Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Saint Brigid and the Anchorite

Today we meet a holy anchorite who denies his disciples the chance to meet with Saint Brigid and to receive her blessing. His reluctance arises from his vow not to be in the company of women, but of course Saint Brigid is not just any woman....

A bond of holy friendship existed between Saint Brigid and Saint Erc of Slane, on the banks of the Boyne. It appears from her Acts that she paid him a visit and accompanied him on a tour to his native province of Munster. We are told an anecdote in connection with this visit. The Saint was resting by the sea, not far from Saint Erc's house. Close by this an Anchorite and a number of disciples were resting while on their journey to form a hermitage. The news had reached them that Saint Brigid and her nuns, of whom they had heard so much, had taken up their abode not many miles away and the disciples approached the Father and asked him to allow them to visit Saint Brigid to get her blessing. To which request the Anchorite replied: "My children, you know already my vow to visit no woman."

When they arrived at a hospice in which they were to pass the night, they discovered that the greater portion of their luggage had been left behind on the road. They at once attributed their loss to their neglect on not having sought the blessing of Saint Brigid when passing her cell. In atonement for their fault they spent the night in fasting and prayer. 

Saint Brigid called her nuns round her and bade them carry into the Convent the property which these holy men had left on the wayside, and there the monks with their leader, who had returned for their belongings found them. They humbly knelt for Saint Brigid's blessing and remained three days and as many nights near where she lived. At the earnest request of the Anchorite and his brethren, our Saint accompanied them for one day, on their return journey and imparted a special blessing to them on her leave-taking. 

Saint Patrick and the Saints of Ireland from authoritative sources (London, John Ouseley Ltd, 1908-1909), 55.

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