Posted on | December 2, 2008 | by Ciara O'Brien | 3 Comments
Saint Bridget is one of Ireland’s patron saints, who devoted her life as a nun to caring for the poor and the sick. Born the daughter of an Irish chieftain in 453 AD, she spent her entire life in the service of God and the needy. Her dedication and selflessness are legendary and beautiful: this woman truly believed in the concepts of compassion and charity, and her pure spirit lives on to the present day. In Ireland, February 1st is Saint Bridget’s feast day, the day of her death, and her accomplishments are celebrated in verse and song every year.
It is believed that Saint Bridget went to visit a Pagan Chieftain, who was ill and nearing the end of his life. She cared for him, and wove a cross out of the rushes, which commonly were spread across the floor coverings in ancient times. She used the woven cross to illustrate the power of the Christian God to this man before his death, so that he could convert to Christ.
The power of Saint Bridget’s Cross, as a symbol, lies in its makeshift quality: her faith was so strong, that even a simple cross made of rushes was holy and sacred to her. In Irish tradition, a Saint Bridget’s Cross is hung over a doorway, blessing and bringing good fortune to the people within the home, and all who enter it. Every year, a new cross is fashioned, and the old one is burned: it is believed that the burnt cross will protect the home from fire. There are homes in Ireland with many, many burnt crosses stored in the ceiling and crannies, as the belief in Saint Bridget, and her faith and power, live on.
Along with Saint Columba and Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget is one of the three patron saints of Ireland, and her contribution to the Irish people is celebrated in song and verse, in the true Irish, storytelling tradition. Wearing a Saint Bridget’s pendant is a declaration of faith, and a wonderful way to show your knowledge and understanding of Irish history.
If you believe in Bridget’s ideals, in compassion, in the glory of God, you will find meaning and pleasure every time you wear your pendant. Indeed, it may come to hold real sentimental value for you over time, and, if it is carefully handcrafted by Irish artisans, it will become an heirloom that can be passed down from generation to generation.