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St. Brigid Restores the Sight
of Sister Dara

Hugh O’Reilly
The miracles and wondrous ways of the great St. Brigid are permeated with the wild freshness of the incense-breathing morn when the world was young and faith had still the power to remove mountains.

st brigid sheep

Abbess Brigid often watched the sheep
in the fields of Kildare

That Brigid looked well to the paths of her house in every direction we can have no doubt, but that she devoted particular attention to her flocks and herds is especially emphasized by her early biographers.

Sometimes when distinguished persons arrived at the Convent, she was in the fields, and came from her sheep to receive the visitors. It was not an unheard of thing for the Abbess to return home with her garments all wet with the rain that had fallen on her on the unsheltered ground.

When the old writers record that Brigid was "mortified beyond all womankind,” that she was constantly thinking of God and constantly mentioning Him, that she was hospitable and charitable to guests and needy persons, they do not forget to add that she “loved sheep-herding and early rising.”

It is highly probable the Abbess of Kildare was wont, like the shepherds on the Judean hills, to keep night-watches over the flocks; and that in the solemn evening hush, as well as in the joyous waking up of morning, her pious and poetic soul found food for meditation and inspiration for the hymn of praise that made perpetual melody in her heart.


God’s magnificence shines in a sunrise over the fields in Kildore

Her great love of the beauty of God’s creation sheds a light on the lovely legend of Brigid and her blind sister Dara, and we feel that the incident must have occurred while the Abbess and the sightless sister were with the sheep on the Curragh Downs one holy, happy summer night.

The legend runs thus:

One evening Brigid sat with a holy nun, Dara, who was blind, as the sun went down. And they talked of the love of Jesus Christ and the joys of Paradise.

Now then, their hearts were so full that the night fled away while they talked together, and neither knew that so many hours had sped. Then the sun came up from behind the Wicklow Mouintains, and the pure white light made the face of earth bright and gay.

the holy nun Dara blkind

The blind nun Dara preferred to have God more present before her closed eyes

Then Brigid sighed when she saw how lovely were the earth and sky, and knew that Dara’s eyes were closed to all this beauty.

So she bowed her head and prayed, and extended her hand and signed the dark orbs of the gentle sister. The darkness passed away from them, and Dara saw the golden ball in the east, amid all the trees and flowers glittering with dew in the morning light.

She looked a little while. Then, turning to the Abbess, she said, “Close my eyes again, dear mother, for when the world is so visible to the eyes, God is seen less clearly to the soul.”

So Brigid prayed once more, and Dara’s eyes grow dark again.

sheep ireland

Sheep graising on an Irish spring morning


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Adapted from St. Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, Part II,
The Irish Monthly, Vol. 16, No 177
(March 1888), pp 164-166

Posted March 2, 2024

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