a.d. 590 to 1049.








§ 6. Character of Mediaeval Missions.


The conversion of the new and savage races which enter the theatre of history at the threshold of the middle ages, was the great work of the Christian church from the sixth to the tenth century. Already in the second or third century, Christianity was carried to the Gauls, the Britons and the Germans on the borders of the Rhine. But these were sporadic efforts with transient results. The work did not begin in earnest till the sixth century, and then it went vigorously forward to the tenth and twelfth, though with many checks and temporary relapses caused by civil wars and foreign invasions.

The Christianization of the Kelts, Teutons, and Slavonians was at the same time a process of civilization, and differed in this respect entirely from the conversion of the Jews, Greeks, and Romans in the preceding age. Christian missionaries laid the foundation for the alphabet, literature, agriculture, laws, and arts of the nations of Northern and Western Europe, as they now do among the heathen nations in Asia and Africa. "The science of language," says a competent judge,6  "owes more than its first impulse to Christianity. The pioneers of our science were those very apostles who were commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; and their true successors, the missionaries of the whole Christian church."  The same may be said of every branch of knowledge and art of peace. The missionaries, in aiming at piety and the salvation of souls, incidentally promoted mental culture and temporal prosperity. The feeling of brotherhood inspired by Christianity broke down the partition walls between race and race, and created a brotherhood of nations.

The mediaeval Christianization was a wholesale conversion, or a conversion of nations under the command of their leaders. It was carried on not only by missionaries and by spiritual means, but also by political influence, alliances of heathen princes with Christian wives, and in some cases (as the baptism of the Saxons under Charlemagne) by military force. It was a conversion not to the primary Christianity of inspired apostles, as laid down in the New Testament, but to the secondary Christianity of ecclesiastical tradition, as taught by the fathers, monks and popes. It was a baptism by water, rather than by fire and the Holy Spirit. The preceding instruction amounted to little or nothing; even the baptismal formula, mechanically recited in Latin, was scarcely understood. The rude barbarians, owing to the weakness of their heathen religion, readily submitted to the new religion; but some tribes yielded only to the sword of the conqueror.

This superficial, wholesale conversion to a nominal Christianity must be regarded in the light of a national infant-baptism. It furnished the basis for a long process of Christian education. The barbarians were children in knowledge, and had to be treated like children. Christianity, assumed the form of a new law leading them, as a schoolmaster, to the manhood of Christ.

The missionaries of the middle ages were nearly all monks. They were generally men of limited education and narrow views, but devoted zeal and heroic self-denial. Accustomed to primitive simplicity of life, detached from all earthly ties, trained to all sorts of privations, ready for any amount of labor, and commanding attention and veneration by their unusual habits, their celibacy, fastings and constant devotions, they were upon the whole the best pioneers of Christianity and civilization among the savage races of Northern and Western Europe. The lives of these missionaries are surrounded by their biographers with such a halo of legends and miracles, that it is almost impossible to sift fact from fiction. Many of these miracles no doubt were products of fancy or fraud; but it would be rash to deny them all.

The same reason which made miracles necessary in the first introduction of Christianity, may have demanded them among barbarians before they were capable of appreciating the higher moral evidences.




 § 7. Literature.


I. Sources.


Gildas (Abbot of Bangor in Wales, the oldest British historian, in the sixth cent.): De excidio Britanniae conquestus, etc. A picture of the evils of Britain at the time. Best ed. by Joseph Stevenson, Lond., 1838. (English Historical Society’s publications.)

Nennius (Abbot of Bangor about 620): Eulogium Britanniae, sive Historia Britonum. Ed. Stevenson, 1838.

The Works of Gildas and Nennius transl. from the Latin by J. A. Giles, London, 1841.

*Beda Venerabilis (d. 734): Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum; in the sixth vol. of Migne’s ed. of Bedae Opera Omnia, also often separately published and translated into English. Best ed. by Stevenson, Lond., 1838; and by Giles, Lond., 1849. It is the only reliable church-history of the Anglo-Saxon period.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, from the time of Caesar to 1154. A work of several successive hands, ed. by Gibson with an Engl. translation, 1823, and by Giles, 1849 (in one vol. with Bede’s Eccles. History).

See the Six Old English Chronicles, in Bohn’s Antiquarian Library (1848); and Church Historians of England trans. by Jos. Stevenson, Lond. 1852–’56, 6 vols.

Sir. Henry Spelman (d. 1641): Concilia, decreta, leges, constitutiones in re ecclesiarum orbis Britannici, etc. Lond., 1639–’64, 2 vols. fol. (Vol. I. reaches to the Norman conquest; vol. ii. to Henry VIII).

David Wilkins (d. 1745): Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae (from 446 to 1717), Lond., 1737, 4 vols. fol. (Vol. I. from 446 to 1265).

*Arthur West Haddan and William Stubbs: Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland: edited after Spelman and Wilkins. Oxford (Clarendon Press), 1869 to ’78. So far 3 vols. To be continued down to the Reformation.

The Penitentials of the Irish and Anglo-Saxon Churches are collected and edited by F. Kunstmann (Die Lat. Poenitentialbücher der Angelsachsen, 1844); Wasserschleben (Die Bussordnungen der abendländ. Kirche, 1851); Schmitz (Die Bussbücher u. d. Bussdisciplin d. Kirche, 1883).


II. Historical Works.


(a) The Christianization of England.

*J. Ussher. (d. 1655): Britannicarum Eccles. Antiquitates. Dublin, 1639; London, 1687; Works ed. by Elrington, 1847, Vols. V. and VI.

E. Stillingfleet (d. 1699): Origenes Britannicae; or, the Antiqu. of the British Churches. London, 1710; Oxford, 1842; 2 vols.

J. Lingard (R.C., d. 1851): The History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church. London, 1806, new ed., 1845.

Karl Schrödl (R.C.): Das erste Jahrhundert der englischen Kirche. Passau & Wien, 1840.

Edward Churton (Rector of Crayke, Durham): The Early English Church. London, 1841 (new ed. unchanged, 1878).

James Yeowell: Chronicles of the Ancient British Church anterior to the Saxon era. London, 1846.

Francis Thackeray (Episcop.): Researches into the Eccles. and Political State of Ancient Britain under the Roman Emperors. London, 1843, 2 vols.

*Count De Montalembert (R.C., d. 1870): The Monks of the West. Edinburgh and London, 1861–’79, 7 vols. (Authorized transl. from the French). The third vol. treats of the British Isles.

Reinhold Pauli: Bilder aus Alt-England. Gotha, 1860.

W F. Hook: Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London, 2nd ed., 1861 sqq.

G. F. Maclear. (D. D., Head-master of King’s College School): Conversion of the West. The English. London, 1878. By the same: The Kelts, 1878. (Popular.)

William Bright (Dr. and Prof, of Eccles. Hist., Oxford): Chapters on Early English Church History  Oxford, 1878 (460 pages).

John Pryce: History of the Ancient British Church. Oxford, 1878.

Edward L. Cutts: Turning Points of English Church-History. London, 1878.

Dugald MacColl: Early British Church. The Arthurian Legends. In "The Catholic Presbyterian," London and New York, for 1880, No. 3, pp. 176 sqq.


(b) The Christianization of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.

Dr. Lanigan (R.C.): Ecclesiastical History of Ireland. Dublin, 1829.

William G. Todd (Episc., Trinity Coll., Dublin): The Church of St. Patrick: An Historical Inquiry into the Independence of the Ancient Church of Ireland. London, 1844. By the same: A History of the Ancient Church of Ireland. London, 1845. By the same: Book of Hymns of the Ancient Church of Ireland. Dublin, 1855.

Ferdinand Walter: Das alte Wales. Bonn, 1859.

John Cunningham (Presbyterian): The Church History of Scotland from the Commencement of the Christian Era to the Present Day. Edinburgh, 1859, 2 vols. (Vol. I., chs. 1–6).

C. Innes: Sketches of Early Scotch History, and Social Progress. Edinb., 1861. (Refers to the history of local churches, the university and home-life in the mediaeval period.)

Thomas McLauchan (Presbyt.): The Early Scottish Church: the Ecclesiastical History of Scotland from the First to the Twelfth Century. Edinburgh, 1865.

*DR. J. H. A. Ebrard: Die iroschottische Missionskirche des 6, 7 und 8 ten Jahrh., und ihre Verbreitung auf dem Festland. Gütersloh, 1873.

Comp. Ebrard’s articles Die culdeische Kirche des 6, 7 und 8ten Jahrh., in Niedner’s "Zeitschrift für Hist. Theologie" for 1862 and 1863.

Ebrard and McLauchan are the ablest advocates of the anti-Romish and alleged semi-Protestant character of the old Keltic church of Ireland and Scotland; but they present it in a more favorable light than the facts warrant.

*Dr. W. D. Killen (Presbyt.): The Ecclesiastical History of Ireland from the Earliest Period to the Present Times. London, 1875, 2 vols.

*Alex. Penrose Forbes (Bishop of Brechin, d. 1875): Kalendars of Scottish Saints. With Personal Notices of those of Alba, Laudonia and Stratchclyde. Edinburgh (Edmonston & Douglas), 1872. By the same: Lives of S. Ninian and S. Kentigern. Compiled in the twelfth century. Ed. from the best MSS. Edinburgh, 1874.

*William Reeves (Canon of Armagh): Life of St. Columba, Founder of Hy. Written by Adamnan, ninth Abbot of that monastery. Edinburgh, 1874.

*William F. Skene: Keltic Scotland. Edinburgh, 2 vols., 1876, 1877.

*F. E. Warren (Fellow of St. John’s Coll., Oxford): The Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church. Oxford 1881 (291 pp.).

F. Loofs: Antiquae Britonum Scotorumque ecclesiae moves, ratio credendi, vivendi, etc. Lips., 1882.

Comp. also the relevant sections in the Histories Of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by Hume, (Ch. I-III.), Lingard (Ch. I. VIII.), Lappenberg (Vol. I.), Green (Vol. I.), Hill Burton (Hist. of Scotland, Vol. I.); Milman’s Latin Christianity (Book IV., Ch. 3–5); Maclear’s Apostles of Mediaeval Europe (Lond. 1869), Thomas Smiths Mediaeval Missions (Edinb. 1880).


 § 8. The Britons.


Literature: The works of Bede, Gildas, Nennius, Ussher, Bright, Pryce, quoted in § 7.


Britain made its first appearance in secular history half a century before the Christian era, when Julius Caesar, the conqueror of Gaul, sailed with a Roman army from Calais across the channel, and added the British island to the dominion of the eternal city, though it was not fully subdued till the reign of Claudius (a.d. 41–54). It figures in ecclesiastical history from the conversion of the Britons in the second century. Its missionary history is divided into two periods, the Keltic and the Anglo-Saxon, both catholic in doctrine, as far as developed at that time, slightly differing in discipline, yet bitterly hostile under the influence of the antagonism of race, which was ultimately overcome in England and Scotland but is still burning in Ireland, the proper home of the Kelts. The Norman conquest made both races better Romanists than they were before.

