Brigit of Kildare

  • c. 439/452–c. 524/526
  • feast-day: 1 February
  • saints of Ireland
  • Cell Dara
patron saint of Kildare, whose cult spread both within and outside of Ireland.
See also: Conláed of KildareConláed of Kildare
craftsman of St Brigit.
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Mél of ArdaghMél of Ardagh
(fl. 5th–early 6th century)
reputed founder and patron saint of Ardachad (Ardagh, Co. Longford); associated with St Brigit of Kildare
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See also references for related subjects.
Bray, Dorothy Ann, “The story of Plea”, North American Journal of Celtic Studies 2:1 (2018): 56–78.  
The story of the underwater monastery of Plea, told in a gloss to Broccán's hymn (Ní car Brigit), is an unusual tale in Brigit's tradition; however, it contains several well-known tropes from Irish immrama. The story has been associated with changing attitudes toward pilgrimage and the idea that the monastic rule of Kildare differed significantly from other Irish monasteries up to the twelfth century. This paper examines the elements of the story and traces its possible connections to other, earlier elements in Brigit's tradition, including her association with St. Brendan of Clonfert, as well as the motifs in the genre of the immram. The tale may reflect contemporary concerns over perceived unorthodox practices in Irish churches and monasteries as the twelfth-century reform of the Irish Church got under way.
Dawson, Elizabeth, “Brigit and Patrick in Vita prima sanctae Brigitae: veneration and jurisdiction”, Peritia 28 (2017): 35–50.  
The early medieval cults of the saints Patrick and Brigit are most often associated with their churches at Armagh and Kildare, and the rivalry for preeminence that existed between the two federations. This paper considers the depiction of the saints in the Vita Prima Sanctae Brigitae and explores how these portrayals represent the wider cults of both.
Nic Dhonnchadha, Maedhbh M., “Constructing the early Irish cult of Brigit”, in: Classen, Albrecht [ed.], Mental health, spirituality, and religion in the middle ages and early modern age, Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture 15, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 2014. 155–174.
Johnson, Máire, “The Vita I S. Brigitae and De duodecim abusiuis saeculi”, Studia Celtica Fennica 9 (2012): 22–35.  
The Vita I S Brigitae and De Duodecim Abusivis Saeculi’ considers several similarities in the lessons offered by the anonymous vita of Ireland’s famed Saint Brigit of Kildare and the sermons of De Duodecim Abusivis, an Hiberno-Latin work of the seventh century generally fathered on Cyprian. Of particular importance here is the discourse that De Duodecim proffers concerning the dives sine eleemosyna, the Christianus contentiosus and the pauper superbus, which appears to be echoed in the interactions between Saint Brigit and her followers in the Vita I. These parallels provide clues to the evolution of the hagiographical dossier of Ireland’s chief female saint, and permit the proposal of a modest stemma for several of its constituents. In addition, it is hoped that the apparently-shared messages of vita and homily may also suggest potential avenues for additional future analyses.
Journal volume:  Studia Celtica Fennica: <link>
Bray, Dorothy Ann, “The Vita Prima of St. Brigit: a preliminary analysis of its composition”, in: Eska, Joseph F. [ed.], Narrative in Celtic tradition: essays in honor of Edgar M. Slotkin, CSANA Yearbook 8–9, New York: Colgate University Press, 2011. 1–15.
Bray, Dorothy Ann, “Ireland's other Apostle: Cogitosus' St Brigit”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 59 (Summer, 2010): 55–70.
Ritari, Katja, “The image of Brigit as a saint: reading the Latin lives”, Peritia 21 (2010): 191–207.
Maney, Laurance, “The date and provenance of Vita prima sanctae Brigitae”, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 23 — 2003 (2009): 200–218.
Zimmer, Stefan, “Weiblich? Heilig? Göttlich? Zur Diktion der Hl. Brigid”, in: Zimmer, Stefan (ed.), Kelten am Rhein: Akten des dreizehnten Internationalen Keltologiekongresses, 23. bis 27. Juli 2007 in Bonn, 2 vols, vol. 2: Philologie: Sprachen und Literaturen, Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2009. 319–327.
Charles-Edwards, T. M., “Brigit (439/452–524/526)”, Oxford dictionary of national biography, Online: Oxford University Press. URL: <>.
McKenna, Catherine, “Between two worlds: Saint Brigit and pre-Christian religion in the Vita Prima”, in: Nagy, Joseph Falaky [ed.], Identifying the 'Celtic', CSANA Yearbook 2, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002. 66–74.
Berschin, Walter, “Radegundis and Brigit”, in: Carey, John, Máire Herbert, and Pádraig Ó Riain (eds.), Studies in Irish hagiography: saints and scholars, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2001. 72–76.
Johnston, Elva, “Powerful women or patriarchal weapons? Two medieval Irish saints”, Peritia 15 (2001): 302–310.  
The history of medieval Irish women is elusive, despite a rich variety of textual sources. These are often normative rather than descriptive and are a predominantly male clerical product. This paper will examine the dossiers of two female saints, both from Co Cork. It will ask whether we can identify female aspirations and female voices in the literary celebration of their careers. Are they models of female empowerment or do their representations ultimately support male power structures.
Mc Carthy, Daniel P., “The chronology of S. Brigit of Kildare”, Peritia 14 (2000): 255–281.  

