Brigid of Kildare was a 5th century Irish monastic foundress who is credited with having brought Christian religious life to women in Ireland. She established numerous monasteries, the most famous of which was the community at Kildare (a "double" house of women and men). The saint was highly influential with monastic, ecclesiastic and civic leaders of her day. Although she was roughly contemporary with Saint Benedict, her era predated by several centuries the advent of Benedictine monasticism in Ireland. Brigid was renowned for her good spirit and admirable character: hospitality, concern for the poor, joy and perseverance, among other virtues.
Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery is heir to a quiet initiative carried out in the 1980's by The Upper Room, an agency of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), to explore monasticism from an ecumenical context, and has a continuing relationship with The Upper Room through its liaison. Established by Mary Ewing Stamps, St. Brigid's became a place of residence on October 28, 1999, at a house on the property of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota—its first and temporary home. Bishop John Hopkins, then head of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, was co-presider at the blessing of the monastery on February 1, 2000, the Feast of Saint Brigid. The monastery is now located in Saint Joseph, Minnesota, a short walk away from Saint Benedict's Monastery.
In 2003, the heart and soul of Saint Brigid’s expanded with the establishment of the oblate relationship. The community is comprised of women and men, lay and ordained persons from the United Methodist and other denominational traditions. We strengthen our bonds with one another through monthly formation gatherings, either locally or via teleconference, an annual retreat in July, as well as regular emails and other conversations. The guiding sources for Saint Brigid’s community are Scripture, the Rule of Saint Benedict, the Benedictine Breviary, and Methodist texts such as the United Methodist Hymnal and the writings of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery has been an officially affiliated organization of the GBOD and participates in the denomination's group ruling federal tax exemption.