Brigit, Saint
Alternate Name:
Bridget, Bride
Death Date:
Location of Work:
Cell Dara, Tempul Brigid, many others in province of Leinster


Dubthach, Leinster nobleman of Fothairt
Broicsech, Connacht slave
Other Family:

foster parents (druid and wife) from Munster

Social Status:

minor noble/slave

Religious Titles:

abbess, saint; according to some vitae, accidentally ordained a bishop by bishop Mel

Ecclesiastical Relationships:

Most Leinster houses of men and/or women were in the paruchia of Kildare, making Brigit their patron; according to her vitae, Brigit was also a patroness/companion of Leinster bishops Mac Caille and Conlaed, and a client/companion of bishops, Mel, Melchu, and Patrick of Ard Macha (Armagh), thus indicating the submission of (but not dependence upon) Kildare to Armagh. See the 8th-century notes to the Liber Ardmacha: "Between holy Patrick and Brigit, pillars of the Irish, there existed so great a friendship of charity that they were of one heart and one mind. Christ worked many miracles through him and her. The holy man, then, said to the Christian virgin: 'O my Brigit, your paruchia will be deemed to be in your province in your dominion but in the eastern and western part it will be in my domination.'" According to hagiography, Brigit also had special friendship with a Mide/Munster saint, Aed mac Bricc. Kildare and its abbesses, including Brigit, supposedly ruled all women's communities in Ireland, also according to the Liber Ardmacha, which claimed the abbess of the community was "she whom all the abbesses of the Irish revere."

Secular Affiliations:

Patronized by the Ui Dunlainge and other dynasties of Leinster; later by the Ui Tuathail; de Vesci family; and Fitzgerald earls of Kildare.

Feast Day:
Feb. 1 (Imbolc)
Founder of:
Cell Dara and numerous other houses claimed in vitae
Charitable Works:
miracles, particularly feeding and nurturing miracles
Brief Profile:

According to her vitae from the 7th century and later, Brigit was supposedly the child of a Leinster nobleman of the Fothairt, named Dubthach, and Broicsech, whom later vitae (although not that of Cogitosus) reveal was a slave girl from Connacht. Brigit was sold to a druid from Munster and his wife. She eventually returned after childhood to her father in Leinster before taking a religious vow; she was veiled, according to various vitae, either by bishop Mac Caille of Leinster or bishop Mel, protege of S. Patrick. She travelled the provinces of Leinster, Munster, and Mide, founding communities for women and mixed-sex communities, including her main church of Kildare Cell Dara. She died, according to the Annala Uladh: Annals of Ulster otherwise Annala Senait, Annals of Senat: a chronicle of Irish affairs from A.D. 431 to A.D. 1540, in 524 or 528. Several medieval sources have been interpreted by modern scholars to suggest that Brigit may have derived from prechristian female deities named Brig. In particular, Cormac's Glossary defines "brig" as one of three goddesses; Gerald of Wales, in his History and Topography of Ireland, describes an eternal fire, hedged with a fence that no man could cross, tended by the nuns of Kildare and by Brigit herself.

Dorothy Bray, Lisa M. Bitel
Community ID Global:
Biography ID Global: