Saturday, July 28, 2012


Stone markers where the pilgrim can pray
The beautiful St Bridgid's Cross

The winding country road leading to St. Bridgid's Well,
the greenery soft with white wildflowers


Catherine Nicolette;
Bridgid is an Irish holy woman. It is told she was the daughter of an Irish chieftain and a Christian slave. 
  Her father was Dubtach, descendent of Con of the Hundred Battles, and her mother Brotseach of the House of O'Connor. 
  It is told that her mother was sold to a Druid around the time of Bridgid's birth - some accounts say just before, others just after her birth. Bridgid was brought up in her father's household. 

Bridgid was known for her kindness and sense of justice. 
  She followed the Christian religious path of life, and in 480 AD arrived with her nuns in the present day Kildare. 
  She decided to build her abbey on Druim Criadh (the ridge of the clay) rising above the Curragh plain there, under a great oak tree. 
  Hence came the present town's name Kildare - Cill Dara, the cell or church of the oak. 

Medieval times
In medieval times abbeys of Franciscans and Carmelites were stationed in Kildare. 
  St. Bridgid's Cathedral is located on the original grounds of St Bridgid's wooden church. 
  The present Cathedral was built between 1223 and 1230. It was restored to its present form from 1875 to 1896.

Celtic icon
Bridgid is an icon of Celtic spirituality, and she has long been associated with Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus the Christ. 
  Bridgid is known affectionately as 'The Mary of the Gael'. She was known for her firm and good character. 
  Her outstanding hospitality has been illustrated in this poem cited in Robert Van de Weyers' book, Celtic Fire. 

'Brigid's Feast

I should like a great lake of finest ale
For the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food
For the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,
And the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,
For they are Gods children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
For they are God's joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place,
And the sick dance with the angels.

God bless the poor,
God bless the sick,
And bless our human race.

God bless our food,
God bless our drink,
O God, embrace.' 

St Bridgid's Cross
Bridgid wove a cross out of rushes which is famous throughout Ireland and is known as St Bridgid's cross. 
  It is a beautifully interwoven symbol of the love of Jesus the Christ for all humanity.

St Bridgid's Cross

St Bridgid's Well
St Bridgid's Well is located close to the Black Abbey, near the site of the Millrace which was used by her.
 This well is set within green fields and clouds of wildflowers and greenly Celtic trees. 
  A sense of mystery and calm pervades the holy site which is a place of pilgrimage. 
  Water makes muted music through the well site, and there is a stone well area with a cross.    Pilgrims tie prayer cloths to the tree, and the multicoloured linen strips flutter in the soft breeze.  Prayer stones mark the site, and a statue of Bridgid stands tall in the midst of the site. 
  A picture of Jesus the Christ stands before a stone shrine, where pilgrims have left items symbolic of their prayer. 
  A green chapel of branches has been grown around a prayer seat, and it seems almost as if there is a chapel within the nature wherein the pilgrim can worship.

Flower floating
Beautifully - today - as I knelt before Bridgid's Well and remembered all readers of Lumiere Charity and Marian Praise - a pilgrim had left a soft white flower floating on the water of the well.   As I closed my eyes, a sense of deepest peace pervaded me. 
  I blessed my forehead with the water of the well, and as I left the area a calm remained with me.

If you are in Ireland, or visit this wonderful isle, why not make a prayer visit to this beautiful well shrine quietly waiting, as it has for centuries, deep in the Irish fields.

Links to find out more about the wonderful Bridgid of Ireland;

Here is a link to make your own St Bridgid's Cross. With grateful thanks to Fish Eaters website for this free weaving pattern..

A devoted pilgrim had left a flower floating on the well water

At the beautiful well, a place of mystery and prayer

Sculpture of St Bridgid at the well
A prayer stool amid the soft Irish greenery at the well

Apostle of Lesotho Chapter Seven


WHILE Joseph had lain on his death bed, he had been granted a vision of the multitude of people who would come to belief in God in Lesotho in the years to come. "Divine mercy is infinite," a guest heard him murmur."It will not be content with so small a number of conversions in Lesotho."
And the glorious sequel to his life of love and labour began the instant he surrendered his soul to the Creator. The bush telegraph worked overtime and from far and wide the mourners arrived for his funeral which was held two days later. The songs they sang were hymns of joy, not mourning. Ntate Gerata had gone home to God and all who loved him shared in the joy of their sure knowledge that he had come into his eternal reward.
Paramount Chief Griffith was at the funeral, as was Chief Maama. "Father Gerard came to us a long time ago," he said. "At that time I was still a young boy and it was then that I got to know him. When I was older I met him often and when I called to see him during his final illness he spoke so impressively that I shall never forget his words."
Chief Maama reminded the people that it was Father Gerard who carried prayer and food to King Moshoeshoe over at Thaba Bosiu while it was under siege. He marvelled at how Gerard had passed through the besieger lines.
Chief Maama continued, "Father Gerard was certainly an extraordinary man, a man who never spared himself in his priestly ministry, who had the same concern for the chief and the pauper...
you could find him, our father, on his knees beside a sickbed, praying and instructing the sick person in the things of God.
"In conclusion I shall express my thoughts in this way: Father Gerard was a man who, you might say, did not eat food, but fed himself on prayer, and if prayer is something which which one can feed the people, then he has fed us Basotho too, for a very long time."
Nobody knows who was the first person to decide to take soil from Father Gerard's grave but soon people found Ramehlolo had not forgotten them, even though he was no longer alive in their midst.
There was a family of six who had run out of mealie meal with no hope of more until the following harvest. They threw a handful of the soil in the food sack and for the next four months it yielded as much meal as they required.
In the end, the mother put the remainder into a paraffin tin and added a little more of the soil. For a further seventeen days, the contents fed two adults and a child. By then the rains had come and the harvest was ripening and the sack as well as the jug failed to field any further provisions. Father Gerard interceded only when the need lasted.

Many illnesses were cured among people who wore a small bag containing the soil around their necks. Others were kept immune from epidemics. A child who could only move around on crutches regained her health. A woman whose hands and feet were deformed, was also cured.
A young boy, Gabriel Seforo, wasted by disease, was asked by his mother to use the little strength he had left to ask for Father Gerard's intercession to procure his healing. He did as she asked and was cured instantaneously.
Josepha, the mother of several children who had died, saw that her last-born, too, was at death's door. On the advice of their friends, she carried him to Father Gerard's grave. The journey took two days. Every now and then Josepha checked her baby to see if the little one was still breathing. When she arrived at the grave, her infant was barely alive. She and her friends prayed fervently for nine days. The baby was cured completely, and, rejoicing, they returned to their village.
"When we went to Father Gerard's grave, I walked as if I could see the Apostle of the Basotho in my heart," Josepha said. "I felt him close to us. It was his presence that upheld me to the end."
In 1940 and 1941 a process for the beatification of Father Gerard was set into motion. Many people came forward with tales of miraculous cures.
One cure was that of Florina Phakela, who in 1928 at the age of six was cured of blindness. Florina had developed eye trouble at the age of six. Growths appeared within the sockets of her eyes and protruded from them. She became totally blind. Every month her mother took her to a Dr. Hertz, who visited Roma on these occasions. For five months he treated her. During the sixth visit, he returned the five shilling fee to Florina's mother and told her he could do nothing for her child.

On the advice of her parish priest, the mother put a bag which contained soil from Father Gerard's grave around her child's neck at the site of the tomb. Next day Father Pennerath visited Florina to pray over her and let her hold Father Gerard's stole in her hand. Her mother started a novena to the Apostle of Lesotho.
While the novena was still on, a priest Florina did not know appeared to her in a dream. He put his hand on her eyes and said: "You will be cured, my child, and you will see again."
Next morning when she awoke she was cured. The secretions from her eyes had dried up and disappeared. The outgrowths from the eye sockets which protruded about 2 cm had also disappeared. The sores on her head had formed crusts. By the following morning they too had gone.

Florina was delighted, telling her mother not to dress her because she could see. She told what had happened and was taken to the presbytery by her mother, where she asked to see the priest who had appeared to her. There was a retreat on and all the priests were there. Not one of them was the one she sought. She was shown six photographs and pointed out an old picture of Father Gerard, who had died fourteen years previously, saying: "That's the one. It was he who came to visit me at night."
Ramehlolo, who never could bear to see a child suffer, had once again asked God for a miracle and the wonder had been granted.

Father Joseph Gerard of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 15, 1988, in a Mass conducted at at Lesotho's capital, Maseru. This man, a son of French farmers, whose mode of travel was on horseback and whose only desire ever was to bring people to the happiness of knowing God, is now known as Blessed Joseph Gerard OMI.

The Basotho feel about Blessed Joseph Gerard the way the Irish do about St. Patrick.
The impressive aspect about this holy man of God, however, is the quality of the service he gave rather than the measure of his success. Few people, having read an account of Ntate Gerata, would doubt that he would have rendered the same service without stinting if he had realised at the beginning of his priestly life that all his labours together would succeed in bringing one person alone into relationship with the One and True God Who created us.
Joseph Gerard became great only because to him, except for himself, no human being ever appeared small.

If you wish to find out more about this great man of God, visit
Joseph Gerard, Wikipedia
Oblate Communications tells of Joseph Gerard and the new icon of Blessed Joseph Gerard by Oblate Associate Suzanne Manchevsky, see

Do you feel inspired to bring the Word of God to others? Then why not follow Blessed Joseph Gerard's path and become a priest.

*Photographs taken by Catherine Nicolette.  With thanks to the artist who created the design of the beautiful Basotho hat on a wayside sign in South Africa. 
The graceful thatched house surrounded by whispering trees - a sight to lift the spirits of the weary traveller and a reminder of the hospitality given to Joseph Gerard in Africa.