Today is the feast day of Saint Brigid. She along with her contemporary Saint Patrick, are the patron saints of Ireland. Brigid is also the patron saint of our young adult community in Tempe, Arizona. She was selected as our patron saint for three reasons. First, her sacrificial care of the poor and sick. Second, in the fifth century she established and led the first monastery for women and men. Third, her tending of the fire of the pre-Christian goddess, Brighid, was an act teaching us today to remain open to the full and mysterious story of God’s work through incarnation and imagination.
I made a five-day walking pilgrimage from Dublin to Kildare, the home of Saint Brigid. The path journeyed down the Wicklow Way to Glendalough. From there we turned west, walking along Saint Kevin’s Way to Kildare. This blog gets its name from the practice of ancient Celts going on pilgrimage, peregrini.
Once in Kildare we visited the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Cathedral of Saint Brigid, where the supposed sight of the tended fire is still revered. Leaving the Cathedral it was a blessed experience to walk to her well, past the historic oaks for which Kildare is named.
The best part of our time in Kildare was having the privilege of meeting the nuns of Saint Brigid’s Community. The three women were extremely hospitable, ecumenically minded, gracious with stories and strongly encouraging of us naming our campus community after their patron. The work of these three elderly women, saints in their own right, has maintained the spirit of Brigid, working to benefit the poor and sick while fostering the opportunities for women in the Roman Catholic Church. I was moved and inspired by their quiet contemplative strength. I continue to drink from the well of those few hours.
I am returning to Ireland this summer for another pilgrimage, 350 miles along the Wicklow Way and then west to the coast of Kerry. Today I am praying for Saint Brigid’s presence on the journey. Blessed be you Saint Brigid.
St. Brigid, woman of prayer, pray for us.
St. Brigid, generous and kind, pray for us.
St. Brigid, who fed the hungry, pray for us.
St. Brigid, who welcomed everyone, pray for us.
St. Brigid, who spoke about Jesus, pray for us.
St. Brigid, who lived like Jesus, pray for us.
St. Brigid, you still care for everyone, pray for us.
St. Brigid, protect us all, pray for us.
St. Brigid, raised up to heaven, pray for us.
St. Brigid, patron saint of Ireland and our community, pray for us.