6th March 1152. Demise of the Celtic Church.

Regarding the battle for supremacy between the Celtic and Roman Churches, the die had been cast in 664 at Whitby, when the dating of Easter was to be decided in favour of the Roman model.(1)

However it wasn’t until Today in 1152, when the first session of the Synod of Kells  was concluded, a Synod, a culmination of a series of meetings, which laid the foundation for the absorption by Roman Catholicism of the Irish Church.

Celtic Church

Celtic Church and 8th c cross, on the Isle of Islay, off west coast of Scotland. Pic Ref below.

So ended the simple, diversified age of faith, of early Christian scholars, at its height between the 7th to the mid 9th century.

It was inspired by the saints Columban, Patrick, Brendan, Aiden, but also by the equally important Hilda, Ita and Bridget, who did so much to maintain the early Christian presence in the peripheral reaches of the British Isles.

The Celtic, monastic life, closely connected with its missionary work, spread far and wide by the likes of St Bega who came from Ireland to St. Bees in Cumberland, and through St Moninna (St Modwen), down to Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, where legend says she was buried on the Isle of Andressy by the River Trent.

Essentially the Synod of Kells, was to destroy the ancient, loosely knit Celtic Church, to be gradually replaced by a church based on an episcopal, diocesan system, and reforms which had initiated on the Continent of Europe.


Celtic Cross at Eyam Derbyshire.

Celtic Cross at Eyam Derbyshire. Pic Ref below.

The Irish church had prospered until early in the 12th century, when a reform movement by the Abbot/Bishop of Armagh, sought an accord with Rome.

Along with this came the introduction of the Cistercian Order into Ireland. Later would come Augustinian, Franciscan and Dominican Orders. Ireland was then divided up into 36 dioceses and 4 archbishoprics.

One change through the patristic, bureaucratic, Roman Church, saw the role of women decline who were now, as inheritors of the Biblical sin of Eve, downgraded, a dogma still going strong in the Catholic Church in the 21st century.

Contact for the Celtic Church with Rome was closed and women’s equality and property rights fell away.(2)

The Celtic Church as a separate entity ended in 12th century Scotland, when King David I joined with the Continent Catholics. The last bastion of Wales capitulated when Edward I incorporated the local churches into the English system in 1282.

(1) Early Roman influence cames on 12th April 627, when King Edwin of Northumbria and a large number of the court, including his great niece Hilda were baptised by the Roman missionary, Paulinus, in the river at York. Hilda (later canonized, died on 17th November 680, at Whitby.

(2) The entire proceedings ending on Palm Sunday March 23rd.

Ref: googleimages/geograph.or.uk. Pic re Eyam.

Ref: Picture of Islay church, dreamstime.com.

Ref:St.Cuthbert.net/celhistory and St Cuthbert website Celtic Way, Celtic Christian House.

Ref: Celtic Monasticism.

Ref: Wilfred.com/saints/hilda.

Ref: oscailtmagazine.com-Celtic Church.

Ref: politics.ie>forum> This Day in Irish History 1152 AD.

Ref: historytoday.com/ Anglo-Saxon Double Monasteries. V 45 Issue 10, 1995, Barbara Mitchell.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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