The Saint Bridget's Cross is one of the most well – known symbols in Ireland. But who was Saint Bridget and what did she do? Saint Bridget was marked by her remarkable selflessness. She had little to no self love and gave all she could to help the poor. She was esteemed at an early age by her humility and charity and is considered as one of the greatest saints in Ireland.
Her purity was evident from an early age. The young child was born to a Catholic slave woman who was subject to a Druid. Her father – a well known wealthy politician sold her mother on his wife's request after she fell pregnant with Bridget. Born into slavery and poverty and living under the rule of a Druid it would seem the child would have very little opportunity. In one Legend, it was believed that Bridget was been fed by the Druid and she would vomit because of his impurity and for this reason was sustained by milk from a white cow. Her childhood was filled with miracles and the impossible. She once gave her mothers whole supply of butter away to the poor and then prayed to God for it to be restored - which is did. From a tiny age, this little girls faith in God surpassed most wise and learned men.
At ten years old, Bridget was sent to live with her father – a request of her father who had rule over her. She was to work as a slave for him but her generosity became an annoyance to him and his wife when she gave away nearly all of his belongings to the poor. Enraged with her generosity, he brought her to the king, hoping to sell her off for marriage. As her father was speaking to the Christian king – Bridget gave away her fathers sword to a poor man which angered her fathers wife who accused her of stealing. The king recognized her holiness and released Bridget from slavery because he said ''she belonged to God''. Bridget returned to the Druid and her mother where she worked on the farm. She gave milk abundantly to all the beggars and the farm continued to miraculously prosper. The druid totally overcome with the awe at the the plentiful stock even though she was giving it away, promised her all the cows and her freedom. Instead, the saint asked for her mothers freedom. Her mother was released and he gave her all his cows – which she gave to the poor . The druid was baptized and became Catholic.
A Vow To God
Bridget took a vow of Chasity in honor of God – meaning she would remain single and pure for the rest of her life. Her brothers been annoyed at the lose of the money they would receive because of her decision and her father had already arranged for her to marry a king. Unsure if they would make her take a husband – Bridget prayed to God to take her beauty away so that no one would ever want to marry her. Her brothers were still insistent on marrying her off and when one of them mocked her that her pretty little eye would be seeing a man, she stuck her finger in her eye which left her deformed. Her brothers panicked and tried to save her eye knowing no man would want her if she had a deformed eye. Finding no water to help her, she made a puddle of water appear and told her brother that both his eyes would explode in his head. Once she had said it both of his eyes exploded in his head.
When she became at proper age she entered religious life. She went to Croghan Hill and asked Saint Maccaille, to admit her into religious life there. At the time, there was no convent in the area but a church. Saint Maccaille who felt she was sincere, decided to allow the convent to be set up. Her convent was one of joy and love and seemed to receive a blessing from God as many people came from all around to enter into her convent. Soon men wanted to join the order and so a Bishop was appointed to over see the order. Her convent was hugely successful and nuns and priests lived and worked there together.
Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget grew up in the same era. It is believed Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget were great friends with a shared interest in love for God, love for neighbors and building the church of Christ. Saint Patrick baptized Bridget and he also was the Bishop who heard her final vows. During her vows it is illustrated that he read to her the form of a priest by accident and upon correction he said ''so be it – she is destined for great things''. When her final vows had been completed, her eye maliciously healed – as their was no more danger of her been married off to a man.
Her devoutness and love for God motivated her to grow the religious community God had entrusted to her. She sought to open another order for the community and petitioned the King of Lenister to allow her to have whatever land her cloak covered. The king was amused at the request and agreed to it, but when Bridget took off her cloak and began covering the land with it, it covered the whole of Curragh. In bewilderment, the king signed her the land he agreed to give her.
Saint Bridget walked with a spirit of love and compassion in her heart especially for the poor and sick. Her generosity was evident from the out set but her healings of the sick people continue to amaze people. Here are some the miraculous healings by Saint Bridget of Ireland:
- After hitting her head on a rock while travelling with two mute girls, she had an open wound on her head. The young girls touched her bloody wound which healed them of their muteness.
- According to one legend, she cured a man with lepracy by blessing water and having him bath in the water. His illness completely vanished.
- She healed lepers and beggers as she passed them on the roads.
- She turned water to milk by blessing it and told a young lady to drink it. After she drank it she became healed.
- While transporting a sick man, lepers asked Bridget if they could have her chariot. Unable to refuse them – she said yes but to let her take the sick man to his destination. They wouldn't agree and she was left on the side of the road with the sick man, who miraculously recovered on the spot.
Ireland's Patron Saint
Saint Bridget died on the 1st of February. Her cross hangs on doorways across Ireland as a form of protection from evil. The cross became widely popular when she converted a pagan on his death bed. She began making the cross and he became curious to what she was doing – she explained the cross and the man asked to be baptized and died in peace. While not as many people hang her cross, it is still widely available and fun to make.
Bridget is patron Saint of infants, children from broken homes, dairy farmers, travellers, Ireland, the poor and nuns.