Every Wednesday, I’m going to be taking a look at some of the coolest, craziest, and downright sweetest saint legends that exist. I think that these legends are an important part of our Spiritual heritage, whether they actually happened or not, and that it is a crime to ignore a good story if it can be told well.
We’re going to begin this exploration by looking at St. Ailbhe, also known as St. Elvis. Yes. St. Elvis. You heard me.
Even without looking into the legends about him, St. Ailbhe was a pretty remarkable guy. He was a bishop in the 6th Century, born in the Irish province of Munster, and is credited with the founding of the Monastery at Emly, which became very important in Irish Catholicism. Also, he baptized St. David, the patron saint of Wales, so hey! Important guy.
But here’s where things get interesting. According to legend, he was born to a king and a slave girl, and when he was born, he was cast out into the wilderness, because that was apparently the fashionable thing to do with babies at the time. . . no, really, it was because the king did not want to acknowledge an illegitimate son. But the man who was supposed to kill him gave him instead to a she-wolf and. . .
Oh yes. That’s right. He was raised by wolves. What? Wasn’t your bishop?
Apparently he and this wolf formed a lifelong bond. After he was found as a child by Britons and educated in the Catholic faith, he returned to his home country, where he was treated to a wolf hunt. Recognizing the wolf as his dear old mum, he rescued her, and she lived in his house with him, eating off his plate and sleeping in probably the best dog bed ever.
But his story is even crazier than that. Being raised by wolves is common enough in legend. But how many people get raised by wolves and go on board a ghost ship to learn the secret of their death?
Yeah. Because legend says that happened to him too. Near the end of his days, a big old ghostly ship of doom showed up in the harbor, and he went on-board and crossed the veil, then came back like it was no big thing and went home to die in his sleep. Probably in a big pile of fluffy wolf pups.
-E. G. Norton