Text: Vita sanctae Brigitae

The following extract has been adapted by Michael Newton from the translation of  S. Connolly and J.-M. Picard, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 117 (1987): 5-27.

Preface §1. You compel me, o brothers, to set down in writing, as educated men do, the miracles and deeds of the virgin Brigit, the memory of whom is holy and blessed. This task that I must do is a difficult one because the delicate subject matter is beyond my limited abilities, my knowledge and my command of language. …

§2. … I have come up with the idea of making public a few of the many things that have been transmitted with utmost certainty by knowledgable elders.

§4. [Brigit]’s exceptional virtue continued to grow and countless numbers of people of both sexes were drawn by the fame of her good deeds, flocking to her from every one of the provinces of Ireland, pledging their vows to her. So she built her monastery [at Kildare] on the plains of Mag Liffe on the firm foundations of faith. It is the head of almost all of the churches of Ireland, with predominance over all Irish monasteries. Its family of monasteries covers the entire land of Ireland, from sea to sea.

Chapter 1.1. God foreordained and knew of Saint Brigit in advance according to his own plan. She was born in Ireland of noble, Christian parents who were members of the kin-group called Echtech, who were good and wise. She was raised by her father Dubhtach and her mother Broicsech to strive only for the good. …

Chapter 2.2. She was preaching the Lord’s words of salvation to reach the hearts of all, as was her habit, when she saw nine men who were attired according to a particular pagan custom, clamoring with a particular way of using their voices and showing signs of battle fury. They inflicted rage and destruction in their path.

2.3. They took evil oaths to that ancient enemy that they worshipped, vowing to shed blood. They planned the murder of people before the end of the month.

Chapter 30.2. She was once living in an area ruled by a king who pronounced an edict that all of the tuath and provinces under his command had to gather together to build a solid and wide road. They had to lay down a foundation of tree branches and rocks and a firm foundation of earth in the bogs and marshes that were virtually impassable, especially where a large river was running. Once it was built, it would have to bear the weight of charioteers and horsemen and chariots and wagon-wheels and the heavy traffic of travelers and enemies from all directions. When a great host gathered [for the work], they grouped themselves for building sections of the the road according to kin-group and household.

Chapter 32.8. Nobody can express the magnificent beauty of this church [Kildare] and the countless wonders of the monastic city that is being described; that is, if it can be called a “city,” given that there is no wall around it.

32.9. Regardless, it is a large, metropolitan city because countless people gather within it and we define a city as a place where many people congregate. Saint Brigit demarcated the suburbs with a clear boundary: these are places where people are safe from violence. To the contrary, [the city] and all of its outlying suburbs are the safest place for refugees in all of Ireland, and royal treasures are stored there safely. …

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