February 1 is the feast of St. Brigid of Kildare (a powerful 6th century abbess), about whom I have written in a previous post — did you know that a 9th century hagiography (the Bethu Brigte, originally written in Old Irish) includes an account of the miraculous consecration of Brigid as a bishop?

The bishop being intoxicated with the grace of God there did not recognise what he was reciting from his book, for he consecrated Brigit with the orders of a bishop. ‘This virgin alone in Ireland’, said Mel, ‘will hold the episcopal ordination.’ While she was being consecrated a fiery column ascended from her head.

The painting "St Brigid's Lake of Beer" by Michael O'Neill McGrath
"St Brigid's Lake of Beer," Michael O'Neill McGrath

For more, I direct you to my previous post — but I’ll add here an eschatological poem attributed to St Brigid:

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

Image by Michael O’Neill McGrath.

5 thoughts

  1. May I direct you, also, to an arrangement of this text by Samuel Barber in his ‘Hermit Songs’? It’s delicious. Happy feast day!!!

    1. Yep, one and the same — in addition to stories of Brigid turning her bathwater into beer and turning water into milk, many of the hagiographies have Brigid being miraculously transported to the Nativity in order to be Christ’s nurse. There’s a general association of Brigid and Mary in Irish piety — Brigid is “the Mary of the Gael.”

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