Monday, March 19, 2018

Her Eminence St. Brigid

Reading through what I just posted, I remembered that it's very possible that an early Woman priest may well have been St. Brigid of Kildare, who, according to an old Irish tradition, was ordained by Bishop Mel who by divine inspiration pronounced ordination on her while she was making her vows as a nun.  There is some evidence suggesting that she was considered to be the equal of a bishop in early Irish Christianity as the leader of monasteries,  which, in the Celtic tradition had both women and men as members. 

Modern translation of the text in Leabhar Breac [Life of Brigid]

Brigit went, with some other young women, to Bishop Mél, in Telcha Mide, to take the veil [= to become a religious sister]. The Bishop was happy to oblige.

Brigit stayed behind out of humility, so that she might be the last to whom the veil should be given. A beam of fire rose from her head to the ridgepole of the church's ceiling.

Bishop Mél asked: 'Who is that woman?'

MacCaille answered: 'She is Brigit.'

'Come, O holy Brigit', said Bishop Mél, 'that the veil may be imposed on your head before the other women.'

Then it happened, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, that the prayer that was read over Brigit was the form of ordination for a bishop.

MacCaille said: 'The order of a bishop should not be [conferred] on a woman.'

But Bishop Mél declared: 'This lies outside my power because it was through God's doing that this honour that transcends every woman was given her .'

That is why the men of Ireland give the honour of bishop to Brigit's successor.

Should have remembered on the 1st of February, her feast day, but didn't.  I think she deserves to be honored as one of the patron saints of Ireland as well as Patrick. 

NOTE:  Before the tireless little spell checker has a fit,  all of those spellings seem to be used interchangeably for the same Woman.

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