The oldest inhabitants of Britain, like the Irish, the Scots, and the Gauls, were of Keltic origin, half naked and painted barbarians, quarrelsome, rapacious, revengeful, torn by intestine factions, which facilitated their conquest. They had adopted, under different appellations, the gods of the Greeks and Romans, and worshipped a multitude of local deities, the genii of the woods, rivers, and mountains; they paid special homage to the oak, the king of the forest. They offered the fruits of the earth, the spoils of the enemy, and, in the hour of danger, human lives. Their priests, called druids,7 dwelt in huts or caverns, amid the silence and gloom of the forest, were in possession of all education and spiritual power, professed to know the secrets of nature, medicine and astrology, and practised the arts of divination. They taught, as the three principles of wisdom: "obedience to the laws of God, concern for the good of man, and fortitude under the accidents of life."  They also taught the immortality of the soul and the fiction of metempsychosis. One class of the druids, who delivered their instructions in verse, were distinguished by the title of bards, who as poets and musicians accompanied the chieftain to the battle-field, and enlivened the feasts of peace by the sound of the harp. There are still remains of druidical temples—the most remarkable at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, and at Stennis in the Orkney Islands—that is, circles of huge stones standing in some cases twenty feet above the earth, and near them large mounds supposed to be ancient burial-places; for men desire to be buried near a place of worship.

The first introduction of Christianity into Britain is involved in obscurity. The legendary history ascribes it at least to ten different agencies, namely, 1) Bran, a British prince, and his son Caradog, who is said to have become acquainted with St. Paul in Rome, a.d. 51 to 58, and to have introduced the gospel into his native country on his return. 2) St. Paul. 3) St. Peter. 4) St. Simon Zelotes. 5) St. Philip. 6) St. James the Great. 7) St. John. 8) Aristobulus (Rom. xvi. 10). 9) Joseph of Arimathaea, who figures largely in the post-Norman legends of Glastonbury Abbey, and is said to have brought the holy Graal—the vessel or platter of the Lord’s Supper—containing the blood of Christ, to England. 10) Missionaries of Pope Eleutherus from Rome to King Lucius of Britain.8

But these legends cannot be traced beyond the sixth century, and are therefore destitute of all historic value. A visit of St. Paul to Britain between a.d. 63 and 67 is indeed in itself not impossible (on the assumption of a second Roman captivity), and has been advocated even by such scholars as Ussher and Stillingfleet, but is intrinsically improbable, and destitute of all evidence.9

The conversion of King Lucius in the second century through correspondence with the Roman bishop Eleutherus (176 to 190), is related by Bede, in connection with several errors, and is a legend rather than an established fact.10  Irenaeus of Lyons, who enumerates all the churches one by one, knows of none in Britain. Yet the connection of Britain with Rome and with Gaul must have brought it early into contact with Christianity. About a.d. 208 Tertullian exultingly declared "that places in Britain not yet visited by Romans were subject to Christ."11  St. Alban, probably a Roman soldier, died as the British proto-martyr in the Diocletian persecution (303), and left the impress of his name on English history.12  Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was born in Britain, and his mother, St. Helena, was probably a native of the country. In the Council of Arles, a.d. 314, which condemned the Donatists, we meet with three British bishops, Eborius of York (Eboracum), Restitutus of London (Londinum), and Adelfius of Lincoln (Colonia Londinensium), or Caerleon in Wales, besides a presbyter and deacon.13  In the Arian controversy the British churches sided with Athanasius and the Nicene Creed, though hesitating about the term homoousios.14  A notorious heretic, Pelagius (Morgan), was from the same island; his abler, though less influential associate, Celestius, was probably an Irishman; but their doctrines were condemned (429), and the Catholic faith reëstablished with the assistance of two Gallic bishops.15

Monumental remains of the British church during the Roman period are recorded or still exist at Canterbury (St. Martin’s), Caerleon, Bangor, Glastonbury, Dover, Richborough (Kent), Reculver, Lyminge, Brixworth, and other places.16

The Roman dominion in Britain ceased about a.d. 410; the troops were withdrawn, and the country left to govern itself. The result was a partial relapse into barbarism and a demoralization of the church. The intercourse with the Continent was cut off, and the barbarians of the North pressed heavily upon the Britons. For a century and a half we hear nothing of the British churches till the silence is broken by the querulous voice of Gildas, who informs us of the degeneracy of the clergy, the decay of religion, the introduction and suppression of the Pelagian heresy, and the mission of Palladius to the Scots in Ireland. This long isolation accounts in part for the trifling differences and the bitter antagonism between the remnant of the old British church and the new church imported from Rome among the hated Anglo-Saxons.

The difference was not doctrinal, but ritualistic and disciplinary. The British as well as the Irish and Scotch Christians of the sixth and seventh centuries kept Easter on the very day of the full moon in March when it was Sunday, or on the next Sunday following. They adhered to the older cycle of eighty-four years in opposition to the later Dionysian cycle of ninety-five years, which came into use on the Continent since the middle of the sixth century.17  They shaved the fore-part of their head from ear to ear in the form of a crescent, allowing the hair to grow behind, in imitation of the aureola, instead of shaving, like the Romans, the crown of the head in a circular form, and leaving a circle of hair, which was to represent the Saviour’s crown of thorns. They had, moreover—and this was the most important and most irritating difference—become practically independent of Rome, and transacted their business in councils without referring to the pope, who began to be regarded on the Continent as the righteous ruler and judge of all Christendom.

From these facts some historians have inferred the Eastern or Greek origin of the old British church. But there is no evidence whatever of any such connection, unless it be perhaps through the medium of the neighboring church of Gaul, which was partly planted or moulded by Irenaeus of Lyons, a pupil of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, and which always maintained a sort of independence of Rome.

But in the points of dispute just mentioned, the Gallican church at that time agreed with Rome. Consequently, the peculiarities of the British Christians must be traced to their insular isolation and long separation from Rome. The Western church on the Continent passed through some changes in the development of the authority of the papal see, and in the mode of calculating Easter, until the computation was finally fixed through Dionysius Exiguus in 525. The British, unacquainted with these changes, adhered to the older independence and to the older customs. They continued to keep Easter from the 14th of the moon to the 20th. This difference involved a difference in all the moveable festivals, and created great confusion in England after the conversion of the Saxons to the Roman rite.


 § 9. The Anglo-Saxons.




I. The sources for the planting of Roman Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons are several Letters of Pope Gregory I. (Epp., Lib. VI. 7, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59; IX. 11, 108; XI. 28, 29, 64, 65, 66, 76; in Migne’s ed. of Gregory’s Opera, Vol. III.; also in Haddan and Stubbs, III. 5 sqq.); the first and second books of Bede’s Eccles. Hist.; Goscelin’s Life of St. Augustin, written in the 11th century, and contained in the Acta Sanctorum of May 26th; and Thorne’s Chronicles of St. Augustine’s Abbey. See also Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, etc., the 3d vol., which comes down to a.d. 840.

II. Of modern lives of St. Augustin, we mention Montalembert, Monks of the West, Vol. III.; Dean Hook, Archbishops of Canterbury, Vol. I., and Dean Stanley, Memorials of Canterbury, 1st ed., 1855, 9th ed. 1880. Comp. Lit. in Sec. 7.


British Christianity was always a feeble plant, and suffered greatly, from the Anglo-Saxon conquest and the devastating wars which followed it. With the decline of the Roman power, the Britons, weakened by the vices of Roman civilization, and unable to resist the aggressions of the wild Picts and Scots from the North, called Hengist and Horsa, two brother-princes and reputed descendants of Wodan, the god of war, from Germany to their aid, a.d. 449.18

From this time begins the emigration of Saxons, Angles or Anglians, Jutes, and Frisians to Britain. They gave to it a new nationality and a new language, the Anglo-Saxon, which forms the base and trunk of the present people and language of England (Angle-land). They belonged to the great Teutonic race, and came from the Western and Northern parts of Germany, from the districts North of the Elbe, the Weser, and the Eyder, especially from Holstein, Schleswig, and Jutland. They could never be subdued by the Romans, and the emperor Julian pronounced them the most formidable of all the nations that dwelt beyond the Rhine on the shores of the Western ocean. They were tall and handsome, with blue eyes and fair skin, strong and enduring, given to pillage by land, and piracy by sea, leaving the cultivation of the soil, with the care of their flocks, to women and slaves. They were the fiercest among the Germans. They sacrificed a tenth of their chief captives on the altars of their gods. They used the spear, the sword, and the battle-axe with terrible effect. "We have not," says Sidonius, bishop of Clermont,19 "a more cruel and more dangerous enemy than the Saxons. They overcome all who have the courage to oppose them .... When they pursue, they infallibly overtake; when they are pursued, their escape is certain. They despise danger; they are inured to shipwreck; they are eager to purchase booty with the peril of their lives. Tempests, which to others are so dreadful, to them are subjects of joy. The storm is their protection when they are pressed by the enemy, and a cover for their operations when they meditate an attack."  Like the Bedouins in the East, and the Indians of America, they were divided in tribes, each with a chieftain. In times of danger, they selected a supreme commander under the name of Konyng or King, but only for a period.

These strangers from the Continent successfully repelled the Northern invaders; but being well pleased with the fertility and climate of the country, and reinforced by frequent accessions from their countrymen, they turned upon the confederate Britons, drove them to the mountains of Wales and the borders of Scotland, or reduced them to slavery, and within a century and a half they made themselves masters of England. From invaders they became settlers, and established an octarchy or eight independent kingdoms, Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, Northumbria, Mercia, Bernicia, and Deira. The last two were often united under the same head; hence we generally speak of but seven kingdoms or the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy.

From this period of the conflict between the two races dates the Keltic form of the Arthurian legends, which afterwards underwent a radical telescopic transformation in France. They have no historical value except in connection with the romantic poetry of mediaeval religion.20


 § 10. The Mission of Gregory and Augustin. Conversion of Kent, a.d. 595–604.


With the conquest of the Anglo-Saxons, who were heathen barbarians, Christianity was nearly extirpated in Britain. Priests were cruelly massacred, churches and monasteries were destroyed, together with the vestiges of a weak Roman civilization. The hatred and weakness of the Britons prevented them from offering the gospel to the conquerors, who in turn would have rejected it from contempt of the conquered.21

But fortunately Christianity was re-introduced from a remote country, and by persons who had nothing to do with the quarrels of the two races. To Rome, aided by the influence of France, belongs the credit of reclaiming England to Christianity and civilization. In England the first, and, we may say, the only purely national church in the West was founded, but in close union with the papacy. "The English church," says Freeman, "reverencing Rome, but not slavishly bowing down to her, grew up with a distinctly national character, and gradually infused its influence into all the feelings and habits of the English people. By the end of the seventh century, the independent, insular, Teutonic church had become one of the brightest lights of the Christian firmament. In short, the introduction of Christianity completely changed the position of the English nation, both within its own island and towards the rest of the world."22

The origin of the Anglo-Saxon mission reads like a beautiful romance. Pope Gregory I., when abbot of a Benedictine convent, saw in the slave-market of Rome three Anglo-Saxon boys offered for sale. He was impressed with their fine appearance, fair complexion, sweet faces and light flaxen hair; and learning, to his grief, that they were idolaters, he asked the name of their nation, their country, and their king. When he heard that they were Angles, he said: "Right, for they have angelic faces, and are worthy to be fellow-heirs with angels in heaven."  They were from the province Deira. "Truly," he replied, "are they De-ira-ns, that is, plucked from the ire of God, and called to the mercy of Christ."  He asked the name of their king, which was AElla or Ella (who reigned from 559 to 588). "Hallelujah," he exclaimed, "the praise of God the Creator must be sung in those parts."  He proceeded at once from the slave market to the pope, and entreated him to send missionaries to England, offering himself for this noble work. He actually started for the spiritual conquest of the distant island. But the Romans would not part with him, called him back, and shortly afterwards elected him pope (590). What he could not do in person, he carried out through others.23

