Calendar of Scottish Saints – Saint Kenneth, Abbot

detail of a stained glass window depicting Saint Canice, created c.1900 by Meyer and Co; Cathedral of Saint Eugene, Derry, Northern Ireland; photographed on 17 September 2013 by Andreas F Borchert; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

A.D. 599. With Saint Columba, Saint Bridget and Saint Maelrubha, Saint Kenneth ranks among the most popular of the Irish saints honoured in Scotland. He was the child of poor Irish parents, and was employed during his early years in tending sheep. When he attained the years of man hood he became a monk, and passed over to Wales, where he became the disciple of the renowned Saint Cadoc. He was one of that saint’s most beloved followers on account of his perfect obedience. After being ordained priest he made a pilgrimage to Rome, and returning to Ireland became the disciple of Saint Mobhi and Saint Finnian. Saint Columba, Saint Comgall and Saint Kiaran lived with him as members of the same community.

Later on Saint Kenneth visited Scotland, where he lived for some years as a monk. He is believed to have founded a monastery at Saint Andrews and to have built churches in other parts of the country, converting many of the pagan inhabitants to Christianity by the fervour of his preaching. He spent some time at Iona with Saint Columba, and accompanied that saint in his visit to King Brude at Inverness, and it was Saint Kenneth who, with the sign of the Cross, caused the King’s hand to wither when he drew his sword against the missionaries.

Saint Kenneth died in Ireland. He founded the monastery of Aghaboe, and around it grew up the town of that name, which up to the twelfth century was the seat of the Bishops of Ossory, whose residence was later transferred to Kilkenny. In Scotland this saint had many dedications. Kilchenzie, in Kintyre; Kilkenneth, in Tiree; Kilchainnech, in Iona; Kilchainie, in South Uist; Laggan in Inverness-shire, and others. The great abbey of Cambuskenneth takes its name from him, as well as Chenzie Island, in the river of Islay, and Kennoway (anciently Kennochi) in Fifeshire.

MLA Citation

  • Father Michael Barrett, OSB. “Saint Kenneth, Abbot”. The Calendar of Scottish Saints, 1919. CatholicSaints.Info. 8 December 2019. Web. 13 May 2021. <>