Relics of St. Brigid Coming Home to Kildare After Nearly a Millennium

Friday, January 19, 2024.

Relics of St. Brigid

The revered relics of St. Brigid are coming home to County Kildare after nearly a millennium. Pilgrims and locals are eagerly anticipating the return of the relics of St. Brigid and to welcoming her ‘home’ to county Kildare.   This momentous occasion will take place on Sunday, 28th of January when a procession will accompany the relics from Solas Bhride Centre in Tully outside Kildare Town at 10.30am where they will then proceed to St. Brigid’s Parish Church in Kildare Town.

The relics will be taken into the church by the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, Bishop Denis Nulty who will celebrate a special maas at 11.00am. Thousands of people are expected to attend, and organisers are asking people to come early.

David Mongey, The Chairman of Into Kildare, the Kildare Tourism Board said, “The relics of St. Brigid have not been in County Kildare for nearly 1,000 years.  This year is the 1500th year of the passing of the saint and what could be more special than to bring St. Brigid’s relics home, where she belongs?  She built her church in Kildare and her legacy as a peace maker and a protector of nature is still as relevant today as ever.

It has been a long process to finally bring her relics back to the county and together with my colleagues at Into Kildare we would like to thank Kildare County Council and the Brigidine sisters for their great work in bringing Brigid home.”

Relics of St. Brigid Coming Home to Kildare After Nearly a Millennium

It is believed that Brigid died in 524 AD and was buried beside the main altar in her monastic church in Kildare along with Conleth and their graves became an attraction for pilgrims throughout Ireland and Europe. In the eight century, shrines were built for the two saints which were adorned with gold, silver, and precious stones.

When the Vikings came to Ireland around the year 800, they started to attack and plunder towns and churches. In anticipation of a Viking attack on the town, the body of St. Brigid was moved to Downpatrick in Northern Ireland where she was buried in an unmarked grave beside St. Patrick and St. Columba.

The grave was unmarked to protect it and to keep the location secret, however over the passage of time the location of the saint’s bodies was lost and forgotten and for some three hundred years the location of the patron saints of Ireland was unknown. In 1185 the Bishop of Down prayed to God to show him the location of the sacred relics and bodies of the three saints.

A beam of light shone on a section of the floor in the dark church. The floor was taken up, and the bodies of the three saints were found with Saint Patrick in the middle and St. Brigid and St. Columba on either side.  The bodies were properly enshrined in 1186 where they remained for the next 400 years until the shrine was destroyed by Lord Leonard Grey the appointee of King Henry VIII.

Although the shrine was gone, Brigid’s remains were saved and secretly transported to the continent. Tradition also holds that three Irish knights took a bone fragment from her head to Lumiar, a small town outside Lisbon in Portugal in the 13th century.  The relic is still venerated in the church of St. John the Baptist in Lumiar where the knights continued to spend their lives.  An inscription outside the church attests to this and states that the knights are interred within the building.

The Brigidine Sisters in Tullow, Co. Carlow, procured a portion of the Lumiar relic in the 1930’s which will now return to St. Brigid’s Parish Church in Kildare Town to mark the 1500th anniversary of the death of St. Brigid. These relics of St. Brigid will go on permanent display on the 28th of January at the church, providing pilgrims and visitors with a sacred space for veneration and reflection. For more see www.intokildare.ie or call (045) 898 888.

Relics of St. Brigid Coming Home to Kildare After Nearly a Millennium

 

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