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[ Saints of Ireland ] (Sorted in Alphapetic order)

St Attracta, (fifth century), a beautiful pagan-princess-turned-nun, was consecrated by St Patrick himself, who was handed her veil directly from heaven. St Attracta once vanquished a monster by stuffing a cross into its jaws; her chariot was drawn by a team of tame deer.

Feast Day - 11 August



St Brigid of IrelandSt Brigid of Ireland, known also as Bridget, Brighid, or Bride (c. 453-c. 524), Irish nun, born in or near County Louth. According to tradition, her father was of royal blood and her mother was a slave.

She was renowned for her beauty, but when her father tried to give her in marriage, she demurred. To rid herself of admirers, St Brigid prayed for deformity and had and attack of fifth-century version of the Elephant Man disease. Because of her piety she was allowed to leave her father and become a nun. Angels shoved the priest aside to present her with her nun's veil and restore her beauty.

St Brigid became a bishop and founded four monasteries, including the famous monastery of Kildare. A woman of rare ability and dedication, she became, along with St Patrick and St Columba, one of the three patron saints of Ireland. St Brigid is held in great reverence in England and Scotland as well as in Ireland.

Feast Day - 1 February



St Columba, also called Colum or Columcille (c. 521-597), Irish missionary, known as the apostle of Caledonia, born in County Donegal. His father was a kinsman of princes then reigning in Ireland and western Scotland; his mother was also of royal blood. He studied under St Finnian at Clonard.

About 546 he founded Derry, and, about 552, he established Durrow Monastery, now in County Offaly. Setting out in 563, at the age of 42, and accompanied by 12 disciples, St Columba established a community on the island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland. He then attempted to convert to Christianity the Pictish tribes that inhabited the area beyond the Grampian Mountains.

St Columba's missionary activities were highly successful; he and his disciples seem to have travelled the Pictish mainland (now Scotland), the Hebrides, and the Orkneys, establishing mission stations. The parent House of Iona exercised supremacy over all the monasteries that St Columba had built, as well as over those founded by his disciples in northern England. He spent about 34 years organizing his ecclesiastical system in Scotland.

Feast Day - 9 June

Iona, Argyll and Bute

Iona has traces of Stone Age and Iron Age settlements but is most famous for St Columba's establishment of the Celtic Church there in 563 as a base from which to Christianize Scotland.

Apart from the ecclesiastical properties, Iona is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.



St Columban, (c. 543-615), Irish missionary, born in Leinster. He studied under St Comgall, in the monastery in Bangor, County Down, and at about the age of 40 he went to the continent with 12 companions and founded the monastery of Luxeuil and several other monasteries, in the region of the Vosges Mountains in north-eastern France.

His adherence to the Celtic method for calculating Easter involved him in controversy with the French bishops in 602, while his criticisms of the immorality of the Burgundian court led to his expulsion from France. In 612 he founded the monastery of Bobbio in Lombardy.

Feast Day - 23 November



St Ita, the "Brigid of Munster", was an abbess who kept a school for boys and became known as the "foster mother of saints." One of her charges was St Brendan, who consulted her before making his famous voyage to discover America centuries before Columbus. When a young nun in her charge became pregnant, the compassionate Ita claimed and reared the child as her own.

Feast Day - 10 January



St PatrickSt Patrick, (c. 389-c. 461), called the Apostle of Ireland, Christian prelate. His birthplace is uncertain, but it was probably in south-western Britain; his British name was Succat.

At 16 years of age he was carried off by Irish marauders and passed his captivity as a herdsman near the mountain Slemish in County Antrim (as tradition has it) or in County Connacht (Connaught). The young herdsman saw visions in which he was urged to escape, and after six years of slavery he did so, to the northern coast of Gaul (now France).

Ordained a priest, possibly by St Germanus, at Auxerre, he returned to Ireland. St Patrick was appointed, sometime after 431, successor to St Palladius, first bishop of Ireland.

Patrick concentrated on the west and north of Ireland. It is possible that he visited Rome and returned with relics. His reported use of the shamrock as an illustration of the Holy Trinity led to its being regarded as the Irish national symbol. A strange chant of his, called the Lorica, is preserved in the Liber Hymnorum (Book of Hymns), and what purports to have been a handbell he used during Mass is shown in the National Museum, Dublin.

Feast Day - 17 March

St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh

Armagh is very much the ecclesiastical capital of the island of Ireland.

It has been the seat of the Catholic primacy of all Ireland since the days of St Patrick, who built his first church there. It is also the seat of the Church of Ireland archbishopric of Armagh.

St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, pictured here with its twin spires, stands on one of the numerous hills upon which Armagh is built.



St Senan, a sixth-century bishop and former pagan warrior, drove a dragon from Scattery Island in the River Shannon. Pebbles gathered from the site are believed to be efficacious against shipwreck.

Feast Day - 8 March

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