Brendan of Birr (died c. 572) was one of the early Irish monastic saints. He was a monk and later an abbot, of the 6th century. He is known as "Saint Brendan the Elder" to distinguish him from his contemporary and friend Brendan the Navigator of Clonfert.[2] He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland,[3] a friend and disciple of Columba.[4]

Brendan of Birr
Stained glass window depicting St. Brendan in St. Brendan's Church, Birr.
Abbot, Prophet of Ireland
Diedc. 573[1]
Birr, Gaelic Ireland
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Feast29 November

Background edit

In early Christian Ireland the druid tradition collapsed under the pressure of the new faith. Study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Brendan became a pupil at the monastic school at Clonard Abbey. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000.[3] Twelve students who studied under Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland; Brendan of Birr was one of these.

Life edit

Brendan of Birr is said to have been of a noble Munster family.[5] It was at Clonard that Brendan became a friend and companion of Ciarán of Saigir and Brendan of Clonfert.[1]

He founded the monastery at Birr[1] in central Ireland in about 540, serving as its abbot. He emerges from early Irish writings as a man of generous hospitality with a reputation for sanctity and spirituality who was an intuitive judge of character.[2] He was considered one of the chief prophets of Ireland. This is evidenced both in his title ('Prophet of Ireland'), and by his attendance at the synod of Meltown, in which Columba was brought to trial over his role in the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561. Brendan spoke on Columba's behalf, prompting the assembled clerics to sentence Columba with exile rather than excommunication.[4] His friendship and support for Columba resulted in important connections between Birr and the Columban foundations.[2] An adviser of Columba said that Columba saw a vision of Brendan's soul being carried away by angels after his death. He thereupon ordered for a mass to be said in his honour.[6]

The feast day of Brendan of Birr is 29 November.

Brendan's monastery at Birr was later to produce the MacRegol Gospels, which are now housed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.[4]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Duffy, Patrick. "Brendan of Birr, Abbot", Caitlicigh Ar An nGreasan
  2. ^ a b c ""St. Brendan the Elder of Birr", Birr Historical Society". Archived from the original on 6 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b Gratton-Flood, W.H. (1 March 1907). "The Twelve Apostles of Erin". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. I. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 9 February 2008 – via New Advent.
  4. ^ a b c Farmer, David Hugh (1997). The Oxford dictionary of saints (4th ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-19-280058-2.
  5. ^ John Lanigan (1829). "Chap. X". An ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity to the beginning of the thirteenth century. Printed for J. Cumming. p. 91.
  6. ^ Adomnan of Iona (1995). Life of St Columba. Penguin Books Limited. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-14-190741-3.