For centuries, pre-Christian priestesses of the Irish Goddess Brigid (also called Brighid, Brigit, Bride, and others) kept a sacred flame burning in what is now Kildare, Ireland. When Christianity came to Ireland, the Church canonized a Saint Brigid. Today the Brigidine Sisters now tend an eternal fire, also in Kildare, in the saint’s name. At least once the Church extinguished the flame on the grounds that it was too pagan, but it has since been re-lit. Christians and pagans alike honor this flame and Her to whom it is sacred.
The Goddess Brigid has been worshipped since ancient times in Ireland and other parts of the British isles. Most pagan sources say that St. Brigid was invented by the Church because the Irish people refused to stop worshipping Her as a Goddess; that is, that She was euhemerized. “So entrenched was the devotion of the Irish to their goddess that the Christians ‘converted’ her along with her people… Bridget took religious vows, the story went…and was canonized after her death by [the Christian] church, which then allowed the saint a curious list of attributes, coincidentally identical to those of the earlier goddess.” (1) Or, as a Goddess historian and self-described "grrrl" puts it, “Under the theory that if you can’t lick ’em, you should join ’em, the Catholic Church turned the goddess into Saint Brigid.” (2)
Whatever the truth, everyone seems to agree that now the honoring of the two has merged, with pagans and Catholics both honoring Her name. Both the Goddess and the saint are traditionally associated with cows and milk, fire, and poetry. St. Brigid’s Day is February 1, and the Goddess Brigid is honored on the pagan sabbat Imbolc, which falls on February 1 or 2.
Learn about Brigid’s eternal flame at http://www.examiner.com/article/brigid-s-eternal-sacred-flame-kildare-ir....
(1) Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1981. Page 73.
(2) Robbins, Trina. Eternally Bad: Goddesses with Attitude. Berkeley, California: Conari Press, 2001. Pages 129-130.