Brigid was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, Ireland. Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. According to legend, her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Leinster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court. Even as a young girl she showed an interest for a religious life and took the veil in her youth from St. Macaille at Croghan and probably was professed by St. Mel of Armagh, who is believed to have conferred abbatial authority on her. She settled at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time and about the year 468, followed Mel to Meath. About the year 470 she founded a double monastery at Cill-Dara (Kildare) and was Abbess of the convent, the first in Ireland. The foundation developed into a center of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral city of Kildare. She founded a school of art at Kildare and its illuminated manuscripts became famous, notably the Book of Kildare,
Making Saint Bridget’s Crosses.
Making a St Bridget’s Cross is a custom in Ireland. The St Bridget’s Cross is made out of plants called rushes (Juncus effusus) for hanging above the entrances to dwellings to invoke the help of St Bridget in warding off disease. St Bridget’s Day is celebrated on the 1st February each year and the crosses are made at that time. Rushes were traditionally used to make the St Bridget’s Cross. These were collected from wetlands and cut into pieces, 8-12 inches long. Some of the children created many different designs. Look at the photos.
You Will Need
• 9 rushes
• 4 small rubber bands
How to make the cross:
1. Hold one of the rushes vertically. Fold a second rush in half as in the diagram.
2. Place the first vertical rush in the centre of the folded second straw.
3. Hold the centre overlap tightly between thumb and forefinger.
4. Turn the two rushes held together 90 degrees counter clockwise so that the open ends of the second rush are projecting vertically upwards.
5. Fold a third rush in half and over both parts of the second rush to lie horizontally from left to right against the first rush. Hold tight.
6. Holding the centre tightly, turn the three rushes 90 degrees counter clockwise so that the open ends of the third rush are pointing upwards.
7. Fold a new rush in half over and across all the rushes pointing upwards.
8. Repeat the process of rotating all the rushes 90 degrees counter clockwise, adding a new folded rush each time until all nine rushes have been used up to make the cross.
9. Secure the arms of the cross with elastic bands. Trim the ends to make them all the same length. The St Bridget’s Cross is now ready to hang.