St Darlugdach

Saint’s Day 1st February

Also known as Darlaugdach, Dardulacha, Derlugdach and Darulagdach

Darlugdach was supposedly the successor of ST BRIGID as abbess of Kildare in Ireland. According to one of the foundation legends of Abernethy, she came to Scotland in the time of Nechtan and:

“In the third year of his reign, Darlugdach, abbess of Kildare, in Ireland, was an exile for Christ’s sake in Britain. In the second year of her sojourn, Nectonius dedicated Abernethy to God and St Brigid, in the presence of Darlugdach, who sang alleluia over such an offering.”

Chronicle of the Picts and Scots

Her saint’s day is February 1st, the same as St Brigid’s, and she is always connected with that saint. As well as the Abernethy legend she is mentioned in an Irish Leabhar Breathnach.

One story is recorded about St Darlugdach in Ultan’s Life of Brigid. In it, the young nun fell in love with a soldier who returned her feelings. She agreed to meet him, and crept out one night from the room she shared with St Brigid. Before she reached their meeting place, she had a change of heart and prayed to the Lord to stop her from committing this great sin. To overcome the flames of her desire, she turned to another type of fire, and filled her shoes with burning coals before putting them on and returned to the convent. The next day, she confessed everything to St Brigid, who said, “For that thou hast fought bravely last night and hast in the present time burnt thy foot, the flame of impurity shall not again hurt thee in this life, nor the fire of hell in the world to come.” St Brigid then touched Darlugdach’s feet, and they were healed.

Some historians have suggested that this story, with its theme of fire-walking, refers back to the pagan past of Ireland and fire-goddesses, which is often associated with St Brigid as well. The name Darlugdach, may also be a version of Dar-Luga, ‘daughter of Lug, the sun god’.