St. Kevin, Abbot of Glendalough Monastery, Wonderworder of Ireland, (+618)
(Reposed at the age of 120)
Commemorated June 3
St. Kevin was born of noble parents in the province of Leinster, Ireland. He may have been a descendant of the kings of Leinster. Tradition relates that when he was born, his mother felt no labour pains. He is the first person in history to be called Kevin, which means “He of Blessed Birth.” As a child, St. Kevin had a horrible temper and disliked people; however, he loved animals.
At age seven, St. Kevin’s parents sent him to the monastery run by St. Petroe in Cornwall. Tradition relates that while there, he was kneeling with his arms outstretched in prayer on the first day of Lent in a small hut in the wilderness when a blackbird landed on his palm and began to build a next. St. Kevin remained still so as not to disturb the bird, for the whole of Lent. The blackbird fed him with nuts and berries. At the end of Lent, the last of the blackbird hatchings had flown from the nest, which now was empty in his hand, and St. Kevin returned to the monastery for the Paschal celebration.
After being ordained to the priesthood, St. Kevin lived seven years as a hermit in the mountains surrounding Glendalough. He lived in a small, five by seven by three foot cave, known as St. Kevin’s Bed. When he visited a nearby lake in the winter, he would stand up to his neck in the ice cold water to pray.
St. Kevin returned to society when a pagan farmer stumbled upon his cave, and he taught the farmer and his family about Christ and the Gospel. Soon, his tutelage grew to dozens of families, and he began to attract followers. Seeing the need for a central place from which to teach, St. Kevin decided to establish a monastery at Glendalough. Other monks came to help teach everyone who would come to learn and more buildings were added. The monastery grew in fame and renown so much that it was considered equal to a pilgrimage to Rome for a penitent to travel seven times to Glendalough monastery.
It is said that St. Kevin was the fulfillment of the prophecy of St. Patrick that he (St. Kevin) was the one to come who would evangelize the region south of Dublin in Ireland.
St. Kevin knew where God’s will lay, and he continued to teach and advise all people who came to him until he reposed in June 618. The location of his gravesite is unknown, however, tradition relates that at dusk, when no one is around, blackbirds flock to an unmarked cross above a forgotten grave – the grave of a wild boy who held a blackbird’s next in his outstretched hand for forty days.
Alternate spellings: Kavin, Coemgen, Caoimhghin, Coemgenus