[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, called "Mary of the Gael"

V/VI Centuries
St. Bridget was the daughter (possibly illegitimate) of a pagan chieftan and a Christian serving woman. From childhood, Bridget had a reputation for generosity and hoped to become a nun. Stories that St. Patrick baptized her are now discounted; she is said to have become a nun under St. Mel, nephew of Patrick. She is said to have performed many miracles, often associated with the multiplication of food or drink. She founded Cill-Dara, the church of the oak, c. 470. She may have been a hermit whom others seeking the monastic life joined at Kildaire. The monastery was the only double-monastery in Ireland and became among the best-known and most powerful of monastic houses in the country. Legends say that Ibor consecrated her a bishop, and this is one reason cited for the power and influence that the abbesses of Kildaire wielded. When Bridget died in the early VI Century, she was buried at Kildaire. Some say that no man was allowed to enter the shrine to St. Bridget, which the English looted in the time of Henry VIII.

Karen Rae Keck


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