About the Commemoration
In Ireland, St. Brigid (or Brigit), “the Mary of the Gael,” is honored nearly as much as Patrick. In England her name became St. Bride. Little is known about her life. Stories of miracles abound, and despite many being far-fetched and more than a little tinged with folklore, they portray a strong, happy, compassionate woman abounding in charity toward her needy neighbors. She founded a community of women at Kildare, and is honored as the founder and abbess of the first women’s community in Ireland. She died in Kildare ca. 523 and was buried there, but during the Danish invasions her remains were taken to Downpatrick to be reburied with those of St. Patrick. Her cult* spread widely. In England and Scotland churches were dedicated in her honor as St. Bride, the most famous being St. Bride’s, London, near Fleet Street. Rebuilt between 1671 and 1675 by Sir Christopher Wren, St. Bride’s has the tallest of Wren’s steeples, a magnificent spire that has inspired the popular tiered shape of wedding cakes.
Bride was added to the Episcopal calendar in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1997. She is not on the General Roman Calendar but is on the calendar of the Eastern Church as Brigid of Ireland and the Church of England’s 1995 calendar, the Christian Year, as Brigid, Abbess of Kildare.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
*The word “cult” here is not used in the more typical modern English way, referring to a social group that defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical belief. Instead, this is used as the broader term, with positive connotations that refer to the cultivation, devotion, or veneration of a saint as a demonstration of respect, honor, and reverence.
See also: Brigid of Kildare
From Evelyn Underhill, Worship
Christian worship in its fullness should include and harmonize all the various phases of our human experience. It has room for the extremes of awestruck adoration and penitent love, humble demand and inward assurance. All levels of life and action are relevant to it; for they are covered and sanctified by the principle of incarnation. It can therefore weave every detail of the daily routine into the devotional life. It is thoroughly sacramental; and shows its true quality, not by increasing abstraction and other-worldliness, but by an ever-deepening recognition of the sacredness and inexhaustible meaning of homely things. Especially a deep realism as regards human imperfection and sin, and also human suffering and struggle, is at the very heart of the Christian response to God; which if it is to tally with the Christian revelation of disinterested love as summed up in the Cross, must include the element of hardness, cost, and willing pain. It is this sacrificial suffering, this deliberate endurance of hardship for the sake of the Unseen, which gives nobility and depth to worship. The costly renunciations and total self-stripping of the consecrated life contribute something to the Church’s oblation, without which her reasonable and holy sacrifice would not be complete.
Christian worship is never a solitary undertaking. Both on its visible and invisible sides, it has a thoroughly social and organic character. The worshipper, however lonely in appearance, comes before God as a member of a great family; part of the Communion of Saints, living and dead… immersed in that life, nourished by its traditions, taught, humbled, and upheld by its saints.
[The] personal life of worship, unable for long to maintain itself alone, has behind it two thousand years of spiritual culture, and around it the self-offerings of all devoted souls. Further,… public worship, and commonly… secret devotion too, are steeped in history and tradition; and apart from them, cannot be understood. There are few things more remarkable in Christian history than the continuity through many vicissitudes and under many disguises of the dominant strands in Christian worship. On the other hand the whole value of this personal life of worship abides in the completeness with which it is purified from all taint of egotism, and the selflessness and simplicity with which it is added to the common store. Here the individual must lose his life to find it; the longing for personal expression, personal experience, safety, joy, must more and more be swallowed up in Charity. For the goal alike of Christian sanctification and Christian worship is the ceaseless self-offering of the Church, in and with Christ her head, to the increase of the glory of God.
Excerpts from Worship by Evelyn Underhill, copyright 1936 by Harper & Brothers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers and Hodder & Stoughton.
Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of your blessed servant Brigid, and we give you thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve you all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Psalm 138 or Psalm 1; Matthew 6:25-33
Hymn of the Day: “Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart” (H82 488, ELW 793)
Prayers: For the gift of joyful compassion; For all who lead lives of prayer; For communities of women; For brides.
Preface: Saint (2)