In the year 596, Gregory, remembering his interview with the sweet-faced and fair-haired Anglo-Saxon slave-boys, and hearing of a favorable opportunity for a mission, sent the Benedictine abbot Augustin (Austin), thirty other monks, and a priest, Laurentius, with instructions, letters of recommendation to the Frank kings and several bishops of Gaul, and a few books, to England.24  The missionaries, accompanied by some interpreters from France, landed on the isle of Thanet in Kent, near the mouth of the Thames.25  King Ethelbert, by his marriage to Bertha, a Christian princess from Paris, who had brought a bishop with her, was already prepared for a change of religion. He went to meet the strangers and received them in the open air; being afraid of some magic if he were to see them under roof. They bore a silver cross for their banner, and the image of Christ painted on a board; and after singing the litany and offering prayers for themselves and the people whom they had come to convert, they preached the gospel through their Frank interpreters. The king was pleased with the ritualistic and oratorical display of the new religion from distant, mighty Rome, and said: "Your words and promises are very fair; but as they are new to us and of uncertain import, I cannot forsake the religion I have so long followed with the whole English nation. Yet as you are come from far, and are desirous to benefit us, I will supply you with the necessary sustenance, and not forbid you to preach and to convert as many as you can to your religion."26  Accordingly, he allowed them to reside in the City of Canterbury (Dorovern, Durovernum), which was the metropolis of his kingdom, and was soon to become the metropolis of the Church of England. They preached and led a severe monastic life. Several believed and were baptized, "admiring," as Bede says, "the simplicity of their innocent life, and the sweetness of their heavenly doctrine."  He also mentions miracles. Gregory warned Augustin not to be puffed up by miracles, but to rejoice with fear, and to tremble in rejoicing, remembering what the Lord said to his disciples when they boasted that even the devils were subject to them. For not all the elect work miracles, and yet the names of all are written in heaven.27

King Ethelbert was converted and baptized (probably June 2, 597), and drew gradually his whole nation after him, though he was taught by the missionaries not to use compulsion, since the service of Christ ought to be voluntary.

Augustin, by order of pope Gregory, was ordained archbishop of the English nation by Vergilius,28 archbishop of Arles, Nov. 16, 597, and became the first primate of England, with a long line of successors even to this day. On his return, at Christmas, he baptized more than ten thousand English. His talents and character did not rise above mediocrity, and he bears no comparison whatever with his great namesake, the theologian and bishop of Hippo; but he was, upon the whole, well fitted for his missionary work, and his permanent success lends to his name the halo of a borrowed greatness. He built a church and monastery at Canterbury, the mother-church of Anglo-Saxon Christendom. He sent the priest Laurentius to Rome to inform the pope of his progress and to ask an answer to a number of questions concerning the conduct of bishops towards their clergy, the ritualistic differences between the Roman and the Gallican churches, the marriage of two brothers to two sisters, the marriage of relations, whether a bishop may be ordained without other bishops being present, whether a woman with child ought to be baptized, how long after the birth of an infant carnal intercourse of married people should be delayed, etc. Gregory answered these questions very fully in the legalistic and ascetic spirit of the age, yet, upon the whole, with much good sense and pastoral wisdom.29

It is remarkable that this pope, unlike his successors, did not insist on absolute conformity to the Roman church, but advises Augustin, who thought that the different customs of the Gallican church were inconsistent with the unity of faith, "to choose from every church those things that are pious, religious and upright;" for "things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things."30  In other respects, the advice falls in with the papal system and practice. He directs the missionaries not to destroy the heathen temples, but to convert them into Christian churches, to substitute the worship of relics for the worship of idols, and to allow the new converts, on the day of dedication and other festivities, to kill cattle according to their ancient custom, yet no more to the devils, but to the praise of God; for it is impossible, he thought, to efface everything at once from their obdurate minds; and he who endeavors to ascend to the highest place, must rise by degrees or steps, and not by leaps.31  This method was faithfully followed by his missionaries. It no doubt facilitated the nominal conversion of England, but swept a vast amount of heathenism into the Christian church, which it took centuries to eradicate.

Gregory sent to Augustin, June 22, 601, the metropolitan pall (pallium), several priests (Mellitus, Justus, Paulinus, and others), many books, sacred vessels and vestments, and relics of apostles and martyrs. He directed him to ordain twelve bishops in the archiepiscopal diocese of Canterbury, and to appoint an archbishop for York, who was also to ordain twelve bishops, if the country adjoining should receive the word of God. Mellitus was consecrated the first bishop of London; Justus, bishop of Rochester, both in 604 by Augustin (without assistants); Paulinus, the first archbishop of York, 625, after the death of Gregory and Augustin.32  The pope sent also letters and presents to king Ethelbert, "his most excellent son," exhorting him to persevere in the faith, to commend it by good works among his subjects, to suppress the worship of idols, and to follow the instructions of Augustin.


 § 11. Antagonism of the Saxon and British Clergy.


Bede, II. 2; Haddan and Stubbs, III. 38–41.


Augustin, with the aid of king Ethelbert, arranged (in 602 or 603) a conference with the British bishops, at a place in Sussex near the banks of the Severn under an oak, called "Augustin’s Oak."33  He admonished them to conform to the Roman ceremonial in the observance of Easter Sunday, and the mode of administering baptism, and to unite with their Saxon brethren in converting the Gentiles. Augustin had neither wisdom nor charity enough to sacrifice even the most trifling ceremonies on the altar of peace. He was a pedantic and contracted churchman. He met the Britons, who represented at all events an older and native Christianity, with the haughty spirit of Rome, which is willing to compromise with heathen customs, but demands absolute submission from all other forms of Christianity, and hates independence as the worst of heresies.

The Britons preferred their own traditions. After much useless contention, Augustin proposed, and the Britons reluctantly accepted, an appeal to the miraculous interposition of God. A blind man of the Saxon race was brought forward and restored to sight by his prayer. The Britons still refused to give up their ancient customs without the consent of their people, and demanded a second and larger synod.

At the second Conference, seven bishops of the Britons, with a number of learned men from the Convent of Bangor, appeared, and were advised by a venerated hermit to submit the Saxon archbishop to the moral test of meekness and humility as required by Christ from his followers. If Augustin, at the meeting, shall rise before them, they should hear him submissively; but if he shall not rise, they should despise him as a proud man. As they drew near, the Roman dignitary remained seated in his chair. He demanded of them three things, viz. compliance with the Roman observance of the time of Easter, the Roman form of baptism, and aid in efforts to convert the English nation; and then he would readily tolerate their other peculiarities. They refused, reasoning among themselves, if he will not rise up before us now, how much more will he despise us when we shall be subject to his authority?  Augustin indignantly rebuked them and threatened the divine vengeance by the arms of the Saxons. "All which," adds Bede, "through the dispensation of the divine judgment, fell out exactly as he had predicted."  For, a few years afterwards (613), Ethelfrith the Wild, the pagan King of Northumbria, attacked the Britons at Chester, and destroyed not only their army, but slaughtered several hundred34 priests and monks, who accompanied the soldiers to aid them with their prayers. The massacre was followed by the destruction of the flourishing monastery of Bangor, where more than two thousand monks lived by the labor of their hands.

This is a sad picture of the fierce animosity of the two races and rival forms of Christianity. Unhappily, it continues to the present day, but with a remarkable difference: the Keltic Irish who, like the Britons, once represented a more independent type of Catholicism, have, since the Norman conquest, and still more since the Reformation, become intense Romanists; while the English, once the dutiful subjects of Rome, have broken with that foreign power altogether, and have vainly endeavored to force Protestantism upon the conquered race. The Irish problem will not be solved until the double curse of national and religious antagonism is removed.


 § 12. Conversion of the Other Kingdoms of the Heptarchy.


Augustin, the apostle of the Anglo-Saxons, died a.d. 604, and lies buried, with many of his successors, in the venerable cathedral of Canterbury. On his tomb was written this epitaph: "Here rests the Lord Augustin, first archbishop of Canterbury, who being formerly sent hither by the blessed Gregory, bishop of the city of Rome, and by God’s assistance supported with miracles, reduced king Ethelbert and his nation from the worship of idols to the faith of Christ, and having ended the days of his office in peace, died on the 26th day of May, in the reign of the same king."35

He was not a great man; but he did a great work in laying the foundations of English Christianity and civilization.

Laurentius (604–619), and afterwards Mellitus (619–624) succeeded him in his office.

Other priests and monks were sent from Italy, and brought with them books and such culture as remained after the irruption of the barbarians. The first archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the bishops of most of the Southern sees were foreigners, if not consecrated, at least commissioned by the pope, and kept up a constant correspondence with Rome. Gradually a native clergy arose in England.

The work of Christianization went on among the other kingdom of the heptarchy, and was aided by the marriage of kings with Christian wives, but was more than once interrupted by relapse into heathenism. Northumbria was converted chiefly through the labors of the sainted Aidan (d. Aug. 31, 651), a monk from the island Iona or Hii, and the first bishop of Lindisfarne, who is even lauded by Bede for his zeal, piety and good works, although he differed from him on the Easter question.36  Sussex was the last part of the Heptarchy which renounced paganism. It took nearly a hundred years before England was nominally converted to the Christian religion.37

To this conversion England owes her national unity and the best elements of her civilization.38

The Anglo-Saxon Christianity was and continued to be till the Reformation, the Christianity of Rome, with its excellences and faults. It included the Latin mass, the worship of saints, images and relics, monastic virtues and vices, pilgrimages to the holy city, and much credulity and superstition. Even kings abdicated their crown to show their profound reverence for the supreme pontiff and to secure from him a passport to heaven. Chapels, churches and cathedrals were erected in the towns; convents founded in the country by the bank of the river or under the shelter of a hill, and became rich by pious donations of land. The lofty cathedrals and ivy-clad ruins of old abbeys and cloisters in England and Scotland still remain to testify in solemn silence to the power of mediaeval Catholicism.


 § 13. Conformity to Row Established. Wilfrid, Theodore, Bede.


The dispute between the Anglo-Saxon or Roman, and the British ritual was renewed in the middle of the seventh century, but ended with the triumph of the former in England proper. The spirit of independence had to take refuge in Ireland and Scotland till the time of the Norman conquest, which crushed it out also in Ireland.

Wilfrid, afterwards bishop of York, the first distinguished native prelate who combined clerical habits with haughty magnificence, acquired celebrity by expelling "the quartodeciman heresy and schism," as it was improperly called, from Northumbria, where the Scots had introduced it through St. Aidan. The controversy was decided in a Synod held at Whitby in 664 in the presence of King Oswy or Oswio and his son Alfrid. Colman, the second success or of Aidan, defended the Scottish observance of Easter by the authority of St. Columba and the apostle John. Wilfrid rested the Roman observance on the authority of Peter, who had introduced it in Rome, and on the universal custom of Christendom. When he mentioned, that to Peter were intrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the king said: "I will not contradict the door-keeper, lest when I come to the gates of the kingdom of heaven, there should be none to open them."  By this irresistible argument the opposition was broken, and conformity to the Roman observance established. The Scottish semi-circular tonsure also, which was ascribed to Simon Magus, gave way to the circular, which was derived from St. Peter. Colman, being worsted, returned with his sympathizers to Scotland, where he built two monasteries. Tuda was made bishop in his place.39

Soon afterwards, a dreadful pestilence raged through England and Ireland, while Caledonia was saved, as the pious inhabitants believed, by the intercession of St. Columba.

The fusion of English Christians was completed in the age of Theodorus, archbishop of Canterbury (669 to 690), and Beda Venerabilis ( b. 673, d. 735), presbyter and monk of Wearmouth. About the same time Anglo-Saxon literature was born, and laid the foundation for the development of the national genius which ultimately broke loose from Rome.

