Saint Brigid was
born in 453 AD, while St. Patrick was still traveling through Ireland converting the very spiritual
Celtic people to Christianity. Brigid’s father, Dubhtach, was a powerful pagan chieftain, but her mother, a slave, was
a Christian. Before Brigid’s birth, mother and child were sent to the house of a Druid, where the girl was raised. She
grew in beauty, wisdom, and love for all of God’s creatures. She was renowned for her generosity, giving away butter
and milk to the poor while a dairymaid, and later her father’s riches.
The exact circumstances of Brigid’s
conversion to Christianity are unclear, but at some point she was veiled (as a consecrated holy woman) and began preaching
the Gospel to the people of Ireland. Her
piety, charity, faith, and her works were such that she quickly became known throughout the country. She founded a monastery
at the Kil Dara (the temple of the oak), a pagan sanctuary built from the wood of a tree sacred to the Druids. The
monastery, in what later became Kildare, was originally home to an eternal flame that burned in honor of the Celtic goddess
Brid. Under Brigid, it was extinguished and re-lit in dedication to Christ. The nuns at Kildare tended it to for over 700
Brigid made Kildare truly great
and it became one of the greatest centers of religion and learning in Europe. She traveled
through the south and west of Ireland
consulting, counseling, spreading the Faith, and inspiring great numbers to devote themselves to Christ. She is credited with
many miracles and drew large crowds wherever she went. Once, when she was visiting a dying pagan chieftain, she used the rushes covering the floor to weave a cross that would help her explain the
passion of Christ. Similar crosses are fashioned to this day and are hung as a defense against harm. She died in 525 AD and
is said to be buried with Saint Patrick and St. Colm Cille at Downpatrick.
Her feast day is celebrated on
February 1 - the day the ancient Celts celebrated the Imbolc festival, which marked the beginning of spring and new life.
Prayer to St. Brigid
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was
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.