Here's to Saint Brigid, Ireland's great female patron saint!
St. Patrick is celebrated around the world every March 17, but St. Brigid ("Mary of the Irish") is less well known outside of Ireland, where she is held in high regard.
The tale as we know it is as follows....
There was an old pagan Chieftain who lay delirious on his deathbed in Kildare (some believe this was her father) and his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the saintly woman may calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him and it is here that she picked up the rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. Whilst she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain and it is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul. He was so enamoured by her words that the old Chieftain requested he be baptized as a Christian just before his passing.
St. Brigid's Day is linked to the pagan Celtic festival of Imbolc, heralding the return of spring on February 1. The Celtic Goddess Bríd was regarded as a goddess of healing and the ancient Celts acknowledged her on this day as the day that signaled renewal, new growth, and escape from darkness.
I entered darkness to take this photograph in Ennistimon County Clare, Ireland as I stepped into an abandoned cottage with a rotting roof and soft floor. In the well-lit kitchen (it had no roof), I discovered this Brigid's Cross on the aging wall with beautiful patina. Hand made Brigid's Crosses are found all over Ireland. This cross is thought to keep evil, fire and hunger from the home in which it is displayed.