The feast day of St. Brigid of Ireland will be celebrated on Feb. 1. She was born in 453 near Dumdalk, Loathe, Ireland. Her father had been kidnapped by Irish pirates (as St. Patrick was) and he was a slave to a druid. Brigid is believed to have been baptized by St. Patrick.
From a very early age, Brigid showed a desire to pursue a religious life. She was known for her generosity and concern for the poor. Brigid’s mother was in charge of the Master’s dairy. Brigid tended to give the produce away to the poor. The dairy prospered in spite of her generosity. When she gave produce to the poor it tended to multiply! When she gave water to a thirsty stranger, the water turned to milk! These are only two of the legendary miracles attributed to Brigid. Most of the miracles dealt with healing and domestic tasks. She was known for her holiness and generosity. The following quote by Brigid explains her spirituality: “Christ dwells in every creature.”
Brigid refused to marry, choosing instead to serve Jesus only. Brigid founded a double monastery at Kildare. She was the Abbess of the convent which was the first convent in Ireland. She also founded a school of art at Kildare. The illuminated manuscripts became famous, especially the Book of Kildare.
In art, Brigid is often depicted holding a reed cross made from the palm branches blessed on Palm Sunday. The cross is known as St. Brigid’s Cross. I is a symbol of peace. She often holds a lamp, which is called a lamp of learning and wisdom.
The Mantle of St. Brigid is a small rectangular piece of cloth kept in a reliquary, which is made of wood with a glass covered opening for viewing. It is brought out for viewing on her feast day of Feb. 1. The mantle is dark crimson and is believed to represent the protection provided by the prayers of St. Brigid.
Devotion to Brigid can be found in the eighth century. Her relics are in the Church of Pierre de Vare in Stocking.
St. Brigid died of natural causes at the approximate age of 70 in Kildare, Ireland.
St. Brigid’s Psalm
Brigid, you were a woman of peace,
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
Yo 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. Amen
Prayer of St. Brigid
“I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present.”