Sunday, November 09, 2008

November 9: St. Benignus of Armagh

Today (in addition to being the feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran -- about which see here) is the memorial of St. Benignus of Armagh (?-c. A.D. 467). He was the son of a pagan Irish chieftain, and was converted and baptized by none other than St. Patrick himself. He was St. Patrick's favorite disciple and his right-hand man, becoming his coadjutor in the See of Armagh in 450. In 458, Benignus succeeded Patrick as the Bishop of Armagh.

It is said that in 433, when St. Patrick was embroiled in a religious dispute with King Laoghaire of Tara, St. Benignus put his life on the line for the faith in a trial by fire. Pursuant to an agreement between Patrick and the king, Benignus and a druid magician were bound hand and foot and placed in a wooden building, which was then set on fire, to see whose faith would prevail. The magician was reduced to ashes, and Benignus emerged unscathed. Unfortunately, however, King Laoghaire hardened his heart against this miracle and against St. Patrick's exhortations and instructions, refusing to the end to accept Baptism.

St. Benignus is known as "St. Patrick's Psalm Singer," as he had not only a great talent for arranging choral services but also a beautiful voice, with which he touched and converted thousands of hearts. He was also known for his sweet and gentle nature, which earned him the name "Benignus."


  1. For Today, I've Written a Piece on An Ordination In Rome:

    There was also a little bit of Masonic Intrigue.