Theodore was a native of Tarsus, where Paul was born, educated in Athens, and, of course, acquainted with Greek and Latin learning. He received his appointment and consecration to the primacy of England from Pope Vitalian. He arrived at Canterbury May 27, 669, visited the whole of England, established the Roman rule of Easter, and settled bishops in all the sees except London. He unjustly deposed bishop Wilfrid of York, who was equally devoted to Rome, but in his later years became involved in sacerdotal jealousies and strifes. He introduced order into the distracted church and some degree of education among the clergy. He was a man of autocratic temper, great executive ability, and, having been directly sent from Rome, he carried with him double authority. "He was the first archbishop," says Bede, "to whom the whole church of England submitted."  During his administration the first Anglo-Saxon mission to the mother-country of the Saxons and Friesians was attempted by Egbert, Victberet, and Willibrord (689 to 692). His chief work is a "Penitential" with minute directions for a moral and religious life, and punishments for drunkenness, licentiousness, and other prevalent vices.40

The Venerable Bede was the first native English scholar, the father of English theology and church history. He spent his humble and peaceful life in the acquisition and cultivation of ecclesiastical and secular learning, wrote Latin in prose and verse, and translated portions of the Bible into Anglo-Saxon. His chief work is his—the only reliable—Church History of old England. He guides us with a gentle hand and in truly Christian spirit, though colored by Roman views, from court to court, from monastery to monastery, and bishopric to bishopric, through the missionary labyrinth of the miniature kingdoms of his native island. He takes the Roman side in the controversies with the British churches.41

Before Bede cultivated Saxon prose, Caedmon (about 680), first a swine-herd, then a monk at Whitby, sung, as by inspiration, the wonders of creation and redemption, and became the father of Saxon (and Christian German) poetry. His poetry brought the Bible history home to the imagination of the Saxon people, and was a faint prophecy of the "Divina Comedia" and the "Paradise Lost."42  We have a remarkable parallel to this association of Bede and Caedmon in the association of Wiclif, the first translator of the whole Bible into English (1380), and the contemporary of Chaucer, the father of English poetry, both forerunners of the British Reformation, and sustaining a relation to Protestant England somewhat similar to the relation which Bede and Caedmon sustain to mediaeval Catholic England.

The conversion of England was nominal and ritual, rather than intellectual and moral. Education was confined to the clergy and monks, and consisted in the knowledge of the Decalogue, the Creed and the Pater Noster, a little Latin without any Greek or Hebrew. The Anglo-Saxon clergy were only less ignorant than the British. The ultimate triumph of the Roman church was due chiefly to her superior organization, her direct apostolic descent, and the prestige of the Roman empire. It made the Christianity of England independent of politics and court-intrigues, and kept it in close contact with the Christianity of the Continent. The advantages of this connection were greater than the dangers and evils of insular isolation. Among all the subjects of Teutonic tribes, the English became the most devoted to the Pope. They sent more pilgrims to Rome and more money into the papal treasury than any other nation. They invented the Peter’s Pence. At least thirty of their kings and queens, and an innumerable army of nobles ended their days in cloistral retreats. Nearly all of the public lands were deeded to churches and monasteries. But the exuberance of monasticism weakened the military and physical forces of the nation

Danish and the Norman conquests. The power and riches of the church secularized the clergy, and necessitated in due time a reformation. Wealth always tends to vice, and vice to decay. The Norman conquest did not change the ecclesiastical relations of England, but infused new blood and vigor into the Saxon race, which is all the better for its mixed character.

We add a list of the early archbishops and bishops of the four principal English sees, in the order of their foundation:43




















[Cedd in Essex












Wilfrid, consecrated 665, in possession
































Wilfrid again








Bosa again












 § 14. The Conversion of Ireland. St. Patrick and St. Bridget.




I. The writings of St. Patrick are printed in the Vitae Sanctorum of the Bollandists, sub March 17th; in Patricii Opuscula, ed. Warsaeus (Sir James Ware, Lond., 1656); in Migne’s Patrolog., Tom. LIII. 790–839, and with critical notes in Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, etc., Vol. II, Part II, (1878), pp. 296–323.

II. The Life of St. Patrick in the Acta Sanctorum, Mart., Tom. II. 517 sqq.

Tillemont: Mémoires, Tom. XVI. 452, 781.

Ussher: Brit. Eccl. Antiqu.

J. H. Todd: St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland. Dublin, 1864.

C. Joh. Greith (R.C.): Geschichte der altirischen Kirche und ihrer Verbindung mit Rom., Gallien und Alemannien, als Einleitung in die Geschichte des Stifts St. Gallen. Freiburg i. B. 1867.

Daniel de Vinné: History Of the Irish Primitive Church, together with the Life of St. Patrick. N. York, 1870

J. Francis Sherman (R.C.): Loca Patriciana: an Identification of Localities, chiefly in Leinster, visited by St. Patrick. Dublin, 1879.

F. E. Warren (Episc.): The Manuscript Irish Missal at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. London, 1879. Ritual of the Celtic Church. Oxf. 1881.

Comp. also the works of Todd, McLauchan, Ebrard, Killen, and Skene, quoted in § 7, and Forbes, Kalendars of Scottish Saints, p. 431.


The church-history of Ireland is peculiar. It began with an independent catholicity (or a sort of semi-Protestantism), and ended with Romanism, while other Western countries passed through the reverse order. Lying outside of the bounds of the Roman empire, and never invaded by Roman legions,44 that virgin island was Christianized without bloodshed and independently of Rome and of the canons of the oecumenical synods. The early Irish church differed from the Continental churches in minor points of polity and worship, and yet excelled them all during the sixth and seventh centuries in spiritual purity and missionary zeal. After the Norman conquest, it became closely allied to Rome. In the sixteenth century the light of the Reformation did not penetrate into the native population; but Queen Elizabeth and the Stuarts set up by force a Protestant state-religion in antagonism to the prevailing faith of the people. Hence, by the law of re-action, the Keltic portion of Ireland became more intensely Roman Catholic being filled with double hatred of England on the ground of difference of race and religion. This glaring anomaly of a Protestant state church in a Roman Catholic country has been removed at last after three centuries of oppression and misrule, by the Irish Church Disestablishment Act in 1869 under the ministry of Gladstone.

The early history of Ireland (Hibernia) is buried in obscurity. The ancient Hibernians were a mixed race, but prevailingly Keltic. They were ruled by petty tyrants, proud, rapacious and warlike, who kept the country in perpetual strife. They were devoted to their religion of Druidism. Their island, even before the introduction of Christianity, was called the Sacred Island. It was also called Scotia or Scotland down to the eleventh century.45  The Romans made no attempt at subjugation, as they did not succeed in establishing their authority in Caledonia.

The first traces of Irish Christianity are found at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century.

As Pelagius, the father of the famous heresy, which bears his name, was a Briton, so Coelestius, his chief ally and champion, was a Hibernian; but we do not know whether he was a Christian before be left Ireland. Mansuetus, first bishop of Toul, was an Irish Scot (a.d. 350). Pope Caelestine, in 431, ordained and sent Palladius, a Roman deacon, and probably a native Briton, "to the Scots believing in Christ," as their first bishop.46  This notice by Prosper of France implies the previous existence of Christianity in Ireland. But Palladius was so discouraged that he soon abandoned the field, with his assistants for North Britain, where he died among the Picts.47  For nearly two centuries after this date, we have no authentic record of papal intercourse with Ireland; and yet during that period it took its place among the Christian countries. It was converted by two humble individuals, who probably never saw Rome, St. Patrick, once a slave, and St. Bridget, the daughter of a slave-mother.48  The Roman tradition that St. Patrick was sent by Pope Caelestine is too late to have any claim upon our acceptance, and is set aside by the entire silence of St. Patrick himself in his genuine works. It arose from confounding Patrick with Palladius. The Roman mission of Palladius failed; the independent mission of Patrick succeeded. He is the true Apostle of Ireland, and has impressed his memory in indelible characters upon the Irish race at home and abroad.

St. Patrick or Patricius (died March 17, 465 or 493) was the son of a deacon, and grandson of a priest, as he confesses himself without an intimation of the unlawfulness of clerical marriages.49  He was in his youth carried captive into Ireland, with many others, and served his master six years as a shepherd. While tending his flock in the lonesome fields, the teachings of his childhood awakened to new life in his heart without any particular external agency. He escaped to France or Britain, was again enslaved for a short period, and had a remarkable dream, which decided his calling. He saw a man, Victoricius, who handed him innumerable letters from Ireland, begging him to come over and help them. He obeyed the divine monition, and devoted the remainder of his life to the conversion of Ireland (from a.d. 440 to 493).50

"I am," he says, "greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who never had the knowledge of God and worshipped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God."  He speaks of having baptized many thousands of men. Armagh seems to have been for some time the centre of his missionary operations, and is to this day the seat of the primacy of Ireland, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. He died in peace, and was buried in Downpatrick (or Gabhul), where he began his mission, gained his first converts and spent his declining years.51

His Roman Catholic biographers have surrounded his life with marvelous achievements, while some modern Protestant hypercritics have questioned even his existence, as there is no certain mention of his name before 634; unless it be "the Hymn of St. Sechnall (Secundinus) in praise of St. Patrick, which is assigned to 448. But if we accept his own writings, "there can be no reasonable doubt" (we say with a Presbyterian historian of Ireland) "that he preached the gospel in Hibernia in the fifth century; that he was a most zealous and efficient evangelist, and that he is eminently entitled to the honorable designation of the Apostle of Ireland."52

The Christianity of Patrick was substantially that of Gaul and old Britain, i.e. Catholic, orthodox, monastic, ascetic, but independent of the Pope, and differing from Rome in the age of Gregory I. in minor matters of polity and ritual. In his Confession he never mentions Rome or the Pope; he never appeals to tradition, and seems to recognize the Scriptures (including the Apocrypha) as the only authority in matters of faith. He quotes from the canonical Scriptures twenty-five times; three times from the Apocrypha. It has been conjectured that the failure and withdrawal of Palladius was due to Patrick, who had already monopolized this mission-field; but, according to the more probable chronology, the mission of Patrick began about nine years after that of Palladius. From the end of the seventh century, the two persons were confounded, and a part of the history of Palladius, especially his connection with Pope Caelestine, was transferred to Patrick.53

With St. Patrick there is inseparably connected the most renowned female saint of Ireland, St. Bridget (or Brigid, Brigida, Bride), who prepared his winding sheet and survived him many years. She died Feb. 1, 523 (or 525). She is "the Mary of Ireland," and gave her name to innumerable Irish daughters, churches, and convents. She is not to be confounded with her name-sake, the widow-saint of Sweden. Her life is surrounded even by a still thicker cloud of legendary fiction than that of St. Patrick, so that it is impossible to separate the facts from the accretions of a credulous posterity. She was an illegitimate child of a chieftain or bard, and a slave-mother, received holy orders, became deformed in answer to her own prayer, founded the famous nunnery of Kildare (i.e. the Church of the Oak),54 foretold the birth of Columba, and performed all sorts of signs and wonders.

Upon her tomb in Kildare arose the inextinguishable flame called "the Light of St. Bridget," which her nuns (like the Vestal Virgins of Rome) kept


"Through long ages of darkness and storm" (Moore).


Six lives of her were published by Colgan in his Trias Thaumaturgus, and five by the Bollandists in the Acta Sanctorum.


Critical Note on St. Patrick.


