Saint Brigid

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Saint Brigid
Patron of babies, blacksmiths, cows and dairy workers, Ireland, midwives, poets, sailors, scholars, and travelers
by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

St. Brigid
St. Brigid (453?–523?)
Also known as St. Bridget, St. Bride, and Mary of the Gaels

According to legend, Brigid was born into slavery, the natural daughter of a Christian slave and the pagan chieftain who was her master. Renowned for her generosity, Brigid eventually won her freedom after her father grew tired of her giving away his belongings to beggars and lepers. In another story, it is told how Brigid prayed that her beauty might be taken from her, in order to deter any suitors seeking her hand in marriage. Her prayer was answered, but her beauty was restored after she took her nun's vows.

Many other unverifiable anecdotes about Brigid also tell of her charity and happy temperament. What is known for certain, however, is that she founded the first religious community for Irish women, at Kildare, and seems to have occupied a privileged place in the Irish church even in her own time. After her death at Kildare, her remains were supposedly moved to Downpatrick, where she was reburied with St. Patrick and St. Columba. With them, she is considered a patron saint of Ireland.

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