Icon of the Week: Saints Brigid and Darlughdach of Kildare

March 16, 2015 Comments Off on Icon of the Week: Saints Brigid and Darlughdach of Kildare

RLBADArtist’s Narrative:
In the pre-Christian period of Celtic history, Brigid was one of the most beloved goddesses. Each solar and lunar, she guaranteed the fertility of fields, sheep, cows, and human mothers; and she protected all bodies of water. Her principal symbol was a perpetual fire, representing wisdom, poetry, healing, therapy, metallurgy, and the hearth.

St. Brigid (Bridget, Bride, Efraid) is the most famous woman saint of Ireland. She was revered for her charity, miracles, and lavish hospitality. Some writers theorize that she may have begun her life as the last high priestess of Brigid. Such previous authority would help to explain why, in some of her “Lives”, St. Mel, Bishop of Ardagh, is said to have ordained her a bishop. When questioned about doing this, Mel responded that she alone of the abbesses of Kildare would be a bishop; but her successors would continue to have a bishop’s jurisdictional authority. Indeed they did. The other Irish bishops customarily sat at the feet of Brigid’s successors, until the Synod of Kells ended this custom in 1152. Brigid’s double monastery at Kildare was built at a location previously sacred to her divine namesake. It had a perpetual fire which was kept burning by the nuns in St. Brigid’s memory, until it was extinguished in 1540 as part of Henry VIII’s Desolution of the Monasteries. In 1993, two Brigidine sisters returned to Kildare and relit the fire, which burns to this day at the Celtic Spirituality Center they established there.

Brigid was one of the many Celtic saints who insisted that a vital component of the spiritual life is having a soul friend (anam cara). Her own dear friend was the younger nun Darlughdach, a close companion who shared her hearth and her bed and once functioned as her ambassador to the Pictish King Nechtan. When Brigid told her that she expected to be dying soon, Darlughdach begged that they might be allowed to die together. Brigid responded that she would outlive her by one year and succeed her as abbess. After this they would be reunited in heaven. Brigid died in 525 on February 1st the date of Imbolic, the annual festival of goddess Brigid. Since Darlughdach died exactly one year later, they share the same feast.

Their names are in Greek on the icon and in Irish on its frame. They are tonsured in the Celtic style, from ear to ear forward, rather than on the crown of the head. They are dressed in the white worn by Celtic nuns, and by druidesses before them. Since fire is the symbol of Northern Sophia (Wisdom), the mandala on the breast of the saints contains a flame and a face of Christ evocative of the Book of Kells. This represents Christ/Holy Wisdom, whose divine Love inflames them, consumes them, is the bond between them and a gift they bestow. The three flames above them are also a reminder that the pre-Christian Brigid was a triple goddess whose blaze represented the spiritual fires of poetry, healing, and metal-craft. Thus it is appropriate that parts of the icon are painted with copper, silver, and three different karats of gold.

(To view more icons from this artist, please visit Trinity Stores at https://www.trinitystores.com/)

Lent Madness: Jackson Kemper vs. Margery Kempe

March 4, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Jackson Kemper vs. Margery Kempe

Lent Madness 2015Elizabeth won in no uncertain terms on the Lent Madness site,  sending  Brigid home 68% to 32%. On the St. Luke’s site, however, we had a dead heat between these two women reflecting the difficulty of voting between such two formidable women.

Today’s match up is Jackson Kemper vs. Margery Kempe. “Sometimes matchups exist solely because the SEC likes the names involved.” It’s hard to contain the mirth of the Supreme Executive Committee, folks.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.


unnamed-222x300Jackson Kemper

The seemingly inexhaustible Jackson Kemper served as the first missionary bishop in The Episcopal Church,working over the course of a thirty-five-year ministry in such untamed wilderness territories as Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and especially Wisconsin, where he established the Nashotah House seminary and eventually made his home.....Read more here.


unnamed2Margery Kempe

The first autobiography written in English is something of a mystical revelation, travel diary, opinion essay, theological discourse, and personal diary all in one. Margery Kempe, who lived in the late-fourteenth to early-fifteenth century, was a middle-class woman living in Norfolk in eastern England.

She began The Book of Margery Kemperecalling a series of crises during and after her pregnancy. She felt tempted by the devil not to confess her sins. In response, she fasted, performed acts of charity, and…Read more here.

Lent Madness: Brigid of Kildare vs. Elizabeth

March 3, 2015 Comments Off on Lent Madness: Brigid of Kildare vs. Elizabeth

Lent Madness 2015Not surprisingly, Francis kicked butt on the Lent Madness site,  winning 64% On the St. Luke’s site, we sent John Wycliffe packing in no uncertain terms, with Francis winning 80% of the vote.

Today’s match up is almost impossible….Brigid of Kildare vs. Elizabeth.

Remember: vote at Lent Madness here AND ALSO below the saint bios here so we see how the readers of the St. Luke in the Fields blog compare! Results of this match up will be reported the next day.



brigid-of-kildare-icon-from-blog-eternal-fire-in-uk-could-be-an-aidan-hart-icon-183x300Brigid of Kildare

Brigid was born into slavery in 453 CE in what is now known as Ireland. She was born out of wedlock to a Druid high priest named Dubhtacht and an enslaved woman named Brocca. Dubhtacht promptly sold Brigid off, since he was hoping for a boy.

This plan didn’t work; Brigid arrived back at her father’s house when she came of age — and had freshly converted to Christianity as well. (Saint Patrick was already active in Ireland by this point, so her conversion was not surprising, but it really annoyed her father).…Read more here. 





We are introduced to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, in Luke’s Gospel. Elizabeth was said to be a descendant of Aaron, Israel’s first priest. She, like so many of the great mothers of the Jewish faith (for example, Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah), was old and barren. Luke is clear that her sterility was not on account of impiety; she was described as “righteous before God” and said to live “blamelessly according to all commandments and regulations of the Lord.”

Her husband Zechariah was serving as priest, offering incense in the temple, when he was informed that Elizabeth would bear a son in her old age. Zechariah expressed disbelief and was rendered mute until the day John the Baptist was presented in the temple. Elizabeth, on the other hand, modeled trust in God’s promises and was rewarded with a pregnancy entirely free of snarky comments about the amount of pita and hummus she consumed....Read more here.

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