Tuesday, December 09, 2008

St. Bride

This is a painting titled "St. Bride" by the Scottish painter John Duncan, from 1913. At the moment, this is my favorite work of art. I was fortunate enough to spend some time reflecting on this painting at the National Gallery in Scotland. It's is surprising that this painting is not more notable, considering how interesting it is (not to mention beautiful).

The painting depicts two angels carrying Bridget to Bethlehem to swaddle baby Jesus. It's truly an amazing amalgamation of Christian and Celtic mythology; Briget becomes St. Bride and Christianity synthesizes the ancient beliefs.

"[The legend] ...goes further back than the days of the monkish chroniclers who first attempted to put the disguise of verbal Christian raiment on the most widely-loved and revered beings of the ancient Gaelic pantheon. Long before the maiden Brigida… made her fame as a 'daughter of God'… the Gaels worshipped a Brighde or Bride, goddess of women, of fire, of poetry… one whom the Druids held in honour as a torch bearer of the eternal light, a Daughter of the Morning."

This is a wonderfully rich posting on the "Celtic Twilight" movement. Apparently William Blake, JRR Tolkien, and John Duncan shared similar influences. The more I read about this painting, the more I understand why it resonates with me.

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