St. Ceallach


Ceallach (Celsus) of Armagh was a layman named Ceallach macAedha.He succeeded to the Bishopric of Armagh (it was a Hereditary See) in 1105 when he was twenty six and was consecratedas Bishop.

 

Ireland was still reeling from the Dane/Viking invasions. The clergy, probably for the sake of greater stability and safety, tended to cluster together under some monastic rule; and the laity, abandoned to themselves, fell a prey to gross superstitions and excesses. One of these excesses was clerical hereditary.

 

This young man was to change one of the abuses that existed for almost 200 years in the dynasty of Clan Sinaigh. The Clan held monopoly of clerical office at Armagh for this entire time.
 

He put into effect many reforms in his diocese and ruled well and effectively. He mediated between warring Irish factions and remained throughout a friend of St Malachy. He died in 1129 in Ardpatrick Munster. He ended the hereditary succession to his See by naming Malachy his successor on his death. The Ceallach family had other ideas and named a cousin, Murtagh, to succeed Celsus to continue the family line as archbishop.

 

During his Bishopric, he ordained Maolmhaodhog Ua Morgair, later came to be known as St. Malachy, Bishop Armagh. Malachy refused to become the archbishop for three years until ordered to do so by Rome. But he didn't enter Armagh until 1134 when Murtagh died after naming Celsus' brother, Niall, as his successor.

 

Armed conflict broke out between followers of Malachy and Niall. Malachy managed to secure the cathedral, but Niall fled with the Book of Armagh and St. Patrick's crozier. Eventually, Malachy recovered these two relics and became the uncontested archbishop.

 

It is clear that the torch of reform of St. Ceallach was passed on to St. Malachy.

 

Research on this Saint is difficult as there are two, if not three, St. Ceallachs. One in the 6th century County Mayo and one in the 9th century County Dublin.    

 

There are two feast days attributed to the St. Ceallach: April 1st and April 7th depending upon which calendar is available.