Malachy, Saint

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Malachy, Saint

Saint Malachy (măl´əkē), 1095–1148, Irish churchman, reformer of the church in Ireland. His Irish name was Máel Máedoc ua Morgair. He was assistant to Cellach (Celsus), bishop of Armagh, who was attempting to reduce the disorderly ecclesiastical system to a state of discipline. Malachy was ordained, studied at Lismore, and became abbot of Bangor (1123?), bishop of Connor (1124), and archbishop of Armagh (1134–37). He resigned to be bishop of Down in 1137. Paganism was rife in Ireland following the invasions of the Danes. To deal with the problem, St. Malachy reorganized the Irish church into a territorial hierarchy, following the example of the church in England and on the Continent. He disciplined the clergy and generally ushered in a religious revival. He went to Rome to seek confirmation of his deeds and to request the pallium for newly created Irish archbishops. On the way he visited Clairvaux (1140), where he became the friend of St. Bernard. They planned a Cistercian house for Ireland; this resulted (1142) in the abbey of Mellifont (near Brobheda). On a later trip to the Continent, he died at Clairvaux, where he was buried. Feast: Nov. 3. The primary source is the biography by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Eng. tr. by H. J. Lawlor, 1920).

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