Some, though not all, of the traditionalist communities in Australia seem to be celebrating February 1 as a Class II feast on the basis that St Brigid (who doesn't actually make it into the general calendar) is a patron saint of Australia. Can anyone tell me when that happened and why?
St Brigid (c451-525)
Now despite my blind prejudice against all things Irish (and yes I do have Irish ancestry!) on the grounds of the cultural devastation it has caused in this country, St Brigid has some attractions: a monastic foundress, she is certainly one of those activist women saints who make clericalists squirm, with claims that she was made a bishop (well, really just made similar promises) and exercized jurisdiction. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains it thus:
She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply "selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction", and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth "to govern the church along with herself". Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland.
But a patroness of Australia?
All the same, if she was made a patroness of Australia, there is a remarkable lack of public documentation about it around.
First, the Brisbane Liturgical Commission's calendar doesn't seem to include her feast in the Novus Ordo calendar at all.
Secondly, the official Catholic Inquirers website has this to say:
"Currently Australia has only one patron (which is normally the case for most countries) and that is Our Lady Help of Christians. The Feast day is celebrated on 24 May.
Australians have invoked the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary since 1844 under the title of our Lady Help of Christians. The title first came about in the sixteenth century when Pope Pius V included it in the litany of Loreto. Later in 1815 Pope Pius VII established Mary Help of Christians as a feast day after he returned to Rome from his years of captivity imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte.
For some time, though, Australia also had the patronage of both St. Francis Xavier (3 December) and St. Therese of Lisieux (1 October) who were co-patrons of universal missions.
This declaration was made in 1927 by Pope Pius XI. When Australia ceased to be a mission country under Propaganda in 1976 both St Francis Xavier and St Therese of Liseaux ceased to be patrons of Australia."
The bishops are however in the process of asking the Vatican to make St Mary McKillop a patroness of Australia, so perhaps all this will be clarified soon one way or another...
But if anyone knows how St Brigid crept into the 1962 calendar here, please do enlighten me...