Archbishop of Armagh; b. Armagh, Ireland, c. 1094;d. Clairvaux, France, Nov. 2, 1148. Born Máel Máedoc Úa Morgair (Servant of St. M' Áedóc, descendant of Morgar), he had at least one brother, Gilla Críst, bishop of Clogher (d. 1138). His father appears to have been Mugrón, chief professor at Armagh, who died (1102) at the monastery of Mungret near Limerick. Malachy received his early education at an unnamed hamlet near Armagh, later studying in armagh, then ruled by the reforming Bp. (St.) Cellach Úa Sínaig. There, a formative influence on his spiritual life was an austere anchorite, probably one of the culdees, called Ímar Úa Áedacáin. Malachy was ordained in 1119.
Reform. When appointed vicar in Armagh during the absence of Cellach in 1120, Malachy began his career as a reformer. On Cellach's return (c. 1122), he retired to the monastery of lismore to learn the Benedictine way of life from Máel Ísu Úa Ainmire, formerly archbishop of Cashel. Shortly afterward Malachy was recalled to reinvigorate decayed monastic observance in bangor, County Down, and was appointed bishop of Down (probably in 1123) and of Connor (1124). But powerful opposition forced him to leave (c. 1127), and he became abbot of Iveragh, County Kerry. In 1132, Máel Ísu of Lismore and the papal legate Gilla Epscuip prevailed upon Malachy to return to Armagh as bishop. Once there Malachy came immediately into conflict with hereditary customs by which Muirchertach Úa Sínaig had already been installed as Comarba Pátric (lay abbot) in Armagh. Malachy succeeded in establishing himself there only in 1137, when he immediately resigned and returned to Down as bishop, living a monastic life at Bangor. He was regarded as the leading Irish ecclesiastical figure of his day and was responsible for introducing the Roman liturgy into Ireland. He went to Rome to request the pallium for Armagh and for Cashel from innocent ii. The pope refused to grant them until requested by a general council of Irish bishops, clergy, and nobles, but he appointed Malachy papal legate. Malachy returned to Ireland, where he called at clairvaux and Arrouaise in Flanders, leaving some of his monks in each place to learn the Cistercian and Arroasian rules, with a view to establishing these orders in Ireland. mellifont, the first Irish Cistercian abbey, was founded in 1142. In 1148 a synod was held at Inis Phátric (County Dublin) that again requested the pallia and appointed Malachy as its agent. Malachy departed for Rome but died on the way, surrounded by St. bernard and his monks. He was canonized by clement iii on July 6, 1199. Bernard vouched for his exalted sanctity, characterized by a love of poverty, which he called his spouse.
Prophecy of St. Malachy. A "prophecy" attributed to Malachy designates the 111 successors of Pope celestine ii (elected 1143) not by name but by short epithet. The prophecy first appeared in the Lignum vitae (ed. A. Wion, Venice 1595). For the period from 1143 to 1590, when gregory xiv was elected, the epithets were obviously derived from the popes' family or baptismal names, native places, or cardinalatial titles. After 1590 the epithets become very vague. The prophecy is a 16th-century forgery.
Feast: Nov. 3.
Bibliography: bernard of clairvaux, Vita Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 1878–90) 187:1073–1118; Eng. tr.. The Life and Death of Saint Malachy, the Irishman, tr. r. t. meyer (Kalamazoo, Mich. 1978). h. j. lawlor, ed. and tr., St. Bernard's … Life of St. Malachy … (New York 1920). j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland (New York 1929) 1:764–765, for Bernard's writings to and about Malachy. a. j. luddy, Life of St. Malachy (Dublin 1930, repr. Felinfach 1994). j. o'boyle, Life of St. Malachy (Belfast 1931); cf. Analecta Bollandiana 51 (1933) 179–180, 318–324. e. vacandard, "La prophetie de Malachie …," Revue apologetique 33 (1922) 657–671. p. j. dunning, "The Arroasian Order in Medieval Ireland," Irish Historical Studies 4 (1945) 297–315. a. gwynn, "St. Malachy of Armagh," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record 70 (1948) 961–978; 71 (1949) 134–148; "Armagh and Louth in the Twelfth Century," Seanchas Ardmhacha 1 (1954) 1–1l. j. leclercq, "Documents of the Cult of St. Malachy," ibid. 3 (1959) 318–332. g. murphy, "St. Malachy of Armagh," Month 18 (1957) 219–231. l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 v. (London-St. Louis 1938–61): v.1, 6th ed.; v.2, 7th ed.;v.3–6, 5th ed.; v.7–8, 11–12, 3d ed.; v.9–10, 4th ed.; v.13–40, from 1st German ed. Geschichte der Päpste seit dem Ausgang des Mittelalters, 16 v. in 21 (Freiburg 1885–1933; repr. 1955–) 22:349.