Thursday, November 09, 2006

Benen and Brady: Two Loyal Irish Disciples

When the writers of "" asked to be linked to our site, I quickly agreed, for of course one of FIT's goals is to get Fighting Irish fans aware of the spiritual side of their team's football legacy too. And today turns out to be a great date for our two blogs to be joined, for just as their hero Brady Quinn came into his own under the tutelage of that master of quarterbacks, Charlie Weis, today's Saint of the Day, Benen, flourished under the original Champion of the Irish, none other than St. Patrick himself.

St. Benen Church, Built Around 1000 ADAs is the case of many Irish saints, the early accounts of St. Benen's life have the myth and miracles intermixed (or so claim the non-Irish historians), but there are several things about St. Benen that are certain. Born in Meath, the son of Sescnean the chieftain, Benen apparently was present when St. Patrick celebrated the first Easter Mass in Ireland in approximately 433. Patrick then decided to spend a few days of his pilgrimage at the Sescnean house, and young Benen was so impressed with the visitor that he spread flowers over Patrick's head as he slept. When it was time for their holy house guest to depart, Benen begged to go with him, and after some initial attempts to dissuade the young man, Patrick finally agreed.

Like Quarterback Quinn, Benen became well-known for his attractive disposition and became famous as a gentle leader. Gentle, but not exactly quiet; after hearing Benen sing, his saintly mentor encouraged him to do so more often and Benen became known as "Patrick's psalmodist," and later became Patrick's successor.

It is interesting to note that after converting the part of the country now known as Clare and Kerry and serving as an Irish bishop for 20 years, Benen was urged (according to legend) by Patrick himself to become a hermit "and build your cell where your staff burst into leaf and bud." Benen did spend his last years in relative seclusion in a swampy place called Feringmere, where he died in 467.

But in Quinn's case, there is still more story to tell. As Benen helped Patrick in the nearly total conversion of Ireland, Brady has helped Coach Weis convert an extraordinarily high amount of "do or die" 4th down plays. Yet despite his great career here, there is one conversion left for Mr. Quinn to complete. If Weis and Our Lady could aid Brady in his conversion from Methodism to Catholicism before he leaves Notre Dame, Patrick and Benen's section of Fighting Irish Heaven would no doubt be cheering each remaining Quinn pass as well.