Auxilius of Ireland

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Saint Auxilius
Died ~459
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast (see below)

Saint Auxilius, or Usaille,[1] (d. ca. 459) was an early Christian missionary of Ireland who is associated with Saint Patrick, Saint Seachnaill (Secundinus), and Saint Iserninus in establishing Christianity in the south of that island.[2]


Auxilius may have been ordained a deacon at Auxerre with Patrick and Iserninus.[2] Sabine Baring-Gould believes that Iserninus and Auxilius were Celts. “They would not have been of much use to [Patrick] had they not been fluent speakers of the Celtic language, and we may assume that they were Celts, either from Armorica, Cornwall, or Wales.”[1]

He was the nephew of St. Patrick,[3] the son of Patrick's sister, Darerca, and her husband, Restitutus, a Lombard.[4] He was one of nine brothers, eight of whom became bishops in Ireland. He has also been called a brother of Seachnaill.[5] However, historians have suggested that the connection of Secundinus with St Patrick was a later tradition invented by Armagh historians in favour of their patron saint and that Secundinus is more likely to have been a separate missionary, possibly a companion of Palladius.[6]

His early life and training are obscure, but he appears to have studied in Gaul at the school of St. Germanus. According to John Francis Shearman, in 438, six years after Patrick left for Ireland, Germanus sent Auxilius and Iserninus to assist him.[7]

The first documentary evidence that exists is an entry in the Irish Annals recording the arrival of St. Sechnall and his brother St. Auxilius "to help St. Patrick".[5] Auxilius seems to have been important in the early Irish Christian church as there is a reference to a Synod of Bishops held in 448 or 450, headed up by Patrick, Auxilius and Isserninus. This would suggest that he had some special eminence or authority among the bishops, for the laws made there would have been binding on the whole Irish church at the time.[3]

He is called the founder of the church at Killashee (Co. Kildare), near Naas in northern Leinster.

Both the annals of Innisfallen and Clonmacnoise give 458 A.D as the date when this cleric died,[3] but his date of death is also given as 454 or 455.[1]


His feast day varies in old martyrologies. In the Martyrology of Gorman[disambiguation needed], his feast day is 7 February.[1] In the Book of Obits, of Christ Church, his feast day is 19 October, but other martyrologies give the feast day of 16 April or 16 September. In the Martyrology of Tallaght it is 19 March but in the Annals of the Four Masters, the text gives 27 August as the day of Auxilius’ death.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sabine Baring-Gould, The Lives of the Saints (J. Hodges, 1898), 275.
  2. ^ a b Thomas McNeill, Helena Margaret Gamer, Medieval handbooks of penance (Columbia University Press, 1990), 76n.
  3. ^ a b c "Killashee", Naas Local History Group, County Kildare
  4. ^ Grattan-Flood, William. "St. Darerca." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 30 Jan. 2013
  5. ^ a b Grattan-Flood, William. "St. Sechnall." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 30 Jan. 2013
  6. ^ Stalmans and Charles-Edwards, "Meath, saints of (act. c.400–c.900)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, online edition, May 2007
  7. ^ Shearman John Francis. "Loca Patriciana", The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, Fourth Series, Vol. 3, No. 22 pp. 381-421, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, (1875)

Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Baring-Gould, Sabine. The Lives of the Saints. J. Hodges, 1898.
  • Grattan-Flood, W. "St. Sechnall (Secundinus)", The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York, 1912. Transcribed for New Advent.
  • McNeill, Thomas and Helena Margaret Gamer. Medieval Handbooks of Penance. Columbia University Press, 1990.

Further reading[edit]

  • Dumville, David N. "Auxilius, Iserninus, Secundinus and Benignus." In Saint Patrick, AD 493-1993, ed. by David N. Dumville and Lesley Abrams. Studies in Celtic history 13. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1993. pp. 89–105. ISBN 0-85115-332-1.
  • Hughes, Kathleen. The Church in early Irish society. London, 1966.