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Celtic Christianity : The truth about "Saint Patrick" and the Early Celtic Church" Part One

The truth about "Saint Patrick" and the Early Celtic Church" is quoted from the pen of Brian Hoeck ©2001, 2002 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth Hoeck and/or Brian Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety , attributed to Truth on The Web, and proper author credit given .

St. Patrick's Day is now associated with everything Irish, from the colour green to shamrocks, good luck to Guinness! However the color of Saint Patrick traditionally is blue and the Christian religious purpose of Saint Patrick's Day is for spiritual regeneration and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. Patrick was a missionary who worked for 40 years in Ireland, preaching, baptizing, and establishing churches, schools and colleges. History reports that he used shamrock leaves to explain the meaning of the Trinity. There is a legend of how St. Patrick when preaching to some soon-to-be converted heathens was shown a sacred standing stone that was marked with a circle that was symbolic of the moon goddess. Patrick made the mark of a Latin cross through the circle and blessed the stone making the first Celtic Cross.

Many have heard stories of the "Patron Saint" of Ireland: Patrick. But of these stories that abound, and the beliefs that are held concerning him, much is quite erroneous. Many think that Patrick (born ca. 360 CE) was Irish--he was not, but rather he was of Scottish/British origin.

"The place of his birth was Bonnaven, which lay between the Scottish towns Dumbarton and Glasgow, and was then reckoned to the province of Britain. This village, in memory of Patricius, received the name of Kil-Patrick or Kirk-Patrick. His father, a deacon in the village church, gave him a careful education." (Dr. August Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, Vol. II, p.122. Boston: 1855).

"Patrick himself writes in his Confession: 'I, Patrick, ...had Calpornius for my father, a deacon, a son of the late Potitus, the presbyter, (Priest) who dwelt in the village of Banavan....I was captured. I was almost sixteen years of age...and taken to Ireland in captivity with many thousand men.'" (William Cathcart, D. D., The Ancient British and Irish Churches, p.127).

"Patrick, a son of a Christian family in southern Scotland, was carried off to Ireland by pirates about 376 A. D. Here, in slavery, he gave his heart to God and, after six years of servitude, escaped, returning to his home in Scotland. But he could not forget the spiritual need of these poor heathen, and after ten years he returned to Ireland as a missionary of the Celtic church." (ibid, p. 70).
Many also believe Patrick to be of the Roman Catholic system, yet in it's own Confession which we read part of above, he claims that his father was a deacon and his grandfather a presbyter. While the Roman Catholic Church holds the doctrine of "sacerdotal celibacy," wherein members of its ministry are to remain unmarried and thus virgins, the ministry of the Celtic Churches held no such doctrine. This is one of many doctrinal distinctions between the two faith sytems. The claims that Patrick was a Roman Catholic are mere fabrications as we shall see clearly.

"There is here a hiatus of unknown length in his life; a chasm, however, which his midiaeval biographers have filled up according to the liveliness of their fancy, or the supposed credulity of their readers. They wrote of his studying with St. Germain, and of his attending a monastery near the Mediterrenean, and finally of his going to Rome and receiving ordination from the pope. All these are mere inventions, and were not put forth till more than five hundred years after St. Patrick's death, and all of them are presented without a shadow of proof....In the establishment of his Church, St. Patrick in no instance ever appealed to any foreign Church [i.e., Rome, or anywhere else], pope or bishop. In his Epistle to Coroticus (sect. 1), he simply announces himself as bishop: 'I, Patrick, an unlearned man, to wit, a bishop constituted in Ireland: what I am I have received from God'...These well authenicated statements of St. Patrick concerning himself are wholly at variance with those of Probus and Joscelyn, who, for the first time, put forth their fabrications full five hundred years after his death. In regard to his studying with St. Germain at Tours, and of his going to Rome for ordination, all these stories were invented in the 10th or 12th century. Joscelyn, who wrote the fullest life of the saint, about A.D.1130, has, in one sense, really the praise or dispraise of bringing the Irish Church into that of Rome.

The abbe, not being embarrassed with facts, dates, or contemporary history, wrote easily and readily, and presented a life of the Irish saint that exactly suited his times, in the beginning of the 12th century.

He represented St. Patrick and the early Church of Ireland in the 5th century as exact models of his own in the 12th. This life of the saint was readily received and adopted as the only true one by the Roman Catholic Church, and it has ever been the 'storehouse' from which his numerous and papal biographers have drawn their materials. After the publication, and the general reception of this book, there was no hesitation in the full acknowledgment of all the Irish Christians, and of St. Patrick among them. Archbishop Usher, on the Religion of the Early Irish, asks (iv, 320): 'Who among them [the early Irish] was ever canonized before St. Malachias, or Malachy, was?' (A.D. 1150). St. Patrick himself seems never to have been sainted till all Ireland was sainted or canonized." (McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. VII, pp.774,775; article: Patrick, St.)

"There is strong evidence that Patrick had no Roman commission in Ireland...As Patrick's churches in Ireland, like their brethren in Britain, repudiated the supremacy of the popes, all knowledge of the conversion of Ireland through his ministry must be suppressed [by Rome]....There is not a written word from one of them [i.e., popes] rejoicing over Patrick's additions to their church, showing clearly that he was not a Roman missionary....Prosper does not notice Patrick....He says nothing of the greatest success ever given to a missionary of Christ, apparently because he [Patrick] was not a Romanist....Bede never speaks of St. Patrick in his celebrated 'Ecclesiastical History.'...So completely buried was Patrick and his work by popes and other Roman Catholics, that in their epistles and larger publications, his name does not once occur in one of them until A. D. 634." (William Cathcart, D. D., The Ancient British and Irish Churches, pp.83-85)

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