A LITTLE STORY OF ST BRIGID
Saint Brigid was born in A.D. 451 or 452 in Faughart Co Louth just after the time that St. Patrick was preaching (St. Patrick died in A.D. 493).
When she was around 10 she was given charge of the dairy -- but gave much of the produce away. This annoyed her father. Despite her giving away much of the produce, her pantry was always full -- miraculously so.
Brigid’s father, Dubthach, took her to see Dunlang, King of Leinster. When they arrived, Dubthach went in to speak with the King, leaving Brigid in the chariot. A leper came to her, and she gave him her father's sword so he'd have something of value -- even as Dubthach was complaining to the King about how Brigid was always giving away his things. The King was impressed with her charity and gave her Dubthach his own sword instead.
When she grew up she was very beautiful, and many young chieftains wanted to marry her. However, she consecrated herself to Christ and wanted no part of marriage. It is said that she, prayed to be ugly so that no man would even want to marry her. Her resolve convinced her father to allow her to take the veil, and she became the first nun in Ireland.
Now, women consecrated themselves to Christ before then, but lived in private homes; Brigid formed the first religious community for women in Ireland. She and 7 companions met with St. Mel, a Bishop. On meeting the women, St. Mel consecrated the women, and when he did, it is said that Brigid's self-disfigurement was healed and her beauty restored.
According to Irish legend Saint Brigid wanted to build a convent in Kildare. The local chieftain refused the land near the oak tree that she loved, so Brigid told the chieftain she'd be happy to accept whatever land her mantle could cover. He agreed, but her mantle miraculously grew and grew until it covered all of Curragh!
There are many stories told about Brigid. One of them tells of how she was sitting at the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain. As she sat she picked up some rushes from the floor and began to weave them into a cross. The chieftain asked what she was doing and Brigid began to tell him about the Holy Cross on which Jesus died for us. He was very moved by how much Jesus loved us. That very day, he became a Christian and died holding the cross of rushes.
It is customary on St. Brigid's Day to make a Cross -- known as a "St. Brigid's Cross" -- out of rushes or reeds (other materials may be used if no rushes or reeds are available). Once the Cross is woven, it is blessed with holy water and with the words
May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost be on this Cross and on the place where it hangs and on everyone who looks on it.
It is then hung on the front doors of homes and left in place all year, to be burned and replaced with a newly-woven Cross on the next St. Brigid's Day.