Wednesday 1 February 2012

Saint Brigid the Saint of Agricultural Life

Saint Brigid is supremely the saint of agricultural life. She is the genius of our Irish homesteads and every farm is in a sense her shrine. She is the tutelar spirit of meadows and gardens. Throughout all her career, she was never dissociated from farm work. She is found milking cows and making firkins of butter, rounds of cheese, and tubs of home-brewed ale until the end. Not even when she was Mother Abbess of all the nuns of Ireland, did she relinquish her rural occupations: we still find her coming in from shepherding, her garments saturated with rain; or supervising reapers from dawn to sunset in the fields around her convent settlement. The Irish missionaries who went to Europe in the succeding centuries carried with them the enthusiastic cult of Brigid and gained for her immense popularity in all the countries they evangelised. But the pastoral character of her cult remained unchanged. Her feast day on February 1st ushers in the springtime and her blessing was always invoked that day on the crops, the flocks and the herds.

Alice Curtayne, Saint Brigid of Ireland, (Dublin, rev. edition, 1955), 67-8.

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