We have only one or two genuine documents from Patrick, both written in semi-barbarous (early Irish) Latin, but breathing an humble, devout and fervent missionary spirit without anything specifically Roman, viz. his autobiographical Confession (in 25 chapters), written shortly before his death (493?), and his Letter of remonstrance to Coroticus (or Ceredig), a British chieftain (nominally Christian), probably of Ceredigion or Cardigan, who had made a raid into Ireland, and sold several of Patrick’s converts into slavery (10 chapters). The Confession, as contained in the "Book of Armagh," is alleged to have been transcribed before a.d. 807 from Patrick’s original autograph, which was then partly illegible. There are four other MSS. of the eleventh century, with sundry additions towards the close, which seem to be independent copies of the same original. See Haddan & Stubbs, note on p. 296. The Epistle to Coroticus is much shorter, and not so generally accepted. Both documents were first printed in 1656, then in 1668 in the Acta Sanctorum, also in Migne’s Patrologia (Vol. 53), in Miss Cusack’s Life of St. Patrick, in the work of Ebrard (l.c. 482 sqq.), and in Haddan & Stubbs, Councils (Vol. II., P. II., 296 sqq.).

There is a difference of opinion about Patrick’s nationality, whether he was of Scotch, or British, or French extraction. He begins his Confession: "I, Patrick, a sinner, the rudest and the least of all the faithful, and the most contemptible with the multitude (Ego Patricius, peccator, rusticissimus et minimus omnium fidelium et contemptibilissimus apud plurimos, or, according to another reading, contemptibilis sum apud plurimos), had for my father Calpornus (or Calphurnius), a deacon (diaconum, or diaconem), the son of Potitus (al. Photius), a presbyter (filium quondam Potiti presbyteri), who lived in the village of Bannavem (or Banaven) of Tabernia; for he had a cottage in the neighborhood where I was captured. I was then about sixteen years old; but I was ignorant of the true God, and was led away into captivity to Hibernia."  Bannavem of Tabernia is, perhaps Banavie in Lochaber in Scotland (McLauchlan); others fix the place of his birth in Kilpatrick (i.e. the cell or church of Patrick), near Dunbarton on the Clyde (Ussher, Butler, Maclear); others, somewhere in Britain, and thus explain his epithet "Brito" or "Briton" (Joceline and Skene); still others seek it in Armoric Gaul, in Boulogne (from Bononia), and derive Brito from Brittany (Lanigan, Moore, Killen, De Vinné).

He does not state the instrumentality of his conversion. Being the son of a clergyman, he must have received some Christian instruction; but he neglected it till he was made to feel the power of religion in communion with God while in slavery. "After I arrived in Ireland," he says (ch. 6), "every day I fed cattle, and frequently during the day I prayed; more and more the love and fear of God burned, and my faith and my spirit were strengthened, so that in one day I said as many as a hundred prayers, and nearly as many in the night."  He represents his call and commission as coming directly from God through a vision, and alludes to no intervening ecclesiastical authority or episcopal consecration. In one of the oldest Irish MSS., the Book of Durrow, he is styled a presbyter. In the Epistle to Coroticus, he appears more churchly and invested with episcopal power and jurisdiction. It begins: "Patricius, peccator indoctus, Hiberione (or Hyberione) constitutus episcopus, certissime reor, a Deo accepi id quod sum: inter barbaras utique gentes proselytus et profuga, ob amorem Dei."  (So according to the text of Haddan & Stubbs, p. 314; somewhat different in Migne, Patrol. LIII. 814; and in Ebrard, p. 505.)  But the letter does not state where or by whom he was consecrated.

The "Book of Armagh "contains also an Irish hymn (the oldest monument of the Irish Keltic language), called S. Patricii Canticum Scotticum, which Patrick is said to have written when he was about to convert the chief monarch of the island (Laoghaire or Loegaire).55  The hymn is a prayer for the special aid of Almighty God for so important a work; it contains the principal doctrines of orthodox Christianity, with a dread of magical influences of aged women and blacksmiths, such as still prevails in some parts of Ireland, but without an invocation of Mary and the saints, such as we might expect from the Patrick of tradition and in a composition intended as a breast-plate or corselet against spiritual foes. The following is the principal portion:


"5. I bind to myself to-day,—

The Power of God to guide me,

The Might of God to uphold me,

The Wisdom of God to teach me,

The Eye of God to watch over me,

The Ear of God to hear me,

The Word of God to give me speech.

The Hand of God to protect me,

The Way of God to go before me,

The Shield of God to shelter me,

The Host of God to defend me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the temptations of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against every man who meditates injury to me.
    Whether far or near,
    With few or with many.


6. I have set around me all these powers,

Against every hostile savage power,

Directed against my body and my soul,

Against the incantations of false prophets,

Against the black laws of heathenism,

Against the false laws of heresy,

Against the deceits of idolatry,

Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,

Against all knowledge which blinds the soul of man.


7. Christ protect me to-day

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wound,

That I may receive abundant reward.


8. Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

Christ in the fort [i.e. at home],

Christ in the chariot-seat [travelling by land],

Christ in the poop [travelling by water].


9. Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

10. I bind to myself to-day

The strong power of an invocation of the Trinity,

The faith of the Trinity in Unity,

The Creator of [the elements].


11. Salvation is of the Lord,

Salvation is of the Lord,

Salvation is of Christ;

May thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us."


The fourth and last document which has been claimed as authentic and contemporary, is a Latin "Hymn in praise of St. Patrick" (Hymnus Sancti Patricii, Episcopi Scotorum) by St. Sechnall (Secundinus) which begins thus:


"Audite, omnes amantes Deum, sancta merita

Viri in Christo beati Patrici Episcopi:

Quomodo bonum ob actum simulatur angelis,

Perfectamque propter uitam aequatur Apostolis."


The poem is given in full by Haddan & Stubbs, 324–327, and assigned to "before a.d. 448 (?)," in which year Sechnall died. But how could he anticipate the work of Patrick, when his mission, according to the same writers, began only eight years earlier (440), and lasted till 493?  The hymn is first mentioned by Tyrechanus in the "Book of Armagh."

The next oldest document is the Irish hymn of St. Fiacc on St. Patrick, which is assigned to the latter part of the sixth century, (l.c. 356–361). The Senchus Mor is attributed to the age of St. Patrick; but it is a code of Irish laws, derived from Pagan times, and gradually modified by Christian ecclesiastics in favor of the church. The Canons attributed to St. Patrick are of later date (Haddan & Stubbs, 328 sqq.).

It is strange that St. Patrick is not mentioned by Bede in his Church History, although he often refers to Hibernia and its church, and is barely named as a presbyter in his Martyrology. He is also ignored by Columba and by the Roman Catholic writers, until his mediaeval biographers from the eighth to the twelfth century Romanized him, appealing not to his genuine Confession, but to spurious documents and vague traditions. He is said to have converted all the Irish chieftains and bards, even Ossian, the blind Homer of Scotland, who sang to him his long epic of Keltic heroes and battles. He founded 365 or, according to others, 700 churches, and consecrated as many bishops, and 3,000 priests (when the whole island had probably not more than two or three hundred thousand inhabitants; for even in the reign of Elizabeth it did not exceed 600,000).56  He changed the laws of the kingdom, healed the blind, raised nine persons from death to life, and expelled all the snakes and frogs from Ireland.57  His memory is celebrated March 17, and is a day of great public processions with the Irish Catholics in all parts of the world. His death is variously put in the year 455 (Tillemont), 464 or 465 (Butler, Killen), 493 (Ussher, Skene, Forbes, Haddan & Stubbs). Forbes (Kalendars, p. 433) and Skene (Keltic Scotland, II. 427 sqq.) come to the conclusion that the legend of St. Patrick in its present shape is not older than the ninth century, and dissolves into three personages: Sen-Patrick, whose day in the Kalendar is the 24th of August; Palladius, "qui est Patricius," to whom the mission in 431 properly belongs, and Patricius, whose day is the 17th of March, and who died in 493. "From the acts of these three saints, the subsequent legend of the great Apostle of Ireland was compiled, and an arbitrary chronology applied to it."


 § 15. The Irish Church after St. Patrick.


The Missionary Period.


The labors of St. Patrick were carried on by his pupils and by many British priests and monks who were driven from England by the Anglo-Saxon invasion in the 5th and 6th centuries.58  There was an intimate intercourse between Ireland and Wales, where British Christianity sought refuge, and between Ireland and Scotland, where the seed of Christianity, had been planted by Ninian and Kentigern. In less than a century, after St. Patrick’s death Ireland was covered with churches and convents for men and women. The monastic institutions were training schools of clergymen and missionaries, and workshops for transscribing sacred books. Prominent among these are the monasteries of Armagh, Banchor or Bangor (558), Clonard (500), Clonmacnois (528), Derry (555), Glendolough (618).

During the sixth and seventh centuries Ireland excelled all other countries in Christian piety, and acquired the name of "the Island of Saints."  We must understand this in a comparative sense, and remember that at that time England was just beginning to emerge from Anglo-Saxon heathenism, Germany was nearly all heathen, and the French kings—the eldest sons of the Church—were "monsters of iniquity."  Ireland itself was distracted by civil wars between the petty kings and chieftains; and the monks and clergy, even the women, marched to the conflict. Adamnan with difficulty secured a law exempting women from warfare, and it was not till the ninth century that the clergy in Ireland were exempted from "expeditions and hostings" (battles). The slave-trade was in full vigor between Ireland and England in the tenth century, with the port of Bristol for its centre. The Irish piety was largely based on childish superstition. But the missionary zeal of that country is nevertheless most praiseworthy. Ireland dreamed the dream of converting heathen Europe. Its apostles went forth to Scotland, North Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and North Italy. "They covered the land and seas of the West. Unwearied navigators, they landed on the most desert islands; they overflowed the Continent with their successive immigrations. They saw in incessant visions a world known and unknown to be conquered for Christ. The poem of the Pilgrimage of St. Brandan, that monkish Odyssey so celebrated in the middle ages, that popular prelude of the Divina Commedia, shows us the Irish monks in close contact with all the dreams and wonders of the Keltic ideal."59

The missionaries left Ireland usually in companies of twelve, with a thirteenth as their leader. This duodecimal economy was to represent Christ and the twelve apostles. The following are the most prominent of these missionary bands:60

St. Columba, with twelve brethren, to Hy in Scotland, a.d. 563.

St. Mohonna (or Macarius, Mauricius), sent by Columba, with twelve companions, to the Picts.

St. Columbanus, with twelve brethren, whose names are on record, to France and Germany, a.d. 612.

St. Kilian, with twelve, to Franconia and Würzburg, a.d. 680.

St. Eloquius, with twelve, to Belgium, a.d. 680.

St. Rudbert or Rupert, with twelve, to Bavaria, a.d. 700.

St. Willibrord (who studied twelve years in Ireland), with twelve, to Friesland, a.d. 692.

St. Forannan, with twelve, to the Belgian frontier, a.d. 970.

 It is remarkable that this missionary activity of the Irish Church is confined to the period of her independence of the Church of Rome. We hear no more of it after the Norman conquest.

The Irish Church during this missionary period of the sixth and seventh centuries had a peculiar character, which we learn chiefly from two documents of the eighth century, namely, the Catalogue of the Saints of Ireland,61 and the Litany of Angus the Culdee.62

The Catalogue distinguishes three periods and three orders of saints: secular, monastic, and eremitical.

The saints of the time of St. Patrick were all bishops full of the Holy Ghost, three hundred and fifty in number, founders of churches; they had one head, Christ, and one leader, Patrick, observed one mass and one tonsure from ear to ear, and kept Easter on the fourteenth moon after the vernal equinox; they excluded neither laymen nor women; because, founded on the Rock of Christ, they feared not the blast of temptation. They sprung from the Romans, Franks, Britons and Scots. This order of saints continued for four reigns, from about a.d. 440 till 543.

