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St. Brigid of Ireland icon by Theophilia St. Brigid of Ireland icon by Theophilia
St. Brigid of Kildare icon
July 17th, 2015
Ink, watercolor, gold leaf
4.5 x 6 inches


“On our island of Hibernia,
Christ was made known to men
by the very great miracles
which he performed
through the happy virgin of celestial life,
famous for her merits through the whole world.”

~ St. Ultan, in honor of St. Brigid

This was done as a commission for a client whose confirmation saint is St. Brigid of Kildare. She specifically asked that I have the icon say “St. Brigid of Ireland” though. In this image of the great patroness of Ireland, I have shown her holding a crosier, since she was the first abbess and foundress of monasteries for women in Ireland. Her crosier is based somewhat off of the Clonmacnoise crosier, though it dates from the 11th century. She’s also holding her famous woven reed cross, with flames encircling it because of her associations with fire.

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:+: A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE SAINT :+:

Saint Brigid of Kildare (451 – February 1st 523 A.D.), was born in Faughart, near Dundalk in the county Louth. Her father Dubhthach, was an Irish chieftan of Leinster and her Christian mother, Brocca, was his slave. Brocca had been baptized by St. Patrick sometime beforehand. Dubhthach’s wife, probably jealous of the Christian slave-woman, persuaded her husband to sell Brocca to a poet-scholar from Connacht. By their agreement, once Brigid was grown up she was to be sent back to her father. But before she was born, Brocca was again sold, this time to a Druid. Brigid was born and brought up in this Druid’s house where she learned to help her mother with the daily chores of milking cows, and making butter and bread. Even as a child she was known for her great charity and generosity to the poor. She would often give them milk, butter and bread from the pantry, much to the consternation of her master. However, miraculously, food was never lacking, and the more she gave away the more appeared in the pantry. Brigid lived in the Druid’s household in Munster until she was about ten years old, she asked to be sent back to her father. Dubthach then duly came and fetched her back to Faughart.

While she was there, she was made her father’s housekeeper and put in charge of the food stores in the kitchen and pantry. She gave away so much of her father’s food that he became angry at her liberality. Dubhthach wanted to bring her up to make a fine match to a young nobleman when she was of marriageable age, but instead Brigid wanted to leave her father’s house to visit her mother who was still a slave. Indignant and angry at this request, he denied her permission, but she disobeyed him and went back to the Druid’s house to find her mother. By now, Brocca was sick, worn and tired, and also suffered from a dreadful disease of the eye, so the young girl took care of her mother and started to do all of her mother’s chores. When the Druid and his wife saw how much the butter and dairy multiplied while Brigid was in charge of it—despite how much she gave to the poor—they marveled at it. The Druid decided right then and there to give the girl her freedom, as well as the cows she milked and the butter she had in the pantry. The maiden asked for her mother’s freedom instead, which the Druid gave her, as well as the cows and butter. Brigid gave the cows and butter to the poor, and the Druid and his wife were so inspired by this that they became Christians.

After this, with her mother back home and free among her own people, Brigid again returned to her father and continued her duties as housekeeper. She gave away so much food from Dubthach’s kitchen that his wife accused Brigid of stealing and bade him to send his daughter away before they all starved for want of food. Enraged, he took Brigid with him in his chariot to sell her to the king of Leinster. When they reached the King’s home, Dubthach left his daughter in the chariot while he went to the King to sell her. While he was gone, a beggar asked her for alms, and Brigid—seeing nothing else in the chariot that she could give him except her father’s beautiful and precious sword—gave him the great weapon. When her father came back to fetch her, he saw that his sword was gone, and, his rage boiling over, he hauled her before the king and told him what had happened. The King of Leinster said that if he bought her, nothing would stop her from giving away all of his goods as well! Then he said to the angry father, “You and I are not fit to bargain over this maiden. Her merit before God is greater than ours.” He advised the chieftain to give Brigid her freedom, and then gave him another valuable sword in exchange for the one he had lost.

Once she was free, her father and other members of her extended family tried to get her to make a good match. She was an exceedingly beautiful girl and many men had asked for her hand. But the strong-willed Brigid would have none of it. She had consecrated herself to the Lord and wanted to be a nun. Finally, her father at long last relented and allowed her to leave and follow her desire.

Brigid gathered about herself a small group of seven like-minded girls who desired the peaceful serenity and security of the convent. However, at that time there were no religious communities established for women. They sought out the Bishop Mel in order to receive permission to establish a religious community for women. The bishop gave his permission and made her abbess of her little community. Brigid and her little band went to Kildare, the site of a great oak tree and a place of good land which the King of Leinster had given to her. Here, she established her convent, which soon grew famous for the holiness of life of its abbess. Brigid traveled far and wide, establishing monasteries and healing the destitute. Stories abound of her miraculous adventures to succor the poor in their distress and her interactions with the Irish chieftains and noblemen of her day. She was famed for her extravagant generosity and great love for the poor. She strove tirelessly to promote the peace and welfare of the people and persuaded the various Irish princes to give up their warlike projects.

One day, a great pagan chieftain lay near death. His Christian servants had asked for Brigid to come to him before he died. Brigid hastened to his bedside, but the man was raving and delirious and unable to listen to anything. So, sitting near his bedside, she began weaving a cross out of the reeds that were scattered upon his floor. As she made the cross, the man grew calmer and calmer, until he finally asked her what she was doing. She said, "This is a cross, which I make in honor of the Virgin's Son, who died for us upon a cross of wood." He became more attentive, and asked her more questions, and as she continued making it, she told him about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. He was converted, and asked to become a Christian. So the chieftain was baptized on his deathbed and died a Christian.

She later invited St. Conleth, a bishop, to establish a monastery for men nearby, making the monastery at Kildare a double monastery for men and women. The communities thrived and flourished and became renowned for their excellent craftsmanship in the making and copying of books. Brigid was also a great friend of St. Patrick, as well as numerous other Irish saints, many of whom she inspired in their vocations. The Book of Armagh says this: “Between St. Patrick and Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works.”

She died at the age of 70 at her monastery in Kildare on February 1st 523. She was buried at Kildare Cathedral, and her body remained there until 878, when her relics were transferred to the tombs of St. Patrick and St. Columba to protect them from being destroyed by Vikings. In 1283, three Irish knights brought St. Brigid’s skull to Portugal while they were going on Crusade. Her skull now rests in the Church of Saint John the Baptist in Lumiar, Portugal. The rest of her relics were destroyed in the 1500s by Protestant iconoclasts. Two fragments of her skull were returned to Ireland and reside in the churches dedicated to her in Kilcurry and Killester.

A poem or prayer attributed to her runs thus:

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.


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From the beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have sought to follow Christ with greater freedom, and to imitate Him with closer fidelity through the practice of the evangelical counsels. They have led lives dedicated to God, each in his or her own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have lived in solitude or have founded religious communities, which the Church willingly recognized and approved by its authority.

As a result, in accordance with God's plan, there has grown up a wonderful variety of religious families. These have been of great service to the Church in equipping it for every good work and preparing it for the work of the ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ, and also in adorning it with the different gifts of its children, so that the Church may appear in beauty as a bride adorned for her husband, and show forth the many-faceted wisdom of God.

Surrounded by this rich profusion of gifts, all who are called by God to the practice of the evangelical counsels, and profess them with fidelity, dedicate themselves to the Lord in a special way. They follow Christ, who in virginity arid poverty redeemed and sanctified mankind through obedience, even to death upon a cross.

Driven thus by the love that the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts, they live more and more for Christ and for His Body which is the Church. The more fervent their union with Christ through this gift of self throughout their lives, the richer is the life of the Church, and the more vigorous and fruitful its apostolate.

