Saint Ailbe
1994 Acrylic on Canvas 30" X 40"

SAINT AILBE (Ailbhe) - C.526

Although few reliable facts are known about this sixth century saint, he is reported to have been a traveling evangelist who preached in Ireland before Saint Patrick and to have been the first bishop of Emly.

According to legend, Ailbeís natural mother was a serving girl and his father an Irish chieftain who was so disgusted by the childís birth that he threw the infant to the wolves. The young Ailbe was not only unharmed by the wolves but consequently suckled by a she-wolf until a hunter discovered him in the wolves den and adopted him. Many years later, after becoming a bishop, Ailbe and the aged wolf who cared for him were reunited. Promising "I will protect thee, Old Mother," Ailbe had the wolf spend her last remaining years in his hall.

Further accounts of his life credit Saint Ailbe to have prayed for 100 horses as a gift for King Angus of Munster. Ailbeís prayers were answered in the form of a large cloud from which one hundred galloping steeds burst forth. After receiving the saintís gift, Ailbe additionally persuaded the king to give the Aran Islands as a gift to Saint Edna, which interestingly enough the monarch did not even know he possessed until he saw them in a dream.

The legend of Saint Ailbe closes with him retiring, late in life, to the mythical Land of Promise, a blend of the Christian Paradise and the Celtic happy other-world. Accordingly, Ailbe is the patron saint of wolves.

Feast day - September 12