Thursday, 2 February 2012

A Legend of Saint Brigid

Pictorial Lives of the Saints (1878)

One day after the Feast of Saint Brigid comes the Feast of Candlemas on February 2. In Irish popular tradition, despite the obvious problems with chronology, the two feasts were given a link. In the early 1920s folklorist Elizabeth Andrews wrote a short note about the form it took in Valentia Island, County Kerry in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland:

Ireland: Folklore

108. A Legend of St. Brigid

In further reference to the spring feature of Saint Brigid I am indebted to Miss Delap for a curious legend from Valentia Island which, with fine disregard of chronology, makes Saint Brigid a friend of the Virgin Mary. It is said that when the Virgin was shy about facing the congregation in the Temple, Saint Brigid procured a harrow, took out the spikes and putting a candle in every hole, placed it on her head, walked up before the Virgin and escorted her down again. According to another version, which it is believed came from the north of Ireland, it was a hoop with lighted candles which the Saint wore as she danced up the aisle before the Virgin and down again. For this service Saint Brigid’s Day is the eve of Candlemas or the Purification of the Virgin.

Elizabeth Andrews, Man, Vol. 22 (December 1922), 187.

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