Friday, January 31, 2014

St. Brigit of Kildare- A Gutsy, Compassionate Woman

Bridget Mary Meehan at St. Brigit's Well, Liscanor, County Clare, Ireland

 St. Brigit was born in 494 to a Christian mother and a pagan father. There are many stories about her that are steeped in the druidic folklore of the early Celtic goddesses.

According to the Old Irish life of Brigit, Archbishop Mel ordained her a bishop. She founded a double monastery of women and men in Kildare where celibate and married monks and nuns lived in what today might resemble a Christian village. According to Cogitosus, her biographer, she co-presided at Kildare with Bishop Conleth. 

St. Brigit of Kildare was quite a character! She was known for her compassion to the poor. One time, she gave away her father's sword to a beggar. Is this an early example of distributive justice to help the poor and stop warfare at the same time?!  Another time, she gave away Bishop Conleth's vestments to the poor, but mysteriously, they reappeared before he celebrated liturgy!

Many healing miracles were attributed to her.  See my book, Praying with Celtic Holy Women for some delightful tales! Join me on a Celtic Mystical Journey from Sept. 3-12th, 2014 in Ireland. For more information, email me at
On the eve of St. Brigit's feast, children in Ireland often weave St. Brigit's crosses out of rushes and hang them over the door in their homes. When I celebrate ordinations, I wear a large St. Brigit's cross as my pectoral cross.
Our family always displayed a St. Brigit's cross in our home.

It is not unusual in Ireland to see St. Brigit crosses hanging over barn doors as a sign of protection for animals. St. Brigit is often depicted with a cow. I used to have a statue but when the statue fell, the cow broke off.
There are many wells that celebrate the blessing of St. Brigit in Ireland. I prayed at two in Kildare, one in Faughart, and one in Liscanor near the Cliffs of Mohr.  In the photo above, I am standing next to items and notes of thanks for healings and/or prayers for healing hung on the wall in front of the well.  On one occasion, I brought back at least a gallon of water from the holy wells in Ireland and used the blessed water in healing rituals, and shared with anyone who wanted it.

One of my favorite Celtic  prayers is:  
“Brigit’s Table Grace” 

     I should like a great lake of finest ale
            for all the people.
     I should like a table of the choicest foods
     for the family of heaven.
     Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,
     and the food be for giving love.
     I should welcome the poor to my feast,
     for they are God’s children.
     I should welcome the sick to my feast
     for they are God’s joy.
     Let the poor sit with Sophia

     at the highest place
     and the sick dance with the angels.
     Bless the poor, bless the sick,
     Bless our human race.
     Bless our food, bless our drink, all homes,
     O God embrace.

St. Brigit of Kildare stained glass window in St. Patrick's Chapel, Ballyroan, Ireland

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