St. Bridget, patroness of Ireland (also known as St. Brigid), was born the daughter of a Celtic chieftain and a Christian slave woman in the fifth century AD. She was born into slavery, but her life took a very different path from that of a typical slave girl. Bridget’s holiness was apparent from a very young age; according to tradition, she performed many miracles in her childhood. As she grew older, she resisted the worldly path that her father would have chosen for her, preferring to live a penitential life of prayer dedicated to God and serving the poor. Instead of marrying, she went against the wishes of her family and followed the call to become a nun, and she went on to found monasteries and institutions for learning in Ireland. She had a refined sense of learning and of the arts, and her exquisite illustrations of the Gospels in the Book of Kildare were said to have the appearance of being “the work of angelic, and not human skill.” In a country where the Christian faith seemed to be a new, tenuous idea, Bridget’s unwavering passion for Christ gave an unforgettable example for her people and sowed the seeds of God’s message throughout the country, and her demonstration of goodness, truth, and beauty inspired others to strive toward heavenly joys.
Bridget was born half princess, half slave—and what a fitting description this is for our human condition. From her humble origins, she strove toward virtue and goodness and elevated herself to the level of sainthood. She broke free from the slavery that her mother endured, and she turned away from her father’s self-centered lifestyle and from his apathy toward Christianity. She was born into slavery, but she acted with the dignity befitting a princess—and she was a princess indeed, not just because she was the earthly daughter of a king, but because she knew herself to be a daughter of the King.
We, too, are all of royal lineage, for we are children of God; we must never forget that we are called to act with the dignity and grace of royalty, no matter where our present circumstances might find us here amid the muck and grime of the world. We too were born into the slavery of sin, but we know that our true identity is something greater. If we follow the example of St. Bridget and live our lives with a humble confidence, enduring every difficulty with grace, we will find our way to the Kingdom of God. There, we will be freed from our chains and will serve sin and death no longer—rather, we will serve Christ. Indeed, we are princes and princesses, not for our own glory, but for the glory of Christ. He is the One who adorns us with our crowns, and it is His light that reflects upon it and makes them glimmer and shine.