Enda of Arranmore, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Eanna, Endeus, Enna)
Born in Meath; died at Killeany, Ireland, c. 530 or 590; feast day formerly on March 16.
In the 6th century, the wild rock called Aran, off the coast of Galway, was an isle of saints, and among them was Saint Enda, the patriarch of Irish monasticism. He was an Irish prince, son of Conall Derg of Oriel (Ergall) in Ulster. Legend has it that the soldier Enda was converted by his sister, Saint Fanchea, abbess of Kill-Aine. He renounced his dreams of conquest and decided to marry one of the girls in his sister's convent. When his financé died suddenly, he surrendered his throne and a life of worldly glory to become a monk. He made a pilgrimage to Rome and was ordained there. These stories told of the early life of Saint Enda and his sister are unhistorical, but the rest is not. More authentic vitae survive at Tighlaghearny at Inishmore, where he was buried.
It is said that Enda learned the principles of monastic life at Rosnat in Britain, which was probably Saint David's foundation in Pembrokeshire or Saint Ninian's in Galloway. Returning to Ireland, Enda built churches at Drogheda, and a monastery in the Boyne valley. It is uncertain how much of Enda's rule was an adaptation of that of Rosnat.
Thereafter (about 484) he begged his brother-in-law, the King Oengus (Aengus) of Munster, to give him the wild and barren isle of Aran (Aranmore) in Galway Bay. Oengus wanted to give him a fertile plot in the Golden Vale, but Aran more suited Enda's ideal for religious life. On Aran he established the monastery of Killeaney, which is regarded as the first Irish monastery in the strict sense, `the capital of the Ireland of the saints.' There they lived a hard life of manual labor, prayer, fasting, and study of the Scriptures. It is said that no fire was ever allowed to warm the cold stone cells even if "cold could be felt by those hearts so glowing with love of God."
Enda divided the island into ten parts, in each of which he built a monastery, and under his severe rule Aran became a burning light of sanctity for centuries in Western Europe. Sheep now huddle and shiver in the storm under the ruins of old walls where once men lived and prayed. This was the chosen home of a group of poor and devoted men under Saint Enda. He taught them to love the hard rock, the dripping cave, and the barren earth swept by the western gales. They were men of the cave, and also men of the Cross, who, remembering that their Lord was born in a manger and had nowhere to lay His head, followed the same hard way.
Their coming produced excitement, and the Galway fishermen were kept busy rowing their small boats filled with curious sightseers across the intervening sea, for the fame of Aran-More spread far and wide. Enda's disciples were a noble band. There was Saint Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, who came there first as a youth to grind corn, and would have remained there for life but for Enda's insistence that his true work lay elsewhere, reluctant though he was to part with him. When he departed, the monks of Aran lined the shore as he knelt for the last time to receive Enda's blessing, and watched with wistful eyes the boat that bore him from them. In his going, they declared, their island had lost its flower and strength.
Another was Saint Finnian, who left Aran and founded the monastery of Moville (where Saint Columba spent part of his youth) and who afterwards became bishop of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy. Among them also was Saint Brendan the Voyager, Saint Columba of Iona, Jarlath of Tuam, and Carthach the Elder. These and many others formed a great and valiant company who first learned in Aran the many ways of God, and who from that rocky sanctuary carried the light of the Gospel into a pagan world.
The very wildness of Aran made it richer and dearer to those who lived there. They loved those islands which "as a necklace of pearls, God has set upon the bosom of the sea," and all the more because they had been the scene of heathen worship. There were three islands altogether, with lovely Irish names: Inishmore, Inishmain, and Inisheen.
On the largest stood Saint Enda's well and altar, and the round tower of the church where the bell was sounded which gave the signal that Saint Enda had taken his place at the altar. At the tolling of the bell the service of the Mass began in all the churches of the island.
