We all know the basics about our saints, St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, St Brigid had a cloak which grew, but did you know these facts about Irish saints?
- St Patrick has two writings which have survived until today, the Confession and the Letter To Coroticus, the quality of which implies that, contrary to popular opinion, he was not a poor uneducated man.
- Outside of Ireland, St Brendan is spoken of as being in Wales and Brittany, while Scotland preserves his memory in a host of places scattered across the mainland and islands, for example, Cuil Bhrianainn (Brendan’s Retreat).
- During his time in Glendalough, St Kevin is said to have spent an hour each night in the cold lake waters. During this hour he was tormented by the presence of a menacing monster that used to swim around him. Then God sent an angel to Glendalough on a three-fold mission: to reduce Kevin’s penances, to drive away the monster, and to warm up the lake.
- St Columbanus was a writer of no mean ability and Latin style. Although much of his work is lost now, we still possess copies of his monastic rules, Penitentials, letters, sermons and poetry. They reveal a man of rich personality, singleminded, austere, unworldly, courageous, firm in the freedom of the gospel and fearless in the face of civil or religious authority.
- There was no saint more loved by his contemporaries than St Ciarán of Clonmacnoise. In fact, it is still true that along the Shannon there is no saint remembered with greater affection than he. He was so loved, that a strange and thoroughly unchristian legend has it that the other saints of Ireland prayed that he would die because they were so jealous of him!
To discover more interesting facts about Irish saints, click here to check out John J. Ó Ríordáin’s book, Early Irish Saints.