Tuesday, March 15, 2022

As Ireland’s Church Retreats, the Cult of a Female Saint Thrives, New York Times, Holy Wells and Shrines Still Popular

St. Brigid's Well in Kildare

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/11/world/europe/ireland-church-female-saint-brigid.html?fbclid=IwAR22Mf7h9DaWuAPMsbvXTSTIDc8gW0oZX9iV2Xbp9zAvOzlHF84VH89EW3M

When I visited St, Brigid’s holy well in Kildare  I joined pilgrims from Spain in a prayer ritual. St. Brigid was associated with the goddess Brid.  She was a powerful leader in a double monastery of women and men in Kildare . According to legend, she was ordained a bishop.

“The cult of Saint Brigid, with its emphasis on nature and healing, and its shift away from the patriarchal faith of traditional Catholicism in Ireland, is attracting people from around the world.”

KILDARE, Ireland — Around the year 480, as legend has it, a freed slave named Brigid founded a convent under an oak in the east of Ireland. To feed her followers, she asked the King of Leinster, who ruled the area, for a grant of land.


When the pagan king refused, she asked him to give her as much land as her cloak would cover. Thinking she was joking, he agreed. But when Brigid threw her cloak on the ground, it spread across 5,000 acres — creating the Curragh plains, which still stretch beside the religious settlement she founded at Kildare (from the Irish Cill Dara, “church of the oak”).


"A millennium and a half later, a renewed cult of Saint Brigid is thriving in Kildare, even at a time when the Roman Catholic church is in retreat in Ireland, weakened by clerical sex abuse scandals, growing secularism and — Catholic feminists say — by its refusal, despite a collapse in the numbers of its all-male priesthood, to give equal status to women.


Much of the revitalized interest is the result of the Brigidines’ emphasis on nature, ecology and healing, and their shift away from the patriarchal faith of traditional Irish Catholicism."


Posted by Bridget Mary Meehan at 9:41 PM 

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A pilgrim washing her feet while praying at St. Brigid’s Well on St. Brigid’s Day, Feb. 1, on the outskirts of Kildare, Ireland.
A pilgrim washing her feet while praying at St. Brigid’s Well on St. Brigid’s Day, Feb. 1, on the outskirts of Kildare, Ireland.
Credit...Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

KILDARE, Ireland — Around the year 480, as legend has it, a freed slave named Brigid founded a convent under an oak in the east of Ireland. To feed her followers, she asked the King of Leinster, who ruled the area, for a grant of land.

When the pagan king refused, she asked him to give her as much land as her cloak would cover. Thinking she was joking, he agreed. But when Brigid threw her cloak on the ground, it spread across 5,000 acres — creating the Curragh plains, which still stretch beside the religious settlement she founded at Kildare (from the Irish Cill Dara, “church of the oak”).

A millennium and a half later, a renewed cult of Saint Brigid is thriving in Kildare, even at a time when the Roman Catholic church is in retreat in Ireland, weakened by clerical sex abuse scandals, growing secularism and — Catholic feminists say — by its refusal, despite a collapse in the numbers of its all-male priesthood, to give equal status to women.

Much of the revitalized interest is the result of the Brigidines’ emphasis on nature, ecology and healing, and their shift away from the patriarchal faith of traditional Irish Catholicism.

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