Saint of the Day – 6 June – Saint Jarlath of Tuam (c 445-c 540) Priest, Bishop, Abbot, Scholar, Founder of the Monastic School of Tuam and of the Archdiocese of Tuam, in Galway, Ireland. The Féilire of Aengus, tells us that he was noted for his mortification, fasting, and prayer. Born in c 445 at Connaught, Galway, Ireland and died in c 540 of natural causes. Patronage – The Archdiocese of Tuam, Ireland. Also known as – Iarlaith, Iarlath.
Very little is known about the life of Jarlath. He firstly studed under Benen, a disciple of St Patrick and then became a disciple of St Enda at Arran Island. The Monasteries he founded, first at Cloonfush and later at Tuam, were renowned for their scholarship and learning.
From the second syllable of his name in Irish, fhlaith, meaning “lord,”,it could be taken that he came from a wealthy family.
He own first monastic foundation was at Cloonfush, some miles east of Tuam. His students at the monastic college included Saint Brendan of Clonard and Saint Colman of Cloyne.
Jarlath appears briefly as a prominent figure in the medieval Irish Lives of St Brendan of Clonfert. Brendan is said to have visited Connacht to study under the famous Jarlath. One day, when Jarlath was in his old age, Brendan advised his mentor to leave the school and to depart in a newly built chariot until its two hind shafts broke because there would be the place of his resurrection and that of many after him. Because Jarlath acknowledged the holiness and superior wisdom of his pupil, saying “take me into thy service forever and ever,” he gladly accepted his advice. His travel did not take him very far, as the shafts broke at Tuaim Mound. From this incident, the chariot wheel has become the symbol of the Town of Tuam.
The Diocese was established by the twelfth-century synods of Rathbreasail and Kells and subsequently became an Archdiocese absorbing into it two other medieval Dioceses: Annaghdown and Mayo.
Jarlath died, “full of days,” on 26 December, c 540, aged about 90 years old. Saint Jarlath’s Feast day is 6 June, which is the date of the translation of his relics to a Church especially built in his honour next to the Cathedral of Tuam. His remains were encased in a silver Shrine, from which the 13th-century Church gained the name Teampul na scrín, that is the “Church of the Shrine.“