Friday, January 29, 2010

St. Brigid of Kildare

This coming Monday, February 1, marks the feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland, a pre-schism Western saint, a contemporary of St. Patrick, and also my patron.

St. Brigid "did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him, and ever constantly thinking of Him, as evident in her own life [. . .] She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her life proves [. . .] She spent indeed 74 years diligently serving the Lord, performing signs and miracles, curing every disease, and sickness in general as evident in her own life, until she yielded her spirit, [. . .] A.D. 525 [or] 522, [. . .] and she was buried at D/un in one tomb with Patrick, where Colum Cille was afterwards interred."

It's too late to order it for Monday, but there is a new children's book about St. Brigid with beautiful illustrations written by an Orthodox mom and published by Conciliar Press. (See thumbnail on the right.)

In lieu of the children's book, you can learn more about Saint Brigid online. There are many primary sources available here. (I also wrote a brief tribute to her on my own blog last year; click here to read it.)

Here are several ideas for celebrating her wondrous life of devotion and faith:
  • Make a St. Brigid Cross and hang it over the doorway; keep it there until next year and then replace it with a new one. If you don't have rushes or long grass near you, you can substitute with palm leaves, plastic straws, or something else creative. If you can, take the rushes to church on Sunday to have them blessed by the priest before you make the crosses.
  • In the spirit of St. Brigid's generosity, assemble emergency kits for IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) to send to people in places like Haiti.
  • Collect dandelions, which are sometimes spoken of as "Brigid's Flower."
  • Make wheat- or cross-shaped bread and serve with butter. (For example, see Pain d'Epi recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or use an oat bread recipe.) Before she became an abbess, Brigid was a dairy maid.
  • Visit a (dairy) farm and feed the animals.
  • Serve corn beef and cabbage or other hearty Irish dinner, and invite some friends or neighbors to share it with you (perhaps a poor family who cannot afford to eat nice dinners).
  • And don't forget the beer (for the adults, that is)! Brigid is known as the patron saint of beer because of her miraculous multiplying of beer to supply the county churches for Bright week after Pascha.
  • If someone in the family (or one of your guests) has St. Brigid as her patron or namesake, have her wear a white dress and pretend to be the saint knocking at the door saying "Go on your knees, open your eyes, and let Brigid in." The family should answer from within "Greeting, greeting to the noble woman."
  • Pray and sing hymns to St. Brigid, the "Mary of the Gael":
Troparion (Tone 1)
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.

(Saint Bride painting by John Duncan)

Bonny Saint Brigid, pray for us!


Jane G Meyer said...

Beautiful post, and wonderful assortment of ideas!

And I love the final salutation... May you all enjoy a wonderful feast day on the first!

Jen said...

Thanks, Jane!

sjm said...

If you live in the Santa Barbara area Jane will be doing a presentation for St. Athanasius Antiochian Orthodox Church's Womens' Fellowship this Saturday, February 6. Contact me for more information if you're interested!


::Sylvia:: said...

What a beautiful icon of St. Brigid! What a wealth of resources you have here! I will be linking to this blog if it's ok with you! A blessed Lenten season to you!