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St. Ultan of Ardbraccan



Ultan of Ardbraccan, Saint, Ireland, was the maternal uncle of St. Brigid, and collected a life of that great Irish saint for his pupil, St. Brogan Cloen of Rostuirc, in Ossory. There seems to be some difficulty in his chronology inasmuch as the assumption of his relation to St. Brigid must involve an extraordinary longevity, namely 180 years, because his death is not chronicled till 657. Windisch, however, explains away the seeming inconsistency. The Irish Annals describe St. Ultan as of the royal race of O'Connor, and he succeeded St. Breccan as Abbot-Bishop of Ardbraccan about the year 570. From O'Clery's "Irish Calendar" we learn that he educated and fed thousands of poor students from all parts of Ireland. Of his literary powers there are several specimens, among others, lives of St. Patrick and St. Brigid. His exquisite Latin hymn of the latter saint, commencing "Christus in nostra insula", is incorporated in the Solesmes Chant books. He was also an accomplished illuminator of books. The exact year of his death is uncertain, the various annalists giving 653, 656, 657, and 662, but probably we are safe in following the "Annals of Ulster", wherein his obit is recorded under the year 657. He died on September 4, on which day his feast has always been celebrated. St. Ultan's Well is still at Ardbraccan.

COLGAN, Acta Sanct. Hib. (Louvain, 1645); Cogan, Diocese of Mealh (Dublin. 1862); Healy, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars (4th ed., Dublin, 1902); Hyde, Lit. Hist, of Ireland (new ed., London. 1901).

W. H. Grattan-Flood








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