Blessed lady Brighid, may my words and stories do your life justice
For those who don’t know, I worship Brighid on a regular basis. She is the Goddess I turn to daily and She plays a very large role in my life. I don’t know if I would consider myself a Priestess-in-Training to Her, but that role has to be explored.
In this week’s Merry Meet Monday - Forum News! @TheTravelWitch mentioned that today is Tell a Fairy Tale Day . Now, I don’t have any fairy tales to tell, but I thought I might tell you all a few stories about St. Brighid, the Irish Goddess turned Saint with Catholicism.
I first learned of these from a Facebook group I’m in called Brigid’s Forge. Naturally, you might be able to tell that this group is for those who worship or honor Brighid in one form or another. The source for my information today is Cogitosus: Life of Saint Brigit.
Cogitosus was an Irish monk who wrote the Vita Sanctae Brigidae around 650 CE. And that’s basically all we know about him. Apparently, someone named Muirchú moccu Machtheni, a monk and historian from Leinster and author of The Life of Saint Patrick, names Cogitosus as the first Irish hagiographer.
What I will be going over briefly today are a few of the miracles of St. Brigid, one of them being fairly controversial! You might also wonder why I bother with St. Brigid instead of Irish Goddess Brigid. My view on that is that They are one and the same. Just because She was given Sainthood doesn’t make Her any less of a goddess. I believe the myths and stories of both Goddess and Saint hold value.
All of these miracles are written about in Cogitosus’s work, so I won’t bother putting a citation at the end of each quotation. Just know that, at the bottom of this post, there will be a link to JSTOR where you can sign up for free and read the article I’m quoting. JSTOR gives you 100 articles free a month right now and, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a completely free version of this text because it is not out of copyright. Also, the original is in Latin so we have to rely on the generous work of those who have taken the time to translate it for us.
Of the churning and the butter given away to the guests and the poor
One of Brighid’s stories as a Saint is that of giving away butter to the poor. As a child, She was tasked, as so many other young women were, with churning the butter and bringing it to the family or village for the next day. Instead of doing this, though, it is said that She heard the word of God and was called to give the butter to guests and the poor.
In dread of her mother since she had nothing to show because she had given the lot away to the poor without a thought for the morrow, strengthened and inflamed with an ardor of faith so intense and unquenchable, she turned to the Lord and prayed. Without delay the Lord heard the maiden’s voice and prayers…Astonishingly, the very moment after her prayer, the most holy maiden proved that she had fulfilled her task by showing that nothing was missing from the fruit of her work, but that it was even more abundant than her workmates’. (Cogitosus)
Of the Cooked Bacon given to a Dog and later Found Intact
This story tells us of Brigid’s compassion for others and Her caring quality. It follows the same thread as the first miracle I shared involving food and generosity. She was cooking bacon in a cauldron for guests who had arrived and took compassion on a begging dog. When she gives food away to those less fortunate, it always seems to appear again as if none had been taken to begin with.
And when the bacon was taken from the cauldron and later divided among the guests, it was found perfectly intact as if none of it had been taken away. (Cogitosus)
Of the Water Blessed and Turned into Ale
Ale and beer were staples in many Celtic societies, so this miracle comes at no surprise. The story goes that lepers had asked Brigid if She had any ale to spare and, having none, She blessed water and turned it to ale. This is not unlike the miracle of turning water to wine and connects Brighid to ale and breweries.
Since she had none, seeing some water prepared for the baths and blessing it with the power of faith, she changed it into excellent ale and drew it in abundance for the thirsty men.
For He who changed the water into wine at Cana in Galilee also changed water into ale through the faith of this most blessed woman. (Cogitosus)
Of the Pregnant Woman Blessed and Spared the Birth-Pangs
This is the one that is the most controversial. Looking at the title of this miracle, you might think that Brigid helped this poor woman by easing Her labor pains. However, that’s not the case. This is the miracle in which we see Brigid as the performer of the first abortion in Ireland and one of the connecting miracles with Brigid to midwifery and the protection of mothers.
With a strength of faith most powerful and ineffable, she blessed a woman who, after a vow of virginity, had lapsed through weakness into youthful concupiscence, as a result of which her womb had begun to swell with pregnancy. In consequence, what had been conceived in the womb disappeared and she restored her to health and to penitence without childbirth or pain. (Cogitosus)
While I can’t say for certain that all of these miracles actually happened, I do know that I hold Brighid in high reverence in my life. She deserves the respect and acknowledgment from Her stories, either Saint or Goddess, and She will have that from me.
I hope you learned something new today! It has taken me a while on my own to learn to accept (or at least not outright deny) any part of Christianity or Catholicism. That was a large shadow of mine I had to hurdle while working with Brighid because a lot of the information we have about Her is written from that perspective.
I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t write off the source just because it’s not purely pagan in nature