Friday 25 May 2018

Saint Brigid The Mary of Ireland - Alice Curtayne

Saint Brigid The Mary of Ireland
Alice Curtayne

Catholic Truth Society 
Booklet No. 696 
Published 1936, reissued 1960

Alice Curtayne has written about Saint Brigid of Ireland many times. There is a chapter in her book Twenty Tales of Irish Saints, a nearly identical chapter in Irish Saints for Boys and Girls, and yet another in More Tales of Irish Saints. She also published the full-length biography Saint Brigid of Ireland in 1934. And then a few years later this booklet for the Catholic Truth Society. At first, I wondered if this booklet was just an excerpt from some of her other writings about Saint Brigid, but that is not the case, at least from the four books mentioned above. With every book or booklet, I read by Curtayne I want to read more. I am thankful this one is available online currently and was much easier to access than many of her works.

This booklet is primarily about Saint Brigid, but it begins with setting the historical stage. Curtayne states:
"CERTAINTY attaches to Irish records only from the coming of Saint Patrick. Before that, all is cloudy surmise; after it, the nation begins to emerge in a clear light. In that early clarity of record three names linked together will stand out for all time. No one can write our Irish history without reference to them. No account of our native literature can be presented if they be ignored, for the three have been our abiding inspiration through the ages. No account, even of native art, can be written without explaining them. Archaeologists work backwards and arrive at them. Geographers have to consider them, for these three names are everywhere woven into the topography of the country. If, therefore, through some mystery of iniquity the Church were silenced in Ireland and there were an end to native literature and art, still the very stones would cry out those names; wells, ruins, raths, and town-lands would tell their story. Mountains would have to be levelled to blot out their memory. These three upon whom abut all our history, literature, art, building and topography are: Patrick, Brigid, and Columcille (or Columba). Their memory is our spiritual banner. When that flag is surrendered, the Gael is no more."
And that centrality of these three saints if prevalent in this booklet and other writings on the saints by Curtayne. But first she addresses the overlap of Saint Patrick with Saint Brigid saying:
"Every one of her nine or ten first biographers assigns a different date to her birth, but no date is very far distant from the year 450. One must, therefore, be content with saying that she was born about the middle of the fifth century. The new chronology of Patrick's life, outcome of extensive research, places his death in the year 461. This makes it impossible for Saint Patrick to have known Brigid in her maturity. As a fact, in the oldest "Lives" of the Apostle, she is mentioned only once. She can have been little more than a child when he died."
Curtain then states:
"If I begin by saying, Brigid was a flame, I risk the charge of taking a caption from the cinema, yet that is the term used by her first biographers in describing her. Her singularity must be emphasized. The idea of perpetuating her memory by keeping a fire constantly burning as a symbol of her was strictly appropriate. All who approached her in life testified that she communicated a sort of illumination and warmth. She stood out luminously against a background of gloom. Some authorities affirm that her name means "fiery arrow". She certainly shot up like a dart of fire out of utter darkness."
This booklet is a clear concise look at Brigid's life and lasting impact. It concludes with a synopsis of the history of the Brigidine Nun's. And two prayers for devotion to Saint Brigid. I have read this booklet through a couple of times now. And am currently reading it with my oldest daughter, she has chosen Saint Brigid as her confirmation saint and we are working through Curtayne's works on Saint Brigid as our start point. And it is a wonderful place to begin.

Like all Curtayne's works I recommend you give this a read. It is easily read over of coffee or tea break. It can be read again and again for inspiration and motivation. Another wonderful booklet from a master wordsmith and gifted hagiographer. 

It should be noted this booklet is available online on several sites. You can find it here, here, and here in various formats as just a sampling.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books and Booklets by Alice Curtayne:
A Recall to Dante
Francis Ledwidge: A Life of the Poet
Lough Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory
Patrick Sarsfield
Saint Anthony of Padua
St. Bernard Doctor of The Church 1933

Books Edited by Alice Curtayne:
The Complete works of Francis Ledwidge

Books Translated by Alice Curtayne:
Labours in the Vineyard by Giovanni Papin

Books Contributed to by Alice Curtayne:

No comments: