St Bride, the patron saint of the Douglases


Also known as
Bride of the Isles; Bridget of Ireland; Bridget; Brigid of Kildare Brigit; Ffraid; Mary of the Gael
1 February;
10 June: translation of her relics
Daughter of Dubtach, pagan Scottish king of Leinster, and Brocca, a Christian Pictish slave who had been baptized by Saint Patrick. Just before Brigid's birth, her mother was sold to a Druid landowner. Brigid remained with her mother till she was old enough to serve her legal owner Dubtach, her father.

She grew up marked by her high spirits and tender heart, and as a child, she heard Saint Patrick preach, which she never forgot. She could not bear to see anyone hungry or cold, and to help them, often gave away things that were Dubtach's. When Dubtach protested, she replied that "Christ dwelt in every creature". Dubtach tried to sell her to the King of Leinster, and while they bargained, she gave a treasured sword of her father's to a leper. Dubtach was about to strike her when Brigid explained she had given the sword to God through the leper, because of its great value. The King, a Christian, forbade Dubtach to strike her, saying "Her merit before God is greater than ours". Dubtach solved this domestic problem by giving Brigid her freedom.

Brigid's aged mother was in charge of her master's dairy. Brigid took charge ,and often gave away the produce. But the dairy prospered under her (hence her patronage of milk maids, dairy workers, cattle, etc.), and the Druid freed Brigid's mother.

Brigid returned to her father, who arranged a marriage for her with a young bard. Bride refused, and to keep her virginity, went to Bishop
Mel, a pupil of Saint Patrick's, and took her first vows. Legend says that she prayed that her beauty be taken from her so no one would seek her hand in marriage; her prayer was granted, and she regained her beauty only after making her vows. Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he mistakenly used the form for ordaining priests. When told of it he replied, "So be it, my son, she is destined for great things."

Her first convent started with seven nuns. At the invitation of bishops, she started convents all over Ireland. She was a great traveller, especially considering the conditions of the time, which led to her patronage of travellers, sailors, etc. Brigid invented the double monastery, the monastery of Kildare on the Liffey being for both monks and nuns. Combeth, noted for his skill in metalwork, became its first bishop; this connection and the installation of a bell that lasted over 1000 years apparently led to her patronage of blacksmiths and those in related fields.
453 at Faughart, County Louth, Ireland
1 February 523 at Kildare, Ireland of natural causes; buried in Downpatrick, Ireland with Saint Patrick and Saint Columba; head removed to Jesuit church in Lisbon, Portugal
Name Meaning
fiery arrow (= brigid)
babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle, chicken farmers, children whose parents are not married, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, infants, Ireland, mariners, midwives, milk maids, newborn babies, nuns, poets, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, sailors, scholars, travellers, watermen,
abbess, usually holding a lamp or candle, often with a cow nearby

Several important members of the Douglas family are interred within St Bride's Church, in Douglas village, in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Saint Bride, patron saint of the Douglas family

Saint Bride was adopted as their patron saint by the early Douglases and it is said that they swore their oaths by St Bride of Douglas.

The feast day of Saint Bride  is first February, and on this day in 1330 the Good Sir James Douglas, who on the eve of setting off to the Holy Land with the heart of King Robert the Bruce, was in his last residence in Scotland at the fortress of the Park of Douglas which is situated between Park Hall and Coalgill.  Sir James committed himself to the protection of St Bride and granted to the Abbey of Newbattle half the land of Kulmad, the other half already being in the ownership of the Abbey.  This gift was conditional upon a choral mass being performed at the altar of st Bride which was within their monastery and on her commemoration day, 1st February, and that in her honor the monks would feed 13 poor people on that day.

Excerpt from The Newbattle Charter:


See also:

•  St Bride's Church, Douglas
•  St Bride's Collegiate Church, Bothwell
•  Battle of St Bride
•  St. Michael's Church, Linlithgow
•  Window in St Bride's Church, Douglas, depicting Saint Bride


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