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Our Patron, St. Brigid of Ireland (451-526 A.D.)


St. Brigid was one of many holy men and women who continued St. Patrick's work of converting the Celtic pagans after his death. She was named after Brigit (or Brigantia), an ancient Celtic goddess of poetry, crafts, prophecy, and divination. Brigid was reared in the mid-5th Century at Faughart near Dundalk. Her father was a pagan chief, her mother a slave. Brigid and her mother were later sold to a druid. As a child, Brigid herded sheep, pigs, and cattle and grew to love animals; she is frequently pictured with a cow. (See the statue of the saint in the narthex).


Brigid returned to her father when she was grown. He wished her to marry the King of Ulster, but she refused and eventually won his permission to become a nun. The King of Lienster gave her the Curragh, a plain in Kildare (Cill Dara in Irish) -- the Church of the Oak). Brigid built many convents in Ireland, but Kildare was the most famous; it housed both monks and nuns.


St. Brigid as abbess ranked above the abbot who governed the monks; thus she is often shown carrying a bishop's crozier (as in our statue). Some early accounts state that Brigid was consecrated a bishop by St. Mel.


St. Brigid was once called to the bedside of a dying pagan chief. She spoke to him about God and Christ's love for mankind. To illustrate her point, she picked some of the rushes covering the dirt floor and wove them into a cross, which she then used to help him understand how Christ died. Brigid is revered for her gentleness, piety, and charity to the poor.