St. Brigid was born at Faughart, two miles northwest of Dundalk about the year 450. Her father was a Chieftain named Dubhtach and her mother was a bond-woman who was sold into slavery before the birth of Brigid. It has been suggested that by the time Brigid was in her teens, her mother was "discarded" to a new owner. Brigid lacked the priceless gift of a mother's care and love at a very important time of her life.
With the departure of her mother, Brigid was recognised as her father's daughter and given to a foster mother to be reared. She received a good upbringing and her education was completed at the age of seventeen, at which time she returned to her father's house. As was customary at the time her father wished her to marry but she refused because she had already given her heart to the Lord by a vow of perpetual virginity. The father and family were very angry and many harsh words were spoken over the next four years. This kind of struggle was not unusual in the early days of Christianity and Brigid had grown into a very beautiful woman. The religious life was considered unnatural and against the whole way of life but she had a will of her own and ultimately her father relented and gave his permission for her to "take the veil".
She became a Nun and was professed in around the year 470. Legend has it that the "taking of the veil" by Brigid was dramatized. Her public vow was witnessed by Bishop MacCaille but as he was about to place the white veil over her head, he was pushed aside by angels, who, taking the veil from his hands placed it on Brigid's head themselves. This lively legend asserted that Brigid deserved this unique honour because of the tremendous struggle she endured to follow what she believed to be her true vocation.
There is no knowledge of the process of change that took place in the heart and soul of Brigid but her growth in holiness seems to have been rapid.
Her first religious settlement was in Westmeath but in 471 she established a Community at Drum Crioch which eventually called the Church of the Oak. Hence the name "Cill Dara" or "Kildare".
Her life of virtue and her love of the poor
While the saints excel in the practice of all the virtues they sometimes appear to be partial to one in particular. Hence, different virtues come to be associated with different saints.
In St. Brigid's case her beloved virtue was "love of the poor". Indeed, when Brigid and seven other girls took the veil from Bishop MacCaille and each selected one of the Beatitudes she wished to excel in, Bridgid chose:
"Blessed are the Poor"
Whilst still a young girl she drove fer father to distraction with her giving to the poor and needy. She gave away the milk, butter and his best clothes... even his finest sword which was worth a small fortune. Even the Bishop did not escape... she gave away his most precious Mass vestments which were a cherished gift from overseas. Neither did the dogs escape her notice. On one occasion, she saw how hungary they were she gave them the meat being prepared for the Community dinner. However, this time Our Lord in His Mercy worked a miracle. He provided an even choicer piece of meat for her hungary sisters.
In Brigid's eyes the poor belonged to the one great family whose Father was God. They were the needy members of Christ. The poor were always to be cared for lovingly....like children who are unable to provide for themselves.
Tenderly, therefore, St. Brigid served the poor and brought the Light and Truth of Christ to nourish the souls as well. She once said:"If I had the power to give away the whole kingdom of Leinster, I would willingly give it to God's poor"
Mary of the Gael
It would seem that the whole of Ireland wished to bestow on St. Brigid the most honourable title that she couldd hope to bear, namely "MARY OF THE GAEL" Legend has it that at a Synod of clergy in Leinster they had a vision of St. Brigid and one of the clergy cried out"See, here comes "Mary of Ireland'. From that moment , St. Brigid was forever called "MARY OF IRELAND"
To the women and girls of Ireland she has been an inspiration wherever devotion to her is practiced and she remains at their disposal as a most influential advocate before The Throne of God to this very day. That is why, after Our Blessed Lady Herself, she can still be recommended as a most powerful protectress in an ever changing world.