Around 450 C.E. in Ireland, a girl born to a father, Dubtach, pagan Scottish king of Leinster, and a mother, Brocca, a Christian Pictish slave who had been baptised by Saint Patrick. This girl, St Brigid, became a symbol of kindness, generosity and sanctity in her distant future (Preble, 2013).
Saint Brigid of Kildare, or of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba (Jestice, 2004). Her parents were baptized from St. Patrick, who brought faith to the country. Brigid was influenced by that environment, and began to take an interest in the asceticlife of the nun. As Brigid grew up, she grew in her love for Jesus and she wanted to devote her life to Jesus (Daughter of St. Paul, 2011). Jesus Christ’s life was full of love and kindness. Throughout his long holy life, Jesus showed his love for others by blessing and serving the poor, the sick, and the distressed (The Church of Jesus Christ, 2008). He told His disciples that, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12).” St Brigid conformed herself to the way of Jesus, by imitate the love and compassion of Jesus, especially for the poor (Daughter of St. Paul, 2011). It is said that the Lord would grant Brigid anything she would ask, and that what she desired was always the same “to satisfy the poor, to banish every hardship, and to save every sorrowful man” (Doss, n.d.).
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She looked for Jesus in the poor and often brought food and clothing to them. She became a nun with the help of St. Mel, St. Patrick’s nephew, and formed a religious community with seven other young women. Brigid started the first Irish convent at Kildare and became its abbess. She also founded a school of art, which won fame for its beautifully illuminated manuscripts. The monastery at Kildare became a centre of education and spirituality (Daughter of St. Paul, 2011).
God performed many miracles through Brigid during her lifetime, believers say, and most of them have to do with healing. One of the very famous miracle story of St Brigid is that when she gave away a whole pail of milk, she began to worry about what her mother would say hence prayed to the Lord to make up for what she had given away, and when she got home, her pail was full again. Eventually, Brigid became known as the “Mary of the Irish” regard to her love and compassion that remind people of the Blessed Mother (Daughter of St. Paul, 2011).
The life full of helping and healing, Brigid lived the life she wanted, conforming Lord’s message, ended in 525 C.E. and was buried at Downpatrick near St. Columba and St. Patrick (Daughter of St. Paul, 2011). Even long after her death, the meaning of sacred life of Saint Brigid, that passes through centuries, now offers society a new insight into the virtue of hospitality, the cheerful, generous giving of food and shelter (Doss, n.d.). Brigidine Sisters is the most well know congregation of people who have been inspired by the values of Brigid. The history of this congregation began in the year 468, as St Brigid formed the first ever female monastic community together with seven other dedicated women. They helped the poor of the time and were attributed with many miracles (Green, n.d.). However, the Penal Laws of the 18th century had wrought what seemed irreparable chaos on the once far-famed “Land of Saints and Scholars,” leaving Ireland’s oppressed and largely pauperised people bereft of their proud Gaelic cultures, including the Sisters of St Brigid (Brigidine Sisters, 2015). After a long time of the havoc, miraculously and very fortunately, the Sisters of St. Brigid were restored by Bishop Daniel Delany, who founded the Congregation in response to the urgent need for education for life and faith at the time when Ireland was emerging from the oppressive Penal Laws (Solas Bhride Centre, n.a.).
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Brigidine sisters commit themselves to gather to celebrate and explore the Brigid tradition for our time and for the future; to seek inspiration through regular reflection; and to take action that seeks justice and the common good (Brigidine Sisters, 2015). WIth these commiments, throughout the past few decades, there has been a strong justice and peace thrust in this congregation. Brigidine Sisters practise and fulfil the message of St Brigid, “love and satisfy the poors,” in many ways globally, including the supports and sponsor for the asylum seekers and the victims of women and child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation engages.
We dedicated a portion of this earth as a final resting place for her and her corporeal is no longer alive. However, we believe that her disembodied spirit transcends time and still alive next to us even long after her death, to deliver the message that she tried to convey throughout her whole life with her countless precedes. We will continue to communicate with Brigid’s message of loving and carrying poor, that transcend time by her and her descendants.
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- Brigidine Sisters, 2015, Our Beginning, Viewed on 1st March 2017, <http://brigidine.org.au/about-us/our-beginnings/>
- Solas Bhride Centre, n.d. General History of the Brigidines“From the Acorn to the Oak”, Viewed on 2nd March 2017, < http://solasbhride.ie/our-history/ >
- Brigidine Sisters, 2015, Our Colleagues & Associates, Viewed on 1st March 2017, <http://brigidine.org.au/about-us/our-beginnings/>
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