JANUARY 15. ita, the "wet nurse of christ"
Lived from 480 to 570
Baptized Dierdre, this saint later acquired the name Ita, which means "thirst for divine love." She is sometimes called the white sun of the women of Munster or The Foster Mother of the Saints of Ireland. Her symbol is a cross embellished with a heart at the center of a small labyrinth. Ita expressed that we must move our innermost thoughts and feelings deeply into the heart of the cross because "in the heart of the cross we find our own hearts."
MEAT FOR PIG-LIKE BEETLES
Either before or after Ita passed away (or, alternatively, "fell asleep in the Lord"), a beetle feasted on her side, growing to the size of a small suckling pig. By one account, Ita (still living) made an offering of her flesh to the beetle who was feeding on the dead in a cemetery. Thanks to this gesture, the bereaved would no longer be tormented by the beetle's appetite for their loved ones' remains.
BEAUTY SECRET: BURNING ALIVE
Once while Ita slept, her dwelling caught fire. When her neighbors ran to aid her, the fire extinguished. Ita arose from her sleep even more angelic, possessing a new and unparalleled beauty. The locals, marveling, claimed that it was God's grace that blazed around Ita as she slumbered. In time, her regular body was returned to her.
"THE WET-NURSE OF CHRIST"
In response to her prayers, Ita was privileged to nurse infant Jesus in a vision. Along with Saint Bridget, she became known as the wet-nurse of Christ. While in a reverie, Ita authored an Irish Lullaby called Jesukin, which she sang to sooth the infant.
Chroniclers make frequent mention of this miracle, but only in passing and generally in passive voice. Some examples:
GOOD THINGS IN THREES
As a young girl, an angel gifted Ita with THREE precious stones.
[ . . . ]
When her father sought to marry her off, Ita fasted for THREE days in protest, praying constantly for God to intervene.
[. . . ]
THREE heavenly lights led Ita to Kileedy, where she'd be the foundress of a convent and live out her days.
[. . .]
At Saint Brendan's behest, Ita articulated the THREE things that God finds most pleasing and displeasing. The are "true faith in God with a pure heart, simple life with a religious spirit, and open-handedness inspired by charity" and "a face which scowls upon mankind, obstinancy in wrongdoing, and an overweening confidence in money and power" respectively.
A well near Ita's grave was known for curing smallpox and other diseases in children. In recent times, local schoolkids with warts have paid visit to the well and dunked their afflicted parts in the water, chanting "bubble up, bubble up, blessed well!"