Saint Brigid (c. 450 -523)
Many legends and few facts survive about this Irish woman who founded a community at Kildare primarily for women. Famed for her generosity and hospitality, her influence was widespread, but she remained eminently practical.
As a young woman, Brigid was in the habit of giving freely of her father's possessions and food to the poor and needy. Her father became so frustrated he decided to sell her to the king and bundled her into his chariot. He left her at the castle gate while he consulted with the king, and Brigid was approached by a beggar asking for alms. She gave him her father's sword. Brigid's father and the king were amazed, and the king said he could not buy her from her father: 'she is too good for me - I could never win her obedience.'
Once Brigid was the guest at a house when lepers came begging for food. Brigid could find no one about but a young dumb boy. So she asked him for the key to the kitchen. He turned to her and said 'I know where it is kept,' and together they fetched food and attended to the guests.
Brigid led a group of women who had decided to become holy nuns, and asked Bishop Mel to bless their taking of the veil. Brigid held back out of humility, but the bishop saw the Spirit of God descend upon her and called her forward. Laying hands upon her, he said 'I have no power in this matter. God has ordained Brigid.' And so it came to pass that by the intervention of the Holy Spirit the form of ordaining a bishop was read over Brigid.
A poor leper came to Brigid one day and asked her for a cow. Brigid looked at him and asked 'Which would you rather, to take a cow or be healed of your leprosy?' The man chose: 'I would rather be healed than own all the cows in the world.' So Brigid prayed, stretched out her hand, and the leper was made whole.
'May God our Father, our strength and light bless you with what you most need beyond even all you would ask. For the weather is always right for the sowing of good seed.'
Ian Bradley offers this comment about Celtic Saints like Brigid:
There can be no doubt that the saints of the Celtic Church were for the most part very holy men and women. For all the legends about their miraculous deeds and supernatural powers they also had a great quality of simplicity and this is perhaps one of their most attractive characteristics for us today. When St Brigid, abbess of the great mixed monastery at Kildare, was asked what were the three things most pleasing to God she replied true faith in the Lord with a pure heart, a simple life with piety and generosity with charity. These were all qualities that the Celtic saints exhibited very clearly in their own lives.
Prayers of St. Brigid
In the Kitchen
I would welcome the poor and honour them. I would welcome the sick in the presence of angels and ask God to bless and embrace us all.
Seeing a stranger approach I would put food in the eating place, drink in the drinking place, music in the listening place, and look with joy for the blessing of God, who often comes to my home in the blessing of a stranger
We call upon the sacred Three to save, shield and surround the house, the home, this day, this night, and every night.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
At the Door
Christ in our coming, and in our leaving
the Door and the Keeper,
for us and our dear ones,
this day and every day
blessing for always.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
An ancient song to St. Brigid From Celtic Fire, Robert Van de Weyer
I should like a great lake of finest ale
For the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food
For the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of Faith,
And the food be forgiving love.
I should welcome the poor to my feast,
For they are God's children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
For they are God's joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place,
And the sick dance with the angels.
God bless the poor,
God bless the sick,
And bless our human race.
God bless our food,
God bless our drink,
All homes, O God, embrace.