Saint Brigid of Kildare
Virgin, Abbess, and Patroness of Ireland
Feast Day: February 1st


St. Patrick not only planted the faith in Ireland, but he also confirmed it by his miracles and preachings, and by establishing monasteries and churches throughout the length and breadth of the land; thus laying the foundations of those great religious establishments which, in after ages, sent missionaries and saints to spread the Gospel throughout Europe. St. Bridget shares with St. Patrick the glory and sanctity of being the first to combine the pious young virgins of Ireland into conventual communities. Her success in this holy task was miraculous, for religious establishments of this kind soon extended over the land, and Bridget encouraged them by her visits, her teachings and example. We all know how great the influence of woman is in softening and refining society, and particularly for moulding the minds of youth for good or evil; and it is not too much to say that the holy and virtuous fire infused by Bridget into the hearts of the women of Erin powerfully aided the labors of St. Patrick in christianizing the inhabitants.

She was born at Fochard, in Ulster, soon after Ireland had been blessed with the light of faith. She received the religious veil in her youth, from the hands of St. Mel, nephew and discię pie of St. Patrick. She built herself a cell under a large oak, thence called Kill-dara, or cell of the oak, living, as her name implies, the bright shining light of that country by her virtues. Being joined soon after by several of her own sex, they formed themselves into a religious community, which branched out into several other nunneries throughout Ireland, all which acknowledged her for their mother and foundress, as in effect she was of all in that kingdom. She flourished in the beginning of the sixth century, and is named in the Martyrology of Bede, and in all others since that age.

Like St. Patrick, St. Bridget spent much of her time in traveling through the country, establishing communities of nuns, and converting and instructing the people; like him, also, she was accompanied by several companions, or disciples, one of whom she always left to preside over her newly-established community, and, finally, having fulfilled her mission, like St. Patrick, she established a permanent house, where she spent the remainder of her life as head of the great and numerous order of Bridgetine nuns which she had established. The fame of her miracles, her virtues and piety had spread over the land, and young virginsóeven the daughters of kings and princesówere inspired with similar religious zeal, and desired to follow in her footsteps, and to become worthy to establish religious communities.

The shrine of St. Bridget was to Ireland what Loretto has been to Italy, and was enriched from time to time by the offerings of the faithful until it became one of the wealthiest in Ireland. In that early age of the primitive church the conventual life was only just beginning to assume shape and form. St. Bridget was, perhaps, the very first among the saints of Europe who gathered into communities governed by certain rules a congregation of holy virgins. She was anterior to St. Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict, who was the great founder of Monasticism in the West. These communities were primitive in their manner of living, as also in the severity of their rules and discipline, which were of the most austere nature. They dwelt in cells of the rudest and simplest construction, and spent their time in prayer, mortification and acts of charity. They freely clothed the naked and fed the hungry; and the convents and monasteries were not only the asylums of the learned and pious, but also of the poor, the afflicted and the distressed. At a time when the licentiousness of paganism struggled against the purity of Christianity in men's hearts, the pure sacrificing lives of those holy virgins who despised the pleasures and allurements of the world to give themselves up, soul and body, to Jesus Christ, must have had great influence upon the sterner and ruder nature of man. Innumerable are the traditions handed down of St. Bridget's charity and generosity. The poor never left her empty handed, and her convent was, indeed, a house of refuge for them. The miracles said to have been performed by the Saint are innumerable. She was visited by several of the holy bishops and nuns of her time, and a warm friendship existed between herself and most of them. She was also frequently visited by other holy men, and by the kings and princes of the land. St. Bridget's life was one series of acts of mercy, love and charity. She labored in peace and for the good of mankind and the glory of God. She sacrificed all worldly pleasures for the beatitude of heaven. The only attainment she sought on earth was to do the will of her Father who is in heaven. His grace was her staff through life, and supported her in her trials and afflictions. His love was the pure flame that warmed her heart and that rewarded her for all her labors and sacrifices. The love of her Saviour alone filled her heart; for Him she lived on earth, and with Him she reigns in heaven. She died Feb. 1, 525, in the seventy-second year of her age. Her body was found with those of SS. Patrick and Columba, in a triple vault in Downpatrick, in 1185, as Giraldus Cambrensis informs us. They were all three translated to the cathedral of the same city; but their monument was destroyed in the reign of King Henry VIII. The head of St. Bride is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon.




