There are two famous and important Irish saints, apparently: Brighid or Bridget, and Ita. Today is the festival day of Saint Ita (in addition to being the feast of Martin Luther King, Jr., among Episcopalians). She ran a school for boys in Kileedy, and was called the “Brighid of Munster.” (This suggests that Brighid is a title , in the same way that abbess is a title, and maybe in the way that Merlin might be a title.) Her claims to fame seem to be that she wrote a lullaby for the baby Jesus, and died of cancer. She died sometime between 570 and 577.
The entry in Wikipedia is practically non-existent. The entry in Shirley Toulson’s book is even shorter, mentioning only that she was the “foster-mother of saints,” and that she has connections with Saint Brendan the Navigator and numerous others.
Huh. Another scholar-saint, who is the teacher and foster-mother of the man medieval Ireland claimed discovered ‘America’ in a coracle. A teacher of astronomy, then, and perhaps geometry and advanced mathematics. Odd roles for a woman in the Church, but perfectly OK for a druidess, I expect. OK, here goes: (Image from Wikipedia.org).
Hail to you, Ita, instructor of saints,
working at crossroads of old and new ways:
you died of cancer, yet without complaints,
you were too busy teaching, all your days,
how number- and star- lore added to God.
How you ran schools in the back of beyond —
Latin grammar under thick roofs of sod,
Pythagoras and Euclid, and the sound
of a monochord singing Plato’s cave.
How the OtherWorld must have beckoned them.
To cross Atlantic, pious and brave,
and find Faerie: you mothered boys to men,
and made men saints: Be a “Brigid” to me,
and raise me to service of Deity.
[…] For Saint Ita (January 15) […]