The Church and the Celtic Kingdoms 431 - 1798 AD

Celtic cross at Glendalough, a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an early Christian monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. Photo credit: Declan Geraghty | CC4.0, Wikimedia Commons. Christian faith among the Celtic Irish peoples began sometime in the 5th century. The Roman Pope Celestius I sent Palladius to minister to the Irish in 431 AD, who was followed by Patrick the next year. In 1798, a republican uprising attempted to assert Irish independence from England and form a republic. This uprising was suppressed by the Kingdom of Great Britain, eventually leading to a divided Ireland.


the church in the celtic kingdoms 431 - 1798 AD

The selection of perspectives on church history in this section has been guided by three factors: (1) to demonstrate that Christianity has not been a “white man’s religion”; (2) the study of empire as a recurring motif in Scripture by recent biblical studies scholars; and (3) explorations of biblical Christian ethics on issues of power and polity, to understand how Christians were faithful to Christ or not.  Christian relational ethics continues a Christian theological anthropology that began with reflection on the human nature of Jesus, and the human experience of biblical Israel.

Books and Articles on the Church in the Celtic Kingdoms: How the Church Shaped the Empire

Early Manuscripts From Ireland (Universitat Duisburg-Essen)

Wikipedia, Saint Dymphna (Wikipedia article) a historigraphical account of an Irish woman from the 7th century, honored as the patron saint of mental illness and victims of incest, because her mentally ill father, a king, pursued her in marriage. See also New Advent, St. Dymphna. The story, even if fictional, is important because of the limits Dymphna placed on her father, the king, because of Christian faith: loyalty to Christ over loyalty to father, king, or nation; ascetic chastity over family especially when incestual.

Patrick of Ireland, Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus (late 400’s) Patrick wrote a scathing letter to the British tyrant Coroticus and his men after they raided Ireland and enslaved many. Many newly baptized Christians were among them. Patrick demonstrates the power of Christ’s authority and teaching over slavery, and the power of the church against imperial activity.

Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Amazon book, 1994) a very readable history about Irish monastic centers of learning re-invigorating literacy and readings of pre-Christian Greco-Roman literature.

the church in europe: the church shaping empires, empires shaping the church

church and empire: reflections on faithfulness and compromise: topics