This saint was an English Saxon princess, sister to St. Erconwald, bishop of London. To the end that she might live entirely to herself and God, she in her youth renounced the world, and neither riches nor the tempting splendor of a court could shake her resolution; for the world loses all its influence upon a mind which is wholly taken up with the great truths of faith and eternal salvation. A soul which is truly penetrated with them, listens to no consideration in the choice of a state of life but to what virtue and piety suggest, and being supported by those noble principles which religion inspires, whether she is placed in the world or in a religious state, whether in opulence or poverty, amidst honors or in contempt, equally carries all her desires to their proper mark, and studies with constancy and perseverance, to acquit herself of every duty of her state, and to act up to the dignity of her heavenly vocation.
The Irish Annals fix the birth of this illustrious saint in 527, and his death in 599. In his youth he studied some time in Wales under a celebrated and holy abbot named Docus, and afterwards in Ireland under St. Finian, to whose famous school, in his monastery of Cluain-Irraird the lovers of true wisdom repaired from all sides. The zeal and labors of St. Kenny, in propagating the practice of Christian perfection throughout Ireland, have ranked him among the most glorious saints whose virtue has been the greatest ornament of that island.
In the first ages of the Church the day sacred to our Blessed Lady, under her great title of Mother of God, was January 1. Evident traces of this devotion remain in the liturgy proper to the feast of the Circumcision, which is now kept on that day. Many churches having petitioned for a special festival in honor of Our Lady’s divine maternity, a day, usually in the month of October, was granted by the Holy See for its celebration. By a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, April 24, 1914, the eleventh of October was assigned. Pius IX raised it to a double of the second class and extended it to the Universal Church.