Patron Saint of Ireland
St Brigid is one of the Patron Saints of Ireland along with St Patrick and Columcille. She was born in Dundalk in 450AD. She is also known as Mary of the Gael or Muire na nGael aka Our Lady of the Irish.
When she was young, St Brigid wanted to join a convent. Her father, however, wanted her to marry the wealthy man he promised her to. St Brigid prayed to God that he take away her beauty so that the man wouldn’t want to marry her. God took away her beauty and the man no longer wanted her. Her father in turn capitulated and she joined the convent. Once in the convent her beauty returned and she was even more beautiful than before. After some time she asked again for God’s help to get her father to give her some land in Kildare to set up a convent. Her father scathingly remarked that he would only give her as much land as she could cover with her cloak. Obviously with God’s help St Brigid’s cloak grew to cover acres of land.
St Brigid’s Cross
There is a special St Brigid’s cross. She first made one from rushes found on the ground when she was at her father’s bedside. He was dying. She told her father stories of Christ and before he died her father was baptised. Apparently, people used to make similar crosses to hang over the door of their homes to ward off evil, fire and hunger. Over time, word spread about St Brigid, her kindness, faith and the making of the cross became synonymous with her and the tradition now bears her name.
St Brigid died at the age of 75 in AD 525 and was buried in the church she created. Her remains were exhumed years later and brought to Downpatrick to be buried alongside Saints Patrick and Columcille. Her skull, however, was taken to Lisbon where it remains today.