Wednesday, May 9, 2012


ST.  COLUMBA of IONA (597)  Born to the Irish royalty, he became a monk. He was a spiritual student of St. Finian and was the spiritual teacher of other saints. In 563 he traveled to Scotland. He was exiled to Iona  where he founded a monastic community, serving as its abbot for twelve years.
He and the monks of Iona, including  St. Baithen of Iona and St. Eochod, then evangelized the Picts, converting many.

Because he spent so much of his life living on islands he is often pictured surrounded by birds.

ST. MUNGO (also known as ST. KENTIGERN) (603)  He was the Apostle to northwest England and southwest Scotland.  He was the grandson of Prince Lothus of Britain. He taught in Scotland for 13 years, living in great austerity. In 553  he was exiled during an anti-Christian uprising by local pagans. He fled to Wales, where he stayed with St. David of Wales. He founded a monastery at Llanelwy, serving as its first abbot. He returned to Scotland in 573, evangelizing the areas of Galloway and Cumberland, returning to Glasgow in 581 where he ministered to his people for the rest of his life.

Glasgow‘s Coat of Arms includes a bird, a fish, a bell and a tree, the symbols of St. Kentigern. The bird commemorates the pet robin owned by St. Serf, which was accidentally killed by monks who blamed it on St. Kentigern. St. Kentigern took the bird in his hands and prayed over it, restoring it to life.


ST. COLUMBANUS (615)  Not to be confused with St. Columba. He was a hermit, monk and missionary. He founded an abbey that was to be the source for evangelization throughout northern Italy for centuries to come. At the end of his life, he retired to a cave for solitude. His influence continued for centuries as those he converted handed on the faith, the brothers he taught evangelized many more, and his monks founded over one hundred monasteries to protect learning and spread the faith.

Susanne Iles

St. Columbanus always enjoyed being in the forests and caves, and as he walked through the woods, birds and squirrels would ride on his shoulders.

ST. KEVIN of GLENDALOUGH (618) Hermit, abbot and friend to many other saints including St. Columba. Noted as a man who did not always like the company of men, but was at home with the animals.

(Statue at Our Lady of Knock, Ireland)
There are several stories of his relationship to birds: Once during Lent, while he held his arms outstretched in prayer, a blackbird laid an egg in  St. Kevin’s hand. He remained in that position until the baby bird hatched. (He is almost always pictured with his blackbird).
(Clive Hicks-Jenkins)

In his old age, King O’Tool of Glendalough made a pet of a goose. As time passed, the goose also became aged and weak, and finally unable to fly. Hearing of St. Kevin’s sanctity and power, the pagan king sent for him, and asked that he make the beloved goose young. St. Kevin asked for a payment of whatever land the goose would fly over. As the goose could no longer take flight, the king agreed. When  St. Kevin touched the bird, it grew young, and flew over the entire valley that was used to found the monastery of Glendalough.

ST. CUTHBERT of LINDISFARNE (867) He was a shepherd who received a vision of St. Aidan of Lindesfarne entering heaven; the sight led St. Cuthbert to become a Benedictine monk at age 17 at the monastery of Melrose, which had been founded by St. Aidan. He became prior in 664.
He is sometimes pictured tended by eagles or swans or rebuking crows.


 ST. HUGH of LINCOLN (d. 1200) Born to the nobility he joined the Carthusians in 1160 and became abbot of the first English Carthusian monastery, which was built by King Henry II as part of his penance for the murder of  St. Thomas Becket.  His reputation for holiness spread through England, and attracted many to the monastery.

He loved all the animals in the monastery gardens, especially a wild swan that would eat from his hand and follow him about and yet the swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh.

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