Along with St. Patrick, St. Brigid of Kildare (450-520) is a patron saint of Ireland. Like Patrick and his shamrock, Brigid used rushes from the floor of a dying chieftain to explain another Christian doctrine, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. One version goes as follows:
A pagan chieftain from the neighborhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. As she talked his delirium quieted, and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he was converted and baptized at the point of death. Since then the cross of rushes has been venerated in Ireland.
The cross, which is made from rushes or straw, is associated with the start of spring, a time when the ground is ready for planting and lambs are born.
According to Catholic Encyclopedia, Brigid was born in 451 of princely ancestors at in County Louth. After refusing many offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins, she established the convent of Cill-Dara, that is, ‘the church of the oak’ (now Kildare). At least one of Brigid’s biographers claims that her mother was a slave in the court of her father Dubhthach, an Irish chief of Leinster.
Many wonderful tales are associated with her generosity. Her prayer for a feast in heaven is to have a “great lake of ale...and every drop a prayer.” There aren’t too many Irishmen who would argue with that!
Here is St. Brigid's Blessing: May you find a lake in heaven filled with ale and every drop a prayer.