Saint Thelka, 11th century fresco in Saviour Cathedral of Chernihiv, Russia, 2007. Wikipedia.

Armed strangers we feared, men silent
Stalking on wooded paths, face hood-
Concealed, hand on belt, ready with sword
Or dagger, Irish highwaymen, invading
Norse, they killed, stole in broad daylight
Without warning, retribution, lest our
Farmers, fishers were grievous wounded,
Die of swift-blade bloodshed. Yet, two
Intruders entered our woods, then another,
Calling aloud for me, Sister Muriel, clanging
Swords upon shields, from safety of dark
Forest depths, I emerged into sunlit path.

“Sister, Christians and pagan are fighting,”
Older man stated, grey-bearded face from
Hood-revealed. “Miracle occurred, claimed
By both.” Lo! Armed druids sought me out,
No description of ‘miracle” provided. By
Knife point I was horseback-escorted,
Across Irish countryside, day and night,
We strove. First light of second day, we
Arrived, bonfires, hostilities smoldering
Overnight, from massive wall of stone,
Image of weeping woman appeared,
Christians claiming it was Mother Mary,
Pagans, goddess Brigantia.

“This is our sacred place,” pagans in unison
Chided, surrounding me, fists shaking, eyes
Disdain-filled. With this I agreed, for I was
Once pagan, recognized living stone, deep
Spring of reflecting water, worshiped at this
Holiest of druidic founts. Yet, as fellow
Christians stated, robed female figure bore
Likeness of Mother Mary, in sorrowful
Despair. Before this image, I knelt, rosary
Clutching, forehead to earth touching, prayers
For guidance asked, I felt unable to appease
Two divergent faiths, ancient and nascent.

Saint Brigid icon available at monesteryicons.com

Beside me Druid woman knelt-prayed, similar
To my rosary, necklace of bones and beads
Clutched to breast, devout whispered words,
Reed-woven cross she offered at pool light-
Shimmering, language once forgotten returning
To my ears and tongue. O! Enduring flame,
Divine radiance bathed, we addressed gathering
Crowds, our words echoes of the other, Mary-
Brigantia, mourning lost sons, Christ, Ruandan.
Spiritually joined, Brigantia was adopted into
Christianity, joined in peace, healing, two holy
Mothers, one image, Miracle of Stone.

For more on Ireland’s Saint Brigid, see this link.
Thanks for reading.

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