Sunday 5 February 2017

Saint Brigid 'the best and most generous benefactress'

If one has to identify a single virtue which the sources claim typified Saint Brigid, it would have to be her generosity to those in need. The compiler of the series of vignettes we have been enjoying since her feast certainly thought so:

A virtue that drew all hearts irresistibly to the Patroness of Ireland was her wonderful sympathy with and charity toward the poor and afflicted. She looked upon them as her dearest friends and loved to have them around her. They came to her in their need, and they found her to be their best and most generous benefactress. She was never happier than when giving food or raiment to those who asked it of her, and no doubt felt that, although so young, she was old enough to bring happiness to many that had not her advantages or position. It must have been pleasing and profitable to behold this little child distributing her gifts to the poor. The air was filled with blessings and benedictions upon her head, the cry of distress was stifled; the impoverished and needy bodies were strengthened, the wan look of hunger was exchanged for that of radiant joy and delight, as the saint poured her charity into the outstretched hands of the crowds that followed her. we are told that she had a storehouse  erected, into which she placed everything she could collect, whether food or clothes, or other necessities of the age. The meals, necessary for her own nourishment, were often also placed in this hiding place.

Saint Patrick and the Saints of Ireland from authoritative sources (London, John Ouseley Ltd, 1908-1909), 43.

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