Saint Bride of Kildare, Abbess

St Bride (or Brigit/Brigid in Ireland) c. 451 - 525, is one of Ireland's patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba. She was an early Irish Christian nun, abbess and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and revered. Amongst many other things, she is the patron saint of scholars, travellers and mariners. This is reflected in the fact that one of the charities we support is the Mission to Seafarers. The feast day of St Bride is 1 February, or Candlemas. The distinctive cross of St Bride was, according to the legend, woven from reeds or rushes by the saint so that she could convert a dying man. Read more about St Bride here.

It is said that the Hebrides are named after her, hence her name 'Bride of the Isles'. Legend has her arriving on the shores of South Uist with an oystercatcher bird (gille-Brihde, the servant of St Bride) on each wrist. West Kilbride has her arriving on the shores of Ayrshire in the 6th century, where Kilbride River meets the sea. She was allegedly buried at the Abernethy Kirk of St Bride, before being transported back to Ireland. According to myth, St Bride was locked in Ben Nevis for three months of winter, before being rescued by Aonghas of the White Steed on the first of February.

St Bride is also said to have been carried by angels from Iona to Bethlehem, to be midwife to Mary, at the birth of Jesus. Another ingredient in the mix is a prehistoric settlement named Balbridie near Banchory, which has been dated to around 3600 BC, which points to an earlier Brigid. This might be the legendary Brighid, the Ancient British Goddess, to whom wells, springs and rivers may have been dedicated in pre-Christian times.

The information on Saint Bride of Kildare is taken from the Introduction to 'CIRCLE OF BRIGHT LIGHT - The 30 St Bride and St Brigid Churches in Scotland Consecrated and in Use', compiled by Heather Upfield, May 2011.