Irish monasteries were known for their high level of learning during the early middle ages. They imported books from the major Christian centers, and maintained strong spiritual ties with the Orthodox Church. They also created their own books in writing rooms known as scriptoria. Some of the most influential monastic schools were found at Inishmore (founded by St Enda), Bangor (founded by St Comgall), Clonard (founded by St Finian), and Clonmacnoise (founded by St Ciaran). Greek and Hebrew were taught in these schools.
St. Finian founded many monasteries
The abbot of St. Finian was a celebrated Irish saint. He migrated to the kingdom of Lothaire and restored old monasteries. The Irish community entrusted him with the monastery of Saint Symphorien. In 991, Pope John XVII granted a charter to Irish monks to govern the abbey. Empress Adelaide also insisted that the abbey be administered by Irish monks.
Saint Finian was born in Leinster, Ireland. He received instruction in Christian virtue from the disciples of St. Patrick. After spending about thirty years in Britain, Finian returned to Ireland. Once he returned, he revived the religious spirit of Ireland. Many of his disciples followed his path and later established many monasteries for orthodox Irish saint’s.
Saint Enda was an early Christian. He founded a monastery at the island of Aran, which became known as the “Aran of the Saints.” The monks lived a solitary, hard life, without fire or electricity, in cold stone cells. They ate their meals in silence and survived by farming. The monks followed a strict monastic rule. Their lives included many hours of prayer and study.
Saint Enda is a patron saint of the Catholic Church. He was born in the fifth century and is considered one of the founders of Irish monasticism. He inherited his father’s territory in Northern Ireland and then turned his life over to religious life. He abandoned battles and conquests and chose to live a religious life in Meath.
During the sixth century, St. Columcille lived in Ireland. He became a saint and is considered the patron saint of Derry, the city in which he spent most of his life. Today, he is recognized by many Christian denominations.
According to legend, Colmcille was an Irish missionary who left Ireland for Britain. He came back with a missionary named Finnian and settled on the island of Iona, which later became a spiritual center for the Irish mission in Britain. From the sixth to the ninth centuries, the island became a pivotal point for the Irish Church. While on Iona, Colmcille converted the northern Picts and ordained Scottish king Aidan to the priesthood.
Aside from helping to write the Book of Rights, St. Columcille also assisted in compiling the Senchus Mor, which is the orthodox Irish liturgy. He was also an abbot and priest, and he was responsible for the release of many Irish captives. However, after being ruled by the Romans, Adamnan returned to Ireland and became an abbot of Iona.
A Christian missionary to Ireland, St. Patrick preached grace-filled sermons and worked countless miracles. He spent 40 years preaching and converting all of Ireland. In spite of the many attacks he endured, Patrick never wavered from his calling. He preached the Gospel and baptized thousands into the Orthodox faith. He also encouraged the growth of monasticism.
Patrick’s missionary efforts spawned monasteries and churches. He also founded the episcopal See in Armagh. His doctrine was orthodox and anti-Pelagian. Though he was not a great scholar, some of his writings are still considered orthodox today. One of his most important writings is the Confession, but it is unclear if it is actually Patrick’s work. Other writings attributed to Patrick include the Lorica (Breastplate) hymn, which may date from a later period.
Saint Oengus is an orthodox Irish saint who is celebrated in the Irish Orthodox Church. He was a monk and associated with the movement to reform Irish monasticism. These reformers were known as Culdees. His biography is based on a poem in the Felire manuscript. He was born near Clonenagh, Ireland. He was a disciple of the important monastic reformer Maelruain of Tallaght. Eventually he established the Disert-Oengusa church in County Leix, Ireland.
According to Irish legend, Aengus was born into an Ulster royal family. His father sent him to a monastery near Clonenagh. He studied under the pious abbot Maelaithgen, and made great advances in scholarship and sanctity. He eventually became a hermit and settled down in a secluded spot seven miles outside of the city. His hermitage was known as Dysert.