Saint of the week: Saint Enda (March 21)

 

                                                                                                      St. ENDA

 

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One of the most significant of the early Irish saints, St. Enda of Aran was a warrior who was converted by his sister, the abbess St. Fanchea. Born in 484 or thereabouts, he established Ireland’s first monastery on the Aran Islands.

He was the son of a leading Ulster warlord. When his father died he had to fight his clan enemies, but his sister pacified him, on condition she find him a wife. His fiancée died before he could get married. To teach him about death and judgment, Fanchea forced her brother to view the girl’s corpse. Enda at this point decided to study for the priesthood, heading to south-western Scotland, where he took his vows, returning to found a monastery at Innish.

Enda and his monks were inspired by the asceticism of the Egyptian desert hermits. The religious lived hard, gruelling lives of labour, fasting and prayer, and they had no fires in their stone cells. Fnda lived on the island until his death as an old man, around 530. The monastery survived the Vikings, but, alas, not the Cromwellites. It was ransacked in the 1650s. 

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