Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brigid and the Monastic Community of Kildare

Brigid founded the first monastic community that grew into the most renowned monastic city in Ireland, Kildare. Brigid was the abbess of the convent and church and the leader of the community that grew up around Kildare. She was known for her piety, her hard work, and her hospitality. She worked side by side with her nuns tending sheep, milking cows, along with weaving and cooking. Gifts given to the monastery by the rich were given to the poor and sold for food. No one was turned away from the  community, they provided for all.

Kildare grew so big that Brigid could no longer run it alone. A local bishop, Cloneth came to the monastery to help her and he brought monks with him. The monks were master silver and bronze smiths and made beautiful silver and metal ornaments to go with the nuns woven and embroidered tapestries . One of her biographers, a monk who lived at Kildare while Brigid was there, said this about the monastery and town:

But who could convey in words the supreme beauty of her church and the countless wonders of her city, of which we speak? “City” is the right word for it: that so many people are living there justifies the title. It is a great metropolis, within whose outskirts–which Saint Brigid marked out with a clearly defined boundary–no earthly adversary feared, nor any incursion of enemies. For the city is the safest place of refuge among all towns of the whole land of the Irish, with all their fugitives. It is a place where the treasures of kings are looked after, and it is reckoned to be supreme in good order.

compiled from a number of sources
Photo: the Cathedral  at Kildare dedicated to St. Brigid. From an old postcard in Reg Dosell's Collection

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