St Brigid is one of Ireland’s most beloved patron saints. Her feast day, February 1st, marks the beginning of the Irish spring. Also called Muire na nGael, or Mary of the Irish, she’s well known for her generosity, her kindness to the less fortunate, and her miracles. St Brigid
was born around 450 a.d. in Faughart in County Louth
to a pagan chieftain, Dubthach, and a Christian mother, Briocsech. She lived during the time St Patrick
was teaching across the island of Ireland and his work inspired her to become a Christian. St Brigid wanted to spend her life serving God and helping the poor. She would often give away her father’s riches to people in need. But her father wanted to marry her off to a rich man. According to legend, St Brigid prayed to God, asking him to take away her beauty so that no one would want to marry her. Her prayer was answered and she was allowed to pursue a life of faith. It is said that after she vowed to dedicate her life to God and joined a convent, she became more beautiful than she’d ever been before.
St Brigid’s cloak and cross are two of her most famous and powerful symbols. St Brigid was said to have been freed from slavery by the King of Leinster. She needed land in modern day Kildare
to start a convent and she asked him only for the land that her cloak would cover. The king laughed at her but granted her request. St Brigid’s friends helped her carry the corners of the cloak in opposite directions and it grew as they walked, soon covering miles of fertile land. The king was astounded and gave her the land that would become Kildare where she built her convent. It is said that the king was converted to Christianity because of St Brigid’s miracle.
St Brigid’s cross is traditionally hung in doorways and in rafters, meant to ward off evil and house fires. The lore behind it says that St Brigid was asked to comfort a dying pagan chieftain, possibly her father. When she arrived at the sick man’s house, he was raving, thought to be beyond consoling and saving. St Brigid calmed him down and began weaving a cross for him from rushes she found on the floor. Watching her work, he asked what she was doing and she explained the story of the Christian cross and the story of salvation to him. Through her story, he became a Christian and asked to be baptised before he died. Today, kids in school weave St Brigid’s crosses to learn the story.
Can our community share their favorite St Brigid’s day traditions and what the holiday means to them?