Happy St. Brigit's Day

Brigit; Bridget;Brigid; She kept a fine ale house Happy St. Brigit's Day

01 February 2018

Bridget (Bride) is one of the most popular saints in the calendar, and for good reason -- even if you're not a stout drinker.

And so in celebration of her Day, here are five must-know facts about Bridget.

1. She was a time traveller.
So, okay, maybe this picture by John Duncan, who swore he could hear fairy music while he painted, shouldn't be taken as an eyewitness account, but it was said that, as patron saint of midwives, she was transported back in time to aid the Virgin in the birth of Jesus.
2. She may have written the Book of Kells.
According to some theories, the Book of Kells might have been created at her monastery at Kildare, where she is known to have founded a school of art, including metalwork and illumination. Giraldus Cambrensis describes a magnificent gospel, the Book of Kildare, which disappeared during the Reformation, in which every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that "all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill" -- a description that certainly would fit the known Book of Kells -- even if it is customarily attributed to her fellow patron of Ireland, Columba.
3. She was there long before the Groundhog was.
St. Brigid's Day is also Imbolc, the pagan festival that marks the first day the sap starts rising. And Brigid is associated with weather prognostication on this day as well, specifically:
Thig an nathair as an toll
Là donn Brìde,
Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd
Air leac an làir.
The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bríde,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.
4. She was a bishop in her own right -- even though she might not have been Christian at all.
For the woman who shares the honors of Ireland's patron saint with Patrick and Columba, Brigit's antecedents are decidedly sketchy. In fact, it could be argued she isn't a Christian saint at all, but in fact, that she is an avatar of the Morrigan, the triple goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan, who populated Ireland before the Christians drove them to take refuge in the hollow hills. Nonetheless, legend has it that she was "accidentally" consecrated as a bishop by the official who was meant to consecrate her as the abbess of Kildare. Whatever the case, her successors have always been accorded episcopal honors.
5. And who, really, can argue with this theology?
Or to put it more succinctly in the words of a dedicated follower: She kept a fine ale house.
© - Erica Obey
Photos © - George Baird