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NOVENA TO SAINT BRIDGET

O Glorious Saint Bridget! the brightest ornament of the Irish Church, and the foundress of Irish convents! behold me prostrate before you, claiming your protection, and soliciting your special care. You were specially raised up by a merciful Providence to propagate the faith in Ireland, and to lead many to a most perfect renunciation of every worldly comfort for the sake of your Heavenly Spouse. You practised the most perfect counsels of the Gospel, and walked steadily forward when human nature trembled--when human strength would have failed. You sacrificed all for the sake of your Jesus, and you never felt more happy than when in His company.

Behold me now before you, begging of you to sustain my faltering steps--to guide me in the ways of virtue. Obtain for me the object of this novena. Obtain for me an angelic purity. Watch over my eyes, my tongue, my ears; guard every sense; ward off every danger; and preserve my heart pure and holy. Obtain for me the virtue of holy obedience. Let me always sacrifice my own will to the will of my God; let me always obey with a willing heart those who have been appointed to rule over me. Detach my heart from the things of this world. Let me use its goods as the means of salvation; and let me not sacrifice my salvation to its deceitful vanities. Obtain for me a great love of Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me the grace to place myself in spirit at the feet of my crucified Jesus, and there to bewail my many transgressions.

When dangers threaten, when temptations crowd upon me, when the world and the Devil conspire to darken the brightness of my soul, do then defend--do then watch over me. Obtain for me a great love of God and a great love of my neighbor, that I may love God for His own sake, and my neighbor for God alone. Obtain for me the grace to bear the crosses of this life with Christian patience, and to remember the sufferings of my dearest Jesus. Obtain for me a profound humility, which teaches us what we are and what we should esteem ourselves to be. Obtain for me the grace to bear with the faults of those around me, and to remember how much others must endure from me. Obtain for me a spirit of meekness and gentleness, a great contempt for the vain applause of men, and a great zeal for the salvation of souls.

You loved to remain near Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; and obtain for me to fly to Him in all my trials, temptations and dangers. Look down on the Irish Church, its bishops and priests, and especially on those devoted females who have left all this world holds dear for the sake of God. Look down on all the religions orders, especially on that order which has taken thee for its especial protectress. Obtain for us all the gift of final perseverance, and every other grace and blessing which we require. Watch over us, O glorious Saint Bridget! Bring us safely through the dangers of this life; and obtain for us the grace to be one day united with thee in Heaven, where we shall sing for endless ages the praises of that God who died to save us, and who watches over us with a parent's care.

O Mother, of God! do thou also watch us, and as you defended Bridget by your prayers, defend us also. Grant us, dear Jesus, every grace and every blessing, that, after our mortal pilgrimage, we may enjoy thy company, with Mary and Bridget, for ever in Heaven. Amen.




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LITANY OF SAINT BRIGID OF KILDARE

* St. Brigid (Latin, Brigida, by the English called Bride, by Americans labeled "Bridget," which latter belongs to St. Bridget of Sweden; the Mary of the Gael is properly styled B-r-i-g-i-d), born c. 450 at Faughart, early became a nun, founded the great monastery of Kildare thereby becoming the spiritual mother of Irish nuns for many centuries. Died c. 525; her Feast, February 1, is kept throughout Ireland and Wales and in the English dioceses of Portsmouth and Birmingham. This old litany is of unknown origin.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Queen of virgins,
pray for us. *

St. Brigid, Mary of the Gael, *
St. Brigid, Patroness of Ireland, *
St. Brigid, shining light of virtue and sanctity, *
St. Brigid, consecrated spouse of Jesus Christ, *
St. Brigid, foundress of Kildare, *
St. Brigid, cornerstone of the monastic institute in the Isle of Saints, *
St. Brigid, great model of Irish virgins, *
St. Brigid, mother of religious, *
St. Brigid, pattern of religious perfection, *
St. Brigid, intercessor for the Irish Church. *
St. Brigid, mediatrix for the Irish race, *
St. Brigid, protectress of the holy faith planted by Saint Padrig, *
St. Brigid, enjoying with him the clear vision of God, *
St. Brigid, whose one desire was to satisfy the poor, drive out hardship, and spare every miserable man, *

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, O glorious Saint Brigid:
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, Who dost rejoice with the memory of the blessed Saint Brigid, Thy virgin and abbess, mercifully grant that we may be assisted by her merits, by whose chastity we are illumined. Through Jesus Christ Thy Son Our Lord. R. Amen.








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