Thursday, September 19, 2013


Mel (Melchno) of Ardagh and Melchu
Feast Day: February 6

 Died . 488-490. According to untrustworthy legend, Mel and his brother Melchu (plus Munis and Rioch) were sons among the 17 sons and two daughters of Saint Patrick's sister, Darerca and her husband Conis. While all of the children are reputed to have entered religious life, Mel and Melchu, together with their brothers Muinis and Rioch, accompanied Patrick to Ireland and joined him in his missionary work.

 Patrick ordained Mel and Melchu bishops. Patrick is reputed to have appointed Mel bishop of Ardagh, and Melchu to the see of Armagh (or vice versa). There is some evidence that Melchu may have been a bishop with no fixed see, who may hae succeeded his brother. Some scandal was circulated about Mel, who lived with his Aunt Lipait but both cleared themselves by miraculous means to Patrick, who ordered them to live apart.

 According to an ancient tradition, Mel professed Saint Brigid as a nun. During the rite, he inadvertently read over her the episcopal consecration, and that Saint Macaille protested. The ever serene Mel, however, was convinced that it happened according to the will of God and insisted that the consecration should stand.

 Nothing is definitely known about these saints; however, Mel has a strong cultus at Longford, where he was the first abbot-bishop of a richly endowed monastery that flourished for centuries. The cathedral of Longford is dedicated to Mel, as is a college. The crozier believed to have belonged to Saint Mel is now kept at Saint Mel's College in a darkened bronze reliquary that was once decorated with gilt and colored stones. It was found in the 19th century at Ardagh near the old cathedral of Saint Mel.  The various sources are rather confusing. It is possible that Mel was bishop of Armagh and/or that Melchu and Mel are the same person

St. Mel

He is said to have been the son of Conis and Darerca, the sister of St. Patrick, whom he accompanied to Ireland and helped to evangelize in that country. According to the Life of St. Brigid, he is said to have had no fixed See, which might fit in his being a missionary. St. Patrick himself built the church at Ardagh and to this he appointed his nephew, Mel. Acting upon the apostolic precept, he supported himself by working with his hands, and what he gained beyond bare necessities, he gave to the poor. For sometime, he lived with his aunt Lupait, but slanderous tongues spread serious accusations against them, and St. Patrick himself came to investigate their conduct. Mel was plowing when he arrived, but he cleared himself of the charge by miraculously picking up a live fish from the ground as if from a net. Lupait established her innocence by carrying glowing coals without burning herself or her clothing. St. Patrick was satisfied, but he told his nephew in future, to do his fishing in the water and his plowing on the land, and he moreover, enjoined them to avoid scandal by separating, living and praying far apart. St. Mel's feast day is February 6.

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