People ask me in reference to this blog: who are these Saints that related to birds??? For the first leg of our journey we start in the British Isles with some amazing women.
Br. Robert Lentz, OFM,’s beautiful image from ancient Celtic religious experience was God as a trinity of women. The Maiden gave birth to creation. The Mother nurtured and protected it, and the Crone brought it wisely to its end. A raven accompanied the Crone as a symbol of life and death: though it ate dead things, it flew high into the heavens.
The Benedictine nun St. Milburga, (d. 715) was a daughter of the King of Mercia. Her mother was St. Ermenburga and one her sisters was St. Mildred.
Founding Wenlock abbey in Shropshire, England, she was known as a miracle worker and had a mysterious power over birds; they would avoid damaging the local crops when she asked them to.
Another great Benedictine, St. Hilda of Whitby (d.680) was noted for the wisdom that drew kings to her for advice. As Bede the Venerable wrote: "All who knew her called her mother because of her outstanding devotion and grace".
A local legend says that when sea birds fly over the Abbey they dip their wings in honor of Saint Hilda. She is often pictured with geese as she would stop them from eating the planted corn.
St. Ode was a blind Scottish princess who was miraculously cured of her blindness. She became a Catholic and devoted her life to God. In a desperate attempt not to be made queen of her realm she fled to the Continent.
She traveled from one place to another, wherever she could find silence for worshiping. She is usually pictured with birds who warned her of the arrival of strangers. Eventually she arrived in the Netherlands where she spent the rest of her days.
St Columba the Virgin is a 6th C. saint of Cornwall. She became a Christian when the Holy Spirit appeared to her in the form of a dove. She is one of the first saints to be pictured with a bird.
One of my favorites is the Benedictine nun St. Frideswide, daughter of Prince Didan. When a neighboring noble, Prince Algar, asked for her hand in an arranged marriage, Frideswide fled to Thomwry Wood, Birnsey, England where she lived as a hermitess, hiding in barnyards. She later founded Saint Mary’s and served as its abbess. The monastery is now Christ Church College, (Oxford) and the church became Oxford Cathedral.
She is usually pictured with birds of the fields and barnyards.