: January 15
A distinguished Irish monk, b. in Ireland about 750. He suffered martyrdom in Iona, about 835. He is fortunate in having had his biography written by Strabo, Benedictine Abbot of Reichenau (824-849), and thus the story of his martyrdom has been handed down through the ages. Strabo's life of this saint is in Latin hexameters, and is to be found in Messingham's "Florilegium Insulć Sanctorum" (Paris, 1624). A scion of a noble family he early showed a religious turn of mind, and longed to be enrolled in the noble army of martyrs, a wish which was afterwards fulfilled. His name was latinized Florentius (from the fact of the Irish word Blath meaning a flower), and as a religious, he was most exemplary, finally becoming abbot. In 824 he joined the community of Columban monks at Iona, and not long afterwards the Danes ravaged the island. One morning, as he was celebrating Mass, the Scandinavian rovers entered the monastic church and put the monks to death. St. Blathmac refused to point out the shrine of St. Columba, which was really the object of plunder, and he was hacked to pieces on the altar step. His body was afterwards reverently interred where the scene of martyrdom took place, and numerous miracles are claimed to have been wrought through his intercession. The date of his death is given by the "Annals of Ulster" as 825, although Mabillon places it thirty-six years earlier.
St. Blane or Blaan
Feastday: August 11
Bishop and Confessor in Scotland, b. on the island of Bute, date unknown; d. 590. His feast is kept on 10 August. He was a nephew of St. Cathan, and was educated in Ireland under Sts. Comgall and Kenneth; he became a monk, went to Scotland, and eventually was bishop among the Picts. Several miracles are related of him, among them the restoration of a dead boy to life. The Aberdeen Breviary gives these and other details of the saint's life, which are rejected however, by the Bollandists. There can be no doubt that devotion to St. Blane was, from early times, popular in Scotland. His monastery became the site of the Cathedral of Dunblane. There was a church of St. Blane in Dumfries and another at Kilblane. The year of the saint's death is variously given as 446, 590, and 1000; 446 (Butler, Lives of the Saints) is evidently incorrect; the date 1000, found in Adam King, "Kalendar of Scottish Saints" (Paris, 1588), in Dempster, "Menologium Scotorum" (Bonn, 1622), and in the "Acta SS.", seems to have crept in by confusing St. Kenneth, whose disciple Blane was, with a Kenneth who was King of Scotland about A.D. 1000. The highest authorities say the saint died 590. The ruins of his church at Kingarth, Bute, where his remains were buried, are still standing and form an object of great interest to antiquarians; the bell of his monastery is preserved at Dunblane.
d. 523 Feastday: January 29
The cook in St. Brigid's convent, in Kildare, Ireland, also called Flora. She was renowned for her holiness and for her steadfast loyalty to St. Brigid in good times and in bad.
d. unknown Feastday: January 11
Benedictine monk from Ireland who joined that order in France. He was revered for his impeccable observance of the Holy Rule and for his kindness.
Feastday: May 22, 7th century
Benedictine martyr and a disciple of St. Fursey. An Irishman by birth, Boethian built the Pierrepoint Abbey near Laon, in France. He was murdered there by rebellious monks.
d.c. 840 Feastday: February 20
Died after 480. Bolcan was baptized by Saint Patrick, who sent him to study in Gaul. Patrick later consecrated him bishop of Derkan in northern Ireland. Bolcan's school there was one of the best equipped in the island. Another Saint Bolcan (Olcan of Kilmoyle) is venerated in the diocese of Elphin (Benedictines, Encyclopaedia).
Troparion of St Bolcan Tone 7 As thou didst encourage the virtue of learning, wise Hierarch Bolcan,/ teach us to have humility to follow our fathers in the Faith,/ and not the ways of our own devising/ that being faithful to Christ,/ we may be found worthy of His great mercy.
