St Brigid’s day, on the 1st of February, is traditionally considered the first day of spring. And while this may be difficult to reconcile with the swirling snow and frost that still surrounds us, it heralds a time of hope and renewal. St Brigid (c. AD 455-525) is the Patroness of Ireland, and one of the first figures of Irish Christianity, following St Patrick. She was the founder of Kildare monastery, which is probably the earliest example of a monastery in Ireland, and she set up many convents all over Ireland.
St Brigid is celebrated for her generosity, giving all that she could to the poor: food, livestock, even her father’s jewel-encrusted sword. She is quoted as saying ‘If I had the power to give away the whole Kingdom of Leinster, I would willingly give it to God.’ She is associated with the pastoral, with sheep-herding and the symbolic St Brigid’s cross, woven from rushes. May the spirit of St Brigid’s generosity, devotion and kindness welcome in a fresh season, for though a chill remains in the air, nonetheless the days are getting brighter and new life is still stirring.
Fr Richard Gibbons offers the following prayer to St Brigid from the Knock Prayer Book:
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace
cover those who are troubled and anxious
and may peace be firmly rooted
in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly
and to reverence all God has made.
Brigid, you were a voice
for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us,
calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in
mind, body and spirit.