Moving on with the biographies linked to this nineteenth-century chronological list of Irish saints by looking at those saints whose names begin with the letters D and E. We begin with Saint Declan and end with Saint Enda but will also meet two women saints, Dymphna and Eithne, mother of Saint Colum Cille, plus two saints who flourished in Europe, Desibod and Eliph:
DECLAN, SAINT, a contemporary of St. Patrick, and Bishop of Ardmore. He was a son of Erc, a chief of Waterford. It is said that his future holiness was predicted by Coleman, a holy missionary, who happened to be preaching in the neighborhood at the time of his birth, and who had converted his parents, and also baptized the child. His education was committed to the care of a Christian priest called Deinma, under whom he made great progress in sanctity and learning. It is said by Usher that he went to Rome and was ordained there. On his return he converted his house and place into a church and school. He met St. Patrick at the Synod, or meeting in Cashel, and was recognized by him as the chief bishop of the Disies. He was greatly attached to Saints Ibar and Ailbe, two of the early missionaries. His school became celebrated and attracted students, not only from all parts of Ireland, but also from the continent. Like all his saintly contemporaries he was remarkable for his piety and zeal. The ruins of those monuments of zeal and learning are still visible, and near by one of those celebrated round towers, which are supposed to have been belfries to cathedral churches. It was surmounted by a cross, which was shot away by the Cromwellian pagans. In the churches are carvings in bass-reliefs of scriptural subjects. St. Declan died about 525.
DESIBOD, ST., was born in Ireland, of noble parents, about A.D., 620. He was educated under the most famous masters, and soon became celebrated for his great talents and profound learning. He became a priest, and shortly after was made bishop of Dublin. After governing this church for ten years, he resigned, and with several holy companions, he went to the continent, and preached the gospel in different parts of Germany. He at length settled on a lofty mountain for retirement and prayer, which was called after him Mont. Desibod, now Disingberg; and was joined by several monks and a monastery was founded. Here he lived a mortified life for thirty-seven years, dying at an advanced age, on the 8th of July, on which day his feast is kept. His life was written by Hildigardis, a nun of Disinberg, and published by Surius.
DYMPHNA, SAINT, a holy virgin and martyr, was a daughter of Oriel, pagan king of an extensive territory, comprising Louth and Monaghan, and was a maiden of wondrous beauty. Her father was an obstinate pagan, but the daughter and mother embraced Christianity. The mother dying, and the father conceiving an unnatural passion for his daughter, desired to make her his wife, there being nothing in the Druidical religion opposed to it as instanced, also in Persia in its proudest days. The Christian maiden was horrified at the proposal and informed her spiritual director of her danger. He told her to explain to her father that it was contrary to the Christian religion, and besides was wicked and unnatural, but her trouble was vain. He appointed the days for the ceremonies. Her director, a venerable and holy priest, knew that her only safety was in flight, and made arrangements for conveying her and some of her intimate companions over to the continent. The old priest accompanied them, and they settled near a small town called Gheel, now Brabant. She and her companions led holy and religious lives, and converted by their good works and example, many from paganism. The old king at length found their retreat. Her faithful old protector, although in feeble health and worn out with labor, denounced the infamy of his intentions, and was slain by the enraged pagan, who looked upon him as the cause of his daughters disobedience. The young girl was horrified at the savage butchery and denounced the wickedness of her father with an heroic courage, and told him that she detested his gods and their vile works, and would never return with him. In his blind fury he ordered her beheaded, but none of his soldiers would execute the order, and in his fury he did it himself. The bodies of the two martyrs were piously preserved. Dymphna's in a collegiate church called in honor of her at Gheel, and her festival is kept on the 15th of May. Her death occurred about the year 500.
EITHNE, Mother of St. Columba or Columbkill. She was the aunt of St. Conan and sister of St. Feargue or Virgnous. It is said that before the birth of her saintly son, she made him the subject of constant prayer, and that one night she had a dream or vision of an angel coming to her, and bringing a most beautiful garment of varied hue. This the angel afterwards took away, and as he sped through the air the garment kept unfolding and extending over mountain and plain until it was lost to sight in the distance. She thought that she grieved at the loss when the angel returned and comforted her with the assurance that the garment was a symbol of the influence her child would exercise over Ireland and Albania, (Scotland), bringing multitudes of souls into the fold of Christ.
ELIPH, ST., an Irish missionary and martyr, was, according to his acts written by Rupert Abbot of Duitz, near Cologne, the son of the King of Scotia (Ireland), and having resigned all his possessions and ambitions to serve God, he came to Toul with a number of disciples, when they were cast into prison as spies, but were delivered in a miraculous manner, when our saint preached with great zeal and fruit everywhere the word of God. In a short time he baptized over 400 persons, which coming to the knowledge of Julian the apostate he ordered him beheaded, which happened on the 6th of October on the banks of the river Vere, near Toul, toward the end of the 4th century. He was buried on a mountain called after him, Mount St. Elph, and was afterwards transferred by Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne and deposited in the church of St. Martin Major, which formerly belonged to the nation of the Scots. Rupert also mentions as a brother Euchar who was a bishop, and was also martyred with their sisters, Meuna, Libaria and Susana.
ENDA, SAINT, of Arran, was descended of the princely house of Orgiel, and was brother-in-law to King Aengus. He was in his youth a disciple of St. Patrick and also received instructions from St. Ailbe of Emly. He also traveled to Rome and is said to have been ordained there. King Aengus at the request of St. Ailbe, gave him the Isle of Arran on which to found a religious house, sometime after his return in 480, and he immediately set to work with other pious associates and established a monastery and school which even in his life time became a celebrated seat of learning. The Isle became dotted with retreats of piety and learning, and students came from all parts of Ireland, Britain and the continent to drink at its pure founts. This saint was held in high esteem and was eminent for learning as well as virtue. The great St. Brendan of Clonfert visited him before starting on his voyage to the Northern Islands and New World, a little after which time our saint died about 540.
James O'Brien, Irish Celts: a cyclopedia of race history, containing biographical sketches of more than fifteen hundred distinguished Irish Celts, with a chronological index, (Detroit, 1884).
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