The Miraculous Cloak
Saint Brigid of Kildare was extremely prayerful, even as a young girl. At an early age, she decided she wanted to remain celibate, so she could dedicate herself to God. Because she was so beautiful, with penetrating blue eyes, she had many admirers. A number of young men asked her to marry them.
However, this was not what she wanted to do. Instead, she founded a religious community in Kildare, Ireland. Seven other women soon joined, and they needed land for a building and a chapel. With no money, Saint Brigid approached the king, who owned all the land in the area. Trusting in God, she knew He would provide. (Flickr photo below by edenpictures)
Saint Brigid Uses Her Cloak
Saint Brigid wore a cloak over her religious habit. She made struck a deal with the king, who agreed to give her as much land as her cloak would cover.
Knowing it would be very little land, the kind readily agreed. However, the cloak began to spread, covering enough ground for a large monastery. The king was dismayed, but lived up to his end of the bargain.
A Saint of Miracles
Saint Brigid is now one of the patron saints of Ireland. Outside of Ireland, she’s not as famous as Saint Patrick, whom she knew when she was a child. But devout Irish Catholics still talk about her miracles when she was alive. One involved curing a man of leprosy. Another was the deathbed conversion of an old man whom was very stubborn. He had a sudden change of heart when Saint Brigid picked up some straw, and quickly wove it into a small cross. This is why she is associated with straw crosses, as well as her cloak. Statues and pictures of her often depict her wearing a cloak.
The Legacy of Saint Brigid Lives On
Saint Brigid died in the year 524 and her feast day in the Catholic Church falls on February 1. For centuries, the devout in Ireland have celebrated their patroness by placing a small cloth (symbolizing her cloak) on their mantle. They also place a straw cross outside their front door. There is a pious belief that she will intercede on behalf of the occupants of each house who remember her in this way.
Flickr photo on thumbnail by IrishFireside