Blessed St Bride’s day.
In rural Ireland, Imbolc is considered by many to be the first day of Spring, and coincides with Lá Fhéile Bhride, the Feast day of Saint Brigid.
The Druids regarded ‘Brid’ , as a most powerful and beloved Goddess, and on this day bonfires were lit in her honour.
Saint Brigid, known as Mary of the Gael, was born around 450 in Faughart, County Louth in Ulster. Her father, Dagda, was a Druidic High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann and her mother was a Queen called Brocessa.
One day her father took Brigid to the court of a rival King, and, leaving her outside to wait for him, he asked the King to marry Brigid to one of his sons.
When the King asked to see the girl, they found Brigid giving away her father’s sword to a beggar.
This sword had been presented to Dagda by the King, who said, ‘I cannot accept a girl into our family who holds a sword so cheaply’, and so it was that Brigid avoided being married.
Being very beautiful, Brigid had numerous suitors. Her father, still eager to marry her off, was not impressed by her conversion to Christianity or her vow of perpetual chastity, and remained determined to find her a husband.
So at the age of sixteen, Brigid implored Christ to make her so unattractive that nobody would want her as a wife.
Her prayer was answered; one of her eyes became grotesquely huge, while the other eye shrank – and it is said that upon seeing this, her father finally allowed her to become a nun.
But it is said that during the ceremony, Angels put a veil over her head, and her beauty was instantly restored, only this time even more luminous.
St Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of St Mael of Ardagh and was granted by the King of Leinster the possession of a plain called the Curragh, where she built herself a hermitage under a large oak tree, called Kill-dara, or Cell of the Oak.
As the leader of a community which later became Ireland’s most renowned center of learning, Brigid became an important figure in the ancient world, eventually assuming the role of Bishop.
Brigid set up an eternal flame to represent the Holy Spirit’s constant presence. The flame was extinguished several hundred years later during the Reformation, but it burns again today in Kildare.
St Brigid died on 1 February 524. She was buried at Kildare, and her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions.
She is regarded as patroness of Ireland, second only to the Mother of God, and is venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.
Blessed St Bride’s day.
Gabhaim molta Bride.
I praise Brigid.
Ionmhain í le hÉireann
Beloved in all Ireland
Ionmhain le gach tír í
Beloved in all countries
Molaimis go léir í
Let us all praise her.
Lóchrann geal na Laighneach
The bright torch of Leinster
‘Soilsiú feadh na tire
Shining throughout the country
Ceann ar óghaibh Éireann
The pride of Irish youth
Ceann na mban ar mine
The pride of our gentle women.
Tig an gheimhreadh dian dubh
The house of winter is very dark
Gearradh lena ghéire
Cutting with its sharpness
Ach ar Lá ‘le Bríde:
But on Brigid’s Day
Gar dúinn Earrach Éireann.
Spring is near to Ireland..
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