Brigid of Kildare vs. Egeria

Well, one thing is for sure in this round. Celebrity Blogger extraordinaire Megan Castellan will have a saint vying for the Golden Halo tomorrow. Yes, Megan is advocating for both Brigid of Kildare and Egeria, as she has throughout Lent Madness 2015. The real mystery is how she will trash talk herself!

The winner of today's battle will face Francis of Assisi for the Golden Halo tomorrow on Spy Wednesday. Francis trounced Molly Brant, one of the true cinderallas of this year's bracket, 71% to 29%.

To get to the Faithful Four, Brigid defeated Elizabeth, Dionysius the Great, and Kamehameha while Egeria beat Hildegard, Thomas Ken, and Frederick Douglass (click on the names of the vanquished foes to refresh your memory about the information shared about Brigid and Egeria in previous rounds).

Don't forget to catch this week's episode of the Emmy-winning (fine, we were robbed -- again) Monday Madness. Tim and Scott offer Oliver, everybody's favorite seven-now-eight-year-old Lent Madness oracle, official birthday greetings and share news of great joy -- how you can pre-order a mug featuring the to-be-determined 2015 Golden Halo winner.

Oh, and does voting for saints feel somehow at odds with the solemnity of Holy Week? Click to read Scott's contribution to the blog of St. Luke in the Fields in New York City, in a post titled Lent Madness: Holy Competition in Holy Week? Spoiler Alert: He thinks it makes perfect sense.

Brigid of Kildare

Bridget_Kildare2I fear I must trouble you with a story.

I was ordained to the diaconate on February 1. I learned that it was St. Brigid’s day when I was filling out the form for my ordination certificate, but I didn’t think much of this — merely that she sounded Irish or something, which might please my grandmother.

During the service, several things went awry. Not so badly as to spoil the day (it was glorious) but just as to be disorienting. So when it came time for the bishop to lay hands on our heads, I guess he was a mite flustered. He put his hands on my head (I came first, alphabetically), and said the prayer of ordination, ending with “By the power vested in me, I now ordain you a bishop….
no, wait….
a priest…..
no, wait….
Look, I’m just going to start all over again.”

Everyone got a good chuckle, and he took a breath and finally ordained me to the correct order of ministry. Thank the good Lord.

Afterwards, at the reception, my presenting priest commented to me that this was a really appropriate occurrence for Brigid’s day. I looked at her blankly, and she smiled, and told me to do some research.

Sure enough, I discovered that Brigid has much to commend her, even besides her penchant for microbrewing before it was popular. Her leadership, her wisdom, her generosity, her tenacity in what she knew was right (she marched across Ireland and back!) are rare and valuable indeed. And even if you are dismissive of ancient tales of columns of heavenly fire, or bathtubs that transform into beer, recall this: Brigid loved the people in her charge such that she made sure they never went hungry or thirsty. She gave away all she had for their sakes. And they saw in her wisdom and courage that could lead them safely.

Brigid — with or without miracle tales — lit the light of Christ in Ireland through her words, presence, and actions.

What better saint could you ask for? Vote Brigid!

-- Megan Castellan


egeria 2Holy Week, as observed through liturgy, changes a person. From the shouting, singing frenzy of Palm Sunday, to the poignant movements of Maundy Thursday, and the descent into the darkness, to the bleak desolation of Good Friday, to the expectant waiting and watching of the Vigil, which finally explodes into sunlight and the joy of Easter. One week captures all human emotion and wraps it in prayer.

Jerusalem, too, changes a person. There is a saying you hear when you visit on pilgrimage: “Go to Jerusalem for a week, you write a novel. Stay for two -- you cannot write even a sentence.” It’s a comment on the difficulties of conveying the depth of the experience, the complexities of people, the intensity of faith in this place. The heat of Jerusalem dries up your words.

Egeria, however, held onto her words. She not only held onto her words, she gifted us with words that would echo down the centuries and affect each and every one of us.

When she went on pilgrimage, she wasn’t content with a surface view of the things she saw. She asked questions, she took notes, she recorded everything, she sent her observations back home so everyone there could share her joy. She got to know the people around her, and described them with respect and dignity. She told the rest of the church what Holy Week liturgy looked like, in the place where it all began.

Egeria shows us what curiosity looks like, sure. But had she merely been a fourth-century busybody, I doubt her legacy would have lasted. Instead, what Egeria shows in her writing is respect and love for the different people and practices she encountered. It is that love which moved her to learn so much about rituals and customs different from her own and it was love that compelled her to convey the dance of the early liturgies so clearly to her sisters back home.

Surely, in our world today, we need more of Egeria’s questing love. Go Egeria!

