St Brigid and a fun poem

If you are Irish you probably know about St Brigid as a favourite Irish saint, who died about 525 A.D. Or you may know about the Celtic goddess also named Brigid. The old legends and stories often confuse these two.

There are few facts about the saint. She was a friend of St Patrick, is said to have founded an abbey at Kildare and was hugely influential in the conversion of the people of Ireland to Christianity.

St Brigid is often portrayed holding a crozier (as for an abbott), a lamp (of learning) and a reed cross. She and the abbesses who succeeded her in Kildare seem to have had a similar status to that of a bishop until the 12th century.

If you want to know more you can read more about her here.

In the Church of England she is remembered on 1 February as 'Brigid, Abbess of Kildare'.

Among many other attributes Brigid is remembered for her generosity and not only with her own possessions. Here's a fun poem on that theme, from The Love Letters of Phyllis Mcginley.


Saint Brigid was
A problem child.
Although a lass
demure and mild,
and one who strove
to please her dad,
St Brigid drove
the family mad.
for here's the fault in Brigid lay:
she WOULD give everything away.

To any soul
whose luck was out
she'd give her bowl
of stirabout;
she'd give her shawl,
divide her purse,
with one and all.
And what was worse,
when she ran out of things to give
she'd borrow from a relative.

Her father's gold,
her grandsire's dinner,
she'd hand to cold
and hungry sinner;
give wine, give meat,
no matter whose;
take from her feet
the very shoes,
and when her shoes had gone to others,
fetch forth her sister's and her mother's.

She could not quit.
She had to share;
gave bit by bit
the silverware,
the barnyard geese,
the parlour rug,
her little niece's
christening mug,
even her bed
to those in want,
and then the mattress of her aunt.

An easy touch
for poor and lowly,
she gave so much
and grew so holy
that when she died
of years and fame,
the countryside
put on her name,
and still the Isles of Erin fidget
with generous girls named Bride or Brigid.

Well, one must love her.
in thinking of her
there's no denial
she must have been
a sort of trial
unto her kin.
The moral, too, seems rather quaint,
Who had the patience of a saint,
from evidence presented here?
Saint Brigid? Or her near and dear?

Image Credit: Wikipedia