St. Brigid's Cross
St. Brigid "Mary of the Geal", abbess and patroness of Ireland, was born near Dundalk near Fochard in 453 A.D. The first Irish convent was founded by her in Kildare. Her feast day falls on the first day of spring, the first of February, the day on which she died in the year 524 A.D. Her body lies at Downpatrick beside the graves of St. Patrick and St. Columba.
Tradition tells us that the renown of St. Brigid's unbounded charity drew multitudes of the poor to her door and much enraged her father Dubhtach, a Leinster pagan chieftain. One day, after supplies had been exhausted, he came in a rage to inspect the dairy, vowing to sell Brigid into slavery, as he had previously sold her mother. To his amazement, instead of empty vessels, he found the churn and crocks overflowing with butter and milk. God had worked a miracle for His child of grace.
St. Brigid's father was a stubborn disbeliever. When the time of his death was drawing near she sat by him in prayer. While she kept her long watch, she whiled away the time by weaving her first cross from the rushes at her feet as rush and was the floor covering at the time. Her father seeing the cross asked her to explain its meaning and was so overwhelmed that he became a Christian before his death. The rush cross became her emblem.
It is piously believed that this emblem keeps evil and hunger from the homes in which it is displayed. For centuries it has been customary, on the eve of her feast-day, for Irish folk to fashion a St. Brigid's Cross of straw or rushes and place it inside the house, over the door. St. Brigid crosses were used during the penal days of religious persecution in Ireland as they could be easily dismantled in time of danger when the penalty was death if found in possession of a religious emblem.