Benignus (Benén, and other by-forms) (d. 467/8), bishop and disciple of St Patrick, was according to the genealogies son of Sescnén, descendant of Tadc son of Cian of Éoganacht Chaisil. In the works of the Patrician hagiographers Muirchú (qv) and Tírechán (qv) he is said to have been a boy convert of Patrick (qv), and to have been given the name Benignus (‘the kindly one’) by Patrick and one of the native bishops who assisted him in his mission. In Tírechán's ‘Collectanea’ he is designated as Patrick's successor in the church of Armagh (5, 4). He is said to have come from hostium Ailbine (the estuary of [the river] Ailbíne), which has been identified with the River Delvin in counties Dublin and Meath. In the ‘Additamenta’ (§8) in the Book of Armagh he is described as having lived for seventeen years at a church ‘I nDruimm Daro .i. Druim Lias’ (Drumlease, Co. Leitrim). Patrick's bequest of the church of Drumlease to Benignus may imply that he was symbolically given headship of the Patrician paruchia. The various forms of his name in the early Irish sources – Benén, Binén, Bin(en)eus – reflect the pronunciation of Vulgar Latin in Ireland from the fifth through the seventh centuries.
According to the late preface to the eighth-century compilation of Irish law known as the ‘Senchas Már’, Benignus worked with Patrick, Cairnech (qv), three kings, and three members of the poetic class (filid) in compiling a code of native Irish law. He is also credited with compiling the so-called Psalter of Cashel, a lost collection of politico-legal matter, and with the original version of Lebor na Cert (The Book of Rights), an eleventh- or twelfth-century tract on the mutual obligations of the king of Cashel and his sub-kings.
Benignus is said to have had many saintly disciples. His successor as third bishop or abbot of Armagh is named as Iarlaithe (d. 481, AU, Ann. Inisf.). A church dedication to him is preserved in the name Cill Bhenéin (Kilbannan, Dromore, Co. Galway). His cult spread to Glastonbury along with that of Patrick. He was commemorated by a Life in Irish. John Colgan (qv) printed fragments of a Latin Life according to which he became successor to Patrick as bishop of Armagh in 455, resigned his bishopric in 465, and died in 468. His obit is given as 467 (recte 468; AU). His feast-day, found now only in the martyrologies of Gorman (Máel Muire Ua Gormáin (qv)) and Donegal, is given as 9 November.