Our Patron, Saint Bridget of Ireland
St. Bridget is the most well-known female leader of the early Celtic Christian Church. She is one of Ireland’s patron saints along with Saints Patrick and Columba. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several monasteries of Christian nuns, including that monastery of ‘Kildare’ Ireland, which was considered legendary and was highly revered.
Her feast day is the 1st of February, celebrated as St. Bridget’s Day (this is an anglicized spelling of the Saint’s name; another common spelling is St Brigid) or Imbolc in Gaelic Ireland, one of the four quarter days of the pagan year, which marked the beginning of spring, lambing, and lactation in cattle.
Saint Bridget is one of the few saints who stands on the boundary between pagan mythology, Druidism and Christian spirituality.
St. Bridget’s Cross
A Christian symbol possibly deriving from the pagan sunwheel, it is usually made from rushes or, less often, straw. It comprises a woven square in the centre and four radials tied at the ends. Bridget’s crosses are traditionally made on February 1st, which in the Irish language is called Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St Bridget’s feast day), the day of her liturgical celebration. Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses. It was traditionally believed that a Bridget’s Cross protects the house from fire and evil. It is hung in many Irish and Irish-American kitchens for this purpose.
St. Bridget and her cross are linked together by a story about her weaving this form of cross at the death-bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptized. One version goes as follows:
A pagan chieftain from the neighbourhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Bridget to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived, the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Bridget sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Bridget stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.
Learn more on Wikipedia.