The members of each institute should remember above all that in professing the evangelical counsels they have given their response to the call of God in such a way that they are to live for God alone, not only by dying to sin but also by renouncing the world. They have surrendered to his service the whole of their lives: this constitutes a special consecration, deeply rooted in the consecration of baptism, to which it gives fuller expression.

Those who profess the evangelical counsels should seek and love above all things the God who has first loved us. In every circumstance of life they should strive to foster a life hidden with Christ in God; such a life is a source of, and a stimulus to, the love of one's neighbor for the salvation of the world and the building up of the Church. This love is the animating and guiding principle for the practice of the evangelical counsels.

Chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, professed by religious, is to be valued as an outstanding gift of grace. In a unique way it sets free man's heart, so that it may be the more inflamed with love for God and for all mankind. It is therefore a special sign of the blessings of heaven, and a most fitting means by which religious dedicate themselves eagerly to the service of God and the works of the apostolate. In this way they bring to the minds of all the faithful that wonderful marriage between the Church and Christ, its only spouse: a marriage that has been established by God, and will be fully revealed in the world to come.

~ Perfectae Caritatis, from the decree on the renewal of religious life of the Second Vatican Council

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:rose: The Feast of St. Brigid of Kildare is celebrated on February 1st. :rose:

St. Brigid of Kildare is the patron saint of Ireland, Kildare, dairymaids, shepherds and the poor.

Merciful God,
origin and reward of all charity,
you called Saint Brigid to teach the new commandment of love
through her life of hospitality and her care of the needy;
give to your people, by her intercession,
a generous spirit,
so that, with hearts made pure,
we may show your love to all.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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:iconreaper1998:
Reaper1998 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2016
good work
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks!
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:iconreaper1998:
Reaper1998 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2016
your welcome 
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:iconemmetearwax:
EmmetEarwax Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
In a cartoon story I once attempted, Cruise and Chrysalis, both lepids, somehow got ahold of St.Brigid's tablecloth, and got it away from a horde of demons. Long after that story was abandoned, the tablecloth was present at a graduation feast for Domdaniel (my take on Hogwarts). It was listed among the Treasures of Ireland (I also had the Treasures of Britain *).

When unrolled across a table, this marvelous tablecloth would be instantly covered with neat dishes of all your favorite foods. In the story, a banquet had been prepared, but through some oversight, wards against the demon Malaccia had been neglected, and he effected entry.

He drew out all the savor of the food, leaving it looking excellent and unharmed, BUT like paper-mache now ! The flavorless wasted food... The cooks could not replace it in the remaining time allotted, so the Tablecloth was unrolled to instantly replace the feast !

* These prehistoric items mostly distinguished between baseborn and noble . For examp: the Red Robe of Padarn (a prehistoric ancestor of Queen Elizabeth ) would fit perfectly on a noble-born, but would not sit right on a baseborn.
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:iconcan-cat:
Can-Cat Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015  Student Digital Artist
very colourful and expressive- and, the historical details are much appreciated-
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! I'm glad you noticed them and liked them! :aww: I do love adding in little historical tidbits. :nod:
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:iconpatriot1776:
Patriot1776 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Wonderful historical details!  Thanks much for drawing this. ^^
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! :meow:
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:iconemmetearwax:
EmmetEarwax Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
In a fan-fic which I never finished, but will most likely stand as it is, St.Brigid's tablecloth is preserved as one of the Treasures of Ireland, along with the Treasures of Elder Britain (kingdom of Albion, which fell before even the rise of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. ).

St.Brigid's tablecloth will, if flapped open to cover a bare table, will instantly be covered with dishes of food and drink, whatever you wish to eat.

All these prehistoric antediluvian treasures are at the Graduation ceremonies of Domdaniel school.
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:iconnkhyi-naonzgo:
nKhyi-naonZgo Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
That is pretty cool.

Are the treasures of Elder Britain things like Excalibur (or Caledfwlch, if you prefer) and Chastiefol?
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:iconemmetearwax:
EmmetEarwax Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
In my list, are such things as a self-playing chess game, the coat of Padarn (ancestor of Queen  Elizabeth II), the Lia Fail, a chariot....

