This year on Sunday, February 3 we will celebrate St.Brigid’s feast day with Mass at 11h30 in Chapelle Saint-Patrick. Afterwards we will mark this occasion with our annual community lunch in the Salle de Conference. St Brigid like St Patrick is one of the most venerated saints in Ireland and she is held in high esteem by the Irish people. On Sunday we wish to honour and praise this special patron of Ireland.
St Brigid of Ireland, the Mary of the Gaels is a difficult figure to define and seemed destined for a special life.Brigid is believed to have been born at Faughart near Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland. According to some accounts, her father was Dubhthach, a pagan (possible Druid) chieftain of Leinster and her mother was Brocca, a Christian who had been baptized by Saint Patrick. Other sources, however suggest that Brigid’s mother was in fact Portuguese, kidnapped by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland to work as a slave in much the same way as Patrick had been.
Together with seven other dedicated women she formed the first ever female monastic community in Ireland in the year 468 AD. They helped the poor of the time and were attributed with many miracles. Despite having limited resources they never seemed to be without food or supplies for their good works. She founded a School of Art and a Monastery at Cill Dara, in which the modern town of Kildare now stands. She continued her holy and charitable work until her death in 526 AD, when she was laid to rest in a jeweled casket at Cill Dara. The date of her death, February 1, is now her feast day.
February 1,is still celebrated with the traditional creation of the Saint Brigid Cross, made from rushes.
In 835 AD, her remains were moved to protect them from Norse invaders and interred in the same grave that holds the remains of St. Patrick and St. Columcille at Downpatrick in County Down.
So strong was the respect and reverence for this holy lady that she became the patroness of parishes, towns and counties, not only in Ireland, but also across Europe.
On February 3 you will also be able to receive a Brigid Cross made of rushes that we will have delivered all the way from Ireland. Legend tells us that one day Brigid visited a pagan chieftain who was on his deathbed. As she sat by his bed, she reached down and picked up some rushes from the floor and wove them into a cross. The chieftain asked what she was doing and she told him about the significance of the Christian cross and how Jesus had died to save all people, including him. He was overcome by the idea that he could be loved so much and was converted to Christianity before he died.
The cross is traditionally woven on St. Brigid’s Eve and placed in the home, usually over the door, to bless all who come in or go out, and to gain protection of the household from fire and disease. In some parts of Ireland, as they hung up the cross they said this prayer:
“May the blessing of God and the Trinity be on this cross, and on the home where it hangs and on everyone who looks at it”
We hope that everyone can join us on this very special occasion and for after Mass for our annual community lunch in the Salle de Conference on the grounds of the Irish College with some light refreshment. Those of you who can bring something to share for lunch would be very appreciated and it can be left in the Salle de Conference before Mass. Both savoury and sweet are welcome. We look forward to this joyous occasion!
To find out more about St Brigid visit the Kildare Town website which has a very informative section about her. You can also visit the KANDLE – Kildare & Leighlin website for suitable resources to celebrate St Brigid: prayers, intercessions and hymns.