Kontakion of St Bolcan Tone 8 From thy lips pure streams of orthodox doctrine poured forth,/ O most noble teacher and gracious Hierarch Bolcan./ Revering thy memory, we pray for grace to follow thee, profiting by thy righteous example.
d. 5th centuryFeastday: January 11
An Irish monk who went to England and confronted the Pelagian heretics. Fleeing to Gaul because of the cruel treatment he received, he later became an abbot.
d. 5th or 6th century Feastday: June 4
Disciple of St. Brigid, also called Breque, Branca, and Branka. She went from Ireland to Cornwall, England, about 460. There Breaca and her companions settled on the bank of the Hoyle River.
b.? d.583Feastday: May 16
St. Brendan of Ardfert and Clonfert, known also as Brendan the Voyager, was born in Ciarraighe Luachra, near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, in 484; he died at Enachduin, now Annaghdown, in 577. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. For five years he was educated under St. Ita, "the Brigid of Munster", and he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and at Shanakeel or Baalynevinoorach, at the foot of Brandon Hill. It was from here that he set out on his famous voyage for the Land of Delight. The old Irish Calendars assigned a special feast for the "Egressio familiae S. Brendani", on 22 March; and St Aengus the Culdee, in his Litany, at the close of the eighth century, invokes "the sixty who accompanied St. Brendan in his quest of the Land of Promise". Naturally, the story of the seven years' voyage was carried about, and, soon, crowds of pilgrims and students flocked to Ardfert. Thus, in a few years, many religious houses were formed at Gallerus, Kilmalchedor, Brandon Hill, and the Blasquet Islands, in order to meet the wants of those who came for spiritual guidance to St. Brendan.
Having established the See of Ardfert, St. Brendan proceeded to Thomond, and founded a monastery at Inis-da-druim (now Coney Island, County Clare), in the present parish of Killadysert, about the year 550. He then journeyed to Wales, and thence to Iona, and left traces of his apostolic zeal at Kilbrandon (near Oban) and Kilbrennan Sound. After a three years' mission in Britain he returned to Ireland, and did much good work in various parts of Leinster, especially at Dysart (Co. Kilkenny), Killiney (Tubberboe), and Brandon Hill. He founded the Sees of Ardfert, and of Annaghdown, and established churches at Inchiquin, County Galway, and at Inishglora, County Mayo. His most celebrated foundation was Clonfert, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. St. Brendan was interred in Clonfert, and his feast is kept on 16 May.
Voyage of St. Brendan
St. Brendan belongs to that glorious period in the history of Ireland when the island in the first glow of its conversion to Christianity sent forth its earliest messengers of the Faith to the continent and to the regions of the sea. It is, therefore, perhaps possible that the legends, current in the ninth and committed to writing in the eleventh century, have for foundation an actual sea-voyage the destination of which cannot however be determined. These adventures were called the "Navigatio Brendani", the Voyage or Wandering of St. Brendan, but there is no historical proof of this journey. Brendan is said to have sailed in search of a fabled Paradise with a company of monks, the number of which is variously stated as from 18 to 150. After a long voyage of seven years they reached the "Terra Repromissionis", or Paradise, a most beautiful land with luxuriant vegetation. The narrative offers a wide range for the interpretation of the geographical position of this land and with it of the scene of the legend of St. Brendan. On the Catalonian chart (1375) it is placed not very far west of the southern part of Ireland. On other charts, however, it is identified with the "Fortunate Isles" of the ancients and is placed towards the south. Thus it is put among the Canary Islands on the Herford chart of the world (beginning of the fourteenth century); it is substituted for the island of Madeira on the chart of the Pizzigani (1367), on the Weimar chart (1424), and on the chart of Beccario (1435). As the increase in knowledge of this region proved the former belief to be false the island was pushed further out into the ocean. It is found 60 degrees west of the first meridian and very near the equator on Martin Behaim's globe. The inhabitants of Ferro, Gomera, Madeira, and the Azores positively declared to Columbus that they had often seen the island and continued to make the assertion up to a far later period. At the end of the sixteenth century the failure to find the island led the cartographers Apianus and Ortelius to place it once more in the ocean west of Ireland; finally, in the early part of the nineteenth century belief in the existence of the island was completely abandoned. But soon a new theory arose, maintained by thos scholars who claim for the Irish the glory of discovering America, namely, MacCarthy, Rafn, Beamish, O'Hanlon, Beauvois, Gafarel, etc. They rest this claim on the account of the Northmen who found a region south of Vinland and the Chesapeake Bay called "Hvitramamaland" (Land of the White Men) or "Irland ed mikla" (Greater Ireland), and on the tradition of the Shawano (Shawnee) Indians that in earlier times Florida was inhabited by a white tribe which had iron implements. In regard to Brendan himself the point is made that he could only have gained a knowledge of foreign animals and plants, such as are described in the legend, by visiting the western continent. On the other hand, doubt was very early expressed as to the value of the narrative for the history of discovery. Honorius of Augsburg declared that the island had vanished; Vincent of Beauvais denied the authenticity of the entire pilgrimage, and the Bollandists do not recognize it. Among the geographers, Alexander von Humboldt, Peschel, Ruge, and