Saint Brigid and the Perpetual Flame

Published on February 2, 2019

In the Gospels we repeatedly hear the phrase, in reference to the Apostles, “and they believed”. This phrase appears in the Gospels 22 times in total. It is reassuring that even for the Apostles, they needed Jesus to continually call them back to conversion through his words and miracles, turning their doubt into belief time and time again.
The Church’s liturgical year has been called “the Church’s year of Grace”, and has its origins in the festivals held in the early centuries of the Church’s life. The Church recognises our broken nature and how we, like the close friends of Jesus, are in need of continuous reminders. Each cycle of the seasons brings us even deeper into what God calls us to be.
Last Friday we celebrated the Feast of St. Brigid and the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This Feast Day is an opportunity for us to reflect, not only on St. Brigid but also on our lives. It is a time to make new beginnings and changes, a time for possibilities.
From all the many stories and legends about this unique woman, what emerges is a woman who was gentle yet strong, a healer, an efficient organiser and a powerful leader. She has become for men and women a “potent symbol of Christian womanhood and the
feminine face of God”.
A perpetual flame burned in Kildare in pre-Christian times and it was kept alight by Brigid and her nuns until the 16th century. The sacred flame was re-lit in 1993 and has been tended by the Brigidine Sisters ever since.
This flame represented for Brigid the new light of Christianity. The constant tending to this fire was a work and a responsibility that was taken very seriously. Like the Apostles, the continual work of starting again, in belief and faith in Jesus is also given to us. It is a work that we have to be aware of in our lives. This work is like a fire that if not tended to,goes out.
Recently Pope Francis has asked people to bring the fire of God’s love to the whole Christian Community. St Brigid’s feast is a reminder to us to bring the Perpetual Fire of God’s love to all we meet in our everyday lives.