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Saint Brigid of Kildare

Saint Brigid of Kildare
  • Century: 5th & 6th Century
  • Patronage: -
  • Feast Day: February 1st

Patronage – Babies, Blacksmiths, Boatmen, Cattle, Chicken Farmers, Children whose parents are not married, Children of Abuse, Dairy Workers, Fugitives, Infants, Ireland, Printing Presses, Sailors, Scholars, Travelers, Watermen

St. Brigid of Kildare was born in 453 in Dundalk, and is one of Ireland’s patron saints along with St. Patrick, and St. Columba.  Legend tells that her mother was a Christian slave that was baptized by St. Patrick.  The Vita outlined Brigid’s early life and tells that she was born into slavery to a druid.  One thing is for sure, from early on in life, Brigid was holy.  When a druid tried to feed her, she would vomit because he was impure, and that is why a cow was assigned to her to sustain her.  As she grew older, Brigid performed many miracles, including healing the sick and feeding the poor.  As a young child, she gave away all of her mother’s butter that was stored up to the poor, and the butter was replenished in answer to St. Brigid’s prayer. This is a good example of the many miracles.  

Brigid was committed to the religious life, and her small oratory at Kildare became a center of religion and learning, and developed into a Cathedral city.  She founded two Monastic Institutions, one for men, and the other for women.  She appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them.   Brigid also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination; St. Conleth presided over this school.  

She was a friend to St. Patrick, and their friendship was said to be the pillars of the Irish people.  There was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind.  It was through St. Patrick and St. Brigid that Christ performed many great works.  Those who had witnessed them recorded miracles during her lifetime or had some relation to the person who had.  Most of her miracles were attributed to women, and if she wished or predicted something to occur, it came to pass.  A few examples – on Easter Sunday a leper had come to Brigid to ask for a cow.  She asked for a time to rest and would help him later, but he couldn’t wait and said he would go elsewhere for a cow.  Brigid then offered to heal him, but the man stubbornly replied that his condition allowed him to acquire more than he would if he was healthy.  She replied that was not true, and had one of her maidens wash the man with a blessed mug of water.  He was instantly cured and vowed to serve Brigid.  

On another occasion Brigid was traveling to see a physician for her headache.  His wife was not able to have children that survived, except the two daughters that were deaf and couldn’t speak since their birth.  She was traveling with these daughters when the horse suddenly stopped causing St. Brigid to wound her head on a stone.  He blood mixed with the water, and she instructed the girl to pour the bloodied water onto her neck in God’s name, causing the girl to be healed.  The other sister bowed down, and was instantly healed as well.  She told the cured sisters to return home and they would birth as many male children as their mother had lost.  From that moment on, anyone who touched that stone that injured St. Brigid was healed. 

One of the more commonly told stories of St. Brigid was when she went to the King of Leinster to ask for land to build a convent.  She told him the place where she stood was the perfect place for a convent.  It was beside a forest, easy to collect wood for fire and berries.  There was also a lake nearby for water.  He laughed at her and refused to give her any land.  Brigid prayed to God and asked him to soften the King’s heart.  Then she smiled at the King and said, “Will you give me as much land as my cloak will cover”? The King thought she was joking and agreed, telling her to spread her cloak on the ground.  She asked her four friends to hold a corner of the cloak and walk in opposite directions, and they did.  The cloak grew immediately and began to cover many acres of land.  The King realized that she was blessed by God, fell to the ground and knelt before her and promised her not only land, but money, food, and supplies.  He was converted and started to help the poor, and commissioned the construction of her new Convent.  Her land produced blueberries for jam in profound abundance, and people from all over Ireland sought it out. 

She died at Kildare on February 1. She is buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick, with whom she is the patron of Ireland.  

Practical Take Away

St. Brigid was from Ireland, and was a holy child that grew up to dedicate her life to the Church.  She founded both a monastery for women and one for men.  She was considered one of the pillars of faith in Ireland, along with saints Patrick and Columba.  She performed many miracles throughout her life, and is honored for the great faith in Ireland over the centuries.  Her compassion and love for the poor and sick was beyond compare, and she spent her life serving others.  She died on February 1st, and is buried with St. Patrick and St. Columba, in Downpatrick.