Celtic and Old English Saints          24 April

* St. Ivo of Huntingdonshire
* St. Mellitus of Canterbury
* St. Dyfnan of Anglesey
* St. Egbert of Rathemigisi and Iona

St. Ivo (Ive, Yve, Ivia, Yvo) of Huntingdonshire, Hermit Bishop
Date unknown. According to medieval recounting, Saint Ivo was a Persian
bishop who enjoyed great honour and luxury in his own land but he
yearned for a more disciplined and arduous life. Together with three
companions he went to England. They settled as hermits in the remote,
wild fenlands in Huntingdonshire. There they died in the 7th century
and would have been forgotten.

However, about 1001, some relics with a bishop's insignia found in Slepe
(near Ramsey abbey). Following a peasant's revelation in a dream, these
episcopal remains (bones) were identified as those of St. Ivo. The four
bodies, including that believed to be Ivo, were translated to Ramsey
Abbey, where a holy well sprung up, at which many miracles were
performed as recorded by Ramsey's third abbot, Whitman.

About a century later, light appeared at night reaching from Ramsey to
Slepe, which was interpreted as meaning that the bones of Ivo's
companions should be translated back to Slepe, where a new foundation
from Ramsey could enjoy this subsidiary shrine.

Saint Ives in Huntingdonshire is named for him. Goselin ("Vita S.
Yvonis" in "Patrologia Latina," ed. J. P. Migne, civ. 84 ff), who died
about 1107, says that Ivo's cultus had been extant for a century.

The Saint Ives, formerly Porth Ia, in west Cornwall, however, is named
for Saint Ia (f.d. February 3) (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Farmer,

In art, Saint Ivo is portrayed as a Persian hermit with the attributes
of a bishop. He is venerated at Huntingdonshire (Saint
Ives, Ramsey) (Roeder).

St. Mellitus of Canterbury, Bishop
Died at Canterbury, England, on April 24, 624. Saint Mellitus was a
Roman abbot, probably of Saint Andrew's Monastery on the Coelian Hill.
He is one of the second band of monks sent by Pope Saint Gregory the
Great (f.d. September 3) to England in 601 in the wake of Saint
Augustine (f.d. May 27). Gregory sent him a famous letter that modified
the pope's earlier ruling to Augustine. Through Mellitus, Gregory told
Augustine not to destroy the pagan temples of the Saxons but only their
idols. The temples, he said, should be converted into churches and
their feasts taken over and directed to Christian purposes, such as
dedications. This directive was important for the whole direction of
missionary activity.

In 604, after three years of mission work in Kent, Mellitus was
consecrated the first bishop of the East Saxons, with his see in London.
As bishop, Mellitus travelled to Rome to consult with Pope Saint
Boniface IV (f.d. May 8). While in Rome Mellitus participated in a
synod of Italian bishops concerning the life of monks and their
relationship to bishops. The decrees of the synod he carried back to
England, together with letters from the pope to Archbishop Saint
Laurence of Canterbury (f.d. February 3) and King Ethelbert of Kent, who
had built the first church of St. Paul in London.

Mellitus converted the king of the East Saxons, Sabert (Sigebert or
Saeberht). Unfortunately, his royal sons did not follow suit. When
Sabert died about 616, his three pagan sons (Sexred, Seward, and
Sigebert) succeeded him and drove Mellitus out; for they had asked him
to give them the "white bread" (the Eucharist), and he had refused
because they were not baptized (or had apostatized according to some).
Mellitus withdrew to Gaul for a year with Saint Justus of Rochester
(f.d. November 10), who had experienced a similar setback in Kent.

Laurence recalled them both. Soon after Mellitus's return in 619 he was
made archbishop of Canterbury, in 619, to succeed Saint Laurence. Bede
(f.d. May 25) says of him that he suffered from gout but that in spirit
he was healthy and active, ever reaching out to the things of God:
"Noble by birth, he was yet nobler in mind." Bede attributes the change
of wind that saved the church of the Four Crowned Martyrs in Canterbury
from incineration to Mellitus's being carried into the path of the
flames to pray. It was Saint Mellitus who built Saint Mary's church at
Canterbury, of which a fragment remains outside the east end of the
foundations of the abbey church of SS. Peter and Paul (now Saint

The feast of Saint Mellitus was observed on numerous English calendars
before and after the Norman conquest. He is also
mentioned in the commemoration of the dead in the Lorrha-Stowe Missal,
together with Laurence and Justus.

His relics can be found near those of Augustine in the abbey church of
Saints Peter and Paul in Canterbury
(Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

Saint Mellitus is portrayed in art as Saint Peter brings him a salmon to
present to the king (Roeder).

St. Dyfnan of Anglesey, Wales, Son of Saint Brychnan
5th century. One of the many saintly sons of the Welsh chieftain
Brychan, Saint Dyfnan founded a church at Anglesey (Benedictines).

St. Egbert of Rathemigisi and Iona
Died April 24, 729. Saint Egbert was a Northumbrian monk of Lindisfarne
who migrated to Ireland and lived at Rathelmigisi (Rathmelsigi) in
Connaught. In 684, he unsuccessfully tried to dissuade King Egfrith
from invading Ireland. At Rathelmigisi Egbert trained several bands of
monks for the German missions that included Saints Wigbert (f.d. April
12) and Willibrord (f.d. November 7). When his companion Aethelhun died
of the plague and he contracted it, too, Egbert vowed voluntary exile
for life if he recovered. Although he wanted to join the missionaries,
his vow and a vision instructing him otherwise, led Egbert to become an
admirable monk on the island of Iona in Scotland. There he attempted to
induce the monks to adopt Roman liturgical practices.* He succeeded at
last: in fact, on the day of his death, Easter was celebrated at Iona
for the first time according to the reckoning established by the Council
of Nicea in 325AD. Egbert's feast is found in both the Roman and Irish
martyrologies and in the metrical calendar of York (Benedictines,
Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Gill).


Attwater, D. (1983). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Penguin Books.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1966). The Book of Saints. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Bentley, J. (1986). A Calendar of Saints: The Lives of the
Principal Saints of the Christian Year, NY: Facts on File

Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Doubleday Image.

Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, July. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford dictionary of saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Husenbeth, Rev. F. C., DD, VG (ed.). (1928). Butler's
Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints.
London: Virtue & Co.

Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and Their Attributes, Chicago: Henry

For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:


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