The second order, likewise of four reigns, till a.d. 599, was of Catholic Presbyters, three hundred in number, with few bishops; they had one head, Christ, one Easter, one tonsure, as before; but different and different rules, and they refused the services of women, separating them from the monasteries.

The third order of saints consisted of one hundred holy presbyters and a few bishops, living in desert places on herbs and water and the alms of the faithful; they had different tonsures and Easters, some celebrating the resurrection on the 14th, some on the 16th moon; they continued through four reigns till 665.

The first period may be called episcopal, though in a rather non-episcopal or undiocesan sense. Angus, in his Litany, invokes "seven times fifty [350] holy cleric bishops," whom "the saint [Patrick] ordained," and "three hundred pure presbyters, upon whom he conferred orders."  In Nennius the number of presbyters is increased to three thousand, and in the tripartite Life of Patrick to five thousand. These bishops, even if we greatly reduce the number as we must, had no higher rank than the ancient chorepiscopi or country-bishops in the Eastern Church, of whom there were once in Asia Minor alone upwards of four hundred. Angus the Culdee gives us even one hundred and fifty-three groups of seven bishops, each group serving in the same church. Patrick, regarding himself as the chief bishop of the whole Irish people, planted a church wherever he made a few converts and could obtain a grant from the chief of a clan, and placed a bishop ordained by himself over it. "It was a congregational and tribal episcopacy, united by a federal rather than a territorial tie under regular jurisdiction. During Patrick’s life, he no doubt exercised a superintendence over the whole; but we do not see any trace of the metropolitan jurisdiction of the church of Armagh over the rest."63

The second period was monastic and missionary. All the presbyters and deacons were monks. Monastic life was congenial to the soil, and had its antecedents in the brotherhoods and sisterhoods of the Druids.64  It was imported into Ireland probably from France, either directly through Patrick, or from the monastery of St. Ninian at Galloway, who himself derives it from St. Martin of Tours.65  Prominent among these presbyter-monks are the twelve apostles of Ireland headed by St. Columba, who carried Christianity to Scotland in 563, and the twelve companions of Columbanus, who departed from Ireland to the Continent about 612. The most famous monastery was that of Bennchar, or Bangor, founded a.d. 558 by Comgall in the county of Down, on the south side of Belfast Lough. Comgall had four thousand monks under his care.66  From Bangor proceeded Columbanus and other evangelists.

By a primitive Keltic monastery we must not understand an elaborate stone structure, but a rude village of wooden huts or bothies (botha) on a river, with a church (ecclais), a common eating-hall, a mill, a hospice, the whole surrounded by a wall of earth or stone. The senior monks gave themselves entirely to devotion and the transcribing of the Scriptures. The younger were occupied in the field and in mechanical labor, or the training of the rising generation. These monastic communities formed a federal union, with Christ as their invisible head. They were training schools of the clergy. They attracted converts from the surrounding heathen population, and offered them a refuge from danger and violence. They were resorted to by English noblemen, who, according to Bede, were hospitably received, furnished with books, and instructed. Some Irish clergymen could read the Greek Testament at a time when Pope Gregory J. was ignorant of Greek. There are traces of an original Latin version of the Scriptures differing from the Itala and Vulgate, especially in Patrick’s writings.67  But "there is no trace anywhere of any Keltic version of the Bible or any part of it. St. Chrysostom’s words have been misunderstood to support such a supposition, but without ground."68  If there had been such a translation, it would have been of little use, as the people could not read it, and depended for their scanty knowledge of the word of God on the public lessons in the church.

The "Book of Armagh," compiled by Ferdomnach, a scribe or learned monk of Armagh, in 807, gives us some idea of the literary state of the Irish Church at that time.69  It contains the oldest extant memoirs of St. Patrick, the Confession of St. Patrick, the Preface of Jerome to the New Testament, the Gospels, Epistles, Apocalypse and Acts, with some prefaces chiefly taken from the works of Pelagius, and the Life of St. Martin of Tours by Sulpicius Severus, with a short litany on behalf of the writer.

In the ninth century John Scotus Erigena, who died in France, 874, startled the Church with his rare, but eccentric, genius and pantheistic speculations. He had that power of quick repartee for which Irishmen are distinguished to this day. When asked by Charles the Bald at the dinner-table, what was the difference between a Scot and a Sot (quid distat inter Scottum et Sottum?), John replied: "Nothing at all but the table, please your Majesty."


 § 16. Subjection of Ireland to English and Roman Rule.


The success of the Roman mission of Augustin among the Anglo-Saxons encouraged attempts to bring the Irish Church under the papal jurisdiction and to force upon it the ritual observances of Rome. England owes a good deal of her Christianity to independent Irish and Scotch missionaries from Bangor and Iona; but Ireland (as well as Germany) owes her Romanism, in great measure, to England. Pope Honorius (who was afterwards condemned by the sixth oecumenical council for holding the Monothelite heresy) addressed to the Irish clergy in 629 an exhortation—not, however, in the tone of authoritative dictation, but of superior wisdom and experience—to conform to the Roman mode of keeping Easter. This is the first known papal encyclical addressed to that country. A Synod was held at Magh-Lene, and a deputation sent to the Pope (and the three Eastern patriarchs) to ascertain the foreign usages on Easter. The deputation was treated with distinguished consideration in Rome, and, after three years’ absence, reported in favor of the Roman cycle, which indeed rested on a better system of calculation. It was accordingly adopted in the South of Ireland, under the influence of the learned Irish ecclesiastic Cummian, who devoted a whole year to the study of the controversy. A few years afterwards Thomian, archbishop and abbot of Armagh (from 623 to 661), and the best Irish scholar of his age, introduced, after correspondence with the Pope, the Roman custom in the North, and thereby promoted his authority in opposition to the power of the abbot of Iona, which extended over a portion of Ireland, and strongly favored the old custom. But at last Abbot Adamnan likewise yielded to the Roman practice before his death (704).

The Norman conquest under William I., with the sanction of the Pope, united the Irish Church still more closely to Rome (1066). Gregory VII., in an encyclical letter to the king, clergy and laity of Ireland (1084)., boldly, challenged their obedience to the Vicar of the blessed Peter, and invited them to appeal to him in all matters requiring arbitration.

The archbishops of Canterbury, Lanfranc and Anselm, claimed and exercised a sort of supervision over the three most important sea-ports, Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick, on the ground that the Norman settlers applied to them for bishops and priests. Their influence was exerted in favor of conformity to Rome. Clerical celibacy was more generally introduced, uniformity in ritual established, and the large number of bishoprics reduced to twenty-three under two archbishops, Armagh for the North and Cashel for the South; while the bishop of Dublin was permitted to remain under the care of the archbishop of Canterbury. This reorganization of the polity in the interest of the aggrandizement of the hierarchy was effected about 1112 at the synod of Rathbreasail, which was attended by 58 bishops, 317 priests, a large number of monks, and King Murtogh O’Brien with his nobles.70  

At last Ireland was invaded and conquered by England under Henry II., with the effectual aid of Pope Adrian IV.—the only Englishman that sat on the papal throne. In a curious bull of 1155, he justified and encouraged the intended invasion in the interest of the papacy, and sent the king the ring of investiture as Lord of Ireland calling upon that licentious monarch to "extirpate the nurseries of vice" in Ireland, to "enlarge the borders of the (Roman) Church," and to secure to St. Peter from each house "the annual pension of one penny" (equal in value in the twelfth century to at least two or three shillings of our present currency).71  Henry carried out his design in 1171, and with a strong military force easily subdued the whole Irish nation, weakened and distracted by civil wars, to British rule, which has been maintained ever since. A Synod at Armagh regarded the subjugation as a righteous judgment for the sins of the people, and especially for the slave trade. The bishops were the first to acknowledge Henry, hoping to derive benefit from a foreign régime, which freed them from petty tyrants at home. A Synod of Cashel in 1172, among other regulations, ordered that all offices of the church should hereafter in all parts of Ireland be conformed to the observances of the Church of England. A papal legate henceforward was constantly residing in Ireland. Pope Alexander III. was extremely gratified with this extension of his dominion, and in September, 1172, in the same tone of sanctimonious arrogance) issued a brief confirming the bull of Adrian, and expressing a hope that "the barbarous nation" would attain under the government of Henry "to some decency of manners;" he also wrote three epistles—one to Henry II., one to the kings and nobles of Ireland, and one to its hierarchy—enjoining obedience of Ireland to England, and of both to the see of St. Peter.72


 § 17. The Conversion of Scotland. St. Ninian and St. Kentigern.


See the works of Skene (the second vol.), Reeves, McLauchan, Ebrard, Cunningham, mentioned in § 7.

Also Dr. Reeves: The Culdees of the British Islands as they appear in History, 1864.

Dr. Jos. Robertson: Statuta Ecclesiae Scoticanae, 1866, 2 vols.

Bishop Forbes: The Kalendars of Scottish Saints, Edinb., 1872; Lives of S. Ninian and S. Kentigern, compiled in the 12th century, Edinb., 1874.

Haddan & Stubbs: Councils and Ecclesiast. Docum., Vol. II, Part I. (Oxf., 1873), pp. 103 sqq.


Scotland (Scotia) before the tenth century was comprised in the general appellation of Britain (Britannia), as distinct from Ireland (Hibernia). It was known to the Romans as Caledonia,73 to the Kelts as Alban; but the name of Scotia was exclusively appropriated to Ireland till the tenth century. The independent history of Scotland begins with the establishment of the Scottish monarchy in the ninth century. At first it was a purely Keltic kingdom; but in the course of time the Saxon race and feudal institutions spread over the country, and the Keltic tribes retreated to the mountains and western islands. The names of Scot and Scotch passed over to the English-speaking people and their language; while the Keltic language, formerly known as Scotch, became known as Irish.

The Keltic history of Scotland is full of fable, and a battlefield of Romanists and Protestants, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, who have claimed it for their respective systems of doctrine and church-polity. It must be disentangled from the sectarian issues of the Culdean controversy. The historian is neither a polemic nor an apologist, and should aim at nothing but the truth.

Tertullian says, that certain places in Britain which the Romans could not conquer were made subject to Christ. It is quite likely that the first knowledge of Christianity reached the Scots and Picts from England; but the constant wars between them and the Britons and the decline of the Roman power were unfavorable to any mission work.

The mission of Palladius to Scotland by Pope Caelestius is as vague and uncertain as his mission to Ireland by the same Pope, and is strongly mixed up with the mission of Patrick. An Irish colony from the North-Eastern part of Ulster, which had been Christianized by Patrick, settled in Scotland towards the close of the fifth century, and continued to spread along the coasts of Argyle and as far as the islands of Mull and Iona, until its progress was checked by the Northern Picts.

The first distinct fact in the church history of Scotland is the apostolate of St. Ninian at the close of the fourth century, during the reign of Theodosius in the East. We have little reliable information of him. The son of a British king, he devoted himself early to the ministry of Christ. He spent some time in Rome, where the Pope commissioned him to the apostolate among the heathen in Caledonia, and in Gaul with Bishop Martin of Tours, who deserves special praise for his protest against the capital punishment of heretics in the case of the Priscillianists. He began the evangelization of the Southern Picts in the Eastern districts of modern Scotland. He built a white stone church called "Candida Casa," at Whittern (Quhithern, Witerna) in Galloway, on the South-Westem border of Scotland by the sea side, and dedicated it to the memory of St. Martin, who had died in that year (397).74  This was the beginning of "the Great Monastery" ("Magnum Monasterium") or monastery of Rosnat, which exerted a civilizing and humanizing influence on the surrounding country, and annually attracted pilgrims from England and Scotland to the shrine of St. Ninian. His life has been romanized and embellished with legends. He made a newborn infant indicate its true father, and vindicate the innocence of a presbyter who had been charged by the mother with the crime of violation; he caused leeks and herbs to grow in the garden before their season; he subdued with his staff the winds and the waves of the sea; and even his relics cured the sick, cleansed the lepers, and terrified the wicked, "by all which things," says Ailred, his biographer, "the faith of believers is confirmed to the praise and glory of Christ."

