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The Tradition of Saint Brigid's Cross

Updated on January 23, 2015

The Symbol of Saint Brigid, a Patron Saint of Ireland

Brigid's cross is an traditional Irish woven cross made from rushes. It's origin comes from Saint Brigid weaving one while attending to an ailing pagan chieftain, who was healed. Brigit, being known for her generosity and her healing, is called upon to protect a dwelling from disease with the hanging of Brigid's cross above the entryway. This cross, also known as Brighid's cross, Bridget's cross, or Brigit's cross, is often made and hung on Brigit's Day, February 1st, the first day of spring in Ireland.

Saint Brigid given the name of Brigit who, in Irish mythology, was a Celtic goddess associated with perpetual, sacred flames, and many of her stories and symbols have been passed on under Saint Brigid's persona. Brigid, the Celtic Goddess, and Brigid, the Catholic Saint, have been quite important to Ireland.

Whether the two are separate entities, or whether the Celtic Goddess took on a new persona in order to thrive in a new era is a mystery, but what we do know is that Brigid lives on - in her legends, her wells, her cross, and her festival. The legends, beliefs, and symbols of the Celtic Goddess have over time melted into stories of St. Brigid, and perhaps have even migrated across an ocean as the Voodoo spirit Maman Brigitte.

The Use of St. Brigid's Cross

It was/is tradition for a St. Briget's cross to be nailed above the entrance of a dwelling, and a couple taking over a farm or homestead would nail one a under the barn eaves. It is believed that this will invoke the help of St. Briget in warding off disease, as St. Briget, and Briget wells, are know for healing.

Download Music Inspired By St. Brigit

The Legend of the Cross

In Gaelic: Cros Bhrighite

Brigid (of Kildare), who was renowned for her charity (even to the extent of angering her father), once acted as nurse to a pagan chieftain. While the chieftain slept, Brigid wove a cross out of the rushes being used as floor covering, and she prayed for him. When he woke, the chieftain asked of this cross. Brigit relayed to him the story of Calvary. Deeply impacted by this story the chieftain converted to Christianity, and his health returned. (Other versions have the chieftan dying, but not until after he is baptized).

How to Make a St. Brigid's Cross - Step By Step Instructins to Make a St. Brigid's Cross

Rushes were traditionally used to make the St. Brigid's Cross. These were collected from wetlands and cut into pieces, 8-12 inches long. As rushes are often not available, straw, wheat, vines, or another easily bendable material can be used in its place.

How to Make a St. Bridgid's Cross - Step by Step Videos Demonstrating How to Make a St. Bridgid's Crosses

St. Brigid Cross Sterling Silver Pendant

Saint Bridget St. Brigid Cross Sterling Silver Pendant
Saint Bridget St. Brigid Cross Sterling Silver Pendant

SIZE: 1" tall (without bail) x 1" wide with a 3mm bail opening

WEIGHT: 3 grams

DETAILS: Stamped .925

 

How do you see Brigid?

Do you think of Saint Brigid as a Celtic Goddess or as a Christian Saint?

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Colorful Quilts
Colorful Quilts

This book features 12 beautiful quilt patterns, one of which is this amazing Cross of St. Brigid quilt pattern:

 

Variations of Brigid's Cross - Local Twists on Brigid's Cross

Learn about the different versions of Brigid's Cross which are specific to areas in Ireland.

The Ledgend of Brigid

While St. Bridgid's Cross is associated with Brigid of Kildare, many of the stories and legends of her life actually age back to her namesake, the pagen Goddess Brigid. These stories were not written, they were passed orally from generation to generation, and over time the legends of Brigid of Kildare and the Goddess Brigid have in essence made them one persona.

Not To Be Confused with St. Bridget of Sweden

There is another St. Bridget, St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), who is often confused with St. Bridget of Ireland.

For more information on St. Bridget of Sweden, visit:

Bridget of Sweden | Wikipedia

St. Bridget of Sweden | Miracle Rosary Mission

Saint Bridget of Sweden | Catholic Encyclopedia

St. Brigid's Cross Guestbook

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    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 2 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Thank you for such an interesting Hub. It presents information not usually found together as well as several ideas for projects.

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 4 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Interesting story! Makes me want to make one now.

    • JohnMichael2 profile image

      JohnMichael2 5 years ago

      interesting ... a matter of one letter "d" versus "t" in a name... thanks for the insight

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      This is the first I've heard of St Brigid, but her cross sure has an interesting design, and story woven around it...

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 6 years ago

      Really informative lens. Love Brighid. Thank you.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 8 years ago

      I was looking for information about Brigid's Cross to put on my Squidoo lens about Brigid for the yearly Imbolc update and was tickled to find another lens about it! I see you made the voodoo connection too. I've featured this lens on mine. 5*

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      That's a beautiful cross :)

    • profile image

      CleanerLife 8 years ago

      I'm not really up on Saints or Celtic legends, so this is all new to me. Thanks, I learned a lot!