Coming out of the carb-induced hangover that is St Patrick’s Day (the Irish love their carbs in the form of bread, potatoes and beer), it is easy to forget that Ireland has more than one patron saint. Father Bob reminded me of that in a tweet on Wednesday
May be St.Patrick’s Day tomorrow, Roman,masculine driven catholicism in Ireland.Don’t forget St.Brigid, Irish men&women monks.
It’s hard for me to forget her, given that my entire secondary education was spent in Brigidine schools in Ararat and Geelong.
St Brigid’s feast day is 1 February, a day associated in pre-Christian Ireland as Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring. There is a strong association between Brigid the saint, who founded monasteries for men and women in the city of Kildare and the Celtic goddess Brigid after whom she was named.
St Brigid is emblematic of how pagan deities and traditions have been overlaid with a Christian ethos. Her cross, which is traditionally made of rushes or straw, is hung in houses to ward against fire and evil. My aunt Moya had one in the kitchen hanging over the door.
St Brigid resonates with me in that she represents the Celtic, superstitious aspects of my personality. She is also a woman who managed to establish herself as a powerful figure in the Church, a largely patriarchical institution at the best of times.
Now I’m off to make some potato bread from the leftovers of last night’s tea…
ps There is a 3rd patron saint of Ireland, Columba, who went on to bring Christianity to Scotland, but now is not the time 🙂