Thursday 2 February 2017

Saint Brigid in Connaught

We begin a series of posts to mark the Feast of Saint Brigid with a vignette taken from a 1908 volume on Saint Patrick and the Irish saints. It is unattributed to any author but draws upon the hagiography of the saints to illustrate their lives. In the episode below Saint Brigid is in Connaught when on her way home she encounters some rather ungallant boatmen who foolishly believe they are going to get the better of her....

The ancient lives of the Saint record many miracles performed by her in Connaught to strengthen the faith of the new converts, and to attract the followers of the Druidical worship to the Christian belief, and these were performed before large gatherings of people.

In her return journey to her native Leinster, we are told in her Fourth Life, St. Brigid arrived at Ath-Luain, the historic town of Athlone... It was in Athlone that the miracle related in many of her ancient lives took place, in presence of a large gathering of people. The boatmen refused to row herself and her companions across the Shannon to the Meath side, on their homeward journey to her native province, without payment of an exorbitant fee. They told the ferryman that they would walk across rather than pay such an impossible sum. The boatmen and many of the crowd laughed at this threat. One of the nuns turned to St. Brigid and asked her to bless the swollen waters of the river so that they might so decrease as to permit them to ford it and dispense with the services of the boatmen. To the astonishment of those assembled to watch the departure of the Saint and her religious following, the angry waters subsided to such an extent that they reached scarcely to the knees of St. Brigid and the nuns.

Saint Patrick and the Saints of Ireland from authoritative sources (London, John Ouseley Ltd, 1908-1909), 56-57.

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