Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saint Brigit the Austere

A different view of Saint Brigit than is commonly considered today:

Quoted from The Irish Way, edited by F. J. Sheed, 1933.


...The Ireland into which Brendan had been thus ushered
was fraught with great change. War's terrible intoxication
was losing its attraction for the Irish, who were everywhere
accepting the doctrines of Christ. The descendants of
warriors who had harried the Romans to the Alps had
yielded to the pleadings of Patrick and were even then
raising throughout their land the foundations of a Spiritual
Empire that was to last to the end of time.

When Brendan was a year old Ere, complying with custom
and desirous of keeping him within his own jurisdiction, had
him sent to fosterage in Killeedy, County Limerick, There
but a very few years before, Saint Ita the youthful Brigid
[sic] of Munster had founded her convent and gathered a
number of women whose austerities and ministrations won
the esteem of many saints. The nun whose mortifications
inspired St. Cummian's writings naturally exercised a
profound influence over Brendan. Her special interest
in him is perhaps proof of the promise given even by his
earliest years. He returned her affection by a devotedness
that deepened with time and drew him back to her in later
life for sympathy and counsel in all his undertakings...

...Brendan's return about the year 540 is invested with the
mystery that surrounded his departure. From the con-
flicting accounts there emerges, however, one fact : that he
brought with him many disciples, one of whom bore princely
rank. It is stated that Brendan visited Saint Brigid after
his return, but as her death occurred twenty- five years earlier
this chronology is manifestly wrong. Whatever the date
of his visit, its purpose is interesting. During his travels
abroad Brendan had heard Saint Brigid's help invoked
with astonishing success. Greatly edilied [sic], he composed a
hymn in her honour and on returning home he visited the
Saint. Being asked the reason of her great power, she
replied that never for a moment was her attention diverted
from God. Whereupon Brendan, no doubt magnifying
his peccadilloes, confessed his remissness and was sweetly
reproved. The meeting is important because it shews the
great humility which ran as a leit-motif through the lives
of all the Irish Saints, Brendan's life was a prolonged
striving after perfection ; it is not wholly figurative to say
he hid from ecclesiastical honours or knelt in penance
before a nun...

The entire text of the book The Irish Way can be found, scanning errors and all, at the Internet Archive. Further, it can be viewed as a virtual book, downloaded as a pdf, or ordered as print-on-demand. Or you could just buy it from an independent bookseller through ChooseBooks or BookFinder.

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