February 1st is St. Bridget’s Day when all across Ireland people still adhere to the old tradition of mounting a St. Bridget’s cross in a place of honour in their home to protect against fire and evil spirits.
The cross is made from rushes, but sometimes straw is used. A distinctive square of woven rushes is the centrepiece, from which four radials extend, each tied at the end.
In the homes of Ireland children learn the old legend about how this cross came into existence. The story of St. Brigid has mythical significance in their young imaginations and they grow to love and admire her independent spirit, her determination and dedication to God.
An old pagan chieftain lay delirious on his deathbed in Kildare. In some versions of the story this chieftain is her father. His servants summoned Brigid to his bedside, in the hope this saintly woman might be able to calm his restless spirit.
As she sat by his bedside, trying to calm and console him, she picked up some of the rushes which were strewn across the floor of the room. As her fingers played with the dry strands, she started weaving them together, eventually forming a cross.
While she worked she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick man. Her calming words brought peace to his soul. The chieftain’s fever broke, and he grew quiet. Captivated by her lesson of love and compassion, the old chieftain was baptised as a christian, just before his death.
When word of his conversion reached beyond his lands, news spread fast. Ever since, Irish people have made rush crosses to commemorate the occasion and honour St. Bridget as their patron female saint.
This charming Irish symbol can adorn your home wherever you are in the world.
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