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December 18

St Samthann - December 18

Saint Samthann (Samthann of Clonbroney)


(Around 7th Century – 739)

“God is near to all who call on Him, and the Kingdom of Heaven can be reached from every land.”

Saint Samthann’s response to someone who spoke of a pilgrimage, but who really only wanted to travel

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Samthann, also known as Samthann of Clonbroney, was born in the second half of the seventh century in the present-day province of Ulster in Ireland. According to some sources, her father was named Dyamranus, her mother, Columba. As a child she was given to the Irish king, Cridan, to be brought up. When Samthann grew up, Cridan found her a suitable, rich candidate as a husband. 

Arranged Marriage Foiled by Prayer

Samthann did not wish to marry, but rather to live in chastity, prayer and service to God. However, Cridan did not take her refusal seriously and began to prepare for her marriage. The night before the wedding, Samthann’s bridegroom woke up because of a supernatural light that had broken through the roof of the fortress. He got up and decided to look at this mysterious glow. The bridegroom came to the young girl’s bedroom and saw how a beam of light touched her and lit up her face with an unearthly radiance. Having understood this vision as the will of God, both the bridegroom and the king decided to allow Samthann to devote her life to service to the true Bridegroom, Christ.

Became a Nun

Samthann entered the convent, with Saint Cognat serving as her spiritual director.  For some time, she stayed at a convent in Tyrone or Donegal. Later, Samthann moved to the convent of Clonbroney to the south of the present-day town of Longford.  

Abbess of Clonbroney

Tradition says that the previous Abbess of Clonbroney,Fuinnech, had a vision just before Samthann came. In this vision, she was told that a future great and holy abbess was arriving. Thus, Samthann was already expected by the abbess when she came. Soon, Samthann did indeed become Abbess of Clonbroney. According to another version, Samthann was not only abbess, but also foundress of the convent. It is also possible that the convent had existed as early as the age of Saint Patrick and Samthann only restored it.

Her Holy Reputation 

As Samthann’s reputation for holiness and virtue grew, people from all around sought her counsel and guidance. She had a special gift for healing the sick and performing miracles, which further solidified her status as a holy woman. It is said that she had the ability to cure diseases and bring about miraculous recoveries through her intercessory prayers. 

When a monk asked her what position prayer should be made in – lying down, sitting or standing – she replied, “In every position, a person should pray!” To someone who spoke of pilgrimage, but was really only anxious to travel and was dressing this with excuses, she said, “God is near to all who call on Him, and the Kingdom of Heaven can be reached from every land and He is always particularly with those who call on His name with sincere faith.”

One teacher was going to give up spiritual reading and devote most of his time to quiet prayer. But Samthann warned him that if he neglected spiritual reading, he would never learn the prayer of the heart, because he would not know how to keep his mind attentive and prevent his thoughts from wandering. 

Simple Life Accepting No Gifts

Abbess Samthann accepted no gifts.  She took neither lands nor estates, preferring to live in poverty and simplicity and taught her nuns to live the same life. Thus, a herd of only six cows gave milk to the whole community. 

Samthann was also known for her humility and austerity. She embraced a simple and ascetic lifestyle, dedicating herself to acts of charity and self-denial. She was deeply committed to helping the poor and marginalized, sharing whatever resources she had with those in need.


Once brethren of the Scottish Monastery of Iona sent several monks with goods on a boat to Samthann. In the middle of their journey, the sea suddenly became turbulent with the waves getting higher and the wind stronger. The storm menaced them with death. But, the companions relying on God and the protection of Samthann did not panic—the sea soon calmed down completely and they reached the convent safely.

According to one tradition, Samthann corresponded with the young Saint Maelruain, the future founder and Abbot of the famous Monastery of Tallacht, inspirer of the ascetic movement of the Culdees. Samthann predicted that this youth would become a great man.

One day, workers laboring in the convent, were tired and very hungry. As soon as they began thinking about eating, 40 loaves with butter, cheese and milk suddenly and miraculously appeared before them. Samthann asked them at their next meeting: “Is it true that the Lord has fulfilled the desire of your hearts?” As is the case with many other Irish female saints, Samthann was noted for multiplying food for those who needed it.

The Giant Eel

According to Charles Plummer in his book, “Vita Sancte Samthannae Virginis, on one occasion a lascivious monk visited the saint’s monastery and attempted to seduce one of the virgins living there. When he left the monastery and crossed the river to meet the girl, a giant eel rose out of the water, bit him on the genitals and wrapped itself around his waist. The eel remained in this position until the monk returned to the monastery and begged for and received forgiveness from  Samthann.

Her Death

Samthann died in an unknown location in Ireland on 739, leaving behind a legacy of faith, compassion, and miracles. Her feast day is celebrated on December 18th. 

The convent of Saint Samthann in Clonbroney flourished until the 12th century and was among the three the most famous monastic centres in the whole of Ireland. Now, only its ruins survive and a village called Ballinalee (its name means “the mouth of the calves’ ford”) exists on its site.

Saint Samthann stands as a symbol of Christian faith and a beacon of hope for those in need.

Born :                   Second half of 7th Century at  the province of Ulster in Ireland

Died:                    739 in an unknown location in Ireland

Beatified:            Pre-Congregation

Canonized:         Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          December 18

Patron Saint:     Healing; Protection against Disease; Spiritualness



Saint Samthann was known for her humility and austerity. She embraced a simple and ascetic lifestyle, dedicating herself to acts of charity and self-denial. She was deeply committed to helping the poor and marginalized, sharing whatever resources she had with those in need. Throughout her life, Samthann remained steadfast in her faith and unwavering in her devotion to God. Her reputation as a holy woman continued to spread, and she became a revered figure in the local community.

What do you want to be known for? What is your reputation? Pray to God that you may be steadfast in your faith and unwavering in your devotion to God by sharing what resources you have with those in need in your community. 


Saint Samthann, compassionate and humble servant of God, please present my petitions to the Heavenly Father, and beseech His mercy and grace upon my life.

Guide me in the path of righteousness. Inspire me to live a life of faith and holiness. And grant me the strength to overcome challenges.

May your example of selflessness and love serve as a reminder of the boundless power of God’s grace. May your intercession bring forth healing and blessings. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Saint Samthann, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links – Saint Samantha (Patron of Spiritualness)

Caring Catholic Convert – Saint Samantha

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Samthann of Clonbroney

Northumbria Community – Samthann (?-739) December 18th

Orange County Catholic – Saint Profile: Samathan

Orthodox Christianity – Venerable Samthann, Abbess of Clonbroney in Ireland Commemorated December 18

Wikipedia – Samthann

Video Link

Part 8-The Celtic Soul St. Samthann of Clonbroney –  YouTube (Brother Sean Bradley)