Ireland has three patron saints, not just one: Patrick, Brigid, and Columba. Brigid is in many ways a more significant saint than Patrick. She’s sometimes known as ‘Mary of the Gael.’
Brigid has found her way into the short story that I’m currently working on (a sequel to Uncharted Passage: Toward New Realms ).
Brigid lived from about the year 450 to 525, so her life began toward the end of Saint Patrick’s life. She was a nun and abbess who founded several monasteries, including one in County Kildare for she’s named. Ireland’s early church had a higher number of women leading monasteries than other parts of Europe, including monasteries that housed both women and men. Brigid was the most significant woman in Ireland’s early church. It’s possible that the she was the namesake of an earlier pagan figure of the same name, giving her an even broader cultural significance.
I find Brigid fascinating.
Those who predicted Brigid’s birth and life, so the story goes, predicted her as a figure associated with liminality – in a ‘betwixt and between place’ – meaning a time or place of crossroads or transitions.
According to Edward C. Sellner, author of Finding the Monk Within, Brigid demonstrated compassion toward marginalized individuals – such as the poor and lepers.
Her combined experience with liminality and compassion toward marginalized individuals interwove within her in a way that allowed her to find a path toward leadership. What an interesting route to leadership!
Researching Brigid also leads one to a medieval Irish manuscript that discusses – among a host of other topics – Ireland’s three patron saints. That manuscript being the Book of Lismore. I’ve added the Book of Lismore to my never-shortening reading list.