St Anthony of the Desert

Orthodox Christian Mission

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Fr Gabriel

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St Ita

For all the Saints: Ita of Killeedy

Ita is a saint of Ireland wh0 lived ca. 480-570.  She is remembered as an organizer and spiritual director.

Churches uphold saints as examples of faith, teachers of holiness, and ethical models.  You may find a soul mate who matches your personality.  Are you melancholy?  We can find a saint to show you that melancholy people can also become holy.

Two woman saints stand tall in Irish tradition: Brigid, known by many, and Ita, who should be.

Ita was born in County Waterford about 480 and named Deirdre at her baptism.  Ita, the name she later received, comes from Gaelic for thirst.  She got the name because of her thirst for God’s love.  Her father wanted her to marry, but she protested and eventually became a nun. In those days, a woman retained her independence and engaged in a career by monastic profession.  Women monastics like Ita were (and are) talented and innovative people, who exhibit both organizing skills and spiritual insight and wisdom.

As an organizer, Ita established a community of nuns in County Limerick in southwest Ireland called Killeedy, “the church of Ita.”  Monasteries were also centers of art and education, so Ita organized a boys’ school at Killeedy.

St Brendan the Navigator was one of her pupils as a boy.  He asked her what three things God loved most.  Ita said that we should seek faith with a pure heart, simplicity of life, and generosity out of love.  We should, furthermore, shun their opposites: hatred, resentment, and greed.

Many people came to Ita for her spiritual guidance and wise counsel.  She was a “soul friend” to many.  She was granted spiritual discernment into the hearts of her friends equal to her organizing skill.

Ita died around 570 at the age of ninety.  Alcuin (8th C.), who organized education for Charlemagne, called her “foster mother of all the saints of Ireland” in his poem about the Irish saints.

The ruins of her monastery remain, and her grave is often decorated with flowers to this day.  Her day in the Saints’ calendar is January 15.

PUBLISHED 01.01.05