Lives my little cell within;
What were wealth of cleric high-,
All is lie but Jesukin.
Nursing nurtured, as 'tis right,
Harbors here no servile spright,
Jesu of the skies, who are
Next my heart through every night.
Jesu, more than angel aid,
Fostering not formed to fade,
Nursed by me in desert wild,
Jesu, Child of Judah’s Maid.
Unto heaven's High King contest
Sing a chorus, maidens blest!
He is o'er us, though within
Jesukin is on our breast.
(Irish Lullaby attributed to Saint Ita)
Saint Ita (also known as Saint Deirdre or Saint Mida, 475-570), nun, teacher, miracle-worker, and “Foster Mother” to the Irish Saints. Second only to Saint Brigid among the ancient Irish female saints, Saint Ita served the Lord through teaching and forming many other Catholic saints. She is widely venerated throughout Ireland—even one of the professional football teams is named for her, with her image appearing on their crest!
Saint Ita, born and baptized Deirdre, was born at Decies, Waterford (in Ireland), of royal lineage. From a young age, she felt drawn to serve the Lord, and while still a child, consecrated herself in virginity to Jesus. Her father wished her to be married, however, and arranged a potential suitor which would make good political sense. Deirdre, for her part, refused to marry, however. She fasted for three days, praying constantly to God, and on the third day, her father was visited by an angel in a dream, following which he understood the important holy role his daughter was to play. Upon awakening, he offered his blessing to Ita, who moved to Killeedy, Limerick and pursued a life of holy virtue.
“thirst for Divine Love,” and after taking the veil, founded a community of nuns at Hy Conaill, in County Limerick. The convent quickly swelled, with many flocking to become a member of her community. Saint Ita lived an extremely austere life, fasting rigorously, and modeling humility, patience, and obedience to her charges. So committed to poverty, it is said that once, when a rich man pressed gold on her, she immediately sent for water to wash her hands. She enacted the harshest bodily mortifications.
Saint Ita is said to have replied, "A face which scowls upon all mankind, obstinacy in wrongdoing, and an overweening confidence in the power of money."
|Saint Ita's Cross|
Heavenly Father, we are grateful for holy women like Saint Ita who can be such an inspiration to young men and women today. Through her pious life and teachings, many others were influenced to live holy lives and also become saints. May we all strive to lead lives that inspire others to holiness. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Lord God, it was through the power of your Spirit that Saint Ita was tireless in caring for the afflicted, and in guiding the young toward holiness, and so we pray: prepare in our hearts, as you prepared in hers, a home where you will dwell.