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In the Company of St. Patrick

Updated March 1, 2021 | Ann-Marie Imbornoni

Ten major Irish saints

St. Patrick

St. Patrick

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Did you know? Although St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland?and certainly no other saint has the stature of St. Patrick in Ireland?the beloved holy man wasn't actually Irish. Born somewhere in western or northern Britain, he was brought to Ireland as a slave when still a teenager. After six years he escaped to the Continent, where he became a monk. Eventually, following a vision, he returned to Ireland to Christianize it.

But Ireland, which was once known as the land of saints and scholars, has bred numerous saints, many of whom left their native country to Christianize the rest of Europe. Here are but a few.

St. Aidan

Feast day: Aug. 31

The founder of a great center of Celtic Christianity.




St. Brendan

Feast day: May 16

Patron of boatmen, sailors, travelers, and whales.




St. Brigid

St. Brigid

Feast day: Feb. 1

Patron of babies, blacksmiths, cows and dairy workers, Ireland, midwives, poets, sailors, scholars, and travelers.

St. Columba

Feast day: June 9

Patron of bookbinders, Ireland, poets, and Scotland




St. Columban

Feast day: Nov. 23

It is no wonder that this saint's emblem is the bear, as he seems to have had a knack for causing trouble.




St. Ita

Feast day: Jan. 15

The revered teacher of St. Brendan.




St. Kevin

St. Kevin

Feast day: June 3

Patron of blackbirds, the archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland, and Glendalough, Ireland.




St. Kieran

Feast day: Sept. 9

A visionary who founded a great Irish monastery.




St. Malachy

Feast day: Nov. 3

The first Irish saint to be canonized by a pope, in 1199.




St. Oliver Plunket

Feast day: July 11

The last Catholic martyr to die at Tyburn, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.




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