Brigid and Religious Life

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  • Saint Brigid

When Brigid reached marriageable age, she decided to enter the religious life rather than get married. She travelled to Croghan Hill in Co. Meath and asked St. Maccaille, who was a bishop and had a church there, to admit her into religious life. She was accompanied by seven other young girls.

At first, St. Maccaille was reluctant to grant Brigid's request, but was eventually convinced of her sincerity. Brigid founded the first convent in Ireland on Croghan Hill, Co. Westmeath.

Brigid's convent at Kildare was very popular. Many young women wanted to join. People travelled from far and near to ask Brigid for advice and instruction. Men also wished to join the religious community founded by Brigid. Eventually, a bishop was appointed to the convent, as only a bishop could ordain priests. For a time, men and women lived and worked together there.

This is an image from 1786. It depicts how a nun of St. Brigid would have dressed. The clothing worn by a nun is called a habit.

There are still many religious congregations dedicated to St. Brigid in existence today, including the Brigidine Sisters. This congregation was founded in 1807 by Bishop Daniel Delaney. This event was viewed as a re-founding of the Sisters of St. Brigid. The Brigidine Sisters established a base in Kildare in 1992 in order to honour their roots. They founded Solas Bhríde, which they describe as 'a small Christian centre for Celtic spirituality in the spirit of Brigid of Kildare.' Its focus is to 'work together to promote peace, justice, reconciliation and care of the earth.'

The influence of St. Brigid is still extremely strong, not only in Ireland but across the world, with many festivals being held to celebrate her feast day on 1 February each year.