Feb 1, 2011

Happy St. Brigid's Day!

Yesterday I promised to talk about Candlemas. Below is from the book, The Rites of Brigid, Goddess and Saint by Sean O Duinn.

The fire element in Brigid is shown in her connection with the Feast of Candlemas (Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Presentation in the Temple) which takes place on the second of February, the day after that of Brigid. According to tradition, St. Brigid, put a ring a lighted candles on her head and led the Virgin Mary into the temple in Jerusalem.

This was also a time that people brought their candles to church to be blessed. And apparently some brought their Brigid's crosses too.

There are a lot of traditions in Ireland regarding Brigid. This is a wonderful book to acquire if you want to know about them all.

My historical novel based on legends of St. Brigid
There is so much debate over whether Brigid was a real person or if she was a goddess that Christianity took over. There is no way to prove either theory. I think it's more productive to look at the stories and learn from them. Brigid was generous during a time of need. She gave away her belongings, and God always restored them. She did not stay put in her duel monastery (for both men and women) in Kildare, but traveled the entire island, meeting needs wherever she found them. She had a great longing to provide and care for people and for her God, evident in this poem attributed to her:

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

Brigid and the King of Leinster
A mosaic from St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh
Brigid embodied the Celtic concept of hospitality. It's something you can still witness among the Irish today. I doubt they even realize how much more hospitable they are than others. For example, one thing I noticed when I was in Ireland was how helpful the people were. If you asked for directions they didn't just tell you where to go, they walked out to the street with you and physically pointed you on your way. If you couldn't find something in a store, they didn't tell you what aisle it was in, they took you to it. And people I previously had only known through Facebook, took us on tours and even paid for tickets and tea.

I think the legend of St. Brigid lives on through those who embrace her giving ways. It makes me think, what can I do for my neighbors, for strangers, for anyone I encounter?

From my book, Celtic Wisdom:
By giving to others Brigid gave to her God. She is said to have believed that Christ was in the poor person, a belief held by all the Celtic Christians. They gave freely and without reservation as though giving to the Lord.

Whether my house is dark or bright, I close it not on any wight, lest Thou, hereafter, King of Stars, against me close Thy Heavenly bars. If from a guest who shares thy board Thy dearest dainty thou shalt hoard, 'tis not that guest, O never doubt it, but Mary's Son shall do without it. ~From the Celtic Psaltery by Alfred Perceval Graves

Brigid's consecration from mosaic in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh


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