Kretschmer, place the story among geographical legends, which are of interest for the history of civilization but which can lay no claim to serious consideration from the point of view of geography. The oldest account of the legend is in Latin, "Navigatio Sancti Brendani", and belongs to the tenth or eleventh century; the first French translation dates from 1125; since the thirteenth century the legend has appeared in the literatures of the Netherlands, Germany, and England. A list of the numerous manuscripts is given by Hardy, "Descriptive Catalogue of Materials Relating to the History of Great Britain and Ireland" (London, 1862), I, 159 sqq. Editions have been issued by : Jubinal, "La Legende latine de S. Brandaines avec une traduction inedite en prose et en poésie romanes" (Paris, 1836); Wright, "St. Brandan, a Medieval Legend of the Sea, in English Verse, and Prose" (London, 1844); C. Schroder, "Sanct Brandan, ein latinischer und drei deutsche Texte" (Erlangen, 1871); Brill, "Van Sinte Brandane" (Gronningen, 1871); Francisque Michel, "Les Voyages merveilleux de Saint Brandan a la recherche du paradis terrestre" (Paris, 1878); Fr. Novati, "La Navigatio Sancti Brandani in antico Veneziano" (Bergamo, 1892); E. Bonebakker, "Van Sente Brandane" (Amsterdam, 1894); Carl Wahland gives a list of the rich literature on the subject and the old French prose translation of Brendan's voyage (Upsala, 1900), XXXVI-XC.
St. Brendan of Birr
d.c. 573 Feastday: November 29
Friend of St. Brendan the
Voyager. Brendan was a monk at Clonard, Ireland. He became the abbot of Birr,
near Offaly, and he also advised St. Columba. Columba had a vision of Brendan
of Birr's soul being carried heavenward by angels
A monastery was founded at Birr by St Brendan of Birr. It produced the Gospels of McRegol, named after the abbot at the turn of the 8th/9th century and now to be seen in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Birr Historical Society
Saint Brigid of
Kildare (451? - 525?)
Come, ye faithful, from the north and from the south, from the east and from the sea; let us hasten to the radiant feast, glorifying the wise enlightener of the Irish land and praising her labors. Clapping our hands, let us cry aloud: Glory to Thee, O Christ our God, Who art wondrous in Thy saints!
Born in 451 or 452 of
princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525,
at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and
received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a
time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the
plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently
famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, "the church of the oak" (now
Kildare), in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to
reconcile the statements of St. Brigid's biographers, but the Third, Fourth,
and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the
court of her father
Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650.
Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare
in the eighth century, expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified
it in good Latin. This is what is known as the "Second Life", and is
an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century. Perhaps
the most interesting feature of Cogitosus's work is the description of the
Cathedral of Kildare in his day: "Solo spatioso et in altum minaci
proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens
oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis". The rood-screen was
formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated
curtains. Probably the famous Round Tower of Kildare dates from the sixth
century. Although St.
Brigid was "veiled" or received by St. Macaille, at Croghan, yet, it is tolerably certain that she was professed by St. Mel of Ardagh, who also conferred on her abbatial powers. From Ardagh St. Macaille and St. Brigid followed St. Mel into the country of Teffia in Meath, including portions of Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about the year 468. St. Brigid's small oratory at Cill- Dara became the centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as
Archbishop Healy points out, she simply "selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction", and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth "to govern the church along with herself". Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland.
Not alone was St. Bridget
a patroness of students, but she also founded a school of art, including metal
work and illumination, over which St. Conleth presided. From the Kildare
scriptorium came the wondrous book of the Gospels, which elicited unbounded
praise from Giraldus Cambrensis, but which has disappeared since the
Reformation. According to this twelfth- century ecclesiastic, nothing that he
had ever seen was at all comparable to the "Book of Kildare", every
page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and he concludes a most laudatory
notice by saying that the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left
the impression that "all this is the work of angelic, and not human
skill". Small wonder that Gerald Barry assumed the book to have been
written night after night as St. Bridget prayed, "an angel furnishing the
designs, the scribe copying". Even allowing for the exaggerated stories
told of St. Brigid by her numerous biographers, it is certain that she ranks as
of the most remarkable Irishwomen of the fifth century and as the Patroness of Ireland. She is lovingly called the "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael" by a writer in the "Leabhar Breac". St. Brigid died leaving a cathedral city and school that became famous all over Europe. In her honour St. Ultan wrote a hymn commencing:
Christus in nostra
Que vocatur Hivernia
Ostensus est hominibus
Que perfecit per felicem
Celestis vite virginem
Precellentem pro merito
Magno in numdi circulo.
