"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Mt 22:37

St. Bridget of Ireland

Who is St. Bridget of Ireland? Meet our Patron

by Hannah Dustman

St. Bridget Catholic Church – 150th celebration


St. Bridget of Ireland – also known as St. Bridget of Kildare – is a fifth century Saint. Revered for her remarkable acts of generosity, her loyalty to and leadership of the Irish people and her devoted life of prayer and service to the Church. Though very little is known about this holy woman, Irish folklore and tradition boasts of St. Bridget’s charity.

Born to a Portuguese slave mother and affluent Irish father, Bridget herself was considered a second-class citizen. Brocca (Bridget’s mother) was a baptized Christian, while Dubthach (Bridget’s father) was the pagan chieftain of an ancient clan. Once Dubthach’s wife learned of her husband’s affair, she sold the pregnant Brocca to a Druid landowner. 

Throughout her childhood, the reputation of Bridget’s purity began to proceed her. One tale tells Bridget was unable to stomach any food offered to her from her slave master because he was impure. Instead, she received nutrients solely from an unblemished, white cow. As Bridget grew, her beauty attracted attention from many potential suitors seeking to marry her. However, raised to love the Lord by her mother, Bridget desired to give her entire life to God and felt called to consecrated religious life.

Once Bridget reached a certain age, legend shares that she was sent back to her father’s house as his rightful property and worked on his farm herding cattle and sheep. Since her pagan father did not understand her vocation, he sought tirelessly to marry her off to a wealthy noble and man like himself. On one occasion, Dubthach, tired of his daughter’s charitable nature and constant offering of his possessions to the poor, he took her to the king of Leinster with the intention of selling her. As he spoke to the king, Bridget took his jeweled sword and offered it to a beggar to barter for food. The king, who was a Christian himself, was moved by the sincerity and love of the young woman’s heart and convinced her father to grant her freedom.

Despite her newfound freedom, Bridget faced with mounting pressure to marry. Turning to the Lord, she offered an unusual prayer that her beauty be taken away and hidden from the world so that she would become undesirable. Her prayer was answered. Now, Bridget was truly free.

After leaving her father’s home, Bridget returned to her mother and the Druid, taking over her mother’s role as milkmaid. Despite her own poverty, Bridget was known to give away generous amounts of milk and butter to the poor. However, through Bridget’s miraculous prayers of petition, the store was never depleted. In fact, the dairy prospered so much that the Druid freed Brocca from her servitude.

After caring for her mother, Bridget entered religious life. At the early age of 15, Bridget joined seven other consecrated virgins to form the beginnings of a convent at Croghan Hill near Kildare. Several years later, Bridget herself established the famous monastery of Kildare, where she served as abbess. As soon she took her final vows and the threat to marriage was removed for good, Bridget’s beauty was returned just as miraculously as it was taken.

The monastery was built above a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, the goddess of fire, who was widely worshiped throughout pre-Christian Ireland, and St. Bridget’s namesake. It was here that St. Bridget sought to spread Christianity and her “fiery arrow,” or zeal for the Gospel burned brightest. The monastery at Kildare was the first of many monasteries St. Bridget founded throughout Ireland.

In artwork, St. Bridget is often pictured holding a woven cross, a burning flame and a manuscript. The cross she bears is commonly called “St. Bridget’s Cross.” According to tradition, the cross was made by the Saint herself at the time when a pagan chieftain lay dying. The chieftain requested St. Bridget come to his bedside. But by the time she arrived, he was in utter despair. St. Bridget hurriedly wove together a cross made of stalks and leaves and used the cross to speak to the chieftain about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She spoke with such conviction about the glory of the cross and Christ’s death and resurrection that the dying man immediately asked to be baptized and died a Christian. 

St. Bridget served beside several other prominent Saints, including St. Patrick. Sts. Bridget and Patrick are said to have been close friends and worked together to spread Christianity throughout Ireland. Some sources say it was St. Patrick who baptized Bridget, and her mission to build a religious community of her own was inspired by Patrick’s witness. Together, with St. Columba, Sts. Bridget and Patrick are honored as the patron Saints of Ireland.

St. Bridget of Ireland died on February 1, 525 at the age of 75. Her feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of her death. She was buried in the tomb at the High Altar of Kildare Cathedral until the Scandinavian raids in 878. In order to safeguard the remains of the “Mary of Ireland,” her relics were moved to the tomb of Sts. Patrick and Columba.

In addition to being the patroness of Ireland, St. Bridget is the patron Saint of babies, children of unmarried parents, dairy workers, farmers, midwives, nuns, poets, printers and sailors.




About St. Brigid of Ireland - Patron Saint Article. Catholic Saint Medals. (2019, September 25). Retrieved September 13, 2021, from https://catholicsaintmedals.com/saints/st-brigid-of-ireland/.

St. Brigid of Ireland - Saints and Angels. Catholic Online. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2021, from https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=453.