-- Megan Castellan



Brigid vs. Egeria

  • Brigid (53%, 3,101 Votes)
  • Egeria (47%, 2,728 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,829

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164 comments on “Brigid of Kildare vs. Egeria”

  1. After attending the Chrism Eucharist yesterday and journeying through Holy Week, how can I not vote for Egeria.

    1. Amen.
      Egeria's pilgrimage continues to resonate down the ages. We don't know much about her background, really. For all we know, she, too, may have been without a human family. What matters is that she went on this pilgrimage and shared it with us, her future family in Christ.

        1. The most important biblical comment I have evwer heard! Solves the literal/aligorical or old earth/young earth problem!

      1. So beautifully said, Diane! I love the concept of "her future family." Thank you. And thank you, too, Megan for your beautiful summation. You are each and all wonderful. Lent Madness is such a joyful experience not only because we can learn more about these saintly people but also about those who are participating from the SEC to the celebrity bloggers to the commenters of all ages. I will miss my daily dose of madness! Thank you.

    2. Hail Bridgit of the Triple Face,
      Whose voice doth rise on the winds of grace,
      Whose blossoms beautiful ever bloom,
      On the wings of poetry's sweet perfume!

    1. A very happy birthday to you Oliver - I hope it's been wonderful!

    2. happy birthday, Oliver. I too vote for Brigid, but because she is the patron saint of beer.

      1. We are indeed happy to have had Oliver with us and I'll just bet that he wasn't bored at all. I seem to recall something someone said one time a way back about becoming as a child. Huuummm. now who could that have been, I wonder?

    3. Happy Birthday, Oliver! As others have said - you are very wise. Despite my love of liturgy and this being Holy Week, you hit the nail on the head. Following Christ is about embracing each other as family - we become the family of those who have no others.

    4. I am already looking forward to next year and hope you will be with us. You'be been a shinning light.

    5. I'm with you, Oliver. Brigid it is . Also, she has a cool cross. And a very happy birthday to you. Enjoy eight.

    6. Happy Birthday Oliver! Karen & I cycled around Ireland a few years ago. We saw signs of her centuries-old legacy in many places

  2. My vote is for Brigid. She "lit the light of Christ" through her words, presence and actions. She loved her people and made sure they never went hungry or thirsty. She gave away all that she had for her people. She's my kind of saint!

  3. Since I cannot vote for both (I know that Tim is lurking in the background) this diocesan liturgical officer has to cast his vote for Egeria.

  4. I vote for Brigid because of her loving ministry. Also, I have sung Samuel Barber's "Hermit Songs" (settings of poems written in the margins of manuscripts by 9th century Irish monks). In one of the Songs, "The Heavenly Banquet", the writer says, "I would like a great lake of beer/ for the King of Kings." Sounds like Brigid!

  5. I aspire to be like Egeria; being curious and witnessing what I see and hear to teach/ explain to others. Egeria!

  6. It is Egeria for me. I have liked her from my first encounter in church history. Thank you Rebecca.

  7. Egeria's travels were illuminating, but who could resist a battle of the two most likable saints ever--Brigid vs Francis?? Go Brigid, though that will make tomorrow's matchup the most agonizing of the season.

  8. I'm confident that Brigid was a wonderful person and her people were blessed to have her in their presence, but all Christians are blessed that Egeria lived and served the Church as she did. She left a lasting legacy which blesses us all to this day. My vote is for Egeria!

  9. Yesterday's winner deserved it. Yesterday's unwinner deserved the win. Today's winner deserves it and so does she who doesn't win. I'm very impressed, inspired, invested with yesterday today and tomorrow's candidates. I voted and vote now and will vote tomorrow with a sense of joy and yet sorrow because — such a choice! Tis terrible to be sure. These saint's have touched my life and will remain as guides and friends and role models as I journey on. Thanks to them and the SEC.

  10. We're down to the Faithful Four in Lent Madness. And I will vote today for Brigid of Kildare. Brigid embodied hospitality for the whole person, the whole beloved community. She longed for people to be inebriated with mercy, peace, and cheerfulness. And she lived with an Anam Cara, a soul friend. This last is what moves me to choose her for the eventual "Golden Halo" when/if she faces off with St Francis tomorrow. My adult life has been nourished and grown by feasting at the Heavenly banquet with many soul friends. Some have been informal and some have been formal time with a Women's Spirituality Circle, a Spiritual Director or Vision Quest in Symbolic Reality (Sandtray Worldplay) In time, I found myself drawn to this ministry as well and found more soul friends in my Dominican formation program. So today I would like to honor all my soul friends with a vote for Brigid and with mention of the Anamchara Fellowship. May we all drink deeply from Brigid's Lake.
    I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
    I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
    I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
    I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
    I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
    I should like for them cellars of mercy.
    I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
    I should like Jesus to be there among them.
    I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
    I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

  11. Egeria for the halo! No. Wait. Francis for the halo! Sigh. Can there be two halo winners?

    1. I always heard that Brigid was a Celtic goddess who got morphed into a Christian saint.

      1. It's debatable. Some say she was a priestess of the goddess who led her followers to the Christian faith. I believe she was a real person who after her death probably had some of the legends of her goddess namesake merge with her life story, though as a "son of a servent of St. Bride I am a bit biased.

      2. And many a pagan will tell you that's the truth! Brigid is lovely, but Egeria is the reason we have the liturgical practices we do.

    2. I subscribe to the theory that St. Brigid was indeed a priestess of the goddess Brigid who later converted to Christianity and then converted all of the Brigantes (devotees of Brigid) in her area to Christ, thus making the first double monastery in Ireland. The Brigantes originally lived in northern Britain and some scholars even think that Britain got its name from the Brigantes who lived there. So Britain itself might have been named after Brigid! The Brigantes then migrated to Ireland when Britain became vulnerable to attacks from the Anglo Saxons and other tribes when Rome brought its troops back home to protect its capital. It was customary for the high priestess of the cult to take on the name of the goddess. So St. Brigid was originally the high priestess of the goddess Brigid, protecting the sacred flame. After converting to Christianity she didn’t destroy her previous cult but rather reimagined it in light of Christ. Those Celtic saints were really good at contextualizing their Christianity…

  12. This one is really tough. In my liturgical craft, Emerica has played a huge part of capturing the depth of Holy Week. However, when I was on sabbatical in 2000...part I which was in Ireland...I received a healing while standing in the spring of St. Brigid's well. I had torn the cartilage in my right knee and was having a fair amount of difficulty. Suffice it to say, after prayer and standing in the spring, I was able to complete my six week project...walking normally and without pain. I cast my vote for Brigid today.

  13. Ever since I read about Brigid in this year's Lent Madness, I have been unswervingly for Brigid all the way to the golden halo. And yet, I also really esteem and give thanks for Egeria, so this was one of the hardest choices for me so far. I was moved by the story of Brigid's cloak (from a prior entry). As someone who has breastfed two children and lived on a goat dairy for 15 years, I am especially moved by her reputation as a patron saint to lactating beings. Her sense of hospitality, her courage, her leadership. I honestly have never come into a saint's story that moved me as much as that of St. Francis until now.

  14. I have voted for Egeria the whole way. When I was in seminary as a Methodist, it was the rediscovery of Egeria's reports, the renaissance, so to speak, of liturgy for the Methodist church, that led to my hunger for more--and, ironically, led me to the Episcopal church. That was a wonderful homecoming for me--and I hope the Methodist ministers in my family tree have been able to celebrate that with me from their heavenly home!
    But it IS Lent Madness, after all, and here I find myself, madly, voting for the saint for whom I have not voted once during this entire process! I reread her initial biography, and was very impressed by her life. I vote not for beer nor for Ireland, but for a life of amazing service and compassion. I vote for the first female bishop, and I vote for the saint who can best give St. Francis true competition!

  15. Great write-ups. Really. While I used to home-brew, I am now preparing to travel. May I also serve God while I do it,...and follow Egeria.

  16. I have loved Egeria from the very beginning. I love Brigid, too, but I feel we already know and laud her enough already. I can't think what our Holy Week observances would be like if we didn't have Egeria's writings. So I'm voting for Egeria in hopes she will wear the Golden Halo!

  17. If it were not for the compelling and immensely readable writings of Egeria, I wouldn't have known how to shape what I hope are inspiring Holy Week services; in fact, none of us would! It seems most appropriate for this relatively unknown saint to win the Golden Halo during Lent - a time most assuredly shaped by her lovingly recorded travelogue. Vote for Egeria!

  18. Megan,
    I remember the day of your ordination as a Deacon well!
    Not only the Bishop's words but then there was that column of fire...!
    Of course, it's Brigid.

  19. Thank you for reintroducing me to Egeria this Lent. I met her in a Christian worship class many years ago and am grateful to LM for bringing her back into my life. I am blessed to be walking with her through the Great Week.

  20. Of course Megan is a mite pre-ordained to be a bishop. And when she is, her throngs of fans will shout "Hosanna! #GetMeganabeer!"

  21. Too many weird miracle stories with Brigid, although the beer legends obviously are based upon sound and reliable tradition. No, I get it, the Irish wrote those stories while drinking a troth of beer. So, I'll raise a bottle of chocolate stout, a Palm Sunday gift from my lay liturgical coordinator, and vote for the most important Episcopal saint . . . Egeria!

  22. Needing more of Egeria's questing love made the choice for me. Also, that she wanted learn about different customs and rituals and didn't just dismiss them as wrong. Go Egeria!

  23. Egeria - adding to the human body of knowledge, especially about good stuff, is important. But I'm REALLY voting for Megan Castellan! She rocks!

  24. "what Egeria shows in her writing is respect and love for the different people and practices she encountered." I find this especially moving in the midst of all the divisions and lack of understanding among people of faith today. I'd not ever heard of Egeria before, but she truly has captured my heart! And my vote 🙂