We all know of St. Patrick and how he drove the snakes from Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. His holiday is celebrated in grand style around the world. But did you know he is not Ireland’s only patron saint? He shares the honour with St. Brigid, a fascinating woman who stars in many legends. When you know a bit about her, you can see how she speaks to the heart of those of Irish heritage around the world.
People tend to associate St. Patrick’s Day with raising a pint, but St. Brigid is actually the patron saint of beer and brewers, as well as being one of Ireland’s patron saints. She’s very busy as a patron saint – she’s also watching over travellers, midwives, poets, students, blacksmiths and children born to unmarried mothers. Her symbol is a distinctive cross woven from reeds because one of many legends of Brigid is of how she wove such a cross from reeds that were scattered on the floor of the home of a dying pagan to explain Christ’s love.
Homes throughout Ireland feature St. Brigid’s crosses today to invoke her protection, and it is a well-loved symbol in much Irish jewelry. The four sections in the centre of the cross may also remind you of Ireland’s four ancient provinces – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught.
The Art of Living in Two Worlds at Once
Brigid is said to have been born while her mother stood in a doorway with one foot inside and one outside, symbolizing her dual existence in two worlds – a feeling many living around the world with part of their hearts in Ireland can appreciate! Her mother Brocca was a Christian slave, and her father Dubhthach was a Druid priest, and there is much debate about a possible connection between this popular Irish saint and the Celtic goddess Brigid. She really is a master of being in two worlds at the same time.
The most famous legend of St. Brigid is of her miraculous cloak. She wanted to establish an abbey in County Kildare, and asked the king for land. He refused her. Undaunted, she returned with her cloak and asked if she could have as much land as her cloak covered. The king laughed at her and agreed. Four of her helpers each took a corner of the cloak and began to walk east, west, north and south. The miraculous cloak grew and grew until it covered a few acres. Astonished, the king was obliged to keep his word and give her the land for her abbey.
Although she is not officially the patron saint of women in leadership, she certainly is an inspiration. Some say she was even made a bishop, but what is known for sure is that she was a leader to be reckoned with and developed a large abbey as well as an art school in County Kildare.
It is easy to see why she is so beloved and provides so much inspiration to those who know about her. Saint Brigid was also famous for her generosity and charity, as well as her wisdom. Although she lived many centuries ago, in the 400s AD, she is a powerful inspiration for many women, especially those who love Ireland.
Her distinctive cross is found in many homes, and also in some beautiful Irish jewelry. It makes a stunning pendant, and Shanore is proud to offer our own detailed St. Brigid’s cross pendant in sterling silver with 14k plated gold plated detail so you can wear it and feel inspired by this Celtic saint. The delicate mix of gold and silver tones captures St. Brigid’s duality, reflecting the sense of your heart being in two places at once.