"O, Aran," cried Columba in ecstasy, "the Rome of the pilgrims!" He never forgot his spiritual home which lay in the western sun and her pure earth sanctified by so many memories. Indeed, he said, so bright was her glory that the angels of God came down to worship in the churches of Aran (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, D'Arcy, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Healy, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague).
Feast: March 21
Enda was a young Irish warrior, intent upon war and the slaughter of his enemies; he had a remarkable sister by the name of Fanchea, the abbess of a convent who would eventually be canonized. His father was Conall Derg of Oriel, and when his father died, he succeeded him as king and went off to fight his enemies.
Faced with the reality of death, and by his sister's persuasion, Enda decided to study for the priesthood, and Fanchea sent him to Candida Casa in Roman Britain, a great center of monasticism in England. There he took monastic vows and was ordained.
Enda returned to Ireland and received a grant of land in the Aran Islands from Oengus, king of Cashel, his brother-in-law. There he founded a monastery, one of the first in Ireland, and he is considered the patriarch of Irish monks.
Most of the great Irish saints had some connection with Aran: St. Brendan was blessed for his voyage there; Jarlath of Tuam, Finnian of Clonard, and St. Columba called it the "Sun of the West." Aran became a miniature Mount Athos, with a dozen monasteries scattered over the island, the most famous, Killeany, where Enda himself lived. There that great tradition of austerity, holiness, and learning was begun that was to enrich Europe for the next thousand years.
Enda died in his little rock cell by the sea around the year 530, a very old man, and the <Martyrdom of Oengus> says that "it will never be known until the day of judgment the number of saints whose bodies lie in the soil of Aran."
Thought for the Day: The shortness of life strikes most people only on their deathbeds, and they never really reflect on how fleeting life is. Those who do think about it seriously, like St. Enda, usually end up doing something about it and investing their time in something really worthwhile. From such thinking, saints are born.
From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': As the sun went down that evening, all the villagers who had any sick people in their homes, no matter what their diseases were, brought them to Jesus; and the touch of his hands healed every one!—Luke 4:40
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St. Enda, Irish monastic pioneer, remembered March 21
By Benjamin Mann
.- On March 21, four days after the feast day of Ireland's patron Saint Patrick, the Catholic Church honors Saint Enda of Aran, a warrior-turned-monk considered to be one of the founders of Irish monasticism.
Born during the fifth century, Enda inherited control of a large territory in present-day Northern Ireland from his father Conall. His sister Fanchea, however, had already embraced consecrated religious life with a community in Meath, and looked unfavorably on the battles and conquests of her brother.
Enda is said to have made a deal with his sister, promising to change his ways if he could marry one of the young women of her convent. But this was a ruse on Fanchea's part, as the promised girl soon died. Fanchea forced him to view the girl's corpse, to teach him that he, too, would face death and judgment.
In this way, Fanchea – whom the Church also remembers as a saint – succeeded in turning her brother not only from violence, but even from marriage. He left Ireland for several years, during which time he became a monk and was ordained as a priest.
Upon his return to Ireland, he petitioned his King Aengus of Munster – who was married to another of Enda's sisters – to grant him land for a monastic settlement on the Aran Islands, a beautiful but austere location near Galway Bay off Ireland's west coast.
During its early years, Enda's island mission had around 150 monks. As the community grew, he divided up the territory between his disciples, who founded their own monasteries to accommodate the large number of vocations.
Enda did not found a religious order in the modern sense, but he did hold a position of authority and leadership over the monastic settlements of Aran – which became known as “Aran of the Saints,” renowned for the monks' strict rule of life and passionate love for God.
While living on an Irish island, Enda's monks imitated the asceticism and simplicity of the earliest Egytian desert hermits.
The monks of Aran lived alone in their stone cells, slept on the ground, ate together in silence, and survived by farming and fishing. St. Enda's monastic rule, like those of St. Basil in the Greek East and St. Benedict in the Latin West, set aside many hours for prayer and the study of scripture.
During his own lifetime, Enda's monastic settlement on the Aran islands became an important pilgrimage destination, as well as a center for the evangelizations of surrounding areas. At least two dozen canonized individuals had some association with “Aran of the Saints.”
