Brigid’s symbol is the cross made from rushes. As the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick, this simple cross is associated with Brigid. Woven by her from the green rushes that formed the ‘carpet’ on the floor of a chieftain’s house as he lay dying, she explained the life and death of Jesus. When he listened to her story, he asked to be baptised before he died. The tradition of weaving the Brigid’s cross is carried on throughout Ireland and in other parts of the world.
According to tradition a new cross is woven each St. Brigid’s Day on 1st February. The old one is burned to protect the house from fire, although customs vary. Some believe that keeping a cross in the rafters preserves the house from fire and disease. In Brigid’s time, most of the houses were straw thatch and wood roofs. The cross is also placed under the barn eaves or in the cow byre to protect the animals.
Brigidine Sisters use the cross as their emblem.
Weaving the Brigid’s Cross
Each year, the green rushes/reeds are taken from the rivers to weave the Brigid’s cross. It’s simple to make. Why not try it here?
Traditional prayer when hanging the Brigid’s Cross:
“May the blessing of God and the Trinity be on this cross
Badge of the Congregation of St. Brigid
The badge of the Congregation of St. Brigid, which is now used by Brigidine Schools throughout the world, was originally designed by the Irish College of Heraldry.
The Cross in the top section of the badge is that of St. Brigid, and the large cross of diamonds is taken from the badge of Bishop Daniel Delany, who founded the Brigidine Sisters. The Cross of St. Brigid is based on the simple cross of reeds which tradition says Brigid used when teaching the truths of the Catholic faith. The small lamp in the centre of the badge represents the light of Christian faith and the light of learning.
The motto, “Strength and Gentleness” (Fortiter et Suaviter), was the motto of the Founder, Daniel Delany. The motto sets before us the virtues of strength and gentleness, so characteristic of Brigid of Kildare.
The Oak Tree
Bishop Daniel Delany planted an oak sapling from Kildare (‘Cill Dara’ Church of the Oak) in the grounds of what is now the Brigidine Convent in Tullow, in order to make the link between Brigid’s monastic foundation at Kildare and the newly re-founded Order of St. Brigid (Brigidines) on 1st February 1807.
Traditionally, the oak was the sacred tree of the Druids and later became associated with the Church. It is one of the longest-living native deciduous trees of Ireland. It is from the sacred oak that ‘Cill Dara’ got its name (Church of the Oak).