Monday, April 24, 2017
What Would Brigit's Church Have Looked Like?
Many of us have read and been impressed by Cogitosus's wonderful description of the church at Kildare when he was a monk there—a hundred years or more after the death of Saint Brigit.
It gives us a sense of a huge and active monastic community with a church large enough to accomodate the female and male monastics as well as the local lay Christians. But Saint Brigit and her eight sisters arriving in the fifth century into what came to be called Kildare would have built a much humbler "cell", perhaps like this recreated Patrician church of the same century. Those of you who read Heather Upfield's recent post about Saint Bride will be familiar with the idea.
According to the Ballintubber Abbey website:
Wooden Church-replica of Patrician churches (5th Century):
These “Dairteachs” or wooden churches served as places of reflection on the Word of God or on nature, in the early Irish Church. Baptism and the Eucharist were more often celebrated in the open air, around wells and in groves in the tradition of our pre-Christian ancestors.
This is a small but clear image. Do enlarge it on your screen and have a look at greater detail. Not much protection from the elements, and smoke would have hung low in such a structure if fire or incense were lit—it's no wonder that most ritual was done outside.
Image: "Wooden Church-replica of Patrician churches (5th Century)." From Ballintubber Abbey website.