KILDARE librarian Mario Corrigan has hatched a plan to commemorate the 1,500th anniversary of St Brigid by bringing home relics that are scattered across the world. The celebration, which would be due to take place in 2023, is aimed at shedding new light on the saint through displaying her relics and providing information about her life.
Mario believes this would be an ideal opportunity to bring people from across Ireland and internationally to Kildare while celebrating all the county has to offer. Councillor Mark Strafford has put the motion before Kildare County Council and has received very positive feedback. The motion will need substantial backing from the government and the Church if the project is to get the green light.
The relics of St. Brigid are spread across Ireland and abroad: her head is believed to be in a small chapel near Lisbon in Portugal, a portion of her cloak is believed to reside in Belgium and a separate relic is believed to be housed in Germany. The mammoth task of gathering all relics would rely on the generosity of the countries that might loan the relics to Kildare.
“What’s definite is that the head of an Irish saint, which we believe to be St Brigid, is in a small chapel near Lisbon in Portugal. If St Patrick is the male patron saint of Ireland, St Brigid is the female patron saint,” comments Mario.
Kildare already has a strong connection to St Brigid as it is home to St Brigid’s Well, Solas Bhríde, along with Kildare Cathedral. Mario argues that “the connection is already there, so why not have a big celebration across Ireland to mark the anniversary, with Kildare being at the centre of it all?”
He is keen to point out that if the commemorations are to go ahead, they would not be solely focused on religion: the idea would be to give people with the opportunity to view the relics for historical reasons, religious reasons if desired, or to simply see artefacts that have lasted 1,500 years. Mario revealed that he would like to get other museums across Ireland involved in the celebrations if the plan gets the go-ahead, including the National Museum.
The relics of St Therese visited Kildare in August of 2018, and around 250,000 visitors came from across Ireland to view the pieces, which were housed in the Carmelite Church. Mario says: “My biggest fear is that we will have a small little commemoration where we will have a couple of speakers and that’ll be it. How amazing would it be to celebrate her connection to Kildare while also bringing tourism to the area?”
If you’re interested in supporting the idea, you can visit Mario’s Facebook page, Bring Brigid Home.