Ita of Ireland (d. 570)

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Ita of Ireland (d. 570)

Irish princess and saint. Name variations: Saint Ida of Ireland; Ite; Mida; Mary of Munster. Born near Drum, County Waterford, birth date unknown; baptized Dorothy or Deirdre; died at Killeedy around 569 or 570 in Limerick, Ireland; said to have been of royal descent; never married; no children.

Next to Saint Bridget (c. 453–c. 524), Saint Ita was the most revered Irish holy woman. She was baptized Dorothy or Deirdre, but gained the name Ita much later, a name which means thirst in Gaelic, from her thirst for divine love. She was descended from the royal house of Ireland, and raised by parents who had accepted Christianity. Encouraged by her parents to pursue a religious life, she took the veil as a girl and eventually founded a community of women at Killeedy (Cill Íde) near Newcastle West, County Limerick. Soon the community was officially established as an abbey, and Ita became its leader; legend has it that St. Brendan attended her school. Ita was highly regarded as an intelligent, learned, and wise woman, and was often consulted by peasants and nobles alike on personal matters. The holy woman was credited with several miracles and with the ability to see the future. Ita corresponded with many of the leaders of the early Christian church and was greatly mourned at her death. She was soon canonized. Her Feast Day is January 15.


Dunbar, Agnes . Dictionary of Saintly Women, vol. I. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1904.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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