The coat of Padarn distinguishes between base-born and noble wearers. The former would not be able to make it hang or fit right, but the latter -one size fits ALL. The halter would provide its own horse. The chariot would take you instantly to your destination. The tendency is to distinguish bet base & noble, and -once base always base.

These treasures are stored at Glastonbury ,a center coeval with Stonehenge ! The Cathedral holds these in secret, but Domdaniel in the Black Forest may borrow them to grace a graduation affair. 
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Interesting. :nod:
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:iconpravoslavni:
pravoslavni Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Professional Artist
This is wonderful...
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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:icontphistry421:
Tphistry421 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 11, 2015
St Brigid, wow! How might I get a copy of this image? I am being ordained a priest in Sept. This is the best image of St Brigid I have ever seen. I have a special devotion to St Brigid.

God Bless
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hi there! Yes, I sell prints of my work; if you go to my journal (on my front page), you can look at my prices and sizes and find my e-mail address with which to contact me if you would like to order anything. :nod:
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:iconshirerose:
Shirerose Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is wonderful...

NO ONE ever seems to mention much less draw/paint St. Brigid (unless of course you are very Irish and know that St. Patrick isn't the only great Irish saint). 

Her name is even spelled correctly. She is my patron saint, hence the enthusiasm. :)

Shire Rose (Brigid)
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
THANK YOU!!! :aww: I'm very happy to hear you like it. :nod:
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:iconfjperez92:
fjperez92 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Very Beautiful artwork! You have a great talent! God bless you and continue using your gift for Him and all of us =D 
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! :glomp:
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:iconanelphia:
anelphia Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Purely stunning, do you paint the watercolor over the gold leaf?
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! ^^

I ink it then I do the watercolor part. When I first started making these, I wanted to put gold leaf on them all, but since I'd never worked with it before I did a trial run with the gold leaf and a scarp of paper. Well, it turned out a little messy, so I decided not to put the gold leaf on every piece. Instead, I scanned the scrap of gold-leafed paper I had made. Now I just digitally add the gold background in. When people commission me for the icons, I paint on a layer of gold acrylic. :nod:
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:iconbohemianbeachcomber:
BohemianBeachcomber Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Lovely.  :)  There's a beautiful church where my aunt lives named after her.  I couldn't find any interior pics to show you, though, but it's fairly traditional (which is hard to come by in this diocese).
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!

Oooh, I bet! If you ever come across a picture, I'd love to see it! :nod:
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:iconbohemianbeachcomber:
BohemianBeachcomber Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Yep! :D
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:iconmatejcadil:
MatejCadil Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Beautiful. :heart:
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! ^^
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:iconemilion-3:
Emilion-3 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
A great woman of Ireland.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:nod:
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:iconemilion-3:
Emilion-3 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I am part irish myself.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Me too! :shamrock:
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:iconemilion-3:
Emilion-3 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
With a name like Mcnerney what do you think.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hahah, true! It's very Irish! :D
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:iconemilion-3:
Emilion-3 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Love your work.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks!
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(1 Reply)
:iconmacker33:
macker33 Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Always loved her cross
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:aww:
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:icongryffgirl:
Gryffgirl Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015
Gorgeous!  She is one of my favorite saints.  My mother has St. Brigid's cross hanging above the front door?  BTW, have you ever drawn Joan of Arc?  One of my daughters has chosen her as her Confirmation saint!
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you Gryffgirl! Yes! I have two pictures of Joan of Arc, but my icon of her is here: www.deviantart.com/art/St-Joan…
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:icondashinvaine:
dashinvaine Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015
Beautiful work as ever.
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks Dashinvaine!
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:icondagokrakus:
DagoKrakus Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Beautiful ^^ + :)
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:icontheophilia:
Theophilia Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks!
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:icondagokrakus:
DagoKrakus Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
;)
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