Saint Brighid of Kildare

Rowan  Lewgalon

Overath, Germany

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Saint Brighid of Kildare – Naomh Bríd

She lived around 451–525 and is one of Ireland’s patron saints. Her feast day is February 1, or Candlemas, the traditional first day of spring in Ireland. She is believed to have been an Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several convents.

According to tradition, Brigid was born at Faughart near Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland.
Her parents were Dubhthach, a pagan chieftain of Leinster, and Brocca, a Christian Pict and slave who had been baptized by Saint Patrick. Brigid was given the same name as one of the most powerful goddesses of the pagan religion which her father Dubhthach practiced. In that religion, Brigid was the goddess of healing, inspiration, craftsmanship and poetry, which the Irish considered the flame of knowledge. (And I am of the opinion that saint and goddess are the same… They even share the same feast day.)

She was inspired by the preaching of Saint Patrick from an early age. Despite her father’s opposition she was determined to enter religious life. Numerous stories testify to her piety. She had a generous heart and could never refuse the poor who came to her father’s door. Her charity angered her father: he thought she was being overly generous to the poor and needy when she dispensed his milk and flour to all and sundry. When she finally gave away his jewel-encrusted sword to a leper, Dubhthach realized that perhaps her disposition was best suited to the life of a nun. Brigid finally got her wish and she was sent to a convent.

Brigid received the veil from Saint Mel and professed vows dedicating her life to Christ. From this point biographers heap stories and legends onto Brigid. She is believed to have founded a convent in Clara, County Offaly – her first: other foundations followed. But her major foundation would emerge in Kildare. Around the year 470, she founded Kildare Abbey, a double monastery for nuns and monks, on the plains of Cill-Dara, “the church of the oak”, her cell being made under a large oak tree. As Abbess of this foundation she wielded considerable power. Legends surround her, even her blessing as Abbess by Saint Mel has a story attached to it. According to the legend, the elderly bishop, as he was blessing her during the ceremony, inadvertently read the rite of consecration of a bishop and this could not be rescinded, under any circumstances. (Regarding the rights of women in Celtic society, I am of the opinion that he ordained her knowingly.) Brigid and her successor Abbesses at Kildare had an administrative authority equal to that of a Bishop until the Synod of Kells in 1152.

Mousedrawn in Corel Painter 11

Artwork Comments

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