Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Calendarium Sanctorum Hiberniae, Feb. 1: St. Brigid of Kildare

While the Feast of St. Patrick is the best known of those saints days associated with the island of saints and scholars, the feast of St. Brigid of Kildare, the patroness of Ireland, is surely a next in line.

From the Martyrology of Donegal (Martyrologium Dungallense):

Virgin, abbess of Cill-dara. She was of the race of Eochaidh Finnfuathairt, son of Feidhlijidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachmhar, monarch of Erinn. Broiccseach, daughter of Dallbronach, son of Aedh Meamhair, was her mother, and she was the sister of Ultan of Ard-Breccain, and it was Ultan that collected the virtues, and miracles of Brighit together and who commanded his disciple Brogann to put them into poetry as is evident in the Book of Hymns, i.e., The victorious Brighit did not love, etc.

When Moling was returning from the king of Erinn after obtaining the remission of he Borumha (the tribute of oxen) from Fionnachta, king of Erinn, the people of the king were seized with regret, and they followed him to kill him. When Moling saw this he had recourse to the protection of the saints, and he implored Brighit first, and said: O Brighit, bless our path, etc.

A very ancient old book of vellum, in which is found the Martyrology of Maelruain of Tamhlach and the saints of the same name, and the names of many of the mothers of the saints, states that Brighit was following the manners and the life which the holy Mary,mother of Jesus had.

It was this Brighit, too, that did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him, and ever constantly thinking of Him, as evident in her own life, and also in the life of Saint Brenainn, bishop of Cluain-fearta. She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her life proves, and as Cuimin of Coindeire states in the poem whose beginning is, Patrick of the fort of Macha loved, etc.. Thus he says:---
The blessed Brighit loved Constant piety, which was not prescribed: Sheep-Herding and early rising Hospitality towards men of virtues. She spent indeed 74 years diligently serving the Lord, performing signs and miracles, curing every disease, and sickness in general as evident in her own life, until she yielded her spirit, after having completed seventy-four years as we have said before, A.D. 525, and she was buried at Dun in one tomb with Patrick, where Colum Cille was afterwards interred. The life of Ciaran of Cluain states, chapt. 47, that the Order of Brighit was one of the eight Orders that were in Erinn.

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Ultan's Hymn

Brigit, excellent woman, a flame golden, delightful,
May (she), the sun dazzling splendid, bear us to the eternal kingdom!
May Brigit save us beyond throngs of demons!
May she overthrow before us (the) battles of every disease!
May she destroy within us our flesh's taxes
The branch with blossoms, the mother of Jesus!
The true virgin, dear, with vast dignity:
May I be safe always, with my saint of the Lagenians!
One of the pillars of (the) Kingdom with Patrick the pre-eminent,
The vesture over liga, the Queen of Queens!
Let our bodies after old age be in sackcloth
With her grace may Brigit rain on us, save us!

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