Brigida (Bridget, Brighit, or Bride)

Brigida (Bridget, Brighit, Or Bride)

is the name of several Irish saints. Colgan (Tr. Thaum. pages 611-613) gives a list of fourteen Brigidas who are distinguished from each other, and another list of eleven who are not so distinct. As regards many of these little can be said; and even of those who are better known there is no little difficulty in keeping the lines of distinction clear.

1, The daughter of Aedh. On September 30 the calendars give the name "Brighit" without dedication; but Colgan identifies her with the daughter of Aedh, son of Eochadius. She is probably the Brigida of Moinmiolain — March 9 — in Dalaradia, the district governed by the offspring of Coelbadius.

2. Daughter of Darius, commemorated May 13 and 24. Colgan thinks that this Brigida is she who so carefully nursed her infirm husband and converted him. After his death she dedicated all her property to God and St. Mochteus, and the saint advised her to return to her father's house, build a cell, and there await the resurrection. Colgan also tries to identify her with Brigida of Hauchter-aird, and Brigida of Senboith or Stranbo in Wexford.

3. Daughter of Leinin, of Cill-inghen-Leinin, commemorated March 6. Among the saints descended from the family of St. Foillan, Colgan (Acta Sanctorum, page 104, c. 2) enumerates "Brigida V. filia Lenini," who is venerated March 6 in the Church of Kill-naninghean, district of Ui-Briuin. This "Church of the Sisters" is dedicated to her and other five daughters of Leinin.

4. Daughter of Neman and sister of St. Sedna or Sedonius (commemorated March 9), abbot of Killaine; sister also: of Sts. Gorba, Lassara, etc. — all descended from Erc, son of Eochaidh.

5. Fifth virgin abbess of Kildare, the "Mary of the Irish" (commemorated February 1), was of the race of Eochaidh Filnnfuathairt, son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, and thus connected with St. Columbia. Her father was Dubtach of Leinster, and her mother a slave or captive, Broiccseach. Brigida was born at Fochart, near Dundall, about 450. In order to avoid marriage she received, about 467, the pallium album et vestem candidam, dedicating her to virginity. Her chief residence was the monastery of Kildare, which she founded; but affiliated houses of both men and women (de utroque sexu) were raised all over the country, she being abbess over all other abbesses, and the bishop with her at Kildare being similarly above all bishops in her other monasteries. She is connected with bishop Mel, disciple of St. Patrick; and her lector and preacher was bishop Nadfraoich. Thirty years after the death of St. Patrick, whose winding-sheet she prepared, and at the age of about seventy-four, St. Brigida died. Montalembert (Monks of the West) gives an account of St. Brigida and her monasteries, and places her birth at A.D. 467, and her death A.D. 525. He says that "there are still eighteen parishes in Ireland which bear the name of Kilbride or the Church of Bridget." The Irish annals vary as to the time of her death, but the most probable is A.D. 523. Cogitus (Colgan, Tr. Thaumn. pages 523, 524) says that when she died her body and that of bishop Conlaedh were placed on either side of the decorated altar of the church at Kildare. Others say that her body was afterwards translated to Down and deposited in one grave with St. Patrick and St. Columba. This, however, is controverted as an invention of the 12th century. In the Scotch account, she was buried or her relics were kept at Abernethy, but it is more probably another St. Brigida (see 6). St. Brigida was a very frequent object of invocation; and churches dedicated to St. Bridget, St. Brighit, and St. Bride, in all parts of the British Isles, attest the belief in the efficacy of her intercession. In Ireland they are almost numberless, and many are forgotten. In Scotland, also, the cultus of this saint was very extensive, her dedications being found chiefly in those parts nearest to Ireland and most under Irish influence. For a full and critical account of her life, see Lanigan, Eccl. Hist. Ireland, 1:68, 355, and chapters 8, 9; Todd, Book of hymns, 1:65 sq.; O'Hanlon, Irish Saints, 2:1 sq.; Baring-Gould, Lives of the Saints, 2:14 sq.

6. Virgin, commemorated March 14. It is probable there was a Scotch saint of this name, whose relics were kept at Abernethy. A Brigida is said, in the Irish Life of St. Cuthbert, to have been brought from Ireland, and educated by St. Columba, the first bishop of Dunkeld, along with St. Cuthbert, it Dunkeld. See Ussher, De Brit. Eccl. Prim. (Dublin, 1639) pages 703, 704, who also cites the dedication of Abernethy to God and to St. Brigida by king Nectan.

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