by Dawn King    Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17th) is celebrated in many parts of the world. Lesser known is his contemporary, Ireland’s patroness, Saint Brigid of Kildare, also known as Bridget of Ireland. These two figures of renown lived around the year five hundred.

Brigid’s father was a Druid chieftain; her Portuguese mother had been captured and transported to Ireland by pirates. Brigid was named after the Druid goddess of fire, whose manifestations were song, craftsmanship and poetry. In that era, wisdom was shared through poetry, mostly sung; therefore poetry was considered to be the flame of knowledge.

Brigid the Druid goddess and Brigid the Irish saint share February 1 as their feast day. A simple form of woven cross is attributed to her. When attached to the ceiling (above the hearth) it was credited with preventing the home from catching fire; Irish homes had thatched roofs which burned readily.

Famous for her common sense and goodness, Brigid was honored for her compassion and generosity toward those in need. As a young girl, her only wish was to devote her life to God. Women had little opportunity to exert self-will, and her father forbade her aspirations.

Undaunted, she gave away the household bounty to others. Her father decided to let her become a nun after she gave his jewel-encrusted sword to a leper. She later established a convent for women and a number of charitable foundations.

One story is associated with the official blessing Brigid received to acknowledge her as Abbess of Kildare Abbey. This famous monastery accommodated both nuns and monks. During the ceremony, the elderly Bishop inadvertently read the wrong rites and consecrated her as a Bishop. At the time, this could not be rescinded under any circumstances. The Abbess position retained such power until the Synod of Kells in 1152.

During her own lifetime, Brigid was considered to be a saint. She is known today throughout Ireland, sometimes as “Mary of the Gael” (Mary of the Irish). An excerpted translation of the oldest account of Brigid follows:

Saint Brigid was not given to sleep, nor was she intermittent about God’s love; Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for The wealth of this world below the Holy One.

Contact Us
Your Cart