Twelve Apostles of Ireland

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St. Finnian imparting his blessing to the Twelve Apostles of Ireland
This article is about the group of Irish saints. For the IRA unit sometimes known as the Twelve Apostles, see The Squad (Irish Republican Army unit).

The Twelve Apostles of Ireland (also known as Twelve Apostles of Erin, Irish: Dhá Aspal Déag na hÉireann) were twelve early Irish monastic saints of the sixth century who studied under St Finian at his famous monastic school Clonard Abbey at Cluain-Eraird (Eraird's Meadow), now Clonard in County Meath.[1]

Dá apstol décc na hÉrenn[edit]

The twelve saints are grouped together as such in the text Dá apstol décc na hÉrenn ("The Twelve Apostles of Ireland", the modern Irish being Dhá Aspal Déag na hÉireann). The text is preserved in a manuscript belonging to Michael O'Clery, Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale MS 2324–2340, and elsewhere. When the so-called twelve apostles of Ireland are gathered together for a feast in the house of St Finian, a magical flower appears in their midst. It is decided that a voyage to the flower's homeland is to be undertaken by one of them, the choice of person then being determined by casting lots. When however, the lot falls on the old Brendan of Birr, his younger namesake Brendan moccu Altae goes in his stead. Brendan sets out with many companions and undergoes many adventures, much as related in Brendan's Life.[2]

Clonard Abbey[edit]

Main article: Clonard Abbey

In Early Christian Ireland the druidic tradition was succeeded or absorbed by the new Christian faith. Study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern County Meath was one of the main monastic schools. 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. Twelve students who studied under St. Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.[1]

The Twelve Apostles[edit]

Saint Finian of Cluain Iraird, now Clonard in Meath. He died in the year 549. The Twelve Apostles of Erin, as they were known by old Irish writers, studied under him. They are said to have been:

  1. Saint Ciarán of Saighir (Seir-Kieran)
  2. Saint Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, on the Shannon, in the barony of Garrycastle, County Offaly, died in the year 549.
  3. Saint Brendan of Birr, now Birr, County Offaly. He died on 29 November 571.
  4. Saint Brendan of Clonfert (Brendan the Navigator). He was the son of Finnloga, the patron saint of the see of Clonfert, in County Galway, was born in 484, and died in 577 aged 94.
  5. Saint Columba of Terryglass, abbot of Tir-da-glas, now Terryglass, in the barony of Lower Ormond, in the county of Tipperary, and died in 552, the same year as St. Finen of Clonard.
  6. Saint Columba of Iona was born in the year 521, and died in the year 597, aged 75. Columba was an outstanding figure among the Gaelic missionary monks who some of his advocates claim introduced Christianity to the Kingdom of the Picts during the early medieval period.
  7. Saint Mobhí of Glasnevin, patron of Glasnaidhen, now Glasnevin, near Dublin. He died on 12 October 545
  8. Saint Ruadhain of Lorrha, the patron of Lothra, now Lorrha, in County Tipperary. He died on 15 April 584.
  9. Saint Senan of Iniscathay (Scattery Island)
  10. Saint Ninnidh the Saintly of Lough Erne, the Pious, the patron of the parish of Inis Muighe Samh, now Inismacsaint, in the north-west of County Fermanagh. He was alive in 530 but the year of his death is uncertain.
  11. Saint Laisrén mac Nad Froích, the son of Nadfraech, he was the brother of Aengus, the first Christian king of Munster and died in 570.
  12. Saint Canice the patron of Aghaboe in County Laois, who died in 599 at the age of 84.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gratton-Flood, W.H. (1 March 1907). "The Twelve Apostles of Erin". The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company) I. Retrieved 9 February 2008. 
  2. ^ Mac Mathúna, "The Irish Life of Saint Brendan", pp. 147–9.

References[edit]

  • Dá apstol décc na hÉrenn, ed. Charles Plummer (1922). Oxford. 2 vols: 1 and 2. Clarendon. pp. 96–102 (vol. 1, text), 93–8 (vol. 2, translation).  See also pp. xxiv–xxv (vol. 1).
  • Mac Mathúna, Séamus (2006). "The Irish Life of Saint Brendan: Textual History, Structure and Date". In Glyn S. Burgess and Clara Strijbosch. The Brendan Legend: Texts and Versions. Leiden and Boston: Brill. pp. 117–58. 

External links[edit]