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January 15 

Saint of the day:

Saint Ita

Patron Saint of Roman Catholic Diocese of Limerick, Ireland, Killeedy, Ireland

The Story of Saint Ita

Ita was reputedly of royal lineage. She was born at Decies, Waterford, Ireland, refused to be married, and secured her father's permission to live a virginal life. She moved to Killeedy, Limerick, and founded a community of women dedicated to God. She also founded a school for boys, and one of her pupils was St. Brendan. Many extravagant miracles were attributed to her (in one of them she is reputed to have reunited the head and body of a man who had been beheaded; in another she lived entirely on food from heaven), and she is widely venerated in Ireland.

She is also known as Deirdre and Mida.


What three things most please God ?

A pure and faithful heart,

a simple spiritual life,

and generous acts of charity.


What three things most offend Him?

A resentful heart,

hateful words,

and worship of material things.

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St. Ita died in approximately 570. Her grave, frequently decorated with flowers, is in the ruins of Cill Ide, a Romanesque church at Killeedy where her monastery once stood. A holy well nearby, almost invisible now, was known for centuries for curing smallpox in children and other diseases as well. This well has two names - It is called St. Bernard’s Well on the OS map, but the local name has always been Tobar Bhaile Ui MhÈidÌn, My Little Ita’s Well, coming from the place name, Cill Barra MhÈidÌn. "Church of my little Ita’s Height."

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The symbol of Saint Ita is a cross with a heart at the center of a small labyrinth.

“As Ita saw it, there is only one way we can marry our hearts to the love of Christ:

We must take our hearts, our innermost thoughts and feelings,

and move them ever more deeply into the heart of the cross.

Thus, as the wheel of humanity is formed through Christ, through whom all things were made,

we spiral from the outermost rim, where we dwell with our concerns about the world,

and urge our hearts to the center as we gradually replace

our worldly thought and feelings with the desire for Wisdom.

It is this centering prayer that leads us to the heart of the cross.

In the heart of the cross we find our own hearts, for they too have been created by God,

have been redeemed by Christ, and are continually sustained by the Holy Spirit.”






St. Ita and What is Most Essential ~ A love note from your online abbess

Saint Ita was a 6th century Irish saint and is the second most significant woman saint in Ireland after Brigid. Her hagiographer even called her a “second Brigid” and her name Ita means thirst.  She established a church in Limerick called Killeedy, which means Church of Ita.

According to legend, Ita's name was originally Dorothea or Deirdre. She was a member of the Déise tribe in Waterfrod. When she was young she received a dream in which she was gifted three precious stones. She was unsure as to its meaning and pondered it. Later, in another visitation, it was revealed to her that throughout her life she would receive many dreams and visions, and the three stones represent the gifts of the Trinity coming to her. “Always in your sleep and vigils the angels of God and holy visions will come to you, for you are a temple of God, in body and soul.” I love this affirmation of the multitude which God is as well.

When she is older she prays for a place to found her monastery and is again shown her direction in a dream. She is told to leave her native land and come to a new place at the foot of a hill.

At the monastery she founded, many young people are sent her way for education and she becomes teacher to St. Brendan, who will later go on his great voyage. She tells her students to follow the “Rule of the Saints of Ireland” because she felt strongly about the Celtic value of soul friends, and saw those across the veil as guides as well.

St. Brendan once asked Ita what were the three things most pleasing and displeasing to God. She replied that what pleases God were “true faith in God with a pure heart, a simple life with a grateful spirit, and generosity inspired by charity.” What is most displeasing is “a mouth that hates people, a heart harboring resentments, and confidence in wealth.”

The multitudes are many. In addition to our own inner communion, God is a multitude of presences. The communion of saints offers us another multitude of wisdom and grace to draw upon. We can seek soul friendship from these guides just beyond the veil.



Guinness Irish Cottage Pie


  • 1 & 1/2 pounds russet potatoes

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/4 cup half & half milk

  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded



  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 & 1/2 pounds ground round

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup Guinness Irish beer

  • 1/2 cup beef broth (or chicken broth)

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 cups frozen vegetable medley, thawed (corn, peas, carrots, green beans)

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • Optional: sprig of fresh thyme for garnishing



  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them in fourths. Place them in a medium pot and cover with cold water.

  2. Boil the potatoes over medium-high heat until they are fork tender.

  3. (While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the meat filling.)

  4. Remove the potatoes from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.

  5. Transfer them to the stainless steel mixing bowl of a stand mixer.

  6. Immediately add butter and mash the potatoes with a flat beater on low speed.

  7. Gradually pour in the half & half while the mixer is still on.

  8. Stop the mixer and lower the bowl. Add in salt, pepper and cheese.

  9. Resume mixing until all ingredients are incorporated and the mashed potatoes are beautifully smooth.

  10. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


  1. In a saute pan heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil flickers in the pan add the onion.

  2. Saute the onion until it begins to turn golden brown. Add in the garlic and continue to saute.

  3. Add in the ground round, salt and pepper. Cook until the beef is completely brown with no more pink.

  4. Sprinkle flour on the meat and fold it into the mixture.

  5. Add in the tomato paste, Guinness beer, beef or chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary and thyme.

  6. Stir to mix everything together. Bring meat filling to a brief boil, then reduce the heat to low.

  7. Cover the saute pan and let the mixture simmer for about 12 minutes until the sauce is lightly thickened.


  1. Fold the vegetable medley into the meat mixture until everything is combined.

  2. Transfer the meat filling to an 8 X 8 inch baking dish. Using a spatula spread it evenly on the bottom.

  3. With a clean spatula, spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the meat mixture.

  4. Around the edges of the meat mixture make sure the potatoes form a nice seal
    within the baking dish to prevent overflow of the filling while baking.

  5. Put the baking dish on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to catch any overflow.

  6. Place the Shepherd’s Pie in the middle of the oven to ensure good heat circulation.

  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes become lightly golden.

  8. Remove the Guinness Shepherd’s Pie to a trivet and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving

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