St. Brendan’s Staff
St. Brendan’s feast day, 29th November, was marked with a new staff to accompany our patron’s statue. The original installation had St. Brendan holding a staff or crozier in his left hand. With the passage of time this staff was misplaced. His birthday gift is made of carved wood in the form of a Tao cross. The Tao cross is a T-shaped cross, sometimes with all three ends of the cross expanded. It is an ancient symbol rooted in both the Greek and Hebrew alphabets and is mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel. The Tao cross is associated with St. Anthony, the desert father (3rd century).
It was St. Francis who popularised it in the 13th century and in our time, is the symbol of the Franciscan order. The early Irish monks would have used it, being influenced by their close connections with Coptic monks. The recently unearthed Fadden Psalter is another such confirmation of these close associations.
The new staff was carved by Shane Gilmore, well known sculptor. He created the Stations of the Cross in the Garden of Tranquillity some years ago. Shane has been influence by the Tao cross of Kilnaboy in County Clare which has two carved heads on the upper arm.
St. Brendan continues to be a source of inspiration and hope for our time.
St. Brendan of Birr, intercede for us.