The 12 Apostles…of Ireland

October 11 is the feast of Saint Canice (515/516 – 600), one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland.” The Twelve Apostles of Ireland were twelve Irish saints of the sixth century who studied under St Finian at the rigorous monastery of Clonard Abbey at Cluain-Eraird. These twelve “apostles” studied Latin and the Christian theology of Rome. We often forget that early Irish liturgy and theology were Latinate and Roman.
These great Irish saints transformed their nation. It only takes 12 holy people to make a nationwide difference. Their success was built on their rigorous penance, prayer, and dedication to learning and preaching. Their success also shows how a single teacher or leader like St Finian can inspire men to do great things.

In the hymns from St. Finian’s office we read:

Regressus in Clonardiam
Ad cathedram lecturae
Apponit diligentiam
Ad studium scripturae.

Which translates:

Returning to Clonard {Monastery}
to the chair of lecture
He established diligence
to the study of Scripture

Here are the Holy Twelve of Ireland:

  1. St. Ciaran of Saighir (Seir-Kieran)
  2. St. Ciaran of Clonmacnois
  3. St. Brendan of Bir
  4. St. Brendan of Clonfert
  5. St. Columba of Tir-da-glasí (Terryglass)
  6. St. Columba of Iona
  7. St. Mobhí of Glasnevin
  8. St. Ruadhan of Lorrha
  9. St. Senan of Iniscathay (Scattery Island)
  10. St. Ninnidh the Saintly of Loch Erne
  11. St. Lasserian mac Nadfraech
  12. St. Canice of Aghaboe (today’s saint for October 11)
Holy Irish Saints, pray for us!
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