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Saint Íte of Killeedy

Saint Íte(also known as Ida, Ides and Íte) was born around 480 AD in County Waterford, Ireland and was the daughter of Cennfoelad (Cennfoelad was a descendant of Felim the lawgiver, King of Tara). She grew up with a very devout Christian family, being baptized as Dierdre and embodying the six virtues of Irish womanhood - wisdom, purity, beauty, musical talent, kind speech and needleworking skills. When her father arraigned a marriage to a local chieftain, she refused, telling her father that she was set to spend her life religiously. Legends hold that an angel appeared to her father, telling him he must let her pursue her own life. At the age of only 16, Saint Íte moved to Cluain Chreadhail (the name became Killeedy, Cill Íde) where she started a community of nuns. One legend holds that the location was chosen when she was led to the site by three heavenly lights - the first at the top of the Galtee mountains, the second at the top of the Mullaghareirk Mountains, and finally the third at Cluain Chreadhail.

Once she had located the site to build her community on, a local chieftain offered her a large grant of land for the community but Saint Íte refused, instead accepting only four acres that were extensively cultivated. Children from all across Ireland were sent to her for fostering and the community taught them "Faith in God with purity of heart, simplicity of life with religion, generosity with love". She famously fostered and taught Saint Mochoemoc, who she loved to call Pulcherius because of his beauty. Another one of her most famous pupils was Saint Brendan, the "Great Navigator". Legend holds that he came to her one day, asking what three things God loves the most. Her answer was:

"True faith in God and a pure heart, a simple life with a religious spirit, and open-handedness inspired by charity".

Again he prompted her, saying "What three things does God detest the most?"

"A face that hates mankind, a will that clings to the love of evil, and placing one's trust in riches"

Saint Cuimin of County Down recorded many stories of her life, including her austerity, numerous miracles that happened with her and around her, and her gift of prophecy. In modern times, the American composer Samuel Barber put to voice and piano of an Irish lullaby for the Infant Jesus that Saint Íte wrote. Saint Íte died on January 15th, 570. Officially, her records write that she was consumed by a beetle on her side that grew to the size of an animal - with careful inspection this was most likely cancer.

Her grave lays in the ruins of Cill Ide, a church where her monastery first stood. The original church was destroyed by Viking invasions and the rebuilt church slowly fell into disrepair. Nearby the church is a holy well, famous for it's miraculous cures. On maps the name is Saint Bernard's Well, but locals have always referred to the well as My Little Íte's Well (Tobar Bhaile Ui MhÈidÌn ).

Tobar Bhaile Ui MhÈidÌn

Her feast is set for January 15th as an optional memorial in Ireland.

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