SAINT ENDA - FATHER OF IRISH MONASTICISM
- SAINT ENDA - FATHER OF IRISH MONASTICISM
In the early 6th century, St. Enda arrived on the island of Aranmore off the west coast of Ireland and set about building a monastery that would herald a new era in Irish and, ultimately, European history. Continuing the work of St. Patrick, St. Enda helped establish Christianity in Ireland by laying the foundations for one of Europe's preeminent monastic systems.
With St. Patrick's arrival as a missionary in AD 432, pagan Ireland received its first contact with Christianity. St. Enda, a native of Ireland educated by British monks, was given the task of continuing St. Patrick's work by establishing a monastery in Ireland.
The island of Aranmore provided an ideal backdrop for St. Enda's monastery. Remote and uninhabited, it offered the necessary solitude for communion with God. Its desolate landscape helped the monks rid their minds of worldly comforts and concentrate on transcribing ancient Gospel texts, instructing young scholars, and crafting chalices and other ceremonial artifacts for the Liturgy.
With a small stone church at its center and several spartan dwellings for the monks on its periphery, the Aranmore settlement was the prototype for the monasteries that would follow. Under St. Enda's strict guidance, it soon became a vital center of religious study and art, attracting students from all over Ireland and the continent.
Many who studied under St. Enda, like St. Kieron and St. Brendan, left to establish monasteries of their own, and by the time of St. Enda's repose in about 560, Ireland was home to hundreds of monastic settlements. For the next 300 years, Irish monks and missionaries would take part in the Christianization of Europe, establishing monasteries, translating sacred texts, and converting pagans. Their missionary work, and its impact on Western culture and society, owes much to the work of St. Enda, the "father of Irish monasticism."