St. Bridget (or Brigid) of Kildare is one of many saints this Protestant boy didn’t know about when growing up; Lutheran parochial schools aren’t really known for their instruction in hagiography, except for Martin Luther.
Bridget’s life and legend is evidently making a bit of a comeback, since even folks like me are becoming aware of her. One of Bridget’s more endearing qualities is her appreciation of the life-giving nature of beer.
Legend has it that Bridget once served a leper colony that had no beer. The lepers begged her to resolve the situation, so she turned their bathwater into beer. While it’s been handed down as legend, I believe there is some truth to the story, since I’ve encountered a few beers that might well have been made from lepers’ bath water.
She also is said to have supplied 18 churches with beer from a single barrel, and that the beer lasted from Maundy Thursday to Ascension Day.
Here’s a poem attributed to St. Bridget (h/t Diana Butler Bass via Beliefnet):
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 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.
Mary Condren, writing in the Irish Times.com, says that Bridget’s particular abilities in negotiating, peacemaking and community organizing make her a relevant symbol for our time.
Speaking of symbols…….
Bridget’s unique cross is a symbol of of all these traits woven together, Condren says.
In addition to being patron saint of brewers, weavers and blacksmiths, Bridget could also be the patron of soldiers who become conscientious objectors. One legend holds that Bridget and her nuns would accompany such ancient warriors to the battlefield, where she would create strong mists that blinded opposing sides and put a halt to warfare.
Given the eyesight at work today, sight that allows modern warriors to sit at a console and guide robotic death-dealing planes on the other side of the world, a bit of Bridget’s blinding mist would be most welcome.