St. Enda

Author: St. Enda


Feast: March 21

Enda was a young Irish warrior, intent upon war and the slaughter of his enemies; he had a remarkable sister by the name of Fanchea, the abbess of a convent who would eventually be canonized. His father was Conall Derg of Oriel, and when his father died, he succeeded him as king and went off to fight his enemies.

Coming back from a bloody battle, St. Enda stopped by his sister's convent, the victory cries of his soldiers disturbing the convent and distressing his sister. Fanchea faced her brother and told him his hands were dripping with blood and that he should turn his mind to things spiritual. He promised to amend his ways if she would give him one of the young girls in the convent to marry, and Fanchea pretended to agree to his stipulation. Soon after, however, the "promised" bride-to-be died, and Fanchea brought her brother to look upon the corpse.

Faced with the reality of death, and by his sister's persuasion, Enda decided to study for the priesthood, and Fanchea sent him to Candida Casa in Roman Britain, a great center of monasticism in England. There he took monastic vows and was ordained.

Enda returned to Ireland and received a grant of land in the Aran Islands from Oengus, king of Cashel, his brother-in-law. There he founded a monastery, one of the first in Ireland, and he is considered the patriarch of Irish monks.

Most of the great Irish saints had some connection with Aran: St. Brendan was blessed for his voyage there; Jarlath of Tuam, Finnian of Clonard, and St. Columba called it the "Sun of the West." Aran became a miniature Mount Athos, with a dozen monasteries scattered over the island, the most famous, Killeany, where Enda himself lived. There that great tradition of austerity, holiness, and learning was begun that was to enrich Europe for the next thousand years.

Enda died in his little rock cell by the sea around the year 530, a very old man, and the <Martyrdom of Oengus> says that "it will never be known until the day of judgment the number of saints whose bodies lie in the soil of Aran."

Thought for the Day: The shortness of life strikes most people only on their deathbeds, and they never really reflect on how fleeting life is. Those who do think about it seriously, like St. Enda, usually end up doing something about it and investing their time in something really worthwhile. From such thinking, saints are born.

From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': As the sun went down that evening, all the villagers who had any sick people in their homes, no matter what their diseases were, brought them to Jesus; and the touch of his hands healed every one!—Luke 4:40

Taken from "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750.