Island of Saints and Scholars .
Hibernia or Scotia at the time of St. Patrick
The information in this Site is based upon vol. 2 of the blockbuster 3 vol. History of the Scottish Nation by Dr. J. A. Wylie, LL.D. Dr. Wylie's History was published in Edinburgh in 1890. Around the turn of the century it disappeared from off the face of the earth . . . except for a few copies. We are very confident that if Dr. Wylie's book had remained in general circulation there would be no divided Ireland today.
Ireland was always the true home of the Scots. The name of the country was changed around 1200 A.D. St. Patrick in his "Confession" mentions the sons of the Scotti and the daughters of the chieftains, especially one blessed Irish princess that he baptized (una benedicta Scota)!! All writers up to the 12th century refer to the inhabitants of Hibernia as the Scottish Tribes. The Scotland of today was then called Caledonia and was inhabited by a people called Picts. When God's chosen people were taken captive to Babylon in the Old Testament, the first thing the King of Babylon did was to change their names!!
Around the beginning of the 4th century the mighty Roman Empire began to crumble and fall, the lamp of civilization was about to go out and the long dark shadows of the approaching night of the Dark Ages began to appear. It was at that time that God raised up a small nation in the West - at the ends of the earth - to keep the torch burning and be a light to the nations. That island - far from Rome - was Ireland, and the man chosen by God to begin this glorious work was St. Patrick.
St. Patrick was born in the year 373, along the banks of the River Clyde in Roman Britain, now a part of the country called Scotland. He was descended from a family which for two generations, had publicly professed the Gospel. His father Calpurnius, was a deacon, and his grandfather, Potitus, a presbyter in the Christian Church. His father was an important official holding the rank of "decurio" - a member of the council of magistracy in a Roman provincial town. As a youth Patrick ignored the spiritual instructions of his father and mother and was determined to "do it his way"
On day a little fleet of strange ships suddenly made their appearance in the Clyde. Patrick, with others was at play on the banks of the stream, and they remained watching the new arrivals, not suspecting the danger that lurked under their apparently innocent and peaceful movements. In an instant Patrick and hundreds of others was a captive and on his way to Ireland. He was a youth of 16 at that time.
The pirates who had borne him across the sea, had no sooner landed him on the Irish shore than they proceeded to put him up for auction on the slave block. Patrick was purchased by a chieftain and sent to herd his master's cattle and swine on the mountains. Was ever a metamorphosis so complete or so sudden? Yesterday the cherished son of a Roman magistrate, today a slave and a swine herd. Pinched with hunger, covered with rags, soaked with the summer's rain, bitten by the winter's frost, or blinded by its snowdrifts, he is the very picture of the Prodigal son who was sent into the fields to keep swine. Like the proud King Nebuchadnezzar, he had to learn the hard way that the Most High rules:
After several years Patrick likewise lifted up his eyes to Heaven. He called on the name of the Lord, was born again into the kingdom of God, and indeed excellent majesty was added to his name. He was able to escape and found a ship which carried him back home. Discouraged by his parents and friends, he tried to ignore the plight of the Irish, but the Lord spoke to him by dreams for many years. One such dream he records:
Patrick received his Divine Commission - not from the Seven Hills, but from the Mount of Olives. . . . Attended by a few companions, humble men like himself, he crossed the sea and arrived in Ireland.
He as now just over 30 years of age. The prime of his life and the commencement of his life work had come together. The story of Patrick is so much like the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. Both were sold into slavery as teenagers. Both were given special dreams. Both began their ministry about 30. Joseph fed Egypt with bread; Patrick fed Ireland with the living bread; both were a great blessing to the whole world!!
All the medieval writers of his life, save the very earliest, and even his modern biographers, date his arrival in Ireland 27 years later, making it fall about 432. The reason for this is that Celestine, Bishop of Rome, sent a bishop named Palladius to Ireland about the year 431. The monkish biographers of Patrick had Palladius on their hands, and being careful of his honor, and of his master in Rome, they adjusted the mission of Patrick so as to harmonize with the mission of Palladius. It was to the converts of Patrick that Palladius was sent as their bishop.
