christianity and identity in ireland 1: early christian ireland

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  • 1. Christianity and Identityin Ireland: how faith has made us who we are a prayerful journey through this islands story
  • 2. HISTORY? Its just one thing after another!!1. History is telling stories about the past A science: what really happened? More than one story (narrative plurality) No authorative story As we tell our story we have to be sensitive to the fact there are many other stories going on (narrative hospitality)2. What story should we tell? We are the Church What is our responsibility to this island? What sort of future would we like to have?3. Thinking historically is like travelling to a foreign country No context = pretext (remember Ben Franklin!) There is always a bigger story
  • 3. Week 1: Early Christian Ireland A.D. 431-795To the Irish believing in Christ, Palladius having been ordained by Pope Celestine, is sent as first Bishop.(Ad Scottos in Christum credentes a papa Caelestino Palladius primus episcopus mittitur.) - Chronicle of Prosper of Aquitaine
  • 4. Four questions: Who were the Scotti (Irish)? How had some of them come to believe in Christ? Why was Palladius sent to them? How does St. Patrick fit into the story?
  • 5. 1. Who were the Scotti?Geography: forest, bog and rock. Wolves and wild boar Ultima ThuleFirst Inhabitants? Map of Ireland based upon Ptolomys Coordiantes. Ptolomy lived in Egypt c. 90-150
  • 6. 1. Who were the Scotti?The first that landed upon this island were three Spanish fishermen drove upon the coast by a storm.Note: this landing of the fishermen is The Book of Invasions (Lebor deemed fabulous. Gabla renn) c. 11th century
  • 7. 1. Who were the Scotti?Geography: forest, bog and rock. Wolves and wild boar Ultima ThuleFirst Inhabitants:We know nothingabout the culture,hopes desires, societyof the pre CeltsThey have left Map of Ireland based upon Ptolomysmysterious structures Coordiantes. Ptolomy lived in Egypt c. 90-150
  • 8. Dating back to c. 3200 BCNewgrange mound and passagetomb in Co. Meath is the oldestastronomical structured in theWorld.
  • 9. The Celtic Invasions c. 800-100 B.C.The Dying Gaul Roman copy of Greek Statue, c. 230-220 BC
  • 10. PictishGaedollicBrythonic(also Brittany and Iberia) British Isles, mid 5th century
  • 11. Celtic Society Tribal, Hierarchical, Familiar (D. A. Binchy) Semi-nomadic Illiterate Complex literary and legal culture Ring forts, cranngs, raths No towns (civitae) Cattle important as staple food and currency Pagan Religion
  • 12. The Structure of Celtic Society Not Feudal! 180 Tatha (petty kingdoms) 4 generation derbfine identity was bound up with membership of the kin group Hierarchy: King (Ri), Poets (Filid), Lawyers (Brehons) Clienstship Tannistry (rule didnt pass from father to son) Fosterage Cultural unity political disunity Not a nation! A Celtic World
  • 13. 2. How had they come to be believing in Christ? Edict of Milan, A.D. 313 Yet: Roman forces never stepped foot in Ireland Outside the scope of the Pax Romana (Hadrians Wall) Trading? especially in south-east (silver hoardes, Emperors Valens [365-78] and Honorius [395-423]) I was taken into captivity in Ogham Stones? Ireland with many thousands Big Picture: Collapse of of people the Empire; Celtic Pirates (Patrick, Confessio) (Civitas Dei)
  • 14. 3. Why was Palladius sent to them? We know very little about what he did beyond being consecrated as first bishop To the many thousands? A specialist in dealing with heresy Patricks mission started in A.D. 432, confusion of identities 8th century, cult of Patrick (smear campaign)
  • 15. Where does St. Patrick fit into all this?The Patrick of legend What facts do you know about Patrick? Myths, but important myths!! (the Vitae (lives) of Tierchan and Mierchu)The Patrick of history Two surviving documents Confessio and Letter to Coroticus Born c. 395 Roman citizen from Bannavem Taburniae (Carlisle?) Father and grandfather served church Taken by Irish pirates at age 16
  • 16. 6 years tending flock as a slave; Spiritual awakening Escapes to Gaul (France) on a boat Welcomed home with much rejoicing Couldnt settle for the privileged villa lifestyle In a dream hears the vox hiberniae (voice of the Irish) Returns to France for education
  • 17. Consecrated as bishop in 432 Greatest success in Ulster Perhaps first goal, like Palladius was to reach Christian Britons who had been abducted into slavery like him Many thousand Scoti come to faith through his ministry Opposes the slaughter of Irish by Romans Stands up for woman Speaks against slavery Dies 461 A passionate evangelistic spirit A thorough-bread Roman, entirely orthodox Page from Patricks Confessio
  • 18. The Churches of St. Patrick Episcopal; territorial, oversight by bishops Any possible problems with this? Separatist (the early canons) Not culturally Celtic, Roman/Latin in character! The traditional site of Patricks burial, Downpatrick Coenobitic monasticism (hermits) why there are deserts in Ireland!
  • 19. The Emergence of Irish Monasticism Church in a little over 100 years would look totally different Chaos in Europe, lines of communication broke, Christianity nearly dies out in Britain Political turbulence in Ireland rise of the U Nills, colonisation of Ayrshire by Dl riAta (Scotland), colonisation of Wales Reasonable to presume decline of Patrician churches Yet: new evangelistic movement sweeps through the Celtic world: monasticism Between 5th-12thC. Over 600 monastic settlements built! The Irish church was almost exclusively monastic. (Gougaud) Spiritually vibrant and culturally relevant Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry
  • 20. Early Irish MonasteriesStarted by charismatic leaders: Columcille Derry Comgall Bangor Finnian Clonard Bridget Kildare Kevin Glendalough
  • 21. Life in an Irish Monastery Early Monastic sites based on the local tradition of ring forts. Inside fort was a small church, cells the monks lived in, guest house, refectory, high cross. Buildings were made of timber or wattle and daub though stone buildings in the West (e.g. Skellig Michael) Life of Prayer (contemplation) and Confession studyied the Bible and various literature (e.g. philosophy) Taught illiterate people Copied sacred manuscripts Bookmaking, Irish manuscripts highly prized on continent
  • 22. The difference between Irish Monasticism and the Churches of St. Abbot has authority, not bishop Pa


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