Happy St Brigid’s Day- Irish patron saint (and god?)

© 2011 Aislinn Adams

St. Brigid of Ireland, Naomh Bríd.

February 1st is the first day of spring and St Brigid’s Day in Ireland. St Brigid, or Naomh Bríd in the Irish language (Gaelic), is a powerful historical figure who founded a famous monastery in Kildare, thirty miles west of Dublin. Bríd, regarded by many as a god, is one of Ireland’s three patron saints along with St. Patrick and St. Colmcille.

Imbolg and the god Bríd.

St Brigid’s day falls on the pre-Christian Irish festival of Imbolg (or Imbolc) – no coincidence I’m sure. Imbolg is one of the four ‘cross-quarter days’ (days that fall approximately half way between the solstice and equinox)  and often referred to in Irish mythology.  The others are Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In Ireland there is an almost seamless connection between the pre-Christian sacred places and festivals and the later Christian sites and holy days.  This is why many believe the god Bríd was Christianized as St Brigid when the Irish people peacefully adopted Christianity in the 5th century C.E.

People across the world will soon be celebrating St. Patrick, Ireland’s best known saint. Patrick was a contemporary of Bríd, they knew each other and there are accounts of their traveling together throughout Ireland. Interestingly both were intimately acquainted with slavery also: Patrick was forced into slavery as a boy and Bríd’s mother was a slave- though her father, a chieftain, raised her as a free person. Patrick, however, unlike Bríd, was not born and reared in Ireland. One wonders how much he learned from and relied on her wisdom, knowledge and influence in his work?  Today we need to recall and recognize Bríd’s unique contribution to Irish Spirituality and to humanity.

New greeting card series celebrating famous Irish women.

St Brigid’s illustration is part of a new greeting card series I’ve created celebrating famous Irish women or, feisty Irish women, as I like to call them. I hope there will come a day when people are as likely to receive a blessing and a card on St. Brigid’s day as they are on St. Patrick’s day.

In the meantime Lá Fhéile Bríde sona daoibh, Happy Saint Brigid’s Day.

Aislinn Adams

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