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The Life of Saint Bridget, Virgin and Abbess

Produced by Michael Gray, Diocese of San Jose

THE LIFE OF SAINT BRIDGET

VIRGIN AND ABBESS PATRONESS OF IRELAND

"O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory! for the memory thereof is immortal: because it is known with God and with men, and it triumpheth, crowned for ever." WISD. iv, 1.

NEXT to the glorious St. Patrick, St. Bridget--whom we may consider his spiritual daughter in Christ--has ever been held in singular veneration in Ireland. Even in the neighboring kingdoms of England and Scotland, as a foreign writer affirms, this great saint has, after the glorious Virgin Mother of God, been singularly honored and revered. [1] A pity, then, it is, that we know so little of her hitherto, and that our means of knowing much are still so scanty. We are not able to give more than a biographical sketch, but the facts are so interesting, and above all so edifying, as will in some measure compensate for their fewness. To commence, then, our account of the great patroness of Ireland:

NATIVITY OF ST. BRIDGET--HER EARLY PIETY--SHE EMBRACES THE RELIGIOUS STATE AND FOUNDS SEVERAL MONASTERIES--HER SAINTLY DEATH.

ABOUT the year of our Lord, 453, was St. Bridget born. The place of her nativity was Tochard or Taugher, in the vicinity of Dundalk, though her illustrious father, Dubtach, and her mother Brocessa or Brotseach, of the noble house of O'Connor, usually resided in Leinster. During her youth every attention, which parents of distinguished rank and eminent piety could employ, was assiduously paid to her education. Great things were expected from her; "during her infancy her pious father had a vision, in which he saw men clothed in white garments pouring, as it were, a sacred unguent on her head, thereby prefiguring her future sanctity. While yet very young, Bridget, for the love of Christ our Lord, whom she chose for her spouse, and to whom she was closely united in heart and spirit, bestowed every thing at her disposal on His suffering members, the poor, and was the edification of all who knew her. She was surpassingly beautiful; and fearing, in consequence, that efforts might be made by her many suitors to dissolve the sacred vow by which she had bound herself to the Lord, she besought Him to render her deformed, and to deprive her of that gracefulness of person which had gained for her such admiration. Her petition was instantly heard, for her eye became swoln, and her whole countenance so changed, that she was permitted to follow her vocation in peace, and marriage with her was no more thought of.

"After a short interval, and when she was about twenty years old, [2] the young virgin made known to Maccaille a bishop, and a disciple of St. Patrick, and who had seen over her head a pillar of fire, her determination to live only to Christ Jesus, her heavenly Bridegroom, and he quite approved of her pious resolve, and consented to receive her sacred vows. On the appointed day, the solemn ceremony of her profession was performed, after the manner introduced by St. Patrick, the bishop putting up many holy prayers, and investing Bridget with a snow-white habit and a cloak of the same color, after she had put off her secular ornaments. While she inclined her head on this happy occasion to receive the sacred veil, a miracle of a singularly striking and impressive nature occurred; that part of the wooden platform adjoining the altar on which she knelt recovered its pristine vitality, and put on, as all the bystanders witnessed, its former _greenness_ and verdure, retaining it for a long time after. At the same moment Bridget's eye was healed, and she became as beautiful and lovely as ever." (Lessons in Office of St. Bridget.)


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