The Saints of the Basilica

Saint Brigid • Feast Day February 1

By Philip Zuccaro
St. Brigid of Ireland was born in County Louth, circa 451, to an Irish chieftain and a Christian slave woman. Best known for her healing miracles, most knowledge of Brigid’s life is derived from legend and folklore.

Brigid’s early life was spent in the domain of a Druid landowner, who had purchased her mother before her birth. Having heard St. Patrick preach in her childhood, Brigid quickly developed a tenderheartedness, which translated into a life of charity. She worked with her mother in the landowner’s dairy, often providing milk and butter to the poor and hungry from the bounty of the same. In answer to Brigid’s prayers, the gifts were restored to the master’s stock.

Brigid was returned to her father at the age of ten. Ever kind and generous, she gave liberally of his possessions to the needy. Her father encouraged her betrothal to marry at least once, and her suitors were many. However, Brigid vowed chastity. Her prayer was answered. Angry at Brigid’s charity with his possessions, her father tried to sell her to the King of Leinster. When the King witnessed Brigid’s donation of her father’s jeweled sword to a leper, the King stated, “Her merit before God is greater than ours.” At this, Brigid’s father granted her freedom.

Around 480AD, Brigid founded a monastery near Kildare, Ireland, which became a double abbey for monks and nuns. She also founded a school of art and metal work, as well as other convents across Ireland at the commissions of bishops nationwide.

Among Brigid’s attributed miracles were her turning water into beer, increasing dairy yields, and the healing of lepers and mutes.

Brigid died in 523AD on February 1, her feast day. Her numerous patronages include Ireland, babies, midwives, nuns, mariners, scholars, farmers and children whose parents are not married.


Saint Brigid in our window holds a crozier for she was the foundress of many convents and was the Abbess of Kildare Abbey, a double monastery for both nuns and monks. She wears her magic cloak which grew to cover acres of land, after the king promised her all the land her cloak could cover to build the famous Kildare Abbey. She carries a book which represents her wisdom.

Return to The Saints of the Basilica

Saint Brigid
St. Brigid (1961)
Gift of Mrs. Gayle Edwards

Stain glass window in St. Mary Basilica

St. Mary Basilica Coat of Arms