Responsive image
Nederlands/Vlaams Deutsch Francais English language Spanish language Portuguese language Catalan Chinese Czech Malayalam Finnish Igbo
Japanese Korean Romanian Malay language Norwegian Swedish Polish Swahili Chichewa Tagalog Urdu
St. Brigit’s Ordination
Interaction Academic Shelves Medieval Theologians Home mss on Women Deacons SITEMAP feedback

St. Brigit’s Ordination

from Leabhar Breac =‘On the Life of St. Brigit’, translated from the Gaelic by Whitley Stokes in 1878 (www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T2010101/index.aspl)

St. Brigit (also called Brigid, Bridget, Bride) was abbess of a double abbey, for monks and nuns, in Kildare, County Kildare, Ireland. Born around 453 AD, she died ca. 524 - 528 AD. She figures in many Irish legends, myths and stories.

Modern translation of the text in Leabhar Breac

Brigit went, with some other young women, to Bishop Mél, in Telcha Mide, to take the veil [= to become a religious sister]. The Bishop was happy to oblige.

Brigit stayed behind out of humility, so that she might be the last to whom the veil should be given. A beam of fire rose from her head to the ridgepole of the church's ceiling.

Bishop Mél asked: 'Who is that woman?'

MacCaille answered: 'She is Brigit.'

'Come, O holy Brigit', said Bishop Mél, 'that the veil may be imposed on your head before the other women.'

Then it happened, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, that the prayer that was read over Brigit was the form of ordination for a bishop.

MacCaille said: 'The order of a bishop should not be [conferred] on a woman.'

But Bishop Mél declared: 'This lies outside my power because it was through God's doing that this honour that transcends every woman was given her .'

That is why the men of Ireland give the honour of bishop to Brigit's successor.

Original translation by Whitley Stokes

Brigit, and certain virgins with her, went to Bishop Mél, in Telcha Mide, to take the veil. Glad was he thereat. For humbleness Brigit staid, so that she might be the last to whom the veil should be given. A fiery pillar arose from her head to the ridgepole of the church. Bishop Mél asked: 'What virgin is there?' Answered MacCaille: 'That is Brigit,' saith he. 'Come thou, O holy Brigit,' saith Bishop Mél, 'that the veil may be sained on thy head before other virgins.'

It came to pass then, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, that the form of ordaining a bishop was read over Brigit. MacCaille said that 'The order of a bishop should not be (conferred) on a woman.' Dixit Bishop Mél: 'No power have I in this matter, inasmuch as by God hath been given unto her this honour beyond every woman.' Hence, it is that the men of Ireland give the honour of bishop to Brigit's successor.

Prayer attributed to Brigit

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity.

Search our web site Support our campaign Sitemap Contemporary theologians Overview Latin Archive Go back to home page

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.

Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.

The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.

Please, support our campaign
for women priests
Join our Women Priests' Mailing List
for occasional newsletters:
An email will be immediately sent to you
requesting your confirmation.