St. Brendan of Birr
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.
He died around 562. Breandan is the Gaelic word for Prince. 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), was born into the family of Fergus MacRoy at Clonard Abbey. According to an ancient, but incomplete, document, the 12 apostles of Ireland, who were gathered at Finian’s school, beheld a beautiful blossom from the Land of Promise. Despite the fact that today’s saint was picked by lot to go in search of that territory, he was too old or frail to go on an adventure. Brendan of Clonfert took his place.
His Abbey of Birr was located near Parsonstown, Offaly. The ruins are claimed to be around Emmet Square, near Old Saint Brendan’s church. He was Saint Columba’s close friend and counsellor (f.d. June 9). He intervened at the Meltown (Meath) synod to end Columba’s excommunication. Columba later had a vision of Saint Brendan’s soul being transported to paradise by angels at the moment of his death. Many days before receiving confirmation of his mentor’s death, Columba said a particular Requiem for Brendan in Iona.
Brendan’s school at Birr survived the time of the “Gospels of MacRegal” or “Mc Regol” (9th century), according to the “Gospels of MacRegal” or “Mc Regol.” This book, which is now housed in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, is a stunning example of Irish illumination (Anderson, Benedictines, D’Arcy, Farmer, Healy, Kenney, Montague, Ryan).
Bibliography: Anderson, A. O. (tr.). (1961). Adamnan’s Life of Saint Columba.
- Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The Book of Saints: A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the Catholic Church Extracted from the Roman and Other Martyrologies. 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.]
- 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.
Image attribute Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons