Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Celebrate St. Brigid

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Feb. 2, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell Celebrating feast days of saints is a fun way to teach children about faith. Take, for instance, St. Brigidís Day, Feb. 1.†Her feast falls at a dark time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, but she is celebrated in her native Ireland for helping chase away the winter and ushering in the spring. There are many stories about St. Brigid that reveal a joyful and generous spirit bound to inspire both children and adults. Combine a few stories with a festive food, or if your children enjoy crafts, help them make a St. Brigidís Xross.

Brigid was one of three great saints, along with Patrick and Columba, who laid the foundations of the Celtic Church and remains revered in Ireland today. Born about 453 in County Kildare, she lived to age 70. A woman of great learning, artistic ability, and compassion, she founded the first monastery in Ireland. She also started a school of art famous for its illuminated manuscripts and metalwork.

The many legends of St. Brigid sometimes contradict each other in details, but all point to an obvious truth: Brigid was extraordinarily generous and compassionate, and this opened the door for miracles.

One legend says Brigidís mother, Brocessa, was the slave of a druid, and when Brigid grew up she went in search of her mother, hoping to free her. Finding her ill, Brigid insisted on taking her motherís place as a slave of the household. After a time, this so amazed the master, that he freed her mother.

As a dairymaid, when she was only 10, Brigid often gave away milk, cheese and butter to the poor.†Once when she gave away all the familyís butter, God replaced it and more. Another story tells how a woman leper asked for a cup of milk. Brigid had none, and so gave the leper water instead. The water turned to milk in the cup, and when the woman drank it, she was healed.

As abbess of her monastery, Brigid is said to have once changed her bathwater to beer to quench the thirst of unexpected visitors. Another legend says her cows gave milk three times one day so visiting bishops would have enough to drink.

The popular tradition of the woven St Brigid Cross stems from this account. On a visit to a dying pagan chieftain, Brigid tried to explain the hope offered by the Christian faith. To illustrate, she wove a simple cross with a few rushes pulled from his bed. To this day, families in Ireland make such crosses on the Eve of St. Brigidís Day. They often go from house to house, giving them away. The cross is believed to bring St. Brigidís blessing to everyone who enters the home.

For graphic instructions on making a St. Brigidís Cross, visit

Traditional foods served on the feast day are spiced yeast bread called bairn or barm brack or apple cake or dumpling. Try this simple recipe.

Apple Spice Cake
1 box spice cake mix
3 eggs
ľ cup vegetable oil
1 20 oz. can apple pie filling
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecans
ē Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or 9x13 pan.
ē In large bowl blend the cake mix, eggs, and oil until just moistened. Increase to high speed and beat 2 minutes. Stir in apple pie filling by hand. Stir in raisins and nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
ē Bake in a tube pan for 50-60 minutes. For 9x13 inch pan, bake 40-45 minutes. Cool upright in the pan for 25 minutes before inverting onto wire rack.
Serve with whipped cream.

Close your celebration in prayer, asking for St. Brigidís blessing.

© 2006, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and childrenís writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at

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