Celtic and Old English Saints          11 January

* St. Boadin the Irishman
* St. Brandan the Irishman
* St. Ethne and St. Fedelma of Connaught

St. Boadin, Hermit
Dates unknown. Boadin was another Irishman who migrated to France and
became a Benedictine monk there. This may be a repeat of Brandan

St. Brandan (Beandan, Breandan), Abbot
5th century. Saint Brandan was an Irishman who crossed into Britain,
where he suffer greatly at the hands of the Pelagians. He took refuge in
a monastery of Gaul, of which he eventually became abbot (Benedictines).

St. Ethenea (Ethna) and St. Fidelmia (Fedelma), Virgins
Died 433. The story is told that one summer day the little daughters of
King Laoghaire of Connaught, Ethna and Fedelma, who were barely out of
childhood and full of fun, went for their daily bath in a private place
near the palace, a place to which no one ever came so early in the
morning. But this special day they were surprised to hear voices and see
tents encamped on the grassy slope near the pool.

There was a drone of a strange language and every now and again a sweet
voice broke into song and mingled with that of the birds in the nearby
woods and the murmuring of the river. Saint Patrick and his companions,
who had arrived during the night with a message for the King of
Connaught, were praying the Divine Office in Latin. Finally, each group
spied the other.

The older princess asked, "Who are you, and where do you come from?"

Patrick hesitated, then said: "We have more important things to tell you
than just our names and where we're from. We know who the one true God
is whom you should adore. . . ."

The girls were delighted, rather than annoyed. In a flash something
seemed to light up inside them, to make a blinding white blaze in their
hearts and minds. They knew at once that this was real, real news and
that it was true. It all happened instantaneously. Then they asked a
whole torrent of questions:

"Who is God?" "Where does He live?" "Will He live forever?" and on and
on as excited young people do.

Patrick answered each question quickly and simply. He, too, was
delighted: the light that blazed up in the girls was in the man, too,
and the three lights together made a tremendous glow. Everyone else
stood listening raptly, feeling lucky to be witnesses to the saintly man
and the sweet girls--and the Holy Spirit in their midst.

"Oh, tell us how to find the good God. Teach us more about the kind
Jesus, who died upon the Cross. Tell us more, more, more," the
princesses urged. But there was no need for more; the two had already
received the gift of the Spirit of Truth.

Patrick led them to their bathing pool, where he baptized them. For a
short time thereafter, Ethna and Fedelma were very quiet for they were
in deep prayer. Meanwhile, Patrick prepared to offer the Holy Sacrifice.
Then the princesses began again, "I want to see Jesus Christ now," said

"And so do I," echoed Fedelma. "I want to be with Him in His home

Patrick, moved by this loving longing, very gently explained that they
would not be able to see God until after their death. They were still
young, so it would be a long time before they could see Him as He is. If
they lived good Christian lives, then they would be able to go to God
for always and great joys would replace the present sorrows. The girls
pondered this as Patrick began the Offering.

As the holy Offering went on everyone was still, but the river and woods
seemed to sing God's praises. Then the youngest man rang a little bell
and all bowed their heads. Jesus Christ was with them in the grassy
knoll in the king's park. Soon the bell rang again. Patrick beckoned the
princesses forward and gave them Holy Communion.

For a little while the girls looked so happy and so beautiful that they
were like angels. And then, we are told, they died. They longed so much
to be with Jesus that they died of longing. Saint Patrick was
exceedingly happy to have met such quick and whole- hearted belief
(Benedictines, Curtayne).

This other retelling of the meeting between Patrick and the two young
girls is from Muirchu's 7th century Life of Saint Patrick:

On his missionary travels, Saint Patrick came to Rathcroghan near Tulsk.
At the well of Clebach beside Cruachan (probably today's Tobercrogheer,
he pauses for a rest.

Rathcroghan, the "rath of Croghan," is an ancient Celtic royal burial
place, rich in earthworks and earlier megalithic remains. The
seven-foot-high standing stone in the middle of a ring-fort is said to
mark the burial place of the pagan monarch Daithi.

While Patrick and his clerics are assembled at the well, two royal
maidens, fair Ethne and red-haired Fedelma, come to wash their hands.
These two daughters of Loeghaire are being brought up in Connacht by the
two wizards, the brothers Mael and Caplait. Surprised at the strange
appearance of the monks and priests, the girls ask them who they are,
and where they come from. Patrick replies that it were better for them
to believe in the true God than to ask such questions.

Ethne then asks him:

What is God? Where is God. And of whom is God?
And where is God's dwelling place?
Does your God have sons and daughters?
Has he gold and silver? Is he immortal?
Is he beautiful?
Have many people fostered his son?
Are his daughters beautiful and beloved of men?
Is he in heaven or on earth?
Or on the plain?
In what manner does he come to us?
In the mountains? In the glens?
Is he young or old?
Tell us of him, in what manner is he seen?

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Patrick answers them:

Our God is the God of all men, the God of Heaven and Earth,
of seas and rivers, of Sun and Moon and stars,
of high mountains and deep valleys,
the God over Heaven and in Heaven and on Earth,
and in the sea and in all that is therein.
He informs all these things, he brings life to all things,
he surpasses all things, he sustains all things.
He gives light to the Sun, and to the Moon by night.
He makes fountains in the dry land and islands in the seas,
and he sets the stars in their places.
He has a Son, co-eternal with himself and in his own likeness.
Neither is the Son younger than the Father,
nor the Father older than the Son.
And the Holy Spirit breathes in them.
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit cannot be divided.
In truth I wish to unite you to the Heavenly King,
you who until now are the daughters of an earthly king.

With one voice and heart, the two girls answer: 'In what way can we
believe in the Heavenly King? Instruct us most diligently so that we may
see him face to face, inform us and whatever you tell us we will do."

Patrick asks them if they believe that in baptism the sin of their
father and mother will be cast off, to which they reply "We believe."

Patrick asks them if they believe in repentance after sin, in life after
death, in resurrection on the Day of Judgement, in the oneness of the
Church. To all of these questions the girls reply "We believe."

They are then baptized, Patrick blesses the white veils over their
heads, and they beg to see the face of Christ. Patrick tells them that
until they receive Communion and taste death, they cannot see Christ's
face. They reply: "Give us the Communion so that we may see the Son, our

They receive the Holy Eucharist and fall asleep in death. They are
wrapped together in one shroud, and are greatly bewailed by their

The Druid Caplait, the foster-father of one of the girls, comes to
Patrick lamenting. Patrick preaches to him and he, too, believes, and is
baptized and tonsured. The other Druid, Caplait's brother Mael, comes to
Patrick to tell him that he will bring his brother back to the pagan
creed, but Patrick preaches to Mael also, and he, too, is converted, and

The period of mourning then being over, the bodies of Ethne and Fidelma
are buried near the well of Clebach. A circular ditch is dug around the
burial place, as is customary (Tirechan adds) among the inhabitants of

from Muirchu's Life of Saint Patrick

Troparion of Ss Ethenia and Fidelmia Tone 5
O daughters of King Laoghaire and first-fruits of Patrick's mission,/
most pious Ethenia and Fidelmia,/ you were blessed to receive the
monastic veil from Ireland's Enlightener./ Weeping and lamenting we call
upon your charity./ Pray to Christ our God/ that He will raise up a new
Patrick in our day,/ that we may be led into the Way of Salvation.

Kontakion of Ss Ethenia and Fidelmia Tone 4
Having been tonsured, O most pure and righteous virgins Ethenia and
Fidelmia,/ you were found worthy to tarry in this vale of tears/ and to
receive the Body and Blood of Christ, just once,/ before going to your
eternal reward./ We chant your praises and implore Christ our God/ that,
in the day of Judgment,/ He will not find us wanting.

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