Patrick's first sermon was preached in a barn!! The use of this humble edifice was granted to him by the chief of the district, whom, the legend says, was his former master Milchu. In later years a church was built on the site where Patrick began his ministry and won his first converts to Christ. It was called Sabhal Padriuc, that is Patrick's Barn. It faced north to south. It never dawned on Patrick that a church had to face east to west in order for the sacraments to be effective.
Volumes have been written about Patrick's ministry in Ireland, but we can only cover the highlights.
The great annual festival of Tara called "Baal's fire" was at hand. No other occasion or spot in Ireland, Patrick knew, would offer him an opportunity of lifting his mission out of provisional obscurity and placing it fully in the eyes of the nation. All Ireland would be there. Mixing with the multitudes of all ranks which were crowding to the scene of the festival, Patrick pursued his journey, and arrived in the neighborhood of Tara without attracting attention. He and his attendants immediately began their preparations. Like the Prophet Elijah of old, Patrick decides to fight fire with fire. Ascending the hill of Slane, the little party collected the broken branches and rotten wood which were lying about, and piling them up on the summit of the hill, they applied the torch and set the heap in a blaze. The flames shot high in the air. On that night the fire on every hearth in Ireland must by law be extinguished. If even a solitary lamp were seen to burn, the rash or profane man was surely to be burned alive. . . . Patrick was arrested and brought to the royal court. He preached Christ to the king. The simple message of the Gospel -- the one sacrifice of Christ -- was all that was required to overthrow the Druid human sacrifice and convert Ireland from paganism to Christianity.
After his victory at Tara, Patrick was given an "open door" to the entire nation. The king realized that true Christianity was not a threat to his throne -- he did not have to have a Papal Nuncio -- nor submit to any foreigner. . . .
Patrick's ministry covered a period of 60 years. He founded 365 churches, and a school arose beside each church. The schools were frequently called monasteries. The monasteries of St. Patrick's day were nothing like the Roman Catholic monasteries of later years. They were not isolated from the world -- the retreat of the idle and ignorant -- no vows were taken and the clergy were always allowed to marry.
The monasteries were associations of studious men, who occupied their time in transcribing the Scriptures, in cultivating such sciences as were then known, and instructing the young. They were colleges in which the youth were trained for the work of the home ministry and the labors of the foreign mission-field. . . . Patrick died near the place where he began his ministry 60 years earlier - an old man and full of days. He did not perform miracles as his later biographers claim . . . except the conversion of an entire nation!!
Official Chronology of St. Patrick.
News of St. Patrick great success with the Gospel soon reached Rome. Celestine, Bishop of Rome, sent a man named Palladius to demand that those new Christians accept him as their bishop. Palladius was repulsed and flew for his life. He never returned to Rome and died later in Scotland on March 16. . . . In order to confuse the world, and hide his failure, Palladius was substituted for St. Patrick and his chronology was revised!!
Revised Chronology of St. Patrick.
Statue of St. Patrick in Saul, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, showing the false date of his arrival in Ireland.
The spiritual sons of St. Patrick soon took up the challenge of the surrounding heathen darkness. One in particular, St. Columba by name, set out for the island of Iona with 12 men (563). He founded a church and school there to be used as a base for the evangelization of the Picts of Scotland. The fierce tribes that the Roman army had failed to conquer were soon conquered by the Gospel of Christ. The Picts hated the very name of Rome after the terrible slaughter that accompanied the Roman invasions of that country. They were not about to submit to Papal Rome after resisting Pagan Rome for centuries!! Again, volumes have been written about the change that came over the people at that time.
Ruins of the Roman/Norman Cathedral on the Isle of Hij or Iona. These stone churches date back only to the year 1200 A.D. Early Scottish churches were built of wood. Most of them were knocked down at the time of the Reformation and put to better use as building material for houses. Iona was also world famous for its Library which was supposed to rival that of Alexandria in Egypt. The former was destroyed by the Vikings and the latter by the Arabs. St. Columba also wrote a Life of St. Patrick and that precious MS. was also destroyed with the Library.
The Celtic evangelization of Europe.
Scotia or Hibernia (today called Ireland) was the center of true Christianity for over 500 years.
An Irish "monk" setting out to tame the savages that descended on the Roman Empire from the North. Irish "monks" shaved the front of the head to distinguish them from the Roman monks who shaved the head in the form of a corona. It was called the Eastern or St. Paul tonsure. Elijah the Prophet was also bald and they believed that they were fulfilling the prophecy of the coming of Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The bag contained copies of Holy Scripture - the "Bread of Life."
The stars that shone in the spiritual firmament at that time will never be eclipsed. The first Culdee to set foot on the great European missions field was Fridolt. He arrived in France in the year 501. Accompanied by 12 companions, Fridolt made his way to Poitiers, and there on the banks of the Clain, he established a school of evangelical theology. 40 years later, another little band of Culdee missionaries arrive from Ireland led by a man named Disibod. He planted churches and schools throughout France and Germany. Another 50 years passes and now the stream of Celtic evangelization is in full flood. The great Culdee figure of that era is Columbanus or Columban. He towers above all that were before him, and he has no successor of equal stature in this work. He exhorts kings, he withstands popes, and he cries aloud to the people:
Columban reproved the Burgundian queen-mother Brunhilde for her immoral lifestyle and was arrested and put on a ship bound for Ireland. A storm arose and the vessel was stranded at the mouth of the Loire. The captain, seeing in Columban another Jonah sets him free. He finally arrives in Switzerland and then goes south to Italy. Like Elijah of old, who was summoned from the mountains of Gilead to reprove Jezebel, so Columban descends from the Alps to rebuke the Bishop of Rome, and sound a note of warning to the nations. His arrival in Italy was in 612, just 6 years after the title "Universal Bishop" had been conferred on Boniface by the Emperor Phocas. This was the real beginning of the Papacy. One of the storms of controversy that was raging at the time also had to do with date fixing. The Irish Church celebrated Easter at the same time as the Eastern Church and they rejected the Roman date as erroneous.
To the Pontiff he says "Cleanse your chair," and to the nations he exhorts them to return to the Chief Shepherd, which is not of the Tiber, but Jesus Christ. Here is a summary of that famous letter (written in Latin) to Pope Boniface IV:
This letter to the Pope from Columban is one of the noblest monuments of antiquity and the first preserved letter of an Irishman. In one generation the Irish went from being practically illiterate to Masters of Latin. It is an example of the classic polish, the lettered grace, and the intellectual power which flourished in the schools of Iona and Ireland at that time. It is more: it is an enduring monument of the apostolic Christianity that formed the creed of the churches of Scotland and Ireland. Columban was 1,000 years ahead of Martin Luther!!
The missionary wrote two more letters to Pope Gregory and then laid down his pen for ever. He died at Bobbio, Italy, in 615 and was buried there.
So great was the influence of St. Patrick that the Irish Church remained independent of Rome until the 12th century. Up to that time the Vikings were the greatest threat: plundering and destroying many of the schools, including the great lighthouse of Iona. They were finally defeated at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.
The Vikings were back again however and this time they were successful. They conquered an area of France called Normandy; and one of their descendants was the infamous William the Conqueror who invaded England in 1066; and established Catholicism there at the point of the sword. With the Norman Conquest came great changes. Englishmen disappeared from positions of leadership and were replaced by continental ecclesiastics whose fidelity to the new order could be trusted.
The last English archbishop of Canterbury was deposed in 1070 and William the Conqueror nominated in his place Lanfranc, abbot of Bec, an Italian by birth but long a resident of Normandy, who seems to have been the chief agent in giving to William's predatory invasion the character of a holy war. As archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc proceeded to assert Roman supremacy over the rival see of York and also over the whole of Britain and Ireland. William the Conqueror tried to invade Scotland several times but was defeated. If he had succeeded there might never have been a Reformation in Scotland.
During the middle of the 12th century, an Englishman named Nicholas Breakspeare was sitting in the Papal Chair. Known as Hadrian IV, (1154-1159). Pope and Norman king Henry II began to negotiate. The Irish conquest, ordered by Pope Hadrian IV, is authenticated by a document called the "Bull Laudabiliter," found only in the Roman Bullarium (1739), and the Annals of Baronius. Until this time the greatest friendship existed between the British and the Irish Christians.
In the Old Testament period God had a chosen people called Jews. In the New Testament era his chosen people were the Scots. Like the Jews the Scots were a small nation with tremendous influence. The Scots of Ireland kept learning and civilization alive during the Dark Ages. The Scots of Scotland were the main force behind the blessed Reformation and the founding of America.
James VI of Scotland and I of England.
The "Father" of the British Empire and the United States of America!! James Stuart became the first Scottish monarch to sit on the English throne. The Scottish dynasty in what is now called Scotland began with Aidan, who was crowned by St. Columba. King James was the first to propose the Union of England and Scotland. His dream was not realized for 100 years. He believed strongly that Unity was the best road to peace between the 3 countries. He planted the first successful colonies in North America beginning with Jamestown and the Pilgrims. He was a close friend of William Shakespeare and Shakespeare wrote Macbeth for his good friend. The most widely read book in history The King James Bible is named after him. It has held its own for almost 400 years despite the attempts of modern translations to supplant it. Many attempts were made on the life of this Great Scot by Jesuits assassins but he survived them all and died at the age of 60.
Scots were the main force behind the American Revolution. After the union of England and Scotland in 1707, Scots were allowed to emigrate to America and their love of freedom was soon felt in the British colonies. 75 per cent of the soldiers in George Washington's army were Scotch. The Declaration of Independence is almost a carbon copy of the Scottish Arbroath Declaration of 1320. In that Declaration, addressed to the Pope, the people declared their desire to be independent of Roman Catholic England. The American National Anthem was written by a Scot, Francis Scott Key.
A Scot, Prince Henry Sinclair led an expedition to the New World a century before Columbus. His discovery was not widely known because the printing press had not been invented and news traveled very slow. The first men on the moon Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were descendants of Scots. The American frontier was opened up by Scots like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.
The past is the key to the present: When Spain was occupied by a foreign power for centuries (the Moors) it produced the fanatical Catholicism of the Spanish Inquisition. By identifying with Irish nationalism and at the same time conspiring with the occupying power, the Vatican is able to keep Ireland in its iron grip:
Read the Papal Bull that gave Ireland to the Normans.
The first dated mention of Ireland is found in the Chronicle by Prosper of Aquitaine. He lived about the same time as St. Patrick:
And then the following year we have St. Patrick arriving in Ireland to convert the Scots!!
By the year 430 the Roman administration ended in Britain and chaos ensued. If St. Patrick had waited until then it would have been to late.
The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland
by the Four Masters states that by the year 438 Christianity had made
such progress in Ireland that the laws were changed to agree with the
Giraldus Cambrensis who went to Ireland with King John in the year 1185, thus describes the island Monaincha:
We may easily understand what Cambrensis meant by the church there being of the ancient religion. The Culdees, its possessors, had not even at this period, when the Council of Cashel had decreed submission to the Roman rite, conformed to the reigning superstition; they served God in this wild and dreary retreat, sacrificing all the flattering prospects of the world for their ancient doctrine which St. Patrick brought to Ireland.
Culdee comes from the Gaelic term Ceile De: Ceile a servant and De: God. It was the common term for the ancient church in the British Isles.
Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland
by the Four Masters, edited by J. O'Donavan, Dublin, 1851.
It was another Patrick: Patrick Hamilton who was the first martyr of the Reformation in Scotland. He was a youth of 24 when he was condemned by Archbishop Beaton and burned alive in 1528.
Oh, when the Saints
go marching in,