St. Enda himself died in old age around the year 530. An early chronicler of his life declared that it would “never be known until the day of judgment, the number of saints whose bodies lie in the soil of Aran,” on account of the onetime-warrior's response to God's surprising call.
SOURCE : http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/st.-enda-irish-monastic-pioneer-remembered-march-21/
The Monastic School of Aran
The three islands of Aran stretch across the mouth of Galway Bay, forming a kind of natural breakwater against the Atlantic Ocean. The largest of the three, called Aran Mor, is about nine miles in length, and little more than one in average breadth. The bluish-grey limestone of which it is entirely composed is as hard as marble and takes a fine polish. In many places it is quite bare; in others the sandy soil affords a precarious sustenance for more than three thousand people who dwell upon the island, and largely supplement the produce of their arid fields by the harvest of the stormy seas around their island home, to which they cling in good or bad times with a passionate love. During three hundred years from about 500 to 800, Aran Mor and its sister islands were a famous centre of sanctity and learning, which attracted holy men from all parts of Ireland to study the science of the saints in this remote school of the West. Before the arrival of St. Enda, Aran Mor and the neighbouring islands had long been occupied by a remnant of the ancient Firbolg race, who, driven from the mainland, built themselves rude fortresses in the strongest points of the islands, the barbaric ruins of which still excite wonder. Their descendants were still pagans at the close of the fifth century, when St. Enda first dared to land upon their shores, seeking, like so many of the saints of his time, "a desert in the ocean." The inhabitants of the islands at this time were the remnants of a great pre-historic people, whose works, even in their ruins, will outlive the monuments of later and more civilized peoples. Side by side with these magnificent remains of pagan architecture are now to be seen the remains of the churches and cells of Enda and his followers, making the Isles of Aran the most holy, as they are the most interesting spots, within the wide bounds of Britain's insular empire.
Tradition tells us that Enda came first across the North Sound from Garomna Island on the coast of Connemara, and landed in the little bay at Aran Mor under the village of Killeany, to which he had given his name, and near which he founded his first monastery. The fame of his austere sanctity soon spread throughout Erin, and attracted religious men from all parts of the country. Amongst the first who came to visit Enda's island sanctuary was the celebrated St. Brendan — the Navigator, as he is called — who was then revolving in his mind his great project of discovering the promised land beyond the western main. He came to consult Enda, and seek his blessing for the prosperous execution of his daring purpose. Thither, too, came Finnian of Clonard, himself the "Tutor of the Saints of Erin," to drink in heavenly wisdom from the lips of blessed Enda, for Enda seems to have been the senior of all these saints of the second order, and he was loved and reverenced by them all as a father. Clonard was a great college, but Aran of Enda was the greatest sanctuary and nursery of holiness throughout all the "land of Erin." Here, also, we find Columcille, who had not yet quite schooled his fiery spirit to the patient endurance of injustice or insult. He came in his currach, with the scholar's belt and book-satchel, to learn divine wisdom in this remote school of the sea. He took his turn at grinding the corn, and herding the sheep, and fishing in the bay; he studied the Latin version of the Scriptures, and learned from Enda's lips the virtues of a true monk as practiced by the saints and Fathers of the desert, and he saw it exemplified in the daily life and godly conversation of the blessed Enda himself, and of the holy companions who shared his studies and his labours. Reluctantly did Columcille leave the sacred isle; and we know, from a poem which he has left, how dearly he loved Aran Mor, and how bitterly he sorrowed when the "Son of God" called him away from that beloved island to preach beyond the seas. He calls it "Aran, the Sun of all the West," another pilgrims' Rome, under whose pure earth he would as soon be buried as nigh to the graves of Saints Peter and Paul. With Columcille at Aran was also the gentle Ciaran, the "carpenter's son," and the best beloved of all the disciples of Enda. And when Ciaran, too, was called away by God to found his own great monastery by the banks of the Shannon, we are told that Enda and his monks came with him down to the beach, whilst their eyes were dim with tears and sorrow filled their hearts. And the young and gentle Ciaran, having got his abbot's blessing, entered his currach and sailed away for the mainland. There is indeed hardly a single one of the saints of the second order — called the Twelve Apostles of Erin — who did not spend some time in Aran. It was for them the novitiate of their religious life. St. Jarlath of Tuam nearly as old as Enda himself; St. Carthach the Elder of Lismore; the two Sts. Jervis of Glendalough, two brothers; St. MacCreiche of Corcomore; St. Lonan Kerr, St. Nechan, St. Guigneus, St. Papeus, St. Libeus, brother of St. Enda —all these were there.
