Monday, July 13, 2009

St. Bridget of Kildare - Pray for Burr Oak Cemetery Families and Give Them Comfort!

Last week was nuts! Burr Oak Cemetery was desecrated and thousands of my neighbors are at a loss to understand the monstrous misdeeds perpetrated on the souls now departed and their families.

I went to Mass and spent the whole time rubber necking and trying to coax a smile out of a blondie two year old trying to pull a Steve McQueen from her Mom and older sisters -'I not like Church!' Share it, Sister.

Last night I tried to make up for my crumby Mass by doing some reading and came upon a great site run by a Catholic Convert. We don't get many of them these days. I was touched by this remark on the Home Page, by Dee:

I am a recent convert to the Roman Catholic Church (2005) from Evangelical Protestantism. I'm interested in Catholic theology, Celtic spirituality, and Benedictine Spirituality. I am an Associate at Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY (Episcopalian) and work and live in beautiful New England. I love to travel, and my most recent trip was to the Holy Land in February 2008. I enjoy music, reading, family and friends. I enjoy blogging about my faith and facilitating the Great Adventure Bible Study, an overview of Salvation History. Hope you enjoy my new blog

I do, Dee. I am especially delighted to note that St. Bridget of Ireland is one of my favorite Saints. St. Bridget was the saint of the Mighty Oak. Kildare means the Church of the Oak in Irish. Bridget was a Celtic aristocrat who devoted her live to Christ. She was a powerful Abbess and leader long before the Second Wave Feminists and goofballs. St. Bridget like most great women put her whole heart, soul and muscle into getting the job done and without the reward of publicity. This is from Dee's site:

Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare in the eighth century, expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified it in good Latin. This is what is known as the "Second Life", and is an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cogitosus's work is the description of the Cathedral of Kildare in his day: "Solo spatioso et in altum minaci proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis". (The rood-screen was formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated curtains. )

Probably the famous Round Tower of Kildare dates from the sixth century. Although St. Brigid was "veiled" or received by St. Macaille, at Croghan, yet, it is tolerably certain that she was professed by St. Mel of Ardagh, who also conferred on her abbatial powers. From Ardagh St. Macaille and St. Brigid followed St. Mel into the country of Teffia in Meath, including portions of Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about the year 468. St. Brigid's small oratory at Cill-Dara became the centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply "selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction", and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth "to govern the church along with herself".

Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland.

Not alone was St. Bridget a patroness of students, but she also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination, over which St. Conleth presided. From the Kildare scriptorium came the wondrous book of the Gospels, which elicited unbounded praise from Giraldus Cambrensis, but which has disappeared since the Reformation.

According to this twelfth- century ecclesiastic, nothing that he had ever seen was at all comparable to the "Book of Kildare", every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and he concludes a most laudatory notice by saying that the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that "all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill".

Small wonder that Gerald Barry assumed the book to have been written night after night as St. Bridget prayed, "an angel furnishing the designs, the scribe copying". Even allowing for the exaggerated stories told of St. Brigid by her numerous biographers, it is certain that she ranks as one of the most remarkable Irishwomen of the fifth century and as the Patroness of Ireland. She is lovingly called the "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael" by a writer in the "Leabhar Breac". St. Brigid died leaving a cathedral city and school that became famous all over Europe. In her honour St. Ultan wrote a hymn commencing:

Christus in nostra insula Que vocatur Hivernia Ostensus est hominibus Maximis mirabilibus Que perfecit per felicem Celestis vite virginem Precellentem pro merito Magno in numdi circulo.(In our island of Hibernia Christ was made known to man by the very great miracles which he performed through the happy virgin of celestial life, famous for her merits through the whole world.)

The sixth Life of the saint printed by Colgan is attributed to Coelan, an Irish monk of the eighth century, and it derives a peculiar importance from the fact that it is prefaced by a foreword from the pen of St. Donatus, also an Irish monk, who became Bishop of Fiesole in 824. St. Donatus refers to previous lives by St. Ultan and St. Aileran. When dying, St. Brigid was attended by St. Ninnidh, who was ever afterwards known as "Ninnidh of the Clean Hand" because he had his right hand encased with a metal covering to prevent its ever being defiled, after being he medium of administering the viaticum to Ireland's Patroness.

She was interred at the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, and a costly tomb was erected over her. In after years her shrine was an object of veneration for pilgrims, especially on her feast day, 1 February, as Cogitosus related. About the year 878, owing to the Scandinavian raids, the relics of St. Brigid were taken to Downpatrick, where they were interred in the tomb of St. Patrick and St. Columba. The relics of the three saints were discovered in 1185, and on 9 June of the following year were solemnly translated to a suitable resting place in Downpatrick Cathedral, in presence of Cardinal Vivian, fifteen bishops, and numerous abbots and ecclesiastics. Various Continental breviaries of the pre-Reformation period commemorate St. Brigid, and her name is included in a litany in the Stowe Missal.

In Ireland today, after 1500 years, the memory of "the Mary of the Gael" is as dear as ever to the Irish heart, and, as is well known, Brigid preponderates as a female Christian name. Moreover, hundreds of place-names in her honour are to be found all over the country, e.g. Kilbride, Brideswell, Tubberbride, Templebride, etc. The hand of St. Brigid is preserved at Lumiar near Lisbon, Portugal, since 1587, and another relic is at St. Martin's Cologne.
Text taken from

The interesting part of this whole essay is that it is not mentioned directly but Brigid (pronounced Breed in the ancient Gaelic) is often confused, and their stores interwoven, with another Brigid who was a pagan and honored as a goddess. The whole idea that St. Brigid's convent was underneath a large oak tree, oaks being highly venerated by the Druids and priestesses of pagan Ireland, certainly has reinforced the idea for centuries.

Edward C. Sellner, in his book Wisdom of the Celtic Saints states that 'nuns at her monastery are said to have kept an eternal flame burning there, a custom that may have originated with female druids residing at that spot long before the saint arrived. Their leader supposedly was a high priestess who bore the name of the goddess Brigit or Brighid, a deity of wisdom, poetry, fire and the hearth. Like other Celtic goddesses who sometimes appear in groups of threes, the goddess Brigit was associated with two sisters by the same name -- one who was patron of healing and the other of the smith's craft. The attributes were eventually identified with Brigit, the saint, whose feast day, February 1, came to be celebrated on the same day as that of the pagan goddess.'

St. Bridget - Bring peace to the people hurting from Burr Oak Cemetery and give comfort to those who are confused.

1 comment:

Jane G Meyer said...

What a beautiful post about St. Brigid. She is indeed a wonderful saint to have praying for those in need!