Troparion – Tone 1
O holy Brigid, you became sublime through your humility,
and flew on the wings of your longing for God.
When you arrived in the eternal City and appeared before your Divine Spouse, wearing the crown of virginity, you kept your promise
to remember those who have recourse to you.
You shower grace upon the world, and multiply miracles.
Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.
Kontakion – Tone 4
The holy virgin Brigid full of divine wisdom,
went with joy along the way of evangelical childhood,
and with the grace of God attained in this way the summit of virtue.
She now bestows blessings upon those who come to her with faith.
O holy Virgin, intercede with Christ our God
that He may have mercy on our souls.
Saint Brigid, “the Mary of the Gael,” was born around 450 in Faughart, about two miles from Dundalk in County Louth. According to Tradition, her father was a pagan named Dubthach, and her mother was Brocessa (Broiseach), one of his slaves.
Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father’s possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king’s court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father’s sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, “I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap.”
St Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of St Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Soon after this, she established a monastery on land given to her by the King of Leinster. The land was called Cill Dara (Kildare), or “the church of the oak.” This was the beginning of women’s cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.
The miracles performed by St Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. St Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara’s eyes. All at once, the blind nun’s eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to St Brigid and said, “Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul.” St Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.
St Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 after receiving Holy Communion from St Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with St Patrick (March 17) and St Columba of Iona (June 9).Late in the thirteenth century, her head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar, about three miles from Lisbon. Portions of the relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in a new church of St Brigid in Dublin. The relics of St Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the sixteenth century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.
The tradition of making St Brigid’s crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong. She is also venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.
Born the daughter of an Irish chieftan circa 453 AD Saint Bridgid became a nun whose desire was to relieve the misery and hardship of the poor. Her feast day, the date of her death is February 1st. The popular tradition of the woven St Bridgid cross is believed to have begun during a visit by Bridgid to a dying pagan chieftan. To illustrate the significance of the Christian faith she quickly wove a simple cross from the rushes strewn on the floor covering of the time. From this time on the woven rush cross has become synonymous with the Saint. Commonly hung over the doorway in many Irish homes it is believed to bless and bring luck to every person who crosses the threshold.
Directions for making a St. Bridgid Cross:
Contributed by Aleksandra:
We made the St. Bridgit Crosses last year out of the paper twists and they turned out nice. The great St. Columba who was apostle to the Scots of Scotland, when he was sailing to his monastery on the Isle of Iona, was caught in a great storm. He called upon Christ and His saint Brigit to calm the storm and his prayers were answered. After that, he wrote an ode to the saint, from which the following troparion is composed: “Pure virgin and flame of the Lord, O Brigit, guide to the Eternal Kingdom, deliver us, by the prayers, from the throngs of demons and the storms of life, and pray to Christ God that our souls be saved.” Above taken from her story in “Lives of Saints for Young People, Vol.5“, Synaxix Press. There is also a drawing of her in the book which the children copied and colored. It was a nice alternative to “Valentine’s Day” and we know a lot of Brigits!
Celebrating the Feast of St. Brigid
We celebrate the St. Brigid’s Day, each year on February 1, by making Irish Soda Bread and butter. Sometimes we also make other crafts, but we always make the bread and butter, tell the story of her life and sing the troparion in her honor. We often have tea with our bread and butter. We also make extra to give away, to emphasize caring for others and hospitality, as the saint did.
Here is a Life of St. Brigid, and here is a recipe for the Irish Soda Bread. We hope you enjoy reading her life and making Irish Soda Bread and butter. It is a delightful custom.There are several sites with more information about this saint, and a lovely icon at ComeAndSeeIcons.com.
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