SAINT BRIGID - THE OTHER IRISH SAINT
Although Saint Patrick is known worldwide, Ireland does
have a female patron Saint: Saint Brigid. Known as Bridey,
Mary of Gaels and even as Biddy, Saint Brigid was born
near Dundalk to a pagan Gaelic chieftain named Dubtach
(Duffy) and to a Christian slave mother named Brocessa,
who was sold soon after Brigid's birth. She was baptized
by Saint Patrick with whom she was to become friends.
As a child the young Brigid enjoyed a position of some
comfort and privilege, the family being in receipt of
financial support because of their position of authority.
Upon reaching adulthood however, she assumed a role of
servitude and was charged with caring for her father and
She never forgot her mother however and, despite being
forbidden to do so, she left the family home, located
her mother, negotiated her release from slavery and
returned home to her fathers house. To her dismay, her
father had arranged her marriage to a poet, who were
among the most prestigious men of the time. Brigid had
already vowed to remain celibate and to do God's work
so once more, she left her home, this time forever.
Together with seven other dedicated women she formed the
first ever female monastic community in Ireland in the
year 468. They helped the poor of the time and were
attributed with many miracles. Despite having limited
resources they never seemed to be without food or
supplies for their good works. She founded a school
of Art and a Monastery at Cill Dara, about which the
modern town of Kildare now stands.
The most famous miracle associated with Brigid tells of
her confrontation with an Irish chieftain. She asked him
for a quantity of land so that she could build a monastic
community. The chieftain replied that she could have
whatever amount of land her cloak could cover. Brigid
took the cloak from her shoulders and cast it on the
ground where it covered over 12 acres of the chieftains
lands. He gave it willingly.
The date of her death is now that of her feastday,
February 1st. which is still celebrated with the traditional
creation of the Saint Brigid Cross, made from reeds. She
is buried next to Saint Patrick in Downpatrick.
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