Enda divided Aran Mor into two parts, one half to be assigned to his own monastery of Killeany; the other, or western half, to such of his disciples as chose "to erect permanent religious houses on the island." This, however, seems to have been a later arrangement. At first it is said that he had 150 disciples under his own care, but when the establishment greatly increased in numbers, he divided the whole island into ten parts, each having its own religious house and its own superior, while he himself retained a general superintendence over them all. The existing remains prove conclusively that there must have been several distinct monasteries on the island, for we find separate groups of ruins at Killeany, at Kilronan, at Kilmurvey, and further west at the "Seven Churches." The islanders still retain many vivid and interesting traditions of the saints and their churches. Fortunately, too, we have in the surviving stones and inscriptions other aids to confirm these traditions, and identify the founders and patrons of the existing ruins. The life of Enda and his monks was very frugal and austere. The day was divided into fixed periods for prayer, labour, and sacred study. Each community had its own church and its village of stone cells, in which they slept either on the bare ground or on a bundle of straw covered with a rug, but always in the clothes worn by day. They assembled for their daily devotions in the church or oratory of the saint under whose immediate care they were placed; silently they took in a common refectory their frugal meals, which were cooked in a common kitchen, for they had no fires in their cloghauns or stone cells, however cold the weather or wild the seas. They invariably carried out the monastic rule of procuring their own food and clothing by the labours of their hands. Some fished around the islands; others cultivated patches of oats or barley in sheltered spots between the rocks. Others ground it or kneaded the meal into bread, and baked it for the use of the brethren. So, in like manner, they spun and wove their own garments from the undyed wool of their own sheep. They could grow no fruit in these storm-swept islands; they drank neither wine nor mead, and they had no flesh meat, except perhaps a little for the sick. Sometimes, on the high festivals, or when guests of distinction came on pilgrimage to the island, one of their tiny sheep was killed and the brethren were allowed to share — if they chose — in the good things provided for the visitors. Enda himself never tasted flesh meat, and we have reason to believe that many of the monks followed their abbot's example in this as in other respects. Aran was not a school of secular, but of sacred learning. The study of the Scriptures was the great business of its schools and scholars. They set small store indeed on points of minute criticism, their first object being to make themselves familiar with the language of the sacred volume, to meditate on its meaning, and apply it in the guidance of their daily lives.
COLGAN, Acta Sanctorum, Vita St. Endei; BEDE, Historia Eccles., III; HEALY, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars (2d ed.), 162; O'FLAHERTY, Iar Connaugt, 162; FOUR MASTERS, Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland; SKENE, Celtic Scotland, II.
Healy, John. "The Monastic School of Aran." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 21 Mar. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01677b.htm>.
Legend has him an Irishman noted for his military feats who was convinced by his sister St. Fanchea to renounce his warring activities and marry. When he found his fiancee dead, he decided to become a monk and went on pilgrimage to Rome, where he was ordained. He returned to Ireland, built churches at Drogheda, and then secured from his brother-in-law King Oengus of Munster the island of Aran, where he built the monastery of Killeaney, from which ten other foundations on the island developed. With St. Finnian of Clonard, Enda is considered the founder on monasticism in Ireland. His feast day is March 21.