SAINTS

MARCH 5: ST. KIERAN OF SAIGIR

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Kieran of Saigir, also known as Ciarán mac Luaigne or St. Kieran (Welsh: Cieran), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, and is considered the first saint to have been born in Ireland.

His father was Lugna (also Laighne), a nobleman of the Dál Birn rulers of Osraige, and his mother as Liadán, of the Corcu Loígde. Before he was conceived Ciarán’s mother had a dream that a star fell into her mouth. She related this dream to the druids who were knowledgeable of such things, and they told her that she would bear a son whose fame and virtues would be known as far as the world’s end.

Cape Clear Island south west of County Cork is regarded as his birthplace and it is said that a church was built by him on the island.

Ciarán left Ireland before the arrival of St. Patrick. Already a Christian, and of royal Osraige blood, he chose to study for the church. He was able to obtain an education at Tours and Rome.

Many miracles are attributed to him, but a good portion of those attributions were written long after he died. In any case, after his return from Rome he built a cell in the woods and became a hermit at Saigir near the Slieve Bloom Mountains. There he was known as a holy man wearing skins, whose first pupils are animals in the forest.

He perfectly fit the image of a latter-day John the Baptist to St. Patrick’s Christ-like arrival on the scene. Large numbers of disciples came to him and built a monastery around his cell. This became the preferred burial place of the kings of Osraige. In addition, Ciarán’s mother and a group of women came there to dedicate themselves to God’s service and her son’s community.

Ciarán is said to have met Patrick in Italy and made allegiance to him. Some writers say that when St. Patrick arrived in Ireland, Ciarán already was a bishop, having been ordained while on the continent. It seems more likely, however, that he was one of the twelve men that Patrick, on his arrival, consecrated as helpers.

He became the first bishop of Ossory. The ruins of Ciarán’s monastery, which were long the burial place of the Kings of Osraige, still remain to this day. It is speculated that the site is pre-Christian, and, in common with other Irish sanctuaries, a perpetual fire was said to have burnt there.

Adapted by A, J, Valentini from: Online, C. (n.d.). St. Kieran of Saigir – Saints & Angels. Catholic Online. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2021, from https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4173