St. Brigid the Abortionist?


In class the other day, a pro-choice classmate alleged that during a recent conference she learned that one of the miracles of St. Brigid of Ireland was that the saint performed an abortion. Supposedly, a young nun broke her vow of chastity and became pregnant. St. Brigid “healed” her by placing her hands on the woman and making the fetus disappear. This was supposedly recorded in the biography of St. Brigid by Cogitosus, who allegedly wrote: “Brigid, exercising with the most strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, caused the fetus to disappear without coming to birth, and without pain.” This, my classmate claimed, is significant because it shows that the early Catholic Church did not condemn abortions in the same way that it does today.

It was a very sick conversation. My classmates all laughed on hearing this and my professor, a doctor, held up his hands and said, “Looks like I have miracle hands too.”

I can’t find anything explaining or refuting this claim, except on a pro-abortion website that hails St. Brigid at “Ireland’s first abortionist.” As far as I can tell, Cogitosus, the monk who allegedly documented this, is recognized as a legitimate biographer of St. Brigid.

Can anyone shed some light on what really happened, or offer a source refuting this, or explain how St. Brigid was canonized in spite of because of this if it is really true?

Thank in advance.


If someone comes up with an incredible story about a Saint…then they should also come up with some proof and a source. The burden of proof is on your classmate.


While this is all very well and good AND TRUE, this doesn’t help much as pro-aborts will continue to spout it as being true. If we cannot show otherwise to those who are either pro-abort or neutral, it looks like we have egg on our face. Has anybody read St. Brigid’s biographies? Does anybody know about this and/or have heard it before?


Well, even if it was true, desapearing and being killed is not the samething. St. Brigitta transfered the Baby to paradise for sure. I am sure the book does not talk about destroying a baby and throwing his members outside!


The word “blarney” comes to my mind. I don’t believe it.:shamrock2:

St. Brigid of Ireland lived in the fifth century. Here are two sites with a little information about her: and

New Advent (one site that I linked above) states, “It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigid’s biographers” and “viewing the biography of St. Brigid from a critical standpoint we must allow a large margin for the vivid Celtic imagination…”:irish2:

Completely unrelated to the story you reported, (and that I have never heard until now) I have read legends about St. Brigid that I highly doubted. Those legends didn’t raise any moral concerns–I simply found them incredulous. I don’t believe this story either.

Additionally, calling St. Brigid “Ireland’s first abortionist” implies that abortions never happened in pagan Ireland and only started there after St. Patrick evangelized and introduced Christianity. If the ancient Irish pagans didn’t perform abortions, maybe they knew something that the woman in your class and her pro-choice friends should learn.


There is a pagan goddess of the same name and the two can be confused.:eek:

See this site

Unfortunately even here in Ireland that confusion is taking hold.:o


I don’t agree. Its not up to us to refute baseless assertions. If someone makes such a claim the onus is on them to produce the evidence. Why should we feel we have egg on our face for not refuting something that doesn’t exist. Simply tell them to put up or shut up.


Because, if something is repeated enough times or loud enough, it will be believed. It could just as easily be said that it cannot be refuted. Hopefully somebody knows about St. Brigid and can expound more.


Part of what concerns/annoys me is that she did try to produce evidence. She said it was cited in St. Brigid’s biography and online I found that Cogitosus wrote this biography. So it’s not that she didn’t offer proof, it’s that I can’t easily verify the source.

Rumors like this don’t come out of nowhere. The pagan goddess Brigid, did she perform abortions? Is she a goddess of fertility? Or what exactly were St. Brigid’s miracles? I.e., could she have cured someone of cancer of the stomach and people thought it was an abortion? How would I go about finding the particular miracles attributed to a saint?


To clarify, I think this is what she was referring to:


Next time they try to hit you with Saint stuff, go right for the kill and site 1 Corinthans 6:19-20, which states: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

That will catch 'em dead. If they can bring up saints, why can’t you bring up the Bible?


I never heard that one and I doubt it very much. Ask her the name and location of the document where she read it. Otherwise she’ll send you on a wild goose chase for a proven negative.
As to the pagan Brigid as abortionist, well, since abortion is the opposite of fertiltiy, it doesn’t sound much like her either.


I have read the story about St Brigid causing a foetus to disappear - I must say, I was quite troubled when I read it given that she is Patroness of Ireland. Unfortunately, I’m away from home at the moment so I can’t quote the source exactly - Cogitosus does ring a bell though- but I can find out in about a fortnight (if I remember!)… However I do know that the source was quoted in a book by Liam de Paor called “Saint Patrick’s World” (Published by Four Courts Press, Dublin). When I was studying St Patrick and the coming of Christianity to Ireland, the professor highly recommended this book. I suppose there is no way that we would be able to prove that St Brigid did cause the foetus to ‘disappear’ - certainly I would be much more comfortable if we knew it was untrue - but there is a source for the story, and we can’t just dismiss the source as untrue because we are uncomfortable with it.

