St. Gildas the Wise
The saint of the day for January 29 is Saint Gildas the Wise, a sixth century British monk.
Gildas, surnamed “the Wise,” was born in Scotland around the year 516 to a noble family. He was educated under St. Iltus in Wales and was a companion of St. Samson and St. Peter of Leon. He was drawn to the monastic life and moved to Ireland to pursue such a life.
While in Ireland he was ordained to the priesthood. He apparently spent some time in Armagh and north Britain. King Ainmire invited him to return to Ireland where he built monasteries and churches and greatly inspired others by his teaching. He is compared to David and Cadoc by the Irish annalists in his giving a special Mass to the second order of Irish saints.
There are recordings of a pilgrimage he made to Rome. On his return, he decided to spend time alone and retired to the Isle of Houat, off Brittany, where he lived in solitude praying and studying. When it was discovered that he was there, he was asked to establish a monastery at Rhuys on the mainland. It was at this monastery that Gildas wrote his famous epistle to the British kings. He died at Houat, Brittany, in 570.
Gildas is the patron of churches and monasteries in Brittany and other locations. He is regarded as the earliest British historian. Copies of his writings are preserved in the Cambridge University Library.
Saint Gildas, we thank you for your wisdom and the legacy you left for your countrymen and brethren in the faith. We pray for your intercession to help us live saintly lives so that when our days are done here we may join you and our Lord for eternity. Amen.