Philip Freeman, "Two Lives of Saint Brigid" (Four Courts Press, 2024)


St. Brigid is the earliest and best-known of the female saints of Ireland. In the generation after St. Patrick, she established a monastery for men and women at Kildare which became one of the most powerful and influential centres of the Church in early Ireland. 

The stories of Brigid's life and deeds survive in several early sources, but the most important are two Latin lives written a century or more after her death. The first was composed by a churchman named Cogitosus and tells of her many miracles of healing and helping the poor. The second source, known as the Vita Prima, continues the tradition with more tales of marvellous deeds and journeys throughout the island. Both Latin sources are a treasure house of information not just about the legends of Brigid but also daily life, the role of women, and the spread of Christianity in Ireland. 

Philip Freeman's Two Lives of Saint Brigid (Four Courts Press, 2024) for the first time presents together an English translation of both the Life of Brigid by Cogitosus and the Vita Prima, along with the Latin text of both carefully edited from the best medieval manuscripts. Also included are an introduction, notes, and commentary to help general readers, students, and scholars in reading these fascinating stories of St. Brigid.

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Crawford Gribben

Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast.

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