St Brigid/ Brigit – Patroness of Ireland
To understand Brigid/ Brigit, the Christian saint, one needs to look briefly at the ancient beliefs that prevailed in Ireland prior to the coming of Christianity.
Male and Female deities, one of which was Brigid/ Brigit, were revered and worshipped in ancient Ireland. A great cult surrounded her. She is associated in Irish Folklore and literature with the gifts of poetry, healing and smithcraft, and is also identified with nurture, fertility and fire. With the coming of Christianity to Ireland, the power of the pre-Christian deities began to wane. Christianity slowly took root, assimilating features of the older beliefs and practices, including, for example, the use of sacred wells, the Celtic celebration of Imbolc and the use of fire. It was at this time of transition that the historical
Brigid/ Brigit of Kildare
She was born. Brigid the saint, inherits much of the folklore associated with the
goddess Brigid/ Brigit a dimension which contributes to her popularity. It may be an exercise in futility to try separating the historical Christian Brigid/ Brigit from the goddess since, clearly, the two are so interwoven. St Brigid/ Brigit stands at the meeting of the two worlds. Neither the boundaries of Christianity nor the older beliefs can contain her exclusively.
Text from “Rekindling the Flame” by Rita Minehan.
Available in our online shop
photo by Mary Rickerby, Verger of St.Brigid’s Cathedral