CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Brigid of Ireland

Incorrectly known as BRIDGET.Born in 451 or 452 of princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525, at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, “the church of the oak” now Kildare, in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigids biographers, but the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the court of her father Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650. It is metrical, as may be seen from the following specimen:Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach Ni bu huarach im sheire Dé, Sech ni chiuir ni cossens Ind nóeb dibad bethath che.Saint Brigid was not given to sleep, Nor was she intermittent about Gods love; Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for The wealth of this world below, the holy one.Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare in the eighth century, expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified it in good Latin. This is what is known as the “Second Life”, and is an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cogitosuss work is the description of the Cathedral of Kildare in his day: “Solo spatioso et in altum minaci proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis”. The rood-screen was formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated curtains. Probably the famous Round Tower of Kildare dates from the sixth century. Although St. Brigid was “veiled” or received by St. Macaille, at Croghan, yet, it is tolerably certain that she was professed by St. Mel of Ardagh, who also conferred on her abbatial powers. From Ardagh St. Macaille and St. Brigid followed St. Mel into the country of Teffia in Meath, including portions of Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about the year 468. St. Brigids small oratory at Cill-Dara became the centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply “selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction”, and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth “to govern the church along with herself”. Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland.

via CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Brigid of Ireland.

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