St. Kentigern (d. Nov. 13, 603), also called St. Mungo (the gracious one),75 the first bishop of Glasgow, labored in the sixth century for the conversion of the people in Cumberland, Wales, and on the Clyde, and re-converted the Picts, who had apostatized from the faith. He was the grandson of a heathen king in Cumbria or Strathclyde, the son of a Christian, though unbaptized mother. He founded a college of Culdees or secular monks, and several churches. He wore a hair shirt and garment of goat-skin, lived on bread and vegetables, slept on a rocky couch and a stony pillow, like Jacob, rose in the night to sing psalms, recited in the morning the whole psalter in a cold stream, retired to desert places during Lent, living on roots, was con-crucified with Christ on Good Friday, watched before the tomb, and spent Easter in hilarity and joy. He converted more by his silence than his speech, caused a wolf and a stag to drag the plough, raised grain from a field sown with sand, kept the rain from wetting his garments, and performed other marvels which prove the faith or superstition of his biographers in the twelfth century. Jocelyn relates also, that Kentigern went seven times to Rome, and received sundry privileges and copies of the Bible from the Pope. There is, however, no trace of such visits in the works of Gregory I., who was more interested in the Saxon mission than the Scotch. Kentigern first established his episcopal chair in Holdelm (now Hoddam), afterwards in Glasghu (Glasgow). He met St. Columba, and exchanged with him his pastoral stave.76  He attained to the age of one hundred and eighty-five years, and died between a.d. 601 and 612 (probably 603).77  He is buried in the crypt of the cathedral of St. Mungo in Glasgow, the best preserved of mediaeval cathedrals in Scotland.

St. Cuthbert (d. March 20, 687), whose life has been written by Bede, prior of the famous monastery of Mailros (Melrose), afterwards bishop of Lindisfarne, and last a hermit, is another legendary saint of Scotland, and a number of churches are traced to him or bear his name.78


 § 18. St. Columba and the Monastery of Iona.


John Jamieson (D. D.): An Historical Account of the Ancient Culdees of Iona, and of their Settlements in Scotland, England, and Ireland. Edinb., 1811 (p. 417).

Montalembert: La Moines d’ Occident, Vol. III., pp. 99–332 (Paris, 1868).

The Duke of Argyll: Iona. Second ed., London, 1871 (149 p

*Adamnan: Life of St. Columba, Founder of Hy, ed. by William Reeves (Canon of Armagh), Edinburgh, 1874. (Originally printed for the Irish Archaeolog. Society and for the Bannatyne Club, Dublin, 1856).

Skene: Celtic Scotland, II. 52 sqq. (Edinb., 1877). Comp. the Lit. in § 7.


Saint Columba or Columbcille, (died June 9, 597) is the real apostle of Scotland. He is better known to us than Ninian and Kentigern. The account of Adamnan (624–704), the ninth abbot of Hy, was written a century after Columba’s death from authentic records and oral traditions, although it is a panegyric rather than a history. Later biographers have romanized him like St. Patrick. He was descended from one of the reigning families of Ireland and British Dalriada, and was born at, Gartan in the county of Donegal about a.d. 521. He received in baptism the symbolical name Colum, or in Latin Columba (Dove, as the symbol of the Holy Ghost), to which was afterwards added cille (or kill, i.e. "of the church," or "the dove of the cells," on account of his frequent attendance at public worship, or, more probably, for his being the founder of many churches.79  He entered the monastic seminary of Clonard, founded by St. Finnian, and afterwards another monastery near Dublin, and was ordained a priest. He planted the church at Derry in 545, the monastery of Darrow in 553, and other churches. He seems to have fondly clung all his life to his native Ireland, and to the convent of Derry. In one of his elegies, which were probably retouched by the patriotism of some later Irish bard, he sings:


"Were all the tributes of Scotia [i.e. Ireland] mine,

From its midland to its borders,

I would give all for one little cell

In my beautiful Derry.

For its peace and for its purity,

For the white angels that go

In crowds from one end to the other,

I love my beautiful Derry.

For its quietness and purity,

For heaven’s angels that come and go

Under every leaf of the oaks,

I love my beautiful Derry.


My Derry, my fair oak grove,

My dear little cell and dwelling,

O God, in the heavens above I

Let him who profanes it be cursed.

Beloved are Durrow and Derry,

Beloved is Raphoe the pure,

Beloved the fertile Drumhome,

Beloved are Sords and Kells!

But sweeter and fairer to me

The salt sea where the sea-gulls cry

When I come to Derry from far,

It is sweeter and dearer to me —
Sweeter to me."


In 563, the forty-second year of his age, Columba prompted by a passion for travelling and a zeal for the spread of Christianity,81 sailed with twelve fellow-apostles to the West of Scotland, possibly on invitation of the provincial king, to whom he was related by blood. He was presented with the island of Hy, commonly called Iona,82 near the Western coast of Scotland about fifty miles West from Oban. It is an inhospitable island, three miles and a half long and a mile and a half broad, partly cultivated, partly covered with hill pasture, retired dells, morass and rocks, now in possession of the Duke of Argyll, numbering about three hundred Protestant inhabitants, an Established Presbyterian Church, and a Free Church. The neighboring island of Staffa, though smaller and uninhabited, is more interesting to the ordinary tourist, and its Fingal’s Cave is one of the most wonderful specimens of the architectural skill of nature; it looks like a Gothic cathedral, 66 feet high, 42 feet broad, and 227 feet long, consisting of majestic basalt columns, an arched roof, and an open portal towards the ocean, which dashes in and out in a constant succession of waves, sounding solemn anthems in this unique temple of nature. Columba and his fellow-monks must have passed it on their missionary wanderings; but they were too much taken up with heaven to look upon the wonders of the earth, and the cave remained comparatively unknown to the world till 1772. Those islands wore the same aspect in the sixth century as now, with the exception of the woods, which have disappeared. Walter Scott (in the "Lord of the Isles") has thrown the charm of his poetry over the Hebridean archipelago, from which proceeded the Christianization of Scotland.83

By the labors of Columba and his successors, Iona has become one of the most venerable and interesting spots in the history of Christian missions. It was a light-house in the darkness of heathenism. We can form no adequate conception of the self-denying zeal of those heroic missionaries of the extreme North, who, in a forbidding climate and exposed to robbers and wild beasts, devoted their lives to the conversion of savages. Columba and his friends left no monuments of stone and wood; nothing is shown but the spot on the South of the island where he landed, and the empty stone coffin where his body was laid together with that of his servant; his bones were removed afterwards to Dunkeld. The old convent was destroyed and the monks were killed by the wild Danes and Norsemen in the tenth century. The remaining ruins of Iona—a cathedral, a chapel, a nunnery, a graveyard with the tombstones of a number of Scottish and Norwegian and Irish kings, and three remarkable carved crosses, which were left of three hundred and sixty that (according to a vague tradition) were thrown into the sea by the iconoclastic zeal of the Reformation—are all of the Roman Catholic period which succeeded the original Keltic Christianity, and which lived on its fame. During the middle ages Iona was a sort of Jerusalem of the North, where pilgrims loved to worship, and kings and noblemen desired to be buried. When the celebrated Dr. Johnson, in his Tour to the Hebrides, approached Iona, he felt his piety grow warmer. No friend of missions can visit that lonely spot, shrouded in almost perpetual fog, without catching new inspiration and hope for the ultimate triumph of the gospel over all obstacles.84

The arrival of Columba at Iona was the beginning of the Keltic church in Scotland. The island was at that time on the confines of the Pictic and Scotic jurisdiction, and formed a convenient base for missionary labors among the Scots, who were already Christian in name, but needed confirmation, and among the Picts, who were still pagan, and had their name from painting their bodies and fighting naked. Columba directed his zeal first to the Picts; he visited King Brude in his fortress, and won his esteem and co-operation in planting Christianity among his people. "He converted them by example as well as by word" (Bede). He founded a large number of churches and monasteries in Ireland and Scotland directly or through his disciples.85  He was involved in the wars so frequent in those days, when even women were required to aid in battle, and he availed himself of military force for the overthrow of paganism. He used excommunication very freely, and once pursued a plunderer with maledictions into the sea until the water reached to his knees. But these rough usages did not interfere with the veneration for his name. He was only a fair type of his countrymen. "He had," says Montalembert, "the vagabond inclination, the ardent, agitated, even quarrelsome character of the race."  He had the "perfervidum ingenium Scotorum."  He was manly, tall and handsome, incessantly active, and had a sonorous and far-reaching voice, rolling forth the Psalms of David, every syllable distinctly uttered. He could discern the signs of the weather. Adamnan ascribes to him an angelic countenance, a prophetic fore-knowledge and miracles as great as those performed by Christ, such as changing water into wine for the celebration of the eucharist, when no wine could be obtained, changing bitter fruit into sweet, drawing water from a rock, calming the storm at sea, and curing many diseases. His biography instead of giving solid facts, teems with fabulous legends, which are told with childlike credulity. O’Donnell’s biography goes still further. Even the pastoral staff of Columba, left accidentally upon the shore of Iona, was transported across the sea by his prayers to meet its disconsolate owner when he landed somewhere in Ireland.86

Columba died beside the altar in the church while engaged in his midnight devotions. Several poems are ascribed to him—one in praise of the natural beauties of his chosen island, and a monastic rule similar to that of St. Benedict; but the "regula ac praecepta" of Columba, of which Wilfrid spoke at the synod of Whitby, probably mean discipline or observance rather than a written rule.87

The church establishment of Columba at Iona belongs to the second or monastic period of the Irish church, of which it formed an integral part. It consisted of one hundred and fifty persons under the monastic rule. At the head of it stood a presbyter-abbot, who ruled over the whole province, and even the bishops, although the episcopal function of ordination was recognized.88  The monks were a family of brethren living in common. They were divided into three classes: the seniors, who attended to the religious services, instruction, and the transcribing of the Scriptures; the middle-aged, who were the working brethren, devoted to agriculture, the tending of the cattle, and domestic labor; and the youth, who were alumni under instruction. The dress consisted of a white tunica or under garment, and a camilla or outer garment and hood made of wool. Their food was bread, milk, eggs, fish, and on Sundays and festivals mutton or beef. The doctrinal views and ecclesiastical customs as to the observance of Easter and the tonsure were the same as among the Britons and the Irish in distinction from the Roman system introduced by Augustin among the Saxons.89

The monastery of Iona, says Bede, held for a long time the pre-eminence over the monasteries and churches of the Picts and Northern Scots. Columba’s successors, he adds, were distinguished for their continency, their love of God, and strict attention to their rules of discipline, although they followed "uncertain cycles in their computation of the great festival (Easter), because they were so far away from the rest of the world, and had none to supply them with the synodical decrees on the paschal observance; wherefore they only practised such works of piety and chastity as they could learn from the prophetical, evangelical, and apostolical writings. This manner of keeping Easter continued among them for a hundred and fifty years, till the year of our Lord’s incarnation 715."90

Adamnan (d. 704), the ninth successor of Columba, in consequence of a visit to the Saxons, conformed his observance of Easter to the Roman Church; but his brethren refused to follow him in this change. After his death, the community of Iona became divided on the Easter question, until the Columban monks, who adhered to the old custom, were by royal command expelled (715). With this expulsion terminates the primacy of Iona in the kingdom of the Picts.

The monastic church was broken up or subordinated to the hierarchy of the secular clergy.


 § 19. The Culdees.


After the expulsion of the Columban monks from the kingdom of the Picts in the eighth century, the term Culdee or Ceile De, or Kaledei, first appears in history, and has given rise to much controversy and untenable theories.91  It is of doubtful origin, but probably means servants or worshippers of God.92  it was applied to anchorites, who, in entire seclusion from society, sought the perfection of sanctity. They succeeded the Columban monks. They afterwards associated themselves into communities of hermits, and were finally brought under canonical rule along with the secular clergy, until at length the name of Culdee became almost synonymous with that of secular canon.

The term Culdee has been improperly applied to the whole Keltic church, and a superior purity has been claimed for it.

There is no doubt that the Columban or the Keltic church of Scotland, as well as the early Irish and the early British churches, differed in many points from the mediaeval and modern church of Rome, and represent a simpler and yet a very active missionary type of Christianity.

The leading peculiarities of the ancient Keltic church, as distinct from the Roman, are:

1. Independence of the Pope. Iona was its Rome, and the Abbot of Iona, and afterwards of Dunkeld, though a mere Presbyter, ruled all Scotland.

2. Monasticism ruling supreme, but mixed with secular life, and not bound by vows of celibacy; while in the Roman church the monastic system was subordinated to the hierarchy of the secular clergy.

3. Bishops without dioceses and jurisdiction and succession.

4. Celebration of the time of Easter.

5. Form of the tonsure.

It has also been asserted, that the Kelts or Culdees were opposed to auricular confession, the worship of saints, and images, purgatory, transubstantiation, the seven sacraments, and that for this reason they were the forerunners of Protestantism.

But this inference is not warranted. Ignorance is one thing, and rejection of an error from superior knowledge is quite another thing. The difference is one of form rather than of spirit. Owing to its distance and isolation from the Continent, the Keltic church, while superior to the churches in Gaul and Italy—at least during the sixth and seventh centuries—in missionary zeal and success, was left behind them in other things, and adhered to a previous stage of development in truth and error. But the general character and tendency of both during that period were essentially different from the genius of Protestant Christianity. We find among the Kelts the same or even greater love for monasticism and asceticism the same superstitious belief in incredible miracles, the same veneration for relics (as the bones of Columba and Aidan, which for centuries were carried from place to place), the same scrupulous and narrow zeal for outward forms and ceremonies (as the observance of the mere time of Easter, and the mode of monastic tonsure), with the only difference that the Keltic church adhered to an older and more defective calendar, and to the semi-circular instead of the circular tonsure. There is not the least evidence that the Keltic church had a higher conception of Christian freedom, or of any positive distinctive principle of Protestantism, such as the absolute supremacy of the Bible in opposition to tradition, or justification by faith without works, or the universal priesthood of all believers.93

Considering, then, that the peculiarities of the Keltic church arose simply from its isolation of the main current of Christian history, the ultimate triumph of Rome, with all its incidental evils, was upon the whole a progress in the onward direction. Moreover, the Culdees degenerated into a state of indolence and stagnation during the darkness of the ninth and tenth centuries, and the Danish invasion, with its devastating and disorganizing influences. We still find them in the eleventh century, and frequently at war with the Roman clergy about landed property, tithes and other matters of self-interest, but not on matters of doctrine, or Christian life. The old Culdee convents of St. Andrews Dunkeld, Dunblane and Brechin were turned into the bishop’s chapter with the right of electing the bishop. Married Culdees were gradually supplanted by Canons-Regular. They lingered longest in Brechin, but disappeared in the thirteenth century. The decline of the Culdees was the opportunity of Rome. The Saxon priests and monks, connected with the more civilized countries, were very active and aggressive, building cathedrals, monasteries, hospitals, and getting possession of the land.


 § 20. Extinction of the Keltic Church, and Triumph of Rome under King David I.


The turning-point in the history of the Scotch church is the reign of the devout Saxon queen St. Margaret, one of the best queens of Scotland (1070–1093). She exerted unbounded influence over her illiterate husband, Malcolm III., and her sons. She was very benevolent, self-denying, well versed in the Scriptures, zealous in reforming abuses, and given to excessive fasting, which undermined her constitution and hastened her death. "ln St. Margaret we have an embodiment of the spirit of her age. What ostentatious humility, what almsgiving, what prayers!  What piety, had it only been freed from the taint of superstition!  The Culdees were listless and lazy, while she was unwearied in doing good. The Culdees met her in disputation, but, being ignorant, they were foiled. Death could not contend with life. The Indian disappears before the advance of the white man. The Keltic Culdee disappeared before the footsteps of the Saxon priest."94

The change was effected by the same policy as that of the Norman kings towards Ireland. The church was placed upon a territorial in the place of a tribal basis, and a parochial system and a diocesan episcopacy was substituted for the old tribal churches with their monastic jurisdiction and functional episcopacy. Moreover the great religious orders of the Roman Church were introduced and founded great monasteries as centres of counter-influence. And lastly, the Culdees were converted from secular into regular Canons and thus absorbed into the Roman system. When Turgot was appointed bishop of St. Andrews, a.d. 1107 "the whole rights of the Keledei over the whole kingdom of Scotland passed to the bishopric of St. Andrews."

From the time of Queen Margaret a stream of Saxons and Normans poured into Scotland, not as conquerors but as settlers, and acquired rapidly, sometimes by royal grant, sometimes by marriage, the most fertile districts from the Tweed to the Pentland Firth. From these settlers almost every noble family of Scotland traces its descent. They brought with them English civilization and religion.

The sons and successors of Margaret enriched the church by magnificent endowments. Alexander I. founded the bishoprics of Moray and Dunkeld. His younger brother, David I., the sixth son of Malcolm III., who married Maud, a grand-niece of William the Conqueror (1110) and ruled Scotland from 1124 to 1153, founded the bishoprics of Ross, Aberdeen, Caithness, and Brechin, and several monasteries and religious houses. The nobility followed his example of liberality to the church and the hierarchy so that in the course of a few centuries one half of the national wealth passed into the hands of the clergy, who were at the same time in possession of all the learning.

In the latter part of David’s reign an active crusade commenced against the Culdee establishments from St. Andrews to Iona, until the very name gradually disappeared; the last mention being of the year 1332, when the usual formula of their exclusion in the election of a bishop was repeated.

 Thus the old Keltic Church came to an end, leaving no vestiges behind it, save here and there the roofless walls of what had been a church, and the numerous old burying-grounds to the use of which the people still cling with tenacity, and where occasionally an ancient Keltic cross tells of its former state. All else has disappeared; and the only records we have of their history are the names of the saints by whom they were founded preserved in old calendars, the fountains near the old churches bearing their name, the village fairs of immemorial antiquity held on their day, and here and there a few lay families holding a small portion of land, as hereditary custodiers of the pastoral staff, or other relic of the reputed founder of the church, with some small remains of its jurisdiction."95





General Literature.


I. Germany Before Christianity.

Tacitus: Germania (cap. 2, 9, 11, 27, 39–45); Annal. (XIII. 57); Hist. IV. 64).

Jac. Grimm: Deutsche, Mythologie. Göttingen, 2nd ed. 1854, 2 vols.

A. F. Ozanam: Les Germains avant le christianisme. Par. 1847.

K. Simrock. Deutsche Mythologie. Bonn, 2nd ed. 1864.

A. Planck: Die Götter und der Gottesglaube der Deutschen. In "Jahrb. für Deutsche Theol.," 1866, No. 1.


II. The Christianization Of Germany.

F. W. Rettberg: Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands. Göttingen, 1846–48. 2 vols.

C. J. Hefele (R.C.): Geschichte der Einführung des Christenthums im südwestl. Deutschland. Tübingen 1837.

H. Rückert: Culturgeschichte des deutschen Volkes in der Zeit des Uebergangs aus dem Heidenthum. Leipz. 1853, 2 Vols.

W. Krafft: Kirchengeschichte der German. Völker. Berlin 1854. (first vol.)

Hiemer (R.C.): Einführung des Christenthums in Deutschen Landen. Schaffhausen 1857 sqq. 4 vols.

Count de Montalembert (R.C.): The Monks of the West from St. Benedict to St. Bernard. Edinb. and Lond. 1861 sqq. 7 vols.

I. Friedrich (R.C., Since 1870 Old Cath.): Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands. Regensb. 1866, 1869, 2 vols.

Charles Merivale: Conversion of the West. The Continental Teutons. London 1878. (Popular).

G. Körber: Die Ausbreitung des Christenthums im südlichen Baden. Heidelb. 1878.

R. Cruel: Geschichte der deutschen Predigt im Mittelalter. Detmold 1879. (Chs. I. and II.)


 § 21. Arian Christianity among the Goths and other German Tribes.


I. Editions of the remains of the Gothic Bible Version of Wulfila: by H. C. von der Gabelenz and J. Loebe, Leipz. 1836–46; Massmann, 1855–57; E. Bernhardt, 1875 (with the Greek text and notes); and Stamm, 7th ed. 1878, and in fac-simile by Uppström, 1854–1868. See also Ulphilae Opera, and Schaff, Compan. to Gr. Test., p. 150.

Ulphilae Opera (Versio Bibliorum Gothica), in Migne’s Patrolog., Tom. XVIII. pp. 462–1559 (with a Gothic glossary).

II. G. Waitz: Ueber das Leben und die Lehre des Ulfila. Hanover 1840.

W. Bessel: Das Leben des Ulfilas und die Bekehrung der Gothen zum Christenthum. Götting. 1860.

W. Krafft: l.c. I. 213–326; and De Fontibus Ulfilae Arianismi. 1860.

A. Helfferich: Der west-gothische Arianismus und die spanische Ketzergeschichte. Berlin 1860.


We now proceed to the conversion of the Continental Teutons, especially those of France and Germany.

The first wholesale conversions of the Germanic or Teutonic race to the Christian religion took place among the Goths in the time when Arianism was at the height of power in the East Roman empire. The chief agents were clerical and other captives of war whom the Goths in their raids carried with them from the provinces of the Roman empire and whom they learned to admire and love for their virtue and supposed miraculous power. Constantine the Great entered into friendly relations with them, and is reported by Eusebius and Socrates to have subjected them to the cross of Christ. It is certain that some ecclesiastical organization was effected at that time. Theophilus, a bishop of the Goths, is mentioned among the fathers of the Council of Nicaea, 325.

The real apostle of the Goths is Ulifilas,96 who was consecrated bishop in 348 at Constantinople, and died there in 381, aged seventy years. He invented the Gothic alphabet, and translated the Bible into Gothic, but was an Arian, or rather a semi-Arian, who regarded Christ as a secondary God and the Holy Spirit merely as a sanctifying power.97

Arianism spread with great rapidity among the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, and Vandals. This heretical form of Christianity, however, was more a matter of accident than preference and conviction among the Germans, and soon gave way to orthodoxy when they became acquainted with it. When Alaric, the famous king of the Visigoths, captured Rome (410), he treated the city with marked leniency, which Augustin justly traced to the influence of the Christian faith even in heretical form. The Vandals, the rudest among the Teutonic tribes, made an exception; they fiercely persecuted the orthodox Christians in North Africa (since 430) and desolated this once flourishing field of the Catholic Church, the scene of the immortal labors of St. Augustin. Their kingdom was destroyed under Justinian (534), but the Catholic Church never rose from its ruins, and the weak remnant was conquered by the sword of Islâm (670).

Chrysostom made a noble effort to convert the Eastern Goths from Arianