Saint Brigid is the patron saint of fire, healing, midwives, and childbirth. She’s a bit of a busy bee. We celebrate her feast day on February 1st, which is known as Imbolc, one of the great fire festivals of the Irish.
As the shamrock became associated with Saint Patrick, a tiny cross made of rushes was linked with Saint Brigid. And they are made for her feast day traditionally throughout Ireland. One of my favorite poems celebrates this weaving as Brigid wove a cross by the bedside of a dying chieftain’s bed. Here’s how it goes:
Brigid wove a cross of rushes by a dying chieftain’s bed. “Brigid, what’s that you’re making there in the rushes?” the chieftain said.
Brigid said, “It’s a cross I’m weaving, the cross where Jesus died.” “Who was this Jesus?” asked the chieftain, “And why was this man crucified?”
So Brigid told the Gospel story to the dying pagan king. Silently he listened, never saying anything.
Then he kissed the cross of rushes, saying, “Brigid, thanks to you, I’ve come to love this Jesus. I will follow his way too!”
Well, lest you think that Saint Brigid is just for the Irish or perhaps even just for Christians, let me tell you that she is a woman for every age, for her legacy can be found right down in every marriage today. What do I mean by that? Well, during the age of chivalry, Saint Brigid was so revered as a model for women of every age for her wisdom and her courage, that gentlemen, knights, and nobles began to call their sweethearts their “brides,” or their “Brídes,” a nod to Saint Brigid.
You can learn lots more about Irish customs, Celtic wisdom, and how to create a space for grace in your life in my book, Braving the Thin Places.