St. Ailbhe


Feastday: September 12
Patron: of wolves
Death: 528
Bishop and preacher, one of the saints whose life has been woven into the myths and legends of Ireland. He was a known disciple of St. Patrick, and is called Albeus in some records. What is known about Ailbhe is that he was a missionary in Ireland, perhaps sponsored by King Aengus of Munster.
He was also the first bishop of Emily in Munster, Ireland. Legends and traditions abound about his life. One claims that he was left in the woods as an infant and suckled by a wolf. This legend is prompted in part by Ailbhe’s later life.
An old she-wolf came to Ailbhe for protection from a hunting party, resting her head upon his breast. He is supposed to have been baptized by a priest in northern Ireland, possibly in a British settlement.
The so called Acts of Ailbhe are filled with traditions that are not reliable. Ailbhe was noted for his charity and kindness, as well as his eloquent sermons. He is beloved in Ireland.
Life History Of Saint Ailbe
Little that can be regarded as reliable is known about Ailbe: in Irish sources from the 8th century he is regarded as the first bishop, and later patron saint of Emly in Munster. Later Welsh sources (from the 11th c.) associate him with Saint David whom he was credited with baptizing and very late sources (16th c.) even give him a local Welsh genealogy making him an Ancient Briton.

Connections with Wales

The Life of Saint David, written by Rhigyfarch in the late 11th century states that Ailbe baptized Saint David,[24][25] the patron saint of Wales. In Welsh traditions, he then fostered the boy[1] while serving as bishop of Menevia (present-day St David’s) before leaving to missionize southern Ireland.. He was also regarded as the founder of Llanailfyw or St Elvis in Pembrokeshire,

Late Welsh sources give him a British ancestry.


St Ailbe’s Cross in Emly.

In Emly, there is a Catholic church dedicated to St Ailbe which dates to the late nineteenth century. An ancient and weathered Celtic cross in its churchyard is known as “St Ailbe’s Cross“. The early nineteenth-century church of St Ailbe is now used as the village hall. A ninth-century monastic rule, written in Old Irish, bears his name