St. Kieran

St. Kieran
Stained glass window depicting Saint Kieran who founded the monasteries Inis Ainghin (left side) and Clonmacnoise (right side). Photo by Andreas F. Borchert

Known as Saint Kieran the Younger is not to be confused with St. Keiran (or Ciaran) of Saigir. Both are Irish saints. Saint Kieran, born in Ireland in 516, is considered one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. As a boy Kieran worked heading cattle before he began his education.

When the saint attended St. Finian in Clonard, he became one of the most knowledgeable monks on the campus. It was said of him “He was a lamp, blazing with the light of wisdom.” After a few years, he departed from his monastic brothers and went on to start his own monastery called Clonmacnoise. The monastery become one of the greatest literary schools in Ireland. It produced some of the greatest works of literature and art in Ireland.

The ruins of the school remain standing today. While the monastery survived the invasion of the Vikings and the Noman wars, most of if was later plundered and destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1552. The monastic treasures were dispersed with the Clonmacnoise Crozier, the staff of office, now found in the National Library of Ireland.

Saint Kieran is remembered for his profound influence on higher education in Ireland. The Feast of St. Kieran is celebrated on September 9.

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