Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

July 6
  July 7

Saint Palladius

First Bishop and Apostle of the Scots
(† 450)

Saint Palladius
Saint Palladius

The name Palladius marks Saint Palladius as a Roman; and a seventh century Irish biography of Saint Patrick identifies him as Archdeacon of the Roman Church under Pope Celestine. Saint Prosper of Aquitaine, his contemporary, informs us in his historical chronicle that when Agricola, a noted Pelagian, had corrupted the churches of Britain by introducing that pestilential heresy, Pope Celestine, at the instance of Palladius the deacon, in 429 sent there Saint Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, as his legate. He, after having ejected the heretics, brought back the Britons to the Catholic faith.

The same Pope sent Palladius to the Celts. The Irish writer of the life of Saint Patrick says that Palladius preached in Ireland some time before Saint Patrick, but that he was soon sent away by the King of Leinster and returned to North Britain, where he had opened his mission. Saint Prosper says that he was consecrated bishop by the same Pope Celestine, and then sent with relics of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, as first bishop to the nation of the Christian Scots. Several colonies of these had passed from Ireland into North Britain and taken possession of the part of the country since called Scotland. Later Saint Palladius also founded three churches in more hospitable regions of Ireland.

He preached to the Scots with great zeal, and formed a considerable church. The Scottish historians tell us that the Faith was first planted in North Britain about the year 200, in the time of King Donald, when Saint Victor I was Pope; but they all acknowledge that Palladius was the first bishop of that country, and they call him their first Apostle. Saint Palladius died at Fordun, fifteen miles from Aberdeen, about the year 450.

Reflection: Saint Palladius surmounted the obstacles which a fierce nation opposed to the establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Ought not our hearts to be impressed with the most lively sentiments of love and gratitude to our merciful God, for having raised up such great and zealous men, by whose ministry the light of true faith has been conveyed to us?

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).