Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Albeus, Bishop and Confessor in Ireland

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This saint, who is honoured as chief patron of Munster, one of the four provinces of Ireland, was converted by certain Britons, and had travelled to Rome before the arrival of Saint Patrick among the Irish. After his return home, he became the disciple and fellow-labourer of that great apostle of his country, and being ordained by him first archbishop of Munster, fixed his see at Emly, 1 which has been long since removed to Cashel. With such a commanding authority did this apostolic man deliver the dictates of eternal wisdom to a rude and barbarous people, such was the force with which, both by words and example, he set forth the sanctity of the divine law, and so evident were the miracles with which he confirmed the heavenly truths which he preached, that the sacred doctrine easily made its way to the hearts of his hearers; and he not only brought over an incredible multitude to the faith of Christ, but infused into many the perfect spirit of the gospel, possessing a wonderful art of making men not only Christians but saints. King Engus having bestowed on him the isle of Arran, he founded in it a great monastery, which was so famous for the sanctity of its inhabitants, that from them the island was long called Arran of Saints. The rule which Saint Albeus drew up for them is still extant in old Irish, as Bishop Usher testifies. Though zeal for the divine honour and charity for the souls of others fixed him in the world, he was always careful, by habitual recollection and frequent retreats, to nourish in his own soul the pure love of heavenly things, and to live always in a very familiar and intimate acquaintance with himself, and in the daily habitual practice of the most interior perfect virtues. In his old age it was his earnest desire to commit to others the care of his dear flock, that he might be allowed to prepare himself in the exercises of holy solitude for his great change. For this purpose he begged that he might be suffered to retire to Thule, the remotest country towards the northern pole that was known to the ancients, which seems to have been Shetland, or, according to some, Iceland, or some part of Greenland; but the king guarded the ports to prevent his flight, and the saint died amidst the labours of his charge in 525, as the Ulster and Inisfallen Annals testify.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Albeus, Bishop and Confessor in Ireland”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 11 September 2013. Web. 20 September 2014. <>