The EaRLcy CeLtic Chu Rch

When Christianity' became the official faith of Rome, the religion gradually spread to Gaul and Britain, although gaining widespread acceptance only after the collapse of Roman rule. Despite its religious links to the Christian world, the Celtic Church—cut off by the barbarian invasions of the fifth century—developed along its own lines, to create a version of Christianity that was unique.

following the conversion of Constantine in [312—13 AD, the emperor adopted Christianity as the official Roman faith. With the threat of persecution finally removed, Christianity, already widespread in different regions of the empire, came into the open and began to exercise considerable power over both the government and the people of the provinces.

In the mid-fourth century a Roman Church structure was in place in Gaul and Britain, complete with bishops and an episcopal hierarchy. By the time the Romans left Britain in 410, Christianity was well-established, although the older Celtic and Roman beliefs continued to be practiced by the majority of the populace, and most especially among the military.

By the first decades of the fifth century the Irish had also come into contact with Christianity, although there is little information on this other than the writings of St. I'atrick. Christian tombstones have been found throughout most of Celtic Britain which date from the fifth century and, following the conversion work begun by St. Patrick from 432, similar graves appear in Ireland. The arrival of the heathen Anglo-Saxons in Britain had little effect on the north and west of the island, where the Celtic church continued to operate.

In the English kingdoms, the local populace reverted to the worship of Germanic gods. In 431 Palladius, deacon of Auxerre became the first official bishop in Ireland, preceding the arrival of St. Patrick by a year. From that point on Ireland became the powerhouse of the Celtic Church, supplying priests and missionaries throughout the rest of Celtic Britain.

Map Celtic
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