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Brigit, St

Brigit, St (c.450–c.525). Patron saint of Ireland, with Columba and Patrick. Born in Faughart (Co. Louth), she took the veil in her youth, having evaded marriage by disfiguring her face. Her monastery of Cill-Dara (Kildare), founded c.470, developed as a centre of learning and spirituality. Her school of art was renowned for illuminated manuscripts, notably the Book of Kildare, which disappeared three centuries ago. A remarkable woman, head of a group of nunneries, influential in church affairs, her great compassion was accompanied by practical measures to relieve the needy. Numerous miracles are attributed to her. Often identified with the Virgin Mary and known as ‘the Mary of the Gael’ in Ireland, her popularity spread abroad through Irish missionary monks.

Audrey MacDonald

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