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Who is the only female saint in Ireland?

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On March 17, the world always celebrates the day of St. Patrick, a 5th century British priest who spread Christianity in Ireland. Patrick is considered one of the patron saints of Ireland. Tradition dictates that everyone wear green, and those who miss out will practically suffer punishment. Medieval historians also pay attention to another special person who does not receive as much attention, but should also be honored as Saint Patrick. This is the compassionate Saint Bridget.

In 2022, after a 3-year campaign by the feminist organization Herstory, the Irish government recognized the importance and contribution of St. Bridget by declaring a day as a national holiday – 1 February. Until now, Ireland considers her one of the three official patron saints, along with St. Patrick and St. Columba, but the holiday is dedicated to St. Patrick alone.

In contrast, Bridget was born in Ireland around 450 and was the child of an enslaved woman and a king of the province of Leinster. There is not much surviving evidence of her missionary work that can be found for Patrick. The proof of her existence comes precisely from Patrick, who writes two letters to her mission. Most of the information comes from the biographies of the various saints who lived in certain time periods.

A church named Cogitosus would first write about her around 650 or 2 centuries after her birth. The story goes that she started donating food to the homeless as a child. She gave butter, bacon and bread, but she didn’t even forget the dogs. According to the church, when Bridget was giving food, there was more in her home than at first. She later manages to move two trees, making them come alive so they can stand in the sun and Bridget can hang her blanket. Traveled, preached and cured Christians of the most terrible diseases of that time. For Ireland, she is one of the great saints and creator of various miracles.

She could terminate the pregnancies of her followers if one of them conceived against her will, in the words of the church, Bridget simply made the fetus disappear without pain and without birth. She was able to tame wild and tame animals, find lost cows in the forest and even change the environment. There is a story where she diverted the river to allow a shepherd to return home.

Instead of punishing sinners, she helps them to control their anger and explains why they should not hurt or kill. After her death, miracles continued to happen. According to the inhabitants, she was the reason why a huge rock rolled down from the top of the mountain and was broken into pieces to make the first millstones. The story of St. Patrick was born only a few decades after his death, while the others remained in the background.

St. Patrick engages in a duel with the droids of the Irish king upon his arrival, and only then is he able to baptize the king. He was not so nice and kind to the infidels, he is recorded to have cursed them in a very Irish style. There is a story where a priest tried to ambush him and kill him, Patrick gets through the ambush and gets to the meeting place, and the priest is dead much earlier. Bridget couldn’t deal with St. Patrick as competition, and even then, men took precedence in the church.

Only a priest can baptize, but a woman is not allowed to perform the same rituals. In 1903 came the official holiday of St. Patrick, and Bridget was forgotten. Her church in Kildare began to decay and sometime in 1875 a restoration was begun by the Protestant Church in Ireland. And while no one paid much attention in the past, today’s priests in Ireland consider her the Virgin of Ireland. She is the patron saint of shepherds, beggars, refugees and women in childbirth. February 1 is believed to be the ancient celebration of the beginning of spring – when the season of fertility arrives. Some worshipers put on a red ribbon or take holy water blessed by Bridget. It is said that it can cure diseases. It turns out St. Patrick isn’t alone, but if you’re wondering about Ireland’s only female patron saint, you’ve already found her.

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