Celtic Church

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Celtic Church,

name given to the Christian Church of the British Isles before the mission (597) of St. Augustine of Canterbury from Rome. Founded in the 2d or 3d cent. by missionaries from Rome or Gaul, the church was well established by the 4th cent. when it sent representatives to the Synod of Arles (314) and to the Council of Rimini (359). It continued to spread in the 5th cent. due to the work of St. Ninian in Scotland, St. Dyfrig in Wales, and St. Patrick in Ireland. The heresies of the 4th cent. that played a significant role in church affairs on the Continent seem to have had little influence in Britain, and although it was the home of Pelagius (see PelagianismPelagianism
, Christian heretical sect that rose in the 5th cent. challenging St. Augustine's conceptions of grace and predestination. The doctrine was advanced by the celebrated monk and theologian Pelagius (c.355–c.425). He was probably born in Britain.
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), his teachings did not gain followers there until 421 with an influx of refugees from the Continent. The missions of St. Germanus of Auxerre (429 and 447) against the Pelagians in Britain and the spread of monasticism from Gaul attest to contacts with the church on the Continent. The Saxon invasions, beginning c.450, all but destroyed Celtic culture, dealing a deathblow to the Celtic Church in England through the destruction of the towns in which it had gained its greatest following. The few small Christian communities that survived were to be found in Wales and Ireland and in N and SW Britain. The period of peace that followed the British defeat of the Saxons at Mons Badonicus (c.500) once again allowed for growth of the Celtic Church (especially through the work of St. ColumbaColumba, Saint
, or Saint Columcille
[Irish,=dove of the church], 521–97, Irish missionary to Scotland, called the Apostle of Caledonia. A prince of the O'Donnells of Donegal, he was educated at Moville and Clonard.
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), although isolation from the Continent continued until the mission of St. Augustine. Having converted King Æthelbert of Kent to Christianity, St. Augustine attempted to convince the leaders of the Celtic Church to change those practices (such as the dating of Easter and the forms of baptism and tonsure) that were at variance with the Roman Church and to accept the imposition of a diocesan organization on the essentially monastic structure of their church. He failed, and it was not until the Synod of Whitby (664, see Whitby, Synod ofWhitby, Synod of,
called by King Oswy of Northumbria in 663 at Whitby, England. Its purpose was to choose between the usages of the Celtic and Roman churches, primarily in the matter of reckoning the date of Easter (see calendar; Celtic Church).
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) that such agreement was largely reached, although independent Celtic churches continued on in Wales and Ireland.


See J. T. McNeil, The Celtic Churches (1974); F. E. Warren, The Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church (1987).

References in periodicals archive ?
The book addresses many issues in the ongoing discussion about what Celtic Christianity was; indeed, the author presupposes the reader's familiarity with the Synod at Whitby, the controversy around Pelagius, and much else.
For breaking this rule the saint was banished to another centre for Celtic Christianity, the monastery on the Scottish island of Iona.
The contemporary movement of missionaries going from Africa to re-evangelize Europe was predated centuries ago by the widespread influence of Coptic monasticism on Celtic Christianity and subsequently more widely on Europe.
It was chosen by Mr Booth after he was asked by Scottish Enterprise to help pick a suitable place to become a book town, and disagreed with the other judges' choice of Wigtown, the reputed birthplace of Celtic Christianity, situated about 30 miles South of Dalmellington.
Walking along the coast later that day I discovered that Pembrokeshire is, in Celtic Christianity, a "thin place" where the veil between this world and the "other world" is thin.
As well as these power struggles, there was now a conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.
Morgan reaches back to Celtic Christianity in the fifth century A.
As much food for thought is shared chopping vegetables and doing dishes as is dished out in workshops on Celtic Christianity or the theme for the week.
Hunter III has tapped into the current interest in all things Celtic to provide a splendid discussion of how we might draw on the resources of early Celtic Christianity in reevangelizing the West.
But Celtic Christianity was thriving in Wales - implausible though that may seem in the face of today's sad saga of cosing churches for lack of worshippers.
This enjoyable book ends up being a tour of Celtic Christianity based on written and archaeological evidence.
Esther deWaal emphasizes that we cannot just look at the creation-centered aspect of Celtic Christianity.