(In our island of Hibernia Christ was made known to man by the very great miracles which he performed
through the happy virgin of celestial
life, famous for her merits through the whole world.)
The sixth Life of the
saint printed by Colgan is attributed to Coelan, an Irish monk of the eighth
century, and it derives a peculiar importance from the fact that it is prefaced
by a foreword from the pen of St. Donatus, also an Irish monk, who became
Bishop of Fiesole in 824. St. Donatus refers to previous lives by St. Ultan and
St. Aileran. When dying, St. Brigid was attended by St. Ninnidh, who was ever
afterwards known as "Ninnidh of the Clean Hand" because he had his
right hand encased with a metal covering to prevent its ever being defiled, after
being he medium of administering the viaticum to Ireland's Patroness. She was
interred at the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, and a costly tomb
was erected over her. In after years her shrine was an object of veneration for
pilgrims, especially on her feast day, 1 February, as Cogitosus related. About
the year 878, owing to the Scandinavian raids, the relics of St. Brigid were
taken to Downpatrick, where they were
interred in the tomb of St. Patrick and St. Columba. The relics of the three saints were discovered in 1185, and on 9 June of the following year were solemnly translated to a suitable resting place in Downpatrick Cathedral, in presence of Cardinal Vivian, fifteen bishops, and numerous abbots and ecclesiastics. Various Continental breviaries of the pre- Reformation period commemorate St. Brigid, and her name is included in a litany in the Stowe Missal. In Ireland to-day, after 1500 years, the memory of "the Mary of the Gael" is as dear as ever to the Irish heart, and, as is well known, Brigid preponderates as a female Christian name. Moreover, hundreds of place-names in her honour are to be found all over the country, e.g. Kilbride, Brideswell, Tubberbride, Templebride, etc. The hand of St. Brigid is preserved at Lumiar near Lisbon, Portugal, since 1587, and another relic is at St. Martin's Cologne.
Viewing the biography of
St. Brigid from a critical standpoint we must allow a large margin for the
vivid Celtic imagination and the glosses of medieval writers, but still the
personality of the founder of Kildare stands out clearly, and we can with
tolerable accuracy trace the leading events in her life, by a careful study of
the old "Lives" as found in Colgan. It seems certain that Faughart,
associated with memories of Queen Meave (Medhbh), was the scene of her birth;
and Faughart Church was founded by St. Morienna in honour of St. Brigid. The
old well of St. Brigid's adjoining the ruined church is of the most venerable
antiquity, and still attracts pilgrims; in the immediate vicinity is the ancient
mote of Faughart. As to St. Brigid's stay in Connacht, especially in the County Roscommon, there is ample evidence in the "Trias Thaumaturga", as also in
the many churches founded by her in the Diocese of Elphim. Her friendship with
St. Patrick is attested by the following paragraph from
the "Book of Armagh", a precious manuscript of the eighth century, the authenticity of which is beyond question: "inter sanctum Patricium Brigitanque Hibernesium columpnas amicitia caritatis inerat tanta, ut unum cor consiliumque haberent unum. Christus per illum illamque virtutes multas peregit". (Between St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the columns of the Irish, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many miracles.) At Armagh there was a "Templum Brigidis"; namely the little abbey church known as "Regles Brigid", which contained some relics of the saint, destroyed in 1179, by William Fitz Aldelm. It may be
added that the original manuscript of Cogitosus's "Life of Brigid", or the "Second Life", dating from the closing years of the eighth century, is now in the Dominican friary at Eichstatt in Bavaria.
Acta SS.; Acta Sanct.
