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
Troparion of St Brendan of Birr
Most glorious ascetic and chief of Ireland's Prophets, O Father Brendan,
thou wast a bright beacon in the western isle guiding many to
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.
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content © 2008, Ambrose Mooney
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Page last updated: 2 January 2009
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