Monday, February 01, 2016

Lá Féile Naomh Bríde

Today is the feast of St Bridget, patroness of Ireland, and not incidentally of my wife.

From The Life of St Brigit by Cogitosus, excerpted from The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham:

. . .On another occasion the blessed Brigid felt a tenderness for some ducks that she saw swimming on the water and occasionally taking wing.  She bid them fly to her, and a great flock of them flew towards her, without any fear, as if they were humans under obedience to her.  She touched them with her hand and embraced them tenderly.  She then released them and they flew into the sky.  And as they did so she praised God the Creator of all living things, to whom all life is subject, and for the service of whom all life is a gift. . . .

The collect for St Brigid from the Masses proper to England and Wales in the old English Missal:

O God, who on this day dost make us to rejoice in the yearly solemnity of blessed Brigid thy Virgin : graciously grant ; that we who are enlightened by the example of her chastity, may be aided by her merits. Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
The collect in the Pauline Rite:

Lord, you inspired Saint Brigid such whole-hearted dedication to your work that she is known as Mary of the Gael; through her intercession bless our country; may we follow the example of her life and be united with her and the Virgin Mary in your presence.  We make our prayer through Christ our  Lord .  Amen.
The monks of St Benedict's Abbey in Norcia have been brewing their own beer for a while now.  You may have seen a notice here and there that their beer is soon to be available in the U.S.  You can find out about it here.  They're far from being the first brewing abbey.  That talent goes at least as far back as . . . St Brigid.

In his Lives of the British Saints the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould informs us that St Brigid was no mean brew-mistress:

She was famous for the ale she brewed, and on one occasion supplied seventeen churches in Meath with liquor from Maundy Thursday to Low Sunday. She also furnished [St] Mel, her diocesan, with beer continually. Lepers and poor people clamoured for her ale, and on one occasion she bluntly told them that all she could give them was her bath-water. The [medieval] biographer improves this story into a miracle, her tubbing water was converted into excellent beer. Indeed such was her desire to supply the Saints with wholesome home-brewed ale, that the only hymn of hers that has been preserved, runs as follows: 
I should like a great lake of ale
For the King of Kings!
I should like the whole family of heaven
To be drinking it eternally. 
One day Bishop Mel arrived with a large party of clerics, and clamoured for breakfast. "This is well for you to be hungry," replied Brigid, "but we also are hungry and thirsty, and that for the Word of God. Go into the church first and serve us with the spiritual banquet. After that we will attend to your victuals."