This is a critical chronological and textual analysis of all annalistic entries on the life of St Brigit of Kildare. It emerges that AT and CS have best preserved the chronology originally given Brigit in the Iona chronicle which placed her death at ad 524, aged 86 years. AU and AI transmit a later tradition, subsequently interpolated into the Iona chronicle, that she died aged 70. It is argued that the author of the original Iona chronicle entries was St Columba, a competent computist and near-contemporary of Brigit. Hence his chronology is trustworthy. To check this, a chronological evaluation of the earliest surviving Vitae S. Brigitae reveals that the chronology of all the individuals found jointly in the Vita I and the annals is consistent, implying that both sources have transmitted a chronology which is essentially correct, a result which supports the historical priority of Vita I over Vita II. Finally, examination of the context of Cogitosus’s date for Brigit’s death shows that he aligned it to correspond with existing non-christian celebrations already held in Kildare.

Young, Simon, “Donatus, bishop of Fiesole 829–76, and the cult of St Brigit in Italy”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 35 (Summer, 1998): 13–26.
Howlett, David, “Vita I sanctae Brigitae”, Peritia 12 (1998): 1–23.
Ó Catháin, Séamas, “Bee for Brigit”, in: Mac Mathúna, Séamus, and Ailbhe Ó Corráin (eds.), Miscellanea Celtica in memoriam Heinrich Wagner, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Celtica Upsaliensia 2, Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 1997. 197–212.
Howlett, David, “Vita I sanctae Brigitae”, Chronicon 1 (1997): 5: 1–31. URL: <>. 
Evidence is presented here for the orthographic, grammatical, and syntactical correctness and the computistic and architectonic competence of composition of Vita I sanctae Brigitae, its priority to and influence on the Vita II by Cogitosus of Kildare, and its authorship by Aileranus Sapiens, lector of Clonard, who died in 665.
Ó Briain, Felim, and Frederic Mac Donncha [ed.], “Brigitana”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 36 (1978): 112–137.
Kissane, D. N., “Uita metrica sanctae Brigidae: a critical edition with introduction, commentary and indexes”, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 77 C (1977): 57–192.
O'Brien, M. A., “The Old Irish Life of St. Brigit: Part II. Introduction and notes”, Irish Historical Studies 1:4 (September, 1939): 343–353.
O'Brien, M. A., “The Old Irish Life of St. Brigit: Part I. Translation”, Irish Historical Studies 1:2 (September, 1938): 121–134.