Brigid

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So instead they made her a saint. Many of the ancient legends of the goddess were soon to become the deeds of the saint. Note: Some scholars cite evidence that Saint Brigid was an actual woman, the daughter of a Druid king and his Christian wife.

Ireland’s own 5th-century female bishop: Brigid of Kildare

Discover more This was seen as the beginning of the end for the Old Ways. Her evolution from Goddess to saint linked Pagan Celtic and Christian traditions much the same way the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Holy Grail were combined in Arthurian legend. She acts as a bridge between the two worlds and successfully made the transition back to Goddess again with most of Her traditions retained. The worship of Saint Brigid has persisted up until the early 20th century with Her Irish cult nearly supplanting that of Mary. She is commemorated in both Ireland and the highlands and islands of Scotland.

In order to incorporate Brigid into Christian worship, and thus insure Her survival, Her involvement in the life of Jesus became the stuff of legend. According to the stories in The Lives of the Saints, Brigid was the midwife present at the birth, placing three drops of water on His forehead. This seems to be a Christianized version of an ancient Celtic myth concerning the Sun of Light upon Whose head three drops of water were placed in order to confer wisdom.

Further, as a Christianized saint, Brigid was said to be the foster-mother of Jesus, fostering being a common practice among the Celts. She took the Child to save Him from the slaughter of male infants supposedly instigated by Herod. She wore a headdress of candles to light their way to safety. There exists an apocryphal gospel of Thomas that was excluded from the Bible in which he claims a web was woven to protect the infant Jesus from harm. This is in keeping with Her status as the patron of domestic arts, weaving wool from Her ewes, increasing the connections as a pastoral Goddess.

Due to the original differences between the Roman church and that which was once an extremely divergent type of Christianity practiced in the Western Isles, particularly Ireland, many of the older deities made the transition from Gods and Goddesses to saints, some experiencing Church-inflicted gender changes on the way. Often thinly-disguised pagan worship was continued in monasteries and convents which were built on or near the sites sacred to the Celtic pantheon.

Many of the great monasteries - Clonmacnoise, Durrow and Brigid's own Kildare - were great centres of learning and culture, with information disseminated from these sites to Western Europe This is much the same as the great Druidic colleges and it is not surprising to find that places sacred to the new religion were built upon the foundations of the old.


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These cloisters are thought to have kept alive and preserved much of classic culture in Europe throughout the Dark Ages. During this period of time, wars were decimating the population. Mary, as the Mother in this new religion, was embraced by women who felt a similar experience of sacrificing their sons to a political and religious machine. As Saint Brigid, there are rays of sunlight coming from Her head, as portrayed as a Goddess. Themes of milk, fire, Sun and serpents followed Her on this path, adding to Her ever-growing popularity.

Brigid Mae Power

Compassion, generosity, hospitality, spinning and weaving, smithwork, healing and agriculture ran throughout Her various lives and evolution. E, and is still used there today to protect the harvest and farm animals. One of the stories of Her life as a saint supports Her original attribute as a solar deity. During Her infancy the neighbours ran to Her house, thinking it was afire.

This radiance came from the infant saint, a demonstration of Her grace bestowed as by the holy Spirit. A prayer to Saint Brigid requests,. Brigit, ever excellent woman, golden sparkling flame, lead us to the eternal Kingdom, the dazzling resplendent sun. Even in Her new incarnation as a Catholic saint Her previous existence is affirmed.

The shrine at Kildare is assumed to be a Christian survival of an ancient college of vestal priestesses who were trained and then scattered throughout the land to tend sacred wells, groves, caves and hills. These priestesses were originally committed to thirty years in service but, after this period, were free to marry and leave. The first ten years were spent in training, ten in the practice of their duties and the final ten in teaching others, similar to the three degrees of initiation found in most traditions.

These women preserved old traditions, studied sciences and healing remedies and, perhaps, even the laws of state. At Kildare their duties must have involved more than merely tending the fire. This perpetual fire at the monastic city was tended by nineteen nuns over a period of nineteen days.

