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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saint Bridget of Ireland, Model for Serving the Poor

Many stories and legends have grown up around the memory of Saint Bridget (b. 450 A.D.). She served the poor of Ireland around the same time that Saint Patrick was preaching and whom was a friend of her family. In those days there were many lepers in Ireland, and when there was no one else to help and pity them, the poor outcasts were always sure of a kindly welcome from Saint Bridget.

One of the stories tells of a wretched leper who came to Saint Bridget, so poor and dirty and diseased that no one would come near him. But like our blessed Lord, Saint Bridget felt only compassion for him, and with her own hands washed his feet and bathed his poor aching head. Then, seeing that his clothes must be washed, she bade one of the sisters standing by to wrap her white mantle round the man until his own clothes should be ready. But the sister shuddered and turned away; she could not bear to think of her cloak being wrapped around the miserable leper. Saint Bridget's blue eyes looked sternly at the sister as she put her own cloak over the shivering man.

"I leave thy punishment in God's hands," she said quietly; and even as she spoke, the sister was instantly stricken with the same terrible disease, and as the cloak touched the beggar, he was healed of his leprosy.

Tears of repentance streamed down the poor sister's face, and her punishment was more than tender-hearted Saint Bridget could bear to see. Together they prayed to God for pardon, and at Saint Bridget's touch the leprosy was healed.

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