Tuesday 10 January 2023

Saint Tuilelaith of Kildare

On January 10 Canon O'Hanlon brings us an an account of a ninth-century abbess of Kildare. The name of Saint Tuillelaith is recorded in the Irish annals rather than in the calendars.  Her memory was preserved in the works of  the seventeenth-century Franciscan hagiologists, Fathers John Colgan and Michael O'Clery.  The latter, in association with a team of other Donegal Franciscans, produced The Annals of the Four Masters, recording the history of Ireland from earliest times up to their own day. It simply records: 

The Age of Christ, 882 

...Tuilelaith,  daughter  of  Uarghalach, Abbess  of  Cill-dara,  died on the 10th of  January... 
Father Colgan undertook the mammoth task of researching and writing the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae, but sadly only lived to produce the volumes for the first three months of the year.

 As the name of this successor to Saint Brigid is the only information we have about her, Canon O'Hanlon piously muses on the vocation of Abbess Tuilelaith in Article IV for this day in Volume I of his Lives of the Irish Saints:

Article IV. St. Tulelacia, or Tuillelaith, Abbess of Kildare. 
 [Ninth Century]
This holy superioress is called the daughter of Huargalach. Her tender soul eagerly imbibed heavenly doctrine, and was wonderfully affected with the things of God. After a time, when she had grown up, she dedicated herself to Him, and took delight in nothing else but in thinking, speaking, or hearing of her Heavenly Spouse, and entertaining herself with His Divine love. She was Abbess of Kildare; and, according to Colgan, she died on the 10th of January, A.D. 882. This date also agrees with one in the Annals of the Four Masters, where she is called Tuilelaith, daughter of Uarghalach. True virtue breathed around her an atmosphere of holiness which all her subjects felt. It seemed something marvellous to meet with one so pure-minded, and so unsuspecting of evil in a world of corruption.

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