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Mary of the Gael: a remarkable woman of her times.

St Bridget of Ireland

St Brigid of Kildare

Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. According to legend, her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Lienster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court.

Even as a young girl she clearly showed an interest in the religious life and took the veil in her youth from St. Macaille at Croghan and probably was professed by St. Mel of Armagh, who is believed to have conferred abbatial authority on her.

She settled at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time and about the year 468, followed Mel to Meath. About the year 470 she founded a double monastery at Kildare and was Abbess of the convent, the first in Ireland. The foundation developed into a centre of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral city of Kildare.The cathedral continued to serve the people of Kildare down the centuries, though after the Reformation it gradually fell into disrepair and by 1641 it was totally ruined following the Confederate Wars. It was fully restored in the 19th century. In recent years undergone some further restoration.

Image@http://archiseek.com/2010/1223-st-brigids-cathedral-kildare-co-kildare/#.UuzH_D1_t8E

Cathedral of Kildare image@ http://archiseek.com/2010/1223-st-brigids-cathedral-kildare-co-kildare/#.UuzH_D1_t8E

The foundation developed into a centre of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral  city of Kildare. She founded a school of art at Kildare and its illuminated manuscripts became famous, notably the Book of Kildare, which was praised as one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts before its disappearance three centuries ago.The Book of Kildare is also known by the name of The Four Gospels of St. Brigid.It contains the Four Gospels according to St. Jerome, and almost every page is illustrated by drawings illuminated with a variety of brilliant colours.

 

Brigid was one of the most remarkable women of her times, and despite the numerous legendary, extravagant, and even fantastic miracles attributed to her, there is no doubt that her extraordinary spirituality, boundless charity, and compassion for those in distress were real.

She died at Kildare on February 1.She is buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick, with whom she is the patron of Ireland. Her name is sometimes Bridget and Bride. Her feast day is February 1.

 

 

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