St Brigid of Kildare – 1 February 2021
Here is a holy woman of some strength and holiness of character. She is dressed as a monastic, and in her hand there is a staff which, though part hidden, is her abbatical crozier. In her left hand is a book bound with a bejewelled cover, the Book of Kildare. The image worked into the cover is a crucifixion. Behind her is a twisted tree, reminiscent of a crown of thorns. The red of her monastic habit points to the way of the cross, to the martyrdom of the Christian life. The whole suggests that she has the strength required for the ministry expected of her, although this will be costly.
This picture of St Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, from the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, is by Patrick Joseph Tuohy (1894-1930). Tuohy was an Irish portraitist and genre painter. He was associated with the Republican movement and fought in the Easter Rising. The model for the painting is thought to be the sister of Frank Fahy TD.
Lá Fhéile Bríde Shona Daoibh
I’d like to give a lake of beer to God.
I’d love the heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity.
I’d love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I’d put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.
White cups of love I’d give them
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer
To every man.
I’d make Heaven a cheerful spot
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make the men contented for their own sake.
I’d like Jesus to love me too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women and God
There by the lake of beer.
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.
10thC poem, apocryphally attributed to Brigid
O God, whose servant Brigid, kindled with the flame of your love, became a shining light in your church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect of Brigid of Kildare