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September 4

St Ultan of Ardbraccan - September 4

Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan

Bishop

(Unknown – Around 567 )

No Quotes Available

Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan

Saint’s Life Story

His Life 

Few details are known of Ultan’s exact birth date and his youth. Ultan was a disciple and kinsman of Saint Declan. He was of the race of Hua Conchovair and therefore likely an O’Connor. Ultan is said to have been related to St. Brigid on the mother’s side, however there are discrepancies on some of the dates to allow that to happen. 

Bishop of Ardbraccan

About the middle of the seventh century, Ultan was made Bishop of Ardbraccan by Saint Declan, who had charge of the diocese. Just at that time a terrible epidemic called the Buidhe Ghonaill (or Yellow Plague), broke out not alone in Ireland, but also in England, Scotland, and many European countries. Everywhere throughout the country, numbers of little children, whose mothers and fathers had  been carried off, were left helpess and starving.

Through Ultan’s kindness and charity, he brought all these children to the monastery. He fed and clothed 500 children orphaned by the plague. Ultan solved the problem of feeding his numerous helpless — and it must be admitted rather troublesome — little guests, by inventing a feeding bottle for their use. He bought a number of cows’ teats, which he filled with milk. Then, he put them into the babies’ mouths with his own hands. It was a quaint and primitive notion, but it served its purpose.  Ultan founded a school for the little poor, where he also educated these young students.

Legend

Once, while Saint Declan was himself in charge of Ardbraccan, a fleet of Gentiles appeared on the coast with the evident intention of plundering the monastery. The brethren ran to Saint Declan, who ordered his disciple Ultan to make the Sign of the Gross in the direction of the ships. This Ultan did with his left hand, his right being otherwise engaged at the moment.  It is said that immediately all the ships sank like lead into the sea. The sailors who attempted to swim ashore were turned into the rocks. Hence the old Irish saying, ” May Ultan’s left hand be against it,” and there is a belief that had he used his right hand no foreign fleet would have ever been able to land in Ireland.

Holy Well

An old authority credits him with being the founder of the See of Ardbraccan.  Ultan also went to the Aran Islands after a short stay in County Meath. His Holy Well was originally within the Celtic Monastery and bishop’s domain. St. Ultan’s well is 9 1/2 feet in diameter and stations were regularly held there till 1850. St. Ultan’s Well is now dry. 

Author and Wrote Hyms

Ultan is known for his work in collecting the writings of Saint Brigid, he wrote a hymn in her honor and compiled a record of her miracles.  He was also known for his beautiful hymns. His Latin hymn, beginning with “Christus dans insula nostra”, is incorporated into the books of Solesmes Chant. In the “Feilire” [Failera] written by Aengus, it is mentioned as:

“A great prince without sin, Thanks to which the little ones are booming. Children play a lot in the round around Ultan d’Ardbraccan”.

Founder of See of Ardbraccan

It is thought that Saint Ultan’s death was around 657 probably on September 4. He died mostly likely on one of the Aran Islands, where his tomb was discovered  His relics were plundered by the Danes in 784. No one knows what became of them.
In recent years,  a children’s hospital in Dublin was suitably named after Saint Ultan. 

Born:                  Unknown in Ireland

Died:                   Around 657 in Ireland

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          September 4

Patron Saint:     Children; Pediatricians; Sick Children

Source:

Reflection

Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan, you were faced with what looked like an insurmountable problem of how to fed hundreds of babies and little children that were orphans from the Yellow Plague. You brought all the children into the monastery and came up with the innovate cow’s teats to fed milk to these little children saving hundreds of lives.  The infants were know to be “playing around him”. 

What “mission impossible” disaster do you face in your live today? Remember, that like Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan, all things are possible when you pray and rely on God’s grace in your lives.

Prayers

St. Ultan of Ardbraccan, while mamy diseases like the Yellow Plague have been curred, there are many new ones like COVID that will always occur during our lifetime. May you intercede for us as we ask for God’s grace, wisdom and strength to take on what ever natural calamaties we encounter during our lifetimes. May we have the same gentle tenderness in serving others that you did in Ireland many centuries ago.

St Ultan of Ardbraccan, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Irish saint names for your baby boy

Bartleby.com – Rev. Alban Butler Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. September 4 St. Ultan, Bishop in Ireland

Catholic Ireland – Sep 6 – St Ultan of Ardbraccan (d. 657) Abbot-Bishop carer of sick infants

Catholic Online – St. Ultan of Ardbraccan

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan

Celtic and Old English Saints – St. Ultan of Ardbraccan, Bishop 4 September

LibraryIreland – Bishop Ultan and the Orphans

Navan History –  Ardbraccan

New Advent – Grattan-Flood, W. (1912). St. Ultan of Ardbraccan. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

RC Spirituality – St. Ultan

The Book of Saint Ultan by Kathleen MacCormack 

Wikipedia – Ultan of Ardbraccan

Video Link