St. Brigid Icon

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St. Brigid of Ireland Second only to Saint Patrick as a patron of Ireland, Saint Brigid (St. Bride) holds a cross woven from rushes (“St. Brigid’s cross”), which was her custom to make when she was instructing the pagans, and which are hung anew in Irish homes each year on her feastday. In the other hand she holds a bowl of “Saint Brigid’s fire,” a miraculous fire which burned at her convent for centuries. Born in Ireland in the 5th Century, St. Brigid’s parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. Her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Lienster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court. Even as a young girl she evinced an interest for a religious life and took the veil in her youth from St. Macaille at Croghan and probably was professed by St. Mel of Armagh, who is believed to have conferred abbatial authority on her. She settled with seven of her virgins at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time and about the year 468, followed Mel to Meath. About the year 470 she founded a double monastery at Cill-Dara (Kildare) and was Abbess of the convent, the first in Ireland. The foundation developed into a center of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral city of Kildare. She founded a school of art at Kildare and its illuminated manuscripts became famous, notably the Book of Kildare, which was praised as one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts before its disappearance three centuries ago. 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. Her name is sometimes Bridget and Bride. Her feast day is February 1.

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