On your question about Brigid being canonised - she wasn’t. None of the early saints were canonised, but were declared saints by acclamation of the people. The first canonisation by a Pope was St Ulrich by Pope John XV in 993. As for the possibility of Cogitosus getting the story wrong - i.e. that maybe the nun had a stomach ailment rather than pregnancy - I don’t know. Unless Cogitosus had something against Brigid or the nun who was ‘cured’, why would he say it was pregnancy - a potentially scandalous situation - if it was something else? Why not just say “she was suffering severe illness” if he really didn’t know… Unfortunately, if it is true, I can’t think how one could go about defending it…


I wouldn’t put too much store by what Cogitosus wrote anyway. Nobody knows much about him and the “biography” he wrote on St Brigid he wrote about 130 years after she was dead. Most scholars have no clue how much of what he wrote is true but they all agree his writing is sorely lacking in real and important information on the historical Brigid.


-Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not on a mission to prove that Brigid was an abortionist - I’d much rather be able to show beyond doubt that she wasn’t… As I said, she is our patroness and a much-loved saint among the Irish (not just because she reputedly turned water into beer!). But according to the encyclopaedias, Cogitosus wrote in excellent Latin - so he was a learned man. He wouldn’t be the first person to write a history of a person (or event) a century or more after the person lived & that the account would be taken by modern readers as a reliable source. In Cogitosus’ case, we may wish to disregard his account of the ‘miracle’ in question, yet we don’t have trouble quoting him on other miracles she is supposed to have performed - such as providing an abundant source of milk, or the miracle of her cloak. From an archaeological point of view, he gives useful, detailed and supposedly accurate information on the cathedral at Kildare - though I know it is easier to be factual about something that is right before one’s eyes. Anyway, the question still remains: why would Cogitosus, a monk, say that this holy woman had caused the death/ disappearence of a foetus if she didn’t or if he really didn’t know either way? It’s not the sort of story one puts in “for the fun of it” - it’s not as easy to disregard this story as it is to dismiss the water into beer miracle. I mean - if she didn’t turn water into beer, so what! But if she did in fact cause a foetus to disappear, how do we respond; if she didn’t, why did Cogitosus include it in his account?


In the same way we know that the gnostic writings about Jesus living later than the cross and living with Mary Magdalen written 100 or so years after the event are rubbish.

Funny this story resurfacing just to try and get abortion into Ireland.



Tosh. The story has nothing to do with ‘getting abortion into Ireland’. Read the OP. And the IT article is from 2002 when Ireland had a referendum, the democratic result of which effectively preserved the status quo in relation to abortion in Ireland, drawing on precedent from the Irish Supreme Court judgment in the X case. This ruling allowed a suicidal rape victim to have an abortion in Britain.

Contrary to the widespread opinion that abortion is completely illegal in Ireland because of its constitutional ban, in theory, abortion is legal here if there is a risk to the life of the woman. A provision exists in the Irish constitution to allow the Irish Parliament to legislate on this. However no political party has risked it, and in the meantime, while it is legal in theory, the body that holds medical licences in Ireland considers it malpractice for any doctor to perform an abortion. Otherwise the constitutional ban on abortion can only be overturned by the democratic will of the people voting in a referendum.


[quote=Yellow Belle;4497460

legal here if there is a risk to the life of the woman. A provision exists in the Irish constitution to allow the Irish Parliament to legislate on this. However no political party has risked it, and in the meantime, while it is legal in theory, the body that holds medical licences in Ireland considers it malpractice for any doctor to perform an abortion. Otherwise the constitutional ban on abortion can only be overturned by the democratic will of the people voting in a referendum.

Irish Constitution
Article 40.3.3 The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

To say that this allows abortion is stretching credibility. But then again those that want abortion will try to twist meanings to their own end

As for St. Brigid performing an abortion I go back to what I said before, they are different people. The goddess Brigid goes back to the Tuatha De Danann, a pre-Christian people, thought to have come to Ireland around 1800 B.C. St. Brigid lived from circa 450-525 A.D.


The next thing you know, Protestants will be claiming St. Patrick as their own.


In fact, some do claim that St Patrick was a Protestant - the one who brought non-Catholic Christianity to Ireland! We know that there were Christians in Ireland before St Patrick arrived and Palladius, who came to Ireland before Patrick was sent by Pope Celestine. The Protestant argument apparently is that in his writings Patrick never claims that the Pope told him to bring the Irish to Christ - he says that God sent him…A strange way of looking at it, given that every priest’s (indeed, every person’s) mission ultimately comes from God…Nonetheless, he is seen by some as Ireland’s first Protestant!!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit