St. Brigid of Ireland, Brigid also spelled Brigit or Bridget, also called Brigid of Kildare or Bride (Irish Bríd) was born, according to tradition in Fochart, near Dundalk, County Louth. She died c. 525, in Kildare. Her feast day is February 1. She is remembered as virgin and abbess of Kildare, one of the patron saints of Ireland.
Little is known of her life but from legend, myth, and folklore. According to these, she was born of a noble father and a slave mother and was sold along with her mother to a Druid, whom she later converted to Christianity. On being set free, she returned to her father, who tried to marry her to the king of Ulster. Impressed by her piety, the king removed her from parental control. According to the Liber hymnorum (11th century), the Curragh, a plain in Kildare, was granted by the king of Leinster to St. Brigid. At Kildare she founded the first nunnery in Ireland. The community became a double abbey for monks and nuns. She is said to have been active in founding other communities of nuns.
Part of our spiritual and cultural life
St. Brigid appears in a wealth of literature, notably the Book of Lismore, the Breviarium Aberdonense, and Bethada Náem n-Érenn. One of the loveliest and most gently profound legends of Brigid is the story of Dara, the blind nun, for the restoration of whose sight Brigid prayed. When the miracle was granted, Dara realised that the clarity of sight blurred God in the eye of the soul, whereupon she asked Brigid to return her to the beauty of darkness.
In artwork, St. Brigid is often pictured holding a cross, a burning flame and a book or manuscript. The manuscript represents her great learning and wisdom. The flame refers to the name, Brigid, which means “fiery arrow,” for St. Brigid had been named after the pagan goddess of fire. The cross that she holds is commonly called St. Brigid’s Cross and was first made, according to tradition, by the saint herself. It is said that as a pagan chieftain lay dying, he requested that St. Brigid visit him. By the time St. Brigid had arrived, the chieftain was almost in despair. Quietly, St. Brigid gathered some rushes and skillfully wove them together in the form of a cross. When asked to explain what she was doing, St. Brigid replied, “This is a cross, which I make in honour of the Virgin’s son, who died for us upon a cross of wood.” She then spoke so convincingly about Christ and His saving death on the cross, that the dying man immediately asked to be baptised and died a Christian.
Brigid’s feast day is observed far and wide.
Là Fhèill Brìghde sona dhuibh uile! Happy St. Bridget’s Day to you all!
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.
See how to make a St. Brigid’s Cross HERE
This article has been put together using material from:
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “St. Brigid of Ireland”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 May. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Brigit-of-Ireland. Accessed 31 January 2023.
As well as from https://www.irishchaplaincy.org.uk/