Saint Brigid of Ireland
St. Brigid of Ireland (451–525 A.D.), also known as St. Brigit of Kildare, was born to a pagan Irish chieftain and a Christian slave mother. Being the daughter of a slave woman, she also was a slave, and worked as a dairy maid. She became known for her virtuous life and her charity to the poor. Recognizing her great piety and special graces, a Christian king convinced her father to grant Brigid her freedom. Once free to follow her own course in life, St. Brigid refused marriage, consecrated herself to Christ, and became Ireland's first nun. She also formed Ireland's first convent at Kildare and became its abbess. She went on to found many other religious communities, as well as a School of Art famous for its metal working and illuminated manuscripts. St. Brigid was known for her extraordinary spirituality, even converting her father to the faith after he witnessed her fashioning the sign of the cross from strands of rushes. She was also a contemporary and friend of St. Patrick. When she died, her sisters kept a fire burning in an enclosure at her Kildare convent. This fire burned for centuries, tended by the sisters and not burning out until the 13th century. It was later re-lit and burned for 400 more years until the Protestant revolt. St. Brigid is the patroness of Ireland and many other causes, most notably of dairy and milk maids, chicken farmers, travelers, and sailors. Her feast day is February 1st.
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