Saint Brigid of Ireland

St Brigid of Ireland icon Today, February first, we commemorate St. Brigid of Ireland. Since my ancestors came from that region of Europe, I’m always intrigued by Celtic saints


When Ireland was newly converted to the Christian Faith, the Holy Abbess Bridget devoted herself to the establishment of the monastic life among the women of her country, and founded the renowned convent of Kildare-Kil, [which means Cell/Church of the Oak]. She was especially renowned for her great mercifulness, manifested in her lavish almsgiving and in miracles wrought for those in need. The Book of Armaugh, an ancient Irish chronicle, calls Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget “the pillars of the Irish” and says that through them both, “Christ performed many miracles.” She reposed in peace about the year 525. [1]


St_Brigid_of_Kildare_from_come_and_see_iconsAt the time of St. Brigid’s birth, the religion of the Druids dominated Irish culture. In that religion, Brid or Brigid, the goddess of fire, is among the most revered of the goddesses. The Irish petitioned Brid to bless them and lit bonfires in her honor.

St. Brigid was born to a pagan chieftain and one of his Christian slaves. Named Brigid, perhaps to obtain the blessings of the goddess, she eventually became a priestess of Brid at a pagan sanctuary. There, she and her companions maintained a ritual fire in honor of Brid. While the events of Brigid’s conversion are unknown, she and her companions all accepted the Christian faith. They also formed first religious community of Christian women in Ireland. Brigid converted the pagan sanctuary to a Christian shrine and transformed the ritual fire to one in honor of Christ.

St-Brigid-of-Ireland-icon_thumb[4]The Irish likened her to Brid. Her life appeared touched with fire, and her wisdom was celebrated. She shared her wisdom with simplicity, weaving a small cross from rushes to explain the Passion. Reverence for Brigid, lovingly honored as the Mary of the Gael, grew so strong that her influence eclipsed that of Brid. St. Brigid contributed greatly to the early growth of the Church in Ireland and she is interred with St. Patrick at Downpatrick. [2]


St Brigid Bridget of IrelandThe 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. [3]


For those who wish to sing hymns in honor of St. Brigid, I have provided the Troparia from the Menaion by St. John of Kronstadt Press.

Troparion of St Brigid of Kildare – The 1st Tone

O holy Brigid, thou didst become sublime through thy humility,/ and didst fly on the wings of thy longing for God./ When thou didst arrive in the Eternal City and appear before thy Divine Spouse,/ wearing the crown of virginity,/ thou didst keep thy promise/ to remember those who have recourse to thee./ Thou dost shower grace upon the world, and dost multiply miracles./ Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion of St Brigid – The 4th Tone

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./ Wherefore 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.


[1] Synaxarion reading from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s Daily Readings

[2] Biography from

[3] Miracle narrative from the Orthodox Church of America‘s detailed page on St. Brigid.  Click the link provided for a fuller biography.

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