On the twentieth day, Brigid Herself is said to keep the fire burning. The site for the monastery at Kildare was chosen for its elevation and also for the ancient Oak found there, considered so sacred that no weapon was permitted to be placed near it, with fines collected for the gathering of deadfalls within its area. The preservation of the sacred fire became the focus of this convent. The abbess was considered to be the reincarnation of the saint and each abbess automatically took the name, Brigid, upon investiture.

The convent was occupied continuously until C. At this point, Dermot MacMurrough wished to have a relative of his invested as the abbess. Although popular opinion was against him, his troops overran the convent and raped the reigning abbess in order to discredit her. During the time the convent was occupied by the saint Herself, She went from the position of Mother Goddess to that of Lawgiver, paralleling Minerva, once again.

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Her ability to move between categories is the secret of Her continuing success. When the laws were written down and codified by Christianity, Brigid figured largely to insure that the rights of women were remembered. These laws had been committed to memory by the brehons as a part of the extensive oral tradition. Instead of saying the prayer as he did to the other woman, Bishop Mel spoke the words that ordained Brigid as a Bishop. Such an event was unheard of in the church given that only men could be ordained priests or bishops, yet Brigid was recognised in her lifetime as a Bishop of the church.

Brigid also established a school of art and metal work which became famous for the high quality of its designs and products. The brooch represents the artistic and creative work commenced by Brigid and her followers. Another brooch legend tells of a deceitful man who lent a silver brooch to a woman and then, without her knowledge, removed it from her house so that she would be indebted to him and be forced to become his slave. To ensure the brooch would not be found, the man threw it into the sea so that the woman would forever be his slave.

Some time later a fisherman brought a fish to Brigid who cut it open to reveal the missing brooch. Brigid took the brooch to the deceitful man and, through independent witnesses, proved that this was the missing brooch and had the woman released from her slavery. Brigid is famous for establishing a monastery a place where people dedicated to a religious life live and work at Cil Dara, now known as Kildare.

Brid or Brigid is thought to have been born in Ireland about the year Her mother was a Christian slave and her father a powerful Chieftain named Dubhtach.

How is St. Brigid connected with the great Celtic goddess?

Strong in spirit from an early age, Brigid had definite views about what was right or wrong. Her mother was an early follower of the Christian religion in a time when most Irish people still followed the ancient religion of the Druids. Brigid became famous throughout Ireland. She travelled extensively establishing other monasteries that became centres for farming, craft, copying religious books, and teaching people to read and write.

Brigid died at the age of about 70, but her work continued within the monasteries that she had established until about the 16th century. However, in , Bishop Daniel Delany re-created a group of religious women called the Brigidine Sisters who for the last years have modelled their lives and work on that of Brigid. The oak tree is of particular significance because Kildare takes its name from Cil Dara, the church of the oak, where St Brigid established her monastery.

In ancient times, people who followed the Druid religion would gather in Oak forests to worship. Oak trees were therefore associated with religious practice from early times and it was appropriate that Brigid would establish her monastery within a cluster of oak trees. Many Brigidine schools have oak trees grown from acorns taken from the oak tree in Tullow, founding place of the Brigidine Sisters. This oak tree was planted by Bishop Daniel Delany in re-founding the Brigidine Sisters from an acorn taken from Kildare where Brigid had established her monastery years previously.

Saint Brigid of Kildare

Clochans or Beehive Huts were dwellings made from shaped rocks that fit together without mortar. Often grouped together for protection, they sometimes were located close to a ringed fort also made of rocks in which animals could be kept and which also acted as a place to defend the community when under attack. Many Irish communities built round towers as places of safety.

They were used as bell towers and places of safe storage for precious belongings such as books. In times of personal danger when a community was under threat or attack, people would lock themselves in the round tower and simply wait for the attacking forces to go away. As the story is told, Brigid went to the King of Leinster to tell him she needed land upon which to build a monastery.

That can be settled easily. On hearing that, Brigid removed her cloak and laid it on the ground.


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  • Then to the amazement and astonishment of everyone watching, the cloak began to grow.

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