Have you ever gotten that feeling like a saint is reaching out to you? One that you've never really had any devotion to or even information about before? That's where St. Brigid and I are right now. For the last year, I've felt this with Brigid. It's a pull…an invitation almost.
The hard part about this invitation is that a lot of Brigid's background is unclear and has been pieced together from differing biographies over the centuries, many of those biographies dabbling in legend and folklore. So it's hard to know a lot of specific history to feel like you can grow in relationship that way. But still I feel drawn to her, as little as we concretely know. She was born in the mid 400s (probably 451) to an Irish slave who had been baptized by St. Patrick. Her mother was forced to sell her into slavery and from all accounts of her life, she was known to have a special relationship with God and performed many miracles especially for the poor. At around 30 years old she founded a monastery in Kildare and is credited with bringing organized women's monastic life to Ireland. It is attested in one biography that she had a close friendship with St. Patrick. There is a "St. Brigid's Cross" associated with her due to a story of her weaving a cross out of reeds and drawing a dying man to conversion.
Due to some of the substance of her miracles, she has been named the patron of many things: Ireland, chicken farmers, milkmaids, brewers, scholars, blacksmiths and more. While I already love that list (we raise chickens, I've spent a whole lot of years being a different type of milkmaid, and I do enjoy a good beer), what first spoke to me is her patronage of midwives and babies. Being a bit of a birth junkie and a doula, my heart leapt to learn that there even was a patroness for midwives and that it was the same as the patroness for babies.
For thousands of years women birthed their babies with the assistance of a midwife so it makes good sense that there would be a patron for these important women. It also makes sense that there would be a patron for babies since everyone's a baby at some point and our Lord has a special place in His heart for the littlest among us. But for some reason, I just had never heard that there was a named patroness for each. As far as I can tell, I'm not alone. It doesn't seem to be well known by others or her help often invoked in either way.
I got pregnant with my fifth baby (on earth) shortly after finding out this information about Brigid and felt that invitation to stay close to her for this pregnancy. I struggled with a lot of uncharacteristic fear during the pregnancy and a mild but lingering premonition that things were just "off." So I began to ask her intercession for my beloved midwife and for the health and safety of this new little one. Now that his birth is past (and I know she helped us through that crazy one!), I can continue to turn to her for prayers for this sweet baby boy.
What a great gift it is for parents to have a special patron for babies! Someone that they can turn to with all the many needs of babydom - for overall health, for difficulty teething, for SLEEP, for colic, for feeding issues, for a happy and content demeanor, and whatever other difficulties come up during! I don't balk at turning to prayer for any of it especially for the littlest, most vulnerable ones of our families. The Lord cares deeply for each of these little ones in their pain or fussiness or frustration and He cares deeply for the worried, anxious, sleep-deprived, maxed-out parent, too. We should readily avail ourselves of the grace He offers to help in those difficult moments and situations that come with birthing and raising babies. What an absolutely beautiful thing it is to know that St. Brigid can be called upon to pray for us in those moments. May she intercede for those caring for us during birth and for these precious babies that are given to us.
St. Brigid, patroness of midwives and babies, pray for us!
|Image used with permission and available from Audrey Eclectic|
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