Celtic and Old English Saints 29 November
* St. Brendan of Birr
* St. Sadwen of Wales
* St. Ethelwin of Athelney
St. Brendan of Birr, Abbot
Died c. 562. Breandan is Gaelic for Prince. Born into the family of
Fergus MacRoy, Saint Brendan of Birr a contemporary of Saint Brendan the
Voyager (f.d. May 16), and his fellow-disciple under Saint Finian (f.d.
December 12) at Clonard Abbey. An ancient, but incomplete, manuscript
says that the 12 apostles of Ireland, who were together at Finian’s
school, saw a wonderful flower from the Land of Promise. Although
today’s saint was chosen by lot to go in search of that land, he was too
old or frail for adventuring. Brendan of Clonfert went in his stead.
His abbey of Birr was somewhere near Parsonstown, Offaly. The ruins are
said to be near Emmet Square where Old Saint Brendan’s church stands. He
was the great friend and adviser of Saint Columba (f.d. June 9). He
intervened at a synod of Meltown (Meath) to end Columba’s
excommunication. Later, Columba had a vision of Saint Brendan’s soul
being carried by angels to heaven at the moment of his death. Columba
immediately said a special Requiem for Brendan at Iona many days before
he had confirmation of his mentor’s death.
>From the “Gospels of MacRegal” or “Mc Regol” (9th century), we
know that Brendan’s school at Birr endured through that time.
This book, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, is a wonderful example
of Irish illumination (Anderson, Benedictines, D’Arcy, Farmer, Healy,
Kenney, Montague, Ryan).
Troparion of St Brendan of Birr tone 8
Most glorious ascetic and chief of Ireland’s Prophets, O Father Brendan,
thou wast a bright beacon in the western isle guiding many to
salvation./ At thy heavenly birthday the Angels rejoiced and
miraculously announced their joy to our Father Columba./ The prayers of
the righteous avail much for us sinners./ Wherefore O Saint, pray to God
for us that He will find us a place in the Mansions of the Blest.
St. Sadwen of Wales, Hermit
6th century. Brother of Saint Illtyd (f.d. November 6) and disciple of
Saint Cadfan (f.d. November 1) to whom some Welsh churches are
dedicated. (Benedictines, Encyclopaedia).
Troparion of St Sadwen tone 8
The remoteness of the Welsh mountains was thy desert, O Father Sadwen,/
where thou didst serve God in fasting and humility./ May thy continual
intercession avail for us sinners that our souls may be saved.
St. Ethelwin, Hermit of Athelney
Anderson, A. O. (tr.). (1961). Adamnan’s Life of Saint Columba.
Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.
D’Arcy, M. R. (1974). The Saints of Ireland. Saint Paul, Minnesota:
Irish American Cultural Institute. [This is probably the most
useful book to choose to own on the Irish saints. The author
provides a great deal of historical context in which to place the
lives of the saints.]
Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, October. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.
Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Healy, J. (1902). Ireland’s Ancient Schools and Scholars.
Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker.
Kenney, J. F. (1929). Sources for Early History of Ireland,
vol. 1, Ecclesiastical. New York: Columbia University Press.
Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
Guildford: Billing & Sons.
Ryan, J. (1931). Irish Monasticism. Dublin: Talbot Press.
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