Saint Bridget's in Shenandoah Valley

Our patron - saint bridget of ireland

Sanctuary

The second Vatican Council decided: " Lest the feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or family of religious; only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance." As a result, feast days of saints celebrated in one country are not necessarily celebrated throughout the world. For example, the feast day of Saint Brigid is celebrated in Ireland, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the United States, but is not celebrated universally.
February 1st is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland. Brigid, correctly pronounced "Brigg-id" or "Bree-id" is also spelled variously as Brigid, Bridget, Bridgit, Brid, and Bride. Next to Saint Patrick, she is the most revered saint in all of Ireland. Although her Feast Day is no longer celebrated liturgically throughout the world, it is still honored today in Ireland and New Zealand. In England, there are 19 ancient church dedications to her. The most important of these are the oldest church in London St. Bride's in Fleet Street -- and the parish in which Saint Thomas a' Becket was born - Bridewell (Saint Bride's Well).

Bridget of Ireland was an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare. Confirmed historical facts about St. Brigid are few because the numerous accounts of her life include miracles and anecdotes deeply intertwined with pagan Irish folklore. Chronicalers agree that she was born in A.D. 451 or 452 to a pagan father and Christian slave mother shortly after the time that St. Patrick was preaching. It is said a Bishop -- a follower of St. Patrick -- met the pregnant slave woman and predicted that the child she was carrying would do great things. The mother was sold to a Chieftain in Connaught and the child was given to a Druid to be raised and educated. The child was named Brigid; perhaps to seek the blessing of that pagan goddess. In keeping with the life planed for her, she became a vestal virgin in service to the pagan goddess 'Brid' and eventually high priestess at the Kil Dara (the temple of the oak), a pagan sanctuary built from the wood of a tree sacred to the Druids. There she and her companions kept a perpetual ritual fire in honor of 'Brid.'

The exact circumstances of her conversion to Christianity are unknown, though it is certain that her Christian mother was a guiding influence. Some claim that she personally met St. Patrick which is possible since she was about 10 years old when he died. Whatever the circumstances, Brigid and her companions in service to 'Brid,' all accepted the Christian faith and formed Ireland's first Christian religious community of women. Brigid changed the pagan sanctuary of Kil Dara into a Christian shrine and dedicated its perpetual flame to Christ, which was thereafter maintained by her followers until it was doused by the forces of Henry VIII. Brigid's wisdom and generosity became legend and people traveled from all over the country to share her wisdom. Her monastery at Kildare became one of the great centers of learning in Europe.
She continued her holy and charitable work until her death in 526 AD, when she was laid to rest at Kil Dara. In 835, her remains were moved to protect them from Norse invaders and interred in the same grave that holds the remains of St. Patrick and St. Columcille at Downpatrick.

As the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick, a tiny cross made of rushes is linked to Saint Bridget.

Saint Bridget Crosses
One version of the story of the Saint Bridget Cross. A pagan chieftain from the neighborhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death.

(The material on this page come from several sources including Wikipedia and the websites of Saint Brigid Church in Baltimore and St. Brigid's parish Gisborne Australia. The image of Saint Bridget is from the website of St. Brigid's parish.)