Abbess(d. ca. 523)
+ Born in County Louth, Ireland, to parents baptized by Saint Patrick, Brigid shows signs of devotion and piety from her youth.
+ According to one legend, Brigid asked God to take away her beauty in order to escape marriage and to pursue her religious vocation. God granted her request. Regardless of the truth of this legend, it is recorded that she received the monastic habit from the missionary-bishop Saint Mel.
+ Brigid established her first monastery in Ireland at Cil-Dara (now Kildare). She presided over this community for many years. She also established monasteries in other parts of Ireland and came to hold a great deal of influence within the early Irish Church.
+ Honored for her dedication to the poor and needy, Brigid died around the year 523 and was buried in Downpatrick in the same grave as Saint Patrick and Saint Columba. She is honored as one of the patron saints of Ireland.
+ A popular image associated with Saint Brigid is the “Brigid’s cross.” This is a small cross usually woven from rushes or wheat and typically has four arms tied at the ends and a woven square in the middle. An early, three-armed version has been associated with pre-Christian worship of the sun.
For prayer and reflection
“Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.”—Ephesians 3:16-19
On February 1 we also remember the monk and bishop Saint John “of the Grating.” A Cistercian monk at the abbey of Clairvaux, he professed his monastic vows to the great Saint Bernard. John served as abbot in the monastery of Guingamp, France, he later founded and served as abbot of abbeys in Buzay and Bégard; he was known as fair and just abbot. In 1144, he was named as bishop of Aleth (modern-day Saint-Servan) and served in that post until his death in 1163. The name by which is he is known—de Craticula (“of the Grating”)—is named for the metal railings that surround his shrine.
origin and reward of all charity,
you called Saint Brigid to teach the new commandment of love
through her life of hospitality and her care of the needy;
give to your people, by her intercession,
a generous spirit,
so that, with hearts made pure,
we may show your love to all.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect for the Feast of Saint Brigid, approved by the Irish Episcopal Conference and the Holy See)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.