BRIDGE, WILLIAM: Puritan; b. in Cambridgeshire about 1600; d. at Clapham, near London, Mar. 12, 1670. He was a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and, as rector at Norwich, was silenced by Bishop Wren for nonconformity (1637), and excommunicated; he remained in Norwich, however, till the writ de excommunicato capiendo came out against him, when he fled to Holland and became pastor of the English Church at Rotterdam, succeeding Hugh Peters and associated with Jeremiah Burroughs; he returned to England in 1642 and was a member of the Westminster Assembly; was minister at Great Yarmouth till ejected in 1662, and spent the rest of his life at Clapham. He was an Independent (Congregationalist) and Calvinist, a learned man, and had a library rich in the Fathers and schoolmen. His collected works in three volumes were published at London, 1649, and, with memorial, in five volumes, 1845.
BRIDGET (Brigit, Brigida, Bride), SAINT, OF KILDARE: Patron saint of Ireland; b. at Fochart (Faugher, 2 m. n. of Dundalk), Leinster, c. 453; d. at Kildare (30 m. w.s.w. of Dublin) Feb. 1, 523. She was the daughter of a certain Dubhthach and his bondmaid or concubine named Brotsech. At the age of fourteen she received the veil in Meath from the hand of Bishop Machille (Mel), and during a long life won renown for piety and benevolence, and as a founder of monasteries. Her first and most important foundation was Kildare (cill dara, so named from a large oak under which her cell was first placed), which was followed by Breagh in Meath, Hay in Connaught, Cliagh in Munster, and others. She was buried at Kildare, where the nuns of her monastery (the "fire-house") kept the so-called "St. Bridget's fire" continually burning in her honor till 1220, when the bishop of the time ordered it extinguished to make an end of the many superstitions connected with it. Thus far the notices of her life are well authenticated; but in very early times legend began to associate marvels of the wildest sort with her name—a tendency
While still a child Bridget prophesied her coming spiritual rule over Ireland by stretching her arms over the green fields and crying "it will be mine." As nun and monastery-head she performs numerous miracles of benevolence and love like those of Elijah at Zarephath and Jesus in feeding the multitude. The milk which she gives to a poor man, instead of making it into butter, is restored in a wondrous way; so likewise the bacon which she gives to a hungry dog instead of cooking it. She gives seven sheep, one after the other, to a beggar who comes to her in seven different forms, but the number of her flock is not diminished. She changes the water drawn from a spring for a sick man into a delicious liquor. She satisfies a whole company of episcopal guests with the milk of a single cow which had already been milked three times the same day.
Some of her dream-miracles and visions are more credible; but here, on the one hand, a Roman-clerical tendency is easily recognized–as when she finds herself transported to Rome and hears a mass read there which awakens in her the desire to transplant the same to Ireland–and, on the other hand, we meet with characteristics of a benevolent nature-deity, which the legends mentioned above also indicate by ascribing to her manifold miracles connected with the giving of food and drink. It is thus not unlikely that the old heathen nature-goddess Ceridwen (the Ceres of the Celts), transformed into a Christian saint, survives in Bridget. The fire also which was kept burning in her honor at Kildare speaks for this supposition. It is said that the foundations of a temple of Ceridwen, with great vaults for the storing of fruits, have been found beneath the chapel of the monastery (cf. Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, iii, 1789, Ant., 75-85). In old Irish legend and song, Bridget is likened to the Virgin Mary, or even extolled as the Mary of the Irish by expressions such as "mother of Christ," "mother of the Lord," and the like. A hymn, attributed to Bishop Ultan (d. 656) and in any case very old, calls her "beloved queen of the true God," and the old Officium S. Brigidœ (printed at Paris, 1622) speaks of her as "another Mary," "like to Mary," etc. The monasteries, churches, and villages named after her are almost without number.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The three oldest lives (by Brogar Cloen, Cogitosus, and Ultan), dating from the sixth and seventh centuries, with three later lives, from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, were published by J. Colgan in his Trias thaumaturga, pp. 515-626, Louvain, 1647; the ASB gives three of these lives with two others and a preface, Feb., i, 99-185. The life by Cogitosus is in MPL, lxxii. For later presentations consult J. Lanigan, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, i, 68, 335, and chaps. viii and ix, passim, Dublin, 1829; J. H. Todd, The Book of Hymns of the Ancient Church of Ireland, i, 64-70, Dublin, 1855; idem, St. Patrick, pp. 10-26, Dublin, 1864; A. P. Forbes Kalendars of Scottish Saints, pp. 287-291, Edinburgh, 1872; J. Healy, Insula sanctorum, pp. 106-121, Dublin, 1890; T. Olden, The Church of Ireland, pp. 38-48, London, 1895; J. O'Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints, ii, 1-224, Dublin, n.d.
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