Saint Brigid's Crosses are made all over Ireland and adorn the walls beside the entrances to many Irish homes. Our journeys to and fro are blessed by Mary of the Gael, as Saint Brigid is often called.
These Irish crosses are made with interwoven rushes, and this cross is supposed to keep fire, hunger and all things evil away from the homes where it is displayed.
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Saint Brigid's Day
Saint Brigid's Day is fast approaching, and to celebrate this amazing Irish woman our giveaway this week is for a beautiful framed printable for the home, featuring a Saint Brigid's Cross, a treasured symbol of Ireland, first created by this beloved Irish saint.
Before we get in to the details of our giveaway, let's first explore a little more about Brigid of Kildare.
Feast Day on February 1st
We commemorate St. Brigid on her feast day is of February 1st because it is the anniversary of her death in the year 525.
Part fact, part fiction, part myth, and part legend, she will always be a fascinating figure to me, and for many Irish the world over.
Did you know she is a patron saint of Ireland? Yes, that's correct. That honor is not only bestowed on Saint Patrick, but his female counterpart is held in equally high esteem.
Often you hear her referred to as “Mary of the Gael” because she is renowned for her kind and selfless acts and no greater honor can be bestowed upon her, than to call her after the Mother of Christ.
Irish gifts often feature the distinctive cross woven of reeds for which she is most famous. Legend tells us she converted a dying man to Christianity by weaving a cross like this from the reeds on the floor beside his bed.
An old pagan cheiftain was dying. He had heard stories of a saintly woman in the area and asked his servants to summon her to sit with him as he lay on his deathbed.
St. Brigid's presence, and her calming words brought peace to his dying soul and eased his restless spirit. As she was weaving this unique cross, she talked about its meaning. The old chieftain found comfort and died a peaceful death.
A simple rush cross holds mythical significance in Ireland and is a beloved Christian symbol first created by the patroness of Ireland.
Children in Ireland often make crosses for Saint Brigid's Day in school using reeds, or chenille straws (pipe cleaners).
Brigid's father was a Celtic Druid and Chieftain, but her mother was a Christian slave. The old story of her birth tells how she was born as her mother stood in a doorway with one leg inside the house and one leg outside the house. Perhaps this is why we hang Saint Brigid's crosses beside our doorways. She holds sway over the world inside the houseand outside, from the very time of her birth.
A Generous Spirit
From the time Brigid was a little girl she was renowned for her generosity, which caused much trouble for her with her father. She simply kept giving his riches away.
We are told that once the benevolent Brigid gave away her mother’s entire store of butter. But lo and behold, the complete stock was miraculously replaced, and no one could explain from where the heavenly butter came.
Her father's patience was tried and tested as she frequently parted with his precious belongings without asking for his permission.
Whether fact or fiction, all stories of Brigid concur that she was a very open-hearted girl whose acts of kindness and generosity plagued her father. She shared his abundant stores of milk, butter, and meat with beggars who came to their door.
Proposed Marriage Of Saint Brigid
To solve his problem her father decided the best solution was to marry her off to another man. His attitude was to let his daughter distribute another man's wealth instead of his own, by offering her as a bride. Brigid wanted to become a nun, and marriage was not in her plans.
Brigid and her father traveled by chariot to meet the King of Leinster. While her father went to discuss the marriage contract with the King, he left Brigid and his sword with a magnificent bejeweled bronze scabbard in the chariot. A weapon would not have been appropriate at the King's table.
A leper approached Brigid asking for alms. Brigid looked around the chariot, but there was no food to be found. Instead she handed him her father's precious sword, advising him to sell it for money to buy food.
You can just imagine the rage that came upon her father on discovering his missing sword.
The King of Leinster realized he may be taking on more than he bargained for so he questioned Brigid, “Will you also give away my riches too?”
Her famous response was:
“I would give all the wealth of Ireland away to the poor to serve the King of Heaven.”
Well, that put an end to the marriage deal, and Brigid was granted her wish of becoming a nun.
Becoming A Bishop, Not A Nun
The officiating Bishop at Brigid's ordination was Mel, not Patrick. Mel traveled to Ireland with Patrick on his second evangelizing mission to the Emerald Isle. The cathedral in Longford town is named after him.
As Brigid approached Mel to take the veil, he witnessed a pillar of flame rising from her head. He was so perplexed by the site, he confused his prayers and recited the ordination prayer for a Bishop instead of the blessing for a nun.
The crowd were shocked and objected to the ordination of a woman as a Bishop. They wanted Mel to rescind his blessing. But Saint Mel stood his ground. He claimed his error was God's work. And that Brigid would remain a Bishop of the Church.
An Abbey In Kildare Where The Arts Flourished
County Kildare in Leinster is closely associated with Saint Brigid although she traveled the length and breadth of Ireland.
She founded her abbey in Kildare, and she cleverly chose an ancient site that was sacred to the Celts and the Druids. The abbey was built on the site associated with the pre-Christian Celtic goddess Brigid.
She was known as Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan and in Celtic mythology she was associated with life giving gifts, spring and the old Celtic holiday of Imbolc. We actually celebrate Saint Brigid's Day at Imbolc each year.
This abbey boasted a very active scriptorium, the writing room where books, legends and the bible were transcribed. The most famous Irish manuscript today is the Book of Kells, but did you know there also was a Book of Kildare, produced at Saint Brigid's Abbey.
Magnificently illuminated and decorated with ornate metal work, legend has it that this book was the work of angels. Unfortunately it is one of Ireland's treasures that was lost forever at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
A Blessing For The Home
To mark Saint Brigid's love of art, I thought this beautiful print is the perfect prize for this week's giveaway.
This print features a St Brigid's Cross plus a beautiful Irish blessing for the home.
Let us remember her generosity, her love of the arts and ask her to bless our homes, as we celebrate our Irish heritage with her through this little giveaway.
We looked at another Irish house blessing a few weeks ago, but this one is just as meaninful.
May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside every wall and door
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy
Bless every foot that walks its portals through
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.
As a strong, independent and generous Irish woman, Brigid remains an inspiration for Irish people all over the world. This print is a wonderful reminder of our Irish roots.
Celtic and Fantasy Art By Kevin Dyer
Kevin Dyer is an artist based in Georgia, who creates beautiful Celtic inspired works. Here's how he describes his inspirations on his Etsy page:
"I am something of a student of ancient art and particularly interested in Celtic history, but I am not interested in reproducing artifacts or furthering a traditional technique.
There was an original impulse for man to do art in the first place. Images and objects that take us out of our day to day consciousness. A magic icon or at least a feeling that allowed the viewer to step out of the ordinary world of words and survival and allow a more ancient wisdom to arise. I am looking for that magic."
Here's a small collection of his beautiful work.
You'll find many more spectacular pieces in his Etsy shop.
He also sells through Amazon and here's a link to one of his Saint Brigid's Crosses.
One lucky reader will win a Saint Brigid's Cross Digital print with Brigid's Blessing. This is a digital print of Kevin Dyer's original cast paper work.
This reed or straw woven cross is associated with Brigid of Kildare, a patron saint of Ireland and with an older pagan goddess Brigid, represented by a sun wheel. It is said to protect a home from fire and is often hung in kitchens for that purpose or at doorways to bless those as they come and as they go.
This print is framed with glass in a high-quality anodized aluminum frame with dimensions of 8″ x 12″. This blessing is printed on high-quality paper for a beautiful luster.
To enter simply leave a comment on this blog post by noon Eastern Time on Monday, February 1st, 2021, Saint Brigid's Day.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration why not tell us if you have a favorite Irish saint or role model.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Monday, February 1st, 2021, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries by clicking here.
Thank you to all who support this giveaway and share it with family and friends who may also enjoy some stories of Ireland, and the Irish in America.
Update: Winner Chosen
Our winner has been randomly chosen using the Pick Giveaway Winner Plug-in for WordPress.
And the lucky reader is ….
I’ll send an email to arrange mailing of her prize.
A total of five readers named Colleen entered the giveaway. The winning Colleen left the following comment:
"This is really lovely, thank you. Although my middle name is after Patrick, I’ve always felt more of a kinship with Brigid."
A big thank you to everyone for supporting this giveaway by leaving comments. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one.
Thank you all for supporting our Irish American community. I hope you enjoyed learning about the meaning the cross and exploring some stories of St Brigid.
Stay tuned for more stories and giveaways over the coming weeks and months.
Here are some stories of Ireland you might enjoy.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
Disclosure: I do not have a direct financial relationship with Kevin Dyer. The links for purchasing this book are affiliate links to his Etsy shop, which means that if you should purchase this book through one of these links I will earn a small commission. This post reflects my honest and unbiased thoughts about his work. I publish these posts to help artists promote their Irish and Irish American themed work.
Here are some more recipes and ramblings you might enjoy…