LIFE OF ST. BRIDGET
Saint Bridget, more properly BRIGID, one of the patron Saints of Ireland, was born at Faughart in County Louth; her birth date was around 460. Her mother was a slave-girl, but the child was acknowledged by her father, a Prince of Ulster, and given to a foster mother to rear.
Having been instructed in letters and the accomplishments of embroidery and household duties, she was sought in marriage by an eager suitor whom she rejected on the grounds that she had vowed "her virginity to the Lord." Refusing to marry, she chose a life of seclusion, making her cell, the first in Ireland, under a large oak tree, whence the place was called Kil-dara, "the Church of the Oak." The city of Kildare is supposed to have derived its name from St. Brigid's cell.
The Life of St. Brigid written in the 7th century represents her as a new type of Irish Woman - the Christian Saint. Her likeness to modern missionary sisters is remarkable; she often left Kildare in her chariot, doing the work of the Lord's charity in distant parts. To her countrymen she was "the Mary of the Gael", and when they went as missionaries and pilgrims to the Continent of Europe, they spread devotion to her whenever they settled. St. Brigid, St. Patrick, and St. Colmcille are the three patron Saints of Ireland.
Just as the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick, so is the tiny cross made of rushes linked to Brigid. While explaining the Passion to a dying pagan, she wove a cross from the rushes strewn about the floor. They are still made in Ireland today and placed in the rafters of cottages on St. Brigid's day (February 1st) to ward off harm.
The year of her death is generally placed around 528. She was buried at Kildare, but her remains were afterwards translated to Downpatrick, where they were laid beside the bodies of St. Patrick and St. Columba. Her feast is celebrated on the 1st of February. A large collection of miraculous stories clustered around her name, and her reputation was not confined to Ireland, for under the name of St. Bride, she became a favorite Saint in England and Scotland.
A beautiful stained glass window depicting Saint Bridget brightens the left panel of our church altar. A balance of patron saints is achieved with the presentation of Saint Patrick in the right panel. The Abington parish of St. Bridget's eloquently expresses its devotion to Saint Bridget with this window.
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