Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (Irish: Naomh Bríd; Latin: Brigida; c. 451 – 525) is the patroness saint (or ‘mother saint’) of Ireland, and one of its three national saints along with Patrick and Columba. According to medieval Irish hagiographies, she was an abbess who founded several convents of nuns, most notably that of Kildare, which was one of the most important in Ireland. There are few historical facts about her, and early hagiographies are mainly anecdotes and miracle tales, some of which are rooted in pagan folklore. The saint shares her name with a Celtic goddess. She is patroness of many things, including poetry, learning, healing, protection, blacksmithing, livestock and dairy production. Brigid’s feast day is 1 February, which was originally a festival marking the beginning of spring. From 2023 it will be a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, the first named after a woman.
Happy Feast Day to all Brigid’s, especially to the Incarnate Word Sisters who hold the name of Brigid!
St. Brigid’s Cross:
In Christianity, St Brigid and her cross are linked together by a story about her weaving this form of cross at the death bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptised. One version goes as follows:
A pagan chieftain from the neighbourhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived, the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptised at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.
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