How St. Patrick’s nephew became a saint


St. Mel of Ardagh came to Ireland with his uncle and helped establish Christianity on the island.

When St. Patrick returned to Ireland after being ordained a bishop, he didn’t arrive alone. In fact, St. Patrick embarked on his missionary journey with several of his nephews who were raised by his saintly sister, Darerca.

One of his nephews was named Mel (Mael) and he traveled with Patrick throughout the Irish countryside, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who would listen. When Patrick established a church at Ardagh, he ordained Mel as the local bishop.

It is said that Mel was a generous bishop, performing manual labor to support his ministry and giving all that he had to the poor of the community.

In addition to being the local bishop, Mel was also the abbot of an adjoining monastery at Ardagh. It is there that Mel received St. Brigid of Kildare, who made her religious profession before him. Mel also conferred on Brigid abbatial powers, making her an abbess, but also giving her ecclesiastical authority on par with the local bishops.

Mel died in 488, leaving a flourishing monastery and diocese that would become one of the most influential locations in Ireland. Shortly after his death, Mel was regarded as a saint by the local people because of his authentic witness of the Christian faith. His evangelical ministry was essential to the establishment of Christianity in Ireland, learning from his uncle how to lead the people to Jesus Christ.