We are at a ‘crossroads’ halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox on February 1st. A crossroads can be a good place to stop and refuel for the journey onward and outwards, and we can do this in no better company than that of Brigid whose feast day is on this day (Lá Fhéile Bríde).
Brigid never ceases to inspire through both the legend and detail that surrounds her ‘very being’. This courageous woman of conviction and action was always breaking new ground to make God known and loved through her own journeying, leadership and service.
Born in Dundalk in 450 AD St. Brigid was the founder of the first monastery in County Kildare, Ireland. Her father was a pagan chieftain of Leinster and her mother was a Christian. St Patrick inspired her to deepen her faith and spread the word of God.
St. Brigid is also known as Mary of the Gael or Muire na nGael – Our Lady of the Irish. She is one of the Patron Saints of Ireland, along with St. Patrick and St. Columcille.
The story of the Cross
St. Brigid was by the sick bed of a dying pagan chieftain, possibly her father, soothing him with stories about her faith and her unwavering trust in God. She began telling the story of Christ on the Cross, picking up rushes from the ground to make a cross. Before his death, the chieftain asked to be baptised. Legend has it, people used to make similar crosses to hang over the door of their homes to ward off evil, fire and hunger. Over time, word spread about St. Brigid, her kindness, faith and the making of the cross became synonymous with her and the tradition now bears her name.
Where is she buried?
St. Brigid died at the age of 75 in AD 525 and was buried in the church she created. Her remains were exhumed years later and brought to Downpatrick to be buried alongside Saints Patrick and Columcille. However, her skull was brought to Lisbon where it remains today.
Prayer to Saint Brigid
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.
Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
Solas Bhríde is a Christian Spirituality Centre in Kildare Town which welcomes people of all faiths and of no faith. The Vision of the Centre is to unfold the legacy of St. Brigid and its relevance for our time. See HERE
How to make a St. Brigid’s Cross
Note: St. Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic traditional festival also marking the beginning of spring. Historically, it was also widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.