"The Sacred Three to save, to shield, to surround the hearth, the home, this night and every night. O Father, O Son, O Holy Spirit, Forgive my sins. O only begotten Son of the heavenly Father, forgive. O God who is One, O God who is true, O God who is first, O God who is one substance, O God only mighty, in three Persons, truly merciful, forgive. O God of life, this night, O darken not to me thy light. O God of life, this night, close not thy gladness to my sight. Keep your people, Lord, in the arms of your embrace. Shelter them under your wings. Be their light in darkness. Be their hope in distress. Be their calm in anxiety. Be strength in their weakness. Be their comfort in pain. Be their song in the night. In peace I will lie down, for it is you, O Lord, you alone who makes me to rest secure. Be it on your own beloved arm, O God of grace, that I in peace shall awake. Be the peace of the Spirit mine this night. Be the peace of the Son mine this night. Be the peace of the Father mine this night. The peace of all peace be mine this night. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Who Was Saint Ita?

St. Ita, baptized Deidre, was born of a Christian family about 475 A.D. near the present city of Waterford, Ireland. She was the daughter of the chieftain Confhaola and of Necta who claimed royal descent from Feighlim Reachtmhar, King of Tara.

From early on, Deirdre was said to embody the six virtues of Irish womanhood — wisdom, purity, beauty, music, sweet speech and embroidery. She was described as “sweet and winning in her address, prudent in word and work and constant in mind and firm of purpose.” This last virtue of “being firm of purpose” stood to her when it came to making decisions about her life’s work.

Her parents hoped she would marry a nobleman of another clan; Deidre wanted to serve God in religious life. To overcome her parents' resistance to her chosen path, she fasted and prayed for three days and three nights, and on the third night, God revealed a message to her father in his sleep. The next morning, Conflhaola gave Deidre his blessing to follow her calling. At the age of sixteen, Deidre received the monastic habit of a nun and took the name of Ita. The name Ita is said to come from the Irish word iota, meaning thirst for holiness.

Ita then set out for Limerick, possibly in the company of her sister Fiona, who was later to become a nun in the community at Killeedy. Ita settled at Cluain Credall where there was a spring well - now a holy well - on the site of what later became a church. She turned down offers by the people and king of Ui Chonaill to take over all the lands of the area and settled instead for four small divisions of land to provide her small community with food.

The initial settlement later became known as Cill Ide or Killeedy (Ita's cell) and prospered as a center of learning and spiritual formation, drawing men and women from as far away as the Midlands. Children came, too, for this was still the age of fosterage in the old Gaelic tradition. One of the most famous of her pupils is said to be St. Brendan, the Navigator or Voyager of Clonfert. Among many others, the great Saint Columban came to Ita for counsel and guidance in the problems of his apostolate. It is thought that Ita was a contemporary of Saint Patrick as well.

Legend has it that Brendan asked Ita the three things which she thought God loved most. She said: "True faith in God with a pure heart, a simple life with a grateful spirit, and openhandedness to the poor inspired by charity." The three things that most displease God are: "a mouth that hates people, a heart harboring resentments and confidence in wealth."

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Her life was spent mainly at Cill Ide, and, according to Sr. Declan Power, hers was a life based on penance, asceticism, vigils, fast and prayer. She was said to have special devotion to the infant Jesus and to have sung the Irish lullaby, Losagan, to mark that special love.

St. Ita, sometimes called "the white sun of the women of Munster" or the "Brigid of Munster," died on January 15, 570 A.D. and was laid to rest in her own Pobal Ide, where countless generations have come to pray.

Today, the convent is marked only by broken walls and rocks worn smooth by wind and rain of centuries. Her memory remains a real force in the religious fervor of Limerick and of our parish. We celebrate her Feast Day on January 15th.

Today, a hospital in Portrane, County Dublin, Ireland, a Catholic parish in Drouin, Australia and our church, the only one, as far as we know in North America, share her name. In fact, the cornerstone of this very church (on the corner of Catalpa and Broadway) contains a stone from the Monastery at Killeedy. St. Ita is revered still today as one of the great saints of Ireland.

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