The patron saint of the diocese of Ferns is St Aidan. He was born at a place now called Port Island, in Templeport in Co. Cavan. The exact date of his birth is unknown but it was probably before the middle of the sixth century. He studied for the priesthood at St David’s foundation at Menevia in southern Wales before arriving back in Ireland at Ardamine in North Co. Wexford where he founded a number of local Churches. It was at Ferns in Co. Wexford that he established his most important monastic foundation.
Though patron saint of our diocese, Aidan was certainly not the first Christian missionary in the area. St Ibar is believed to have preceded the arrival of St Patrick and was active in the Wexford area as a Christian missionary in the second half of the fifth century. St Aidan has been revered in Ferns since his death in 624.
The legend of St Aidan recalls a story of the time he was building his monastery at Ferns. At one point a tree had to be cut down and when it was, a spring of water flowed which was named after him.
This spring of water symbolises the ‘living water’ (John 4:10) of Christian faith that came to our diocese with Aidan and other early saints. This is the living water of the Spirit, the Word and the sacraments that have slacked the thirst of the people of this diocese for over 1400 years.
As patron saint of our diocese, we invoke the prayers of St Aidan for the success of ‘the Hook of Faith’. Through the digital media , may the living water of the Gospel that continues to flow, reach many people in the diocese and beyond so that it becomes ‘a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life’ (John 4:14).
ST AIDAN, PRAY FOR US
Details of the Life of St Aidan are taken from Edward Culleton, Celtic and Early Christian Wexford, Four Courts Press, Dublin 1999, 102-107.