Saints of the Day – Brendan of Birr, Abbot

detail of a photograph of a stained glass window of Saint Brendan of Birr, Saint Brendan's Church, Birr, County Offaly, Ireland; artist unknown; photographed on 19 September 2010 by Andreas F Borchert; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Died c.562. Born into the family of Fergus MacRoy, Saint Brendan of Birr a contemporary of Saint Brendan the Voyager, and his fellow-disciple under Saint Finian at Clonard Abbey. An ancient, but incomplete, manuscript says that the 12 apostles of Ireland, who were together at Finian’s school, saw a wonderful flower from the Land of Promise. Although today’s saint was chosen by lot to go in search of that land, he was too old or frail for adventuring. Brendan of Clonfert went in his stead.

His abbey of Birr was somewhere near Parsonstown, Offaly. He was the great friend and adviser of Saint Columba. He intervened at a synod of Meltown (Meath) to end Columba’s excommunication. Later, Columba had a vision of Saint Brendan’s soul being carried by angels to heaven at the moment of his death. Columba immediately said a special Requiem Mass for Brendan at Iona many days before he had confirmation of his mentor’s death.

From the Gospels of MacRegal (9th century), we know that Brendan’s school at Birr was endured through that time. This book, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, is a wonderful example of Irish illumination (Anderson, Benedictines, D’Arcy, Farmer, Healy, Kenney, Montague, Ryan).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 August 2020. Web. 28 November 2020. <>