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Died c. 488-490. Mel and his brother Melchu (plus Munis and Rioch) were sons among the 17 sons and two daughters of Saint Patrick's sister, Darerca (f.d. March 22) and her husband Conis. While all of the children are reputed to have entered religious life, Mel and Melchu, together with their brothers Muinis and Rioch, accompanied Patrick to Ireland and joined him in his missionary work.

Patrick ordained Mel and Melchu bishops. Patrick is reputed to have appointed Mel bishop of Ardagh, and Melchu to the see of Armagh (or vice versa). There is some evidence that Melchu may have been a bishop with no fixed see, who may have succeeded his brother. Some scandal was circulated about Mel, who lived with his Aunt Lipait but both cleared themselves by miraculous means to Patrick, who ordered them to live apart.

According to an ancient tradition, Mel professed Saint Brigid as a nun. During the rite, he inadvertently read over her the episcopal consecration, and Saint Macaille (f.d. April 25) protested. The ever serene Mel, however, was convinced that it happened according to the will of God and insisted that the consecration should stand.

From the Life of Saint Brigid, 1 February
Brigid and certain virgins along with her went to take the veil from Bishop Mel in Telcha Mide. Blithe was he to see them. For humility Brigid stayed so that she might be the last to whom a veil should be given. A fiery pillar rose from her head to the roof ridge of the church. Then said Bishop Mel: Come, O holy Brigid, that a veil may be sained on thy head before the other virgins. It came to pass then, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, that the form of ordaining a bishop was read out over Brigid. Macaille said that a bishop's order should not be confirmed on a woman. Said Bishop Mel No power have I in this matter. That dignity hath been given by God unto Brigid, beyond every (other) woman. Wherefore the men of Ireland from that time to this give episcopal honour to Brigid's successor.

Most likely this story relates to the fact that Roman diocesan system was unknown in Ireland. Monasteries formed the centre of Christian life in the early Church of Ireland. Therefore, abbots and abbesses could hold held some of the dignity and functions that a bishop would on the Continent. Evidence of this can be seen also at synods and councils, such as that of Whitby, which was convened by Saint Hilda. Women sometimes ruled double monasteries; thus, governing both men and women. Bridget, as a pre-eminent abbess, might have fulfilled some semi-episcopal functions, such as preaching, hearing confessions (without absolution), and leading the neighbouring Christians.

Nothing is definitely known about these saints; however, Mel has a strong cultus at Longford, where he was the first abbot-bishop of a richly endowed monastery that flourished for centuries. The cathedral of Longford is dedicated to Mel, as is a college.

The crozier believed to have belonged to Saint Mel is now kept at Saint Mel's College in a darkened bronze reliquary that was once decorated with gilt and coloured stones. It was found in the 19th century at Ardagh near the old cathedral of Saint Mel.

The various sources are rather confusing. It is possible that Mel was bishop of Armagh and/or that Melchu and Mel are the same person (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Curtayne2, D'Arcy, Delaney, Farmer, Healy, Henry2, Montague, Ryan).

Troparion of Ss Mel and Mun
Tone 5
Accompanying Ireland's Enlightener, your illustrious uncle,
on his missionary journeyings,
O blessed Hierarchs Mel and Mun,
and being blessed with the gift of oratory,
you inspired many to reject the darkness of paganism and to believe in Christ.
Pray for us, O holy ones,
that the darkness of our sins may be blotted out by the mercy of our God.

Kontakion of Ss Mel and Mun
tone 2
As streams of pure doctrine flowed from your blessed lips,
O righteous Mel and Mun,
pray to Christ our God that the streams of His compassion and forgiveness
will be poured out on us worthless sinners.

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