Saint Brigid of Kildare is important to Christianity for continuing to establish Christianity in Ireland during the fifth and sixth centuries. She was an early Irish nun, abbess and founder of several monasteries. Along with St. Patrick, she is one of the patron saints of Ireland and is venerated in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox traditions.
In the year 480, she founded a monastery at Kildare on the site of a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid. She founded two monastic institutions at Kildare, one for men and one for women, organizing communal religious life in Ireland for women for the first time. She also founded a school of the arts at this site, and Kildare grew into a major cathedral city.
In addition to the Kildare monastery, St. Brigid traveled throughout Ireland founding several churches. She is known as the patron saint of mariners, the poor and travelers, and she has had many miracles attributed to her.
Catholics in Ireland and elsewhere celebrate a feast day for Saint Brigid on February 1 each year. Celebrants traditionally make a St. Brigid's Cross out of rushes and hang them on doors to protect their homes from fire and evil. The woven cross symbolizes a story in which St. Brigid is said to have explained Christ's crucifixion by weaving rushes from the floor into a cross at the bedside of a dying man.