Holy Celtic Church  International                (HCCI)                                               
- Ireland  -

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About Us


So what is Celtic Christianity?

It is easier to say perhaps what it is not.

It is not proto-Protestantism as some neo-Celtic communities would have us believe; neither is it Roman Catholicism as we now know it, for in the days of the great Celtic saints the Bishop of Rome was merely primus inter pares and Patriarch of the West and was not considered infallible.

Neither can Celtic Christianity be equated with Eastern Orthodoxy on the model of Constantinople or even  Alexandria, for despite its slight variations in usage, it is certainly a product of the Western Church, as St Patrick himself said, “The Church of the Irish, which is indeed that of the Romans, if you would be Christians, then be as the Romans. ...” (Dicta 3). True Celtic Christianity is best described then as Catholic, Apostolic and Orthodox, for it preserves the Apostolic Succession, honours and accepts the teachings of the Ecumenical Councila and reached its fully developed
form in the first millenenium, prior to the separation of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. 

Whilst some forms of Celtic spirituality are very Hiberno-centric the Holy Celtic Church casts the net of Celtdom far and wide, not only throughout the ancestral Celtic lands but we also honour the Old English saints and heritage.

Just as Christianity as a whole is a synthesis of early Judaism and the mystery religions and philosophies of the ancient near east, so Celtic spirituality, is a synthesis of standard orthodox Catholic doctrine and liturgical practice;  the spirituality of the desert fathers of Egypt and the native creation-based spiritual traditions of north western Europe. It is this blend of orthodoxy, orthopraxis, monastic and creation-based spiritualities which account for its longevity and renewed appeal.

As St Augustine of Hippo said “That which is called the Christian Religion existed among the Ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christianity”, thus St Columba, himself coming from a noble family steeped in the Druidic tradition, could exclaim with conviction, “Christ is my Druid”. 
 
In the middle ages the old forms of Celtic monasticism gave way to the norm in the western church, as communities converted to the Augustinian or Benedictine rules, yet the old Celtic knowledge of the “book of nature” lived on, as St Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, “What I know of the divine science and holy scripture, I learnt in the woods and fields.”

Some Features of Christian Spirituality

  • Love of nature and a passion for the wild and elemental as a reminder of God's gift.


  • Love and respect for art and poetry.


  • Love and respect for the great stories and higher learning.


  • Sense of God and the saints as a continuing, personal, helpful presence.


  • Theologically orthodox, with particular emphasis on the Trinity, and a love and respect for Our Lady St Mary, the Incarnation of Christ, and the Divine Liturgy.


  • Thin boundaries between the sacred and the secular.


  • Unique Church structure: there were originally no towns, just nomadic settlements, hence the church was more monastic rather than diocesan, resulting in quite independent rules and liturgies.


  • Ireland was very isolated; it was hard to impose outside central Roman authority.


  • Influenced much by middle-eastern and Coptic monasticism.


  • Monasteries were often large theocratic villages often associated with a clan with the same kinship ties, along with slaves, freemen, celibate monks and nuns, married clergy and lay people living side by side.


  • While some monasteries were in isolated places, many more were at the crossroads of provincial territories.


  • Women had more equal footing in ancient Irish law, thus Abbesses and other nuns often had a say in church administration.


  • Developed the idea of having a "soul friend" (anamchara) to help in spiritual direction.


  • Invented personal confession.


  • Oral word-based culture; most of the people were illiterate but had great memorization skills. They loved to hear great stories.


  • A sense of closeness and immanence between the natural and supernatural.


  • A mandate for hospitality.


  • Emphasis on family and kinship ties.