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
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.
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.
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
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