The Four Elements

The Four Elements of Teach Bhríde

  • Earth– communal living
  • Water-prayer and spirituality
  • Air-service through song
  • Fire-witness and parochial presence

The Teach Bhríde community has chosen Saint Brigid of Kildare as its namesake and patroness because of her importance in Ireland, and especially because of the cherished place she holds in the hearts of parishioners at Clonard Church. The image of Brigid is the central focus of a large tapestry in the Day Chapel of Clonard Church, and from the beginning, the Teach Bhríde community and its mission have been blessed, guided, and inspired by the life and intercession of St. Brigid. This tapestry presents a rich commentary on the life of Brigid and on Celtic spirituality: the central image depicts the miraculous growth of Brigid’s cloak, spreading over the land of Kildare, much to the astonishment of an unbelieving chieftain who had mockingly offered her all the land her cloak could cover when she asked permission to build a monastery. The four side panels surrounding the central image depict the four elements of creation: earth, water, air, and fire. These panels testify not only to Brigid’s connectedness with her environment, but also to the mysterious beauty of Celtic spirituality, which perceives the presence of God throughout the breadth of creation.

As one of Ireland’s greatest saints, Brigid embodied many virtues to which Teach Bhríde aspires. The image of her cloak covering the ground symbolizes her mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus, a mission continued in the work of Teach Bhríde. The images of the four elements of creation provide a foundation for the development of the virtuous life to which members of Teach Bhríde are called as they strive to fulfill the mission of evangelization to the Irish people, following the example of St. Brigid in her imitation of Jesus Christ.