Hib. ex Cod. Salmant.; COGLGAN, Trias Thaumaturga (Louvain, 1647); STOKER,
Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore; ID., Three Middle Irish
Homilies; O'HANLON, Lives of the Irish Saints (1 February), II; TODD, Liber Hyumnorum; Stowe Missal; Leabhar Braec; MESSINGHAM, Florilgium; ATKINSON, St. Brigid in
Essays (Dublin, 1892); HEALY, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars; STOKES, Early Christian Art in Ireland; HYDE, Literary History of Ireland (1900); KNOWLES, Life of St. Brigid
(1907). Cf. CHEVALIER, Bio-bibliogr. (Paris, 1905, 2nd ed.), s.v.
Transcribed by Michael T. Barrett
Dedicated to Angelia Harris
St. Brieuc(Briocus, Brioc, or Bru)
A Celtic saint of Brittany who received his education in Ireland and then studied under St. Germanus said to be the famous St. Germanus of Auxerre. Much of what we read concerning his early years must be received with caution; indeed, Ussher asserts that he was of Irish birth, but it is tolerably certain that he returned to France early in 431, bringing with him St Iltud. Even before his ordination to the priesthood, St. Brieuc worked several miracles duly chronicled in his "Acts" (edited by F. Godefrid Herschenn), and after a short period spent with his parents, he entered on his missionary career. In 480, he settled in Armorica, and founded a monastery at Landebaeron. Thence he proceeded to Upper Brittany where he established an oratory at a place ever since known as St. Brieuc-des-Vaux, between St. Malo and Land Triguier, of which he was named first bishop. Numerous miracles are cited in the "Acts", especially his cure of Count Riguel, who gave the saint his own Palace of Champ-du-Rouvre as also the whole manorial estates. Authorities differ as to date of St. Brieuc's death, but it was probably in 502, or in the early years of the sixth century. He died in his own monastery at St. Brieuc-des-Vaux and was interred in his cathedral church, dedicated to St. Stephen. Baring-Gould says that St. Brieuc is represented as "treading on a dragon", or else "with a column of fire" as seen at his ordination. His relics were translated to the Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus of Angers in 865, and again, in a more solemn manner, on 31 July, 1166. However, in 1210, a portion of the relics was restored to St. Brieuc Cathedral, where the saint's ring is also preserved. The festival of St. Brieuc is celebrated on 1st May, but, since 1804, the feast is transferred to the second Sunday after Easter. Churches in England, Ireland, and Scotland are dedicated to this early Celtic saint.
Feastday: September 17
Flourished in the sixth or seventh century. Several persons in repute for holiness seem to have borne this name, which is variously written Brogan, Broccan, Bracan, and even Bearchan and Bearchanus. Of these, two are commemorated in the Irish Martyrologium of Aengus, the early date of which (c. 800) is now generally admitted. There, under 8 July, we read: "Brocan, the scribe, gained a noble triumph without any fall"; and under 17 September: "Brocan of Ross Tuirc thou shouldst declare". Colgan (Trias Thaumat., p. 518) speaks as if he were inclined to identify both these persons with the author of an early Irish hymn upon St. Brigid. The glosses upon Aengus and the Martyrology of Gorman, while seemingly treating them as distinct, prove that the matter admits of no certainty. Some modern hagiographers incline to regard the St. Brogan of 8 July as the amanuensis and possibly the nephew of St. Patrick. They style him bishop and locate him at Maethail-Brogain, now Mothil in Waterford; but this is admittedly quite doubtful. St. Brogan of Rosstuirc, on the other hand, is identified with the author of the hymn to St. Brigid, and is believed to be the Abbot Brochanus referred to in the Life of St. Abban, preserved in the "Codex Salmanticensis". Rosstuirc is generally assigned to the Diocese of Ossory, and may be Rossmore in Queen's County.
Other Brochans are mentioned in the Martyrology of Gorman under 1 January, 9 April, 27 June, and 25 August.
d.c. 511 Feastday: June 8
Bishop and disciple of St. Patrick. Bron was the bishop of Cassel-lrra, near Sligo, Ireland. He continued St. Patrick's missionary efforts and introduced literary and artistic standards in Irish monastic life.
In the Footsteps of
By John C McTernan
According to extant records St. Patrick, accompanied by Bronus, crossed from Tireragh by way of Traigh Eothaile, (alias The Strand at Streamstown) to Irai (alias Cuil Irra), in which place was the Cottage of Bronus. At the extreme north-western point of the peninsula Patrick marked out Caiseal Irra, inside which St. Bron, or Bronus, built his primitive church, Cill-Easpaig-Bron. St Bron a beloved disciple of St. Patrick, is said to have been a native of Coolera. The annalists tell us that he died in the year 511 and is venerated on the 8th of June in Caiseal-Irra, in the country of Tir-Fiachra.
The existing church remains at Killaspugbrone, in plan and style of masonry, present indications of considerable antiquity - for example, the location of the original doorway in an elevated position in the centre of thewestern gable. In time this was replaced by an entrance in the south side-wall, a derivation from custom rendered necessary by the situation of the church on the seashore and its consequent exposure to the prevailing westerly winds. At the time of the insertion of this doorway further alterations would seem to have been made in the fabric of the church; amongst others was a pointed recess fashioned in the thickness of the northern wall, at a little distance from the eastern gable and nearly facing the ancient altar stone which still remains in place. The eastern window is extremely elegant in style with its mouldings and inclined sides. While the masonry surmounting the slopes of the western gable was probably built as a screen for the roof of the church to shield it from the prevailing winds blowing in from the Atlantic.
It is more likely that the present ruin dates from the 11th or 12th centuries rather than the 5th. Part of the fabric is thought to date from as late as the 15th century. It is not in the least degree probable that any portion of the structure erected by St. Patrick remains, at least above the ground. wrote W. F. Wakeman. However, the existing remains in place and style of masonry present indications of considerable antiquity. . . In the course of centuries it was doubtless rebuilt more than once.
Killaspugbrone was mentioned in the 1306 Taxation Roll and was of sufficient importance to have the death of its Vicar. Peter O'Tuathalain recorded by the Four Masters in that very year. References can also be traced in Papal Records under the years 1404; 1405; 1408 and 1427. As a parochial unit Killaspugbrone was never outstanding, despite the record of its Vicar's death in the Annals. Some importance it undoubtedly had but this was probably derived from the qualities of the Vicar rather than the status of the vicarage itself. The value of the Vicarage in 1405 was less than 4 marks - one of the poorest in the whole diocese of Elphin. It was valued at 4 marks in 1427. sufficient only to give a bare subsistence to the Priest in charge of the Parish.
An Inquisition taken on August 18th, 1585, sought to list the possessions which belonged to Killaspugbrone when the newly established Protestant church seized them and dispossessed the original owners. This valuation revealed that the Vicarage of Killaspugbrone was valued higher than others in the Sligo area but lower than that of Drumcliffe. In a Deed dated August 9th, 1605, the then Bishop of Elphin, John Lynch, demised to Henry Lynch of Galway a long list of See Possessions. Amongst these were the mensal lands (one quarter) in the Parish of Killaspugbrone, which were leased at a yearly rent of Ten Shillings for 99 years.
The Church fell into disuse circa 1680. In 1811 the ruins were repaired by the Vestry of St. John's who also built the wall around the graveyard in 1814. The chancel of the present St. Anne's church incorporates a few stones from the old structure in addition to the ancient baptismal font of rough stones.
St. Bronach (Bromana, Bronacha, Bronanna) of
d. unknown Feastday: April 2
Date unknown. The name of this virgin is registered in the martyrologies of Tallaght and Donegal. Glen-Seichis is the old name of Kilbroney or Kilbronach in County Down near Rostrevor, Ireland, which takes its present name from her. Saint Bronach's Bell is the subject of a well-known Irish legend of a mysterious, invisible bell that rang in Kilbroney churchyard.
In 1885, a storm ripped down an old oak tree near Kilbroney, and in its branches was found a 6th-century bell. For many years the denizens heard a bell ringing and attributed it to a supernatural origin. It seems, however, that the bell was hidden during the Reformation to prevent its removal or destruction. Over the years the tongue had worn away, so the bell stopped ringing, yet talk of it did not. The bell and Bronach's cross can now be found at the parish church of Rostrevor (Attwater2, Benedictines, D'Arcy, Husenbeth, Montague, Muirhead, Neeson).
St. Brynach of
Carn-Engyle (the Irishman)
(Bernach, Bernacus, Brenach, Bryynach)
Feastday: April 7
5th century. Brynach was an Irishman who settled in Wales, where he built a hermitage and a church at a place called Carn-Engyle (Mountain of Angels) overlooking the Nevern (Pembrokeshire). Traditionally, the place received its name because Brynach was in constant communication with the angels. His church became the principal church of the district. Some authors identify him with Saint Brannock of Braunton (f.d. January 7)
It is said that the first cuckoo of spring sings from the churchyard. (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Montague, Moran).
Troparion of St Brynach Tone 2 O holy Brynach, thou didst leave thy native Ireland/ to seek God in Pembroke's solitude./ As thou dost now stand before Christ our God,/ intercede with Him, we pray,/ that He may have mercy on us.
d. 7th century Feastday: December 9
Bishop and hermit, also called Budeux and Beuzec. He is reported to be the son of a king of Brittany and of Azenor, the daughter of the ruler of Brest, France. Azenor was supposedly exiled in a cask, and Budoc was born at sea, attended by St. Brigid. He was raised in a monastery near Waterford, Ireland, and became first the abbot of the house and then bishop of Dol, Brittany. Budoc ruled there for twenty-six years. Another tradition claims that Budoc was an Irish hermit who settled in Budock, near Falmouth, England.
St. Buithe (Buite, Boethius) of Monasterboice & Scotland
Feastday: December 7
Died 521. Saint Buithe was a Scot who spent some years in Italy and elsewhere on the continent before returning to Scotland to evangelize the Picts. It is said that Buithe raised the son of King Nectan of the Picts from the dead (or the king himself in some versions). In gratitude the king gave the saint a church-- Carbuddo ("Castrum Butthi"), which appears to have taken its name from him (originally Kirkbuddo or the church of Buithe).
About 500 AD, Buithe founded a school at Monasterboice in County Louth, which gained dominance in the 9th and 10th centuries when the Viking raids threatened the great schools of Ireland. This school was known for its sculpture; the Crosses of Monasterboice are world renowned. They incorporate representation of Biblical subjects directly on the Crosses, visual lessons for the faithful and less likely to be destroyed than were books. Two of these crosses, including the Muireadach Cross dating from 923, survive at Monasterboice. Fourteen historical poems of its Abbot Flann (11th century) also survive in old Gaelic books, especially in the "Book of Leinster" (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Healy, Kenney, Montague, Moran, Porter, Simpson,Skene, Stokes).
Troparion of St Buithe tone 8
Great wonderworker and ascetic, O Father Buithe, who by the power of thy
prayers didst restore the slain to life,/ intercede with Christ our God
that He will grant us life eternal in the realms of the blessed.
St. Buo of Ireland
Feastday: February 5
Died c. 900. In the 7th and 8th century, Irish missionaries were working in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, before the discovery of the islands by the Norwegians in 860. When they arrived they found Irish bells, books, and staffs. The Irish geographer Dicuil in "De mensura orbis terrae" notes that "certain clerics remained on the Iceland Island from February 1 until August 1." Saint Buo was one of the distinguished missionaries who evangelized the province around Esinberg, while he was still a very young man (D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick2, Little, Neeson, O'Hanlon, Toynbee).
St. Buriana (Welsh: Beryan; Latin: Buriana;
d. 6th century Feastday: June 4, May 1st
St. Buriana was an Irish
princess who travelled to Cornwall with St. Piran during the wave of mass
migration of Irish missionaries. She is associated with King Gerren of Dumnonia
and is said to have cured his son of paralysis. Perhaps because of these
healing powers, Gerren abducted her and her release was only agreed after St.
Piran was obliged to intervene. However, Gerren insisted on seemingly
impossible terms. Buriana would be released only when he was woken by a cuckoo
call echoing across a snow-covered landscape. Despite the two terms being
clearly incompatible, St. Piran prayed all night for their fulfillment.
Miraculously, the snow fell and, in the morning, King Gerrren awoke to the
sound of a cuckoo. So impressed was he, that Buriana was quickly set free.
Not long afterwards however, Gerren tried to recapture Buriana and she is said to have dropped dead at the moment he succeeded. She was buried in the chapel adjoining her hermitage at St. Buryan in Cornwall, where the present parish church stands. There were originally other dedications to her at Veryan, also in Cornwall, and at Berrien and Lan-verrien in Brittany, to which she presumably made sojourns. Her feast day is 1st May, but it is occasionally given as 29th May due to misidentification with St. Bruinech, a daughter of King Crimthan of Munster and foster-sister of St. Ciaran of Saighir.
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From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.