• Jeanette Lewis

Saint Brigid of the Gael


Restored statue of St.Brigid

Ireland has three Patron saints; St. Patrick, Saint Columcile, and Saint Brigid of Kildare.

This statue of St. Brigid had been restored in a rather hap-hazard manner. It appeared that a previous restorer had given up on trying to repair the severe damage, and decided to paint over it.

It was not included for restoration in the original request to us, but rather added with the premise “Can anything be done to save the patient?”


St. Brigid’s Life & legends

Brigid was born around 450 A.D. to a pagan chieftain and a Christian mother. She would be about eleven years of age when St. Patrick died, yet he strongly influenced her faith and evangelical spirit.

Prolific legends and miracles associated with Saint Brigid are not all to be dismissed as folklore. Events in the life of a saint are a rich means of identifying them with their iconography. Here she holds the Monastery she founded, and occasionally she is seen with a cross of reeds known as St. Brigid's cross.


Brigid’s beauty

Saint Brigid was renowned for her beauty, and by way of it her father was able to secure for her an arranged marriage to a wealthy man. However Brigid wanted to join a convent. She prayed that God would take away her beauty so that the man wouldn’t want to marry her. The story goes that her prayer was answered and after she had joined the convent her physical beauty was not only restored, but she was even more beautiful than before!

Saint Brigid wanted to build what is the first Monastery at Kildare so her father promised her as much land as her cloak could cover. God answered Brigid’s prayers, and her cloak was miraculously able to cover the county of Kildare.


St Brigid is known as Brigid of Kildare, Mary of the Gael or Muire na nGael.

She died aged 75, and was buried in the church she built. Her remains were later exhumed and interred at Downpatrick, alongside Saints Patrick and Columcille.



St. Brigid is saved. This statue was severely damaged. It had been glued back together with some of the fragments missing which distorted the figure.

No doubt the repair was attempted out of love for the saint, but more damage had been done in the process, as glue doesn’t marry well with plaster surfaces. (and St. Brigid knew about unsuitable marriages!)

I repaired the damage with the missing fragments in mind, so that the hand and wrist appeared relaxed and unclenched, and her shoulder less hunched.

I repainted her in the colours of natural Irish linen, which seemed fitting. The subtle shades helped to differentiate the various elements of her veil, cloak and gown. Lastly, I rebuilt the tower of her monastery.


SAINT BRIGID’S FEAST DAY

Her feast day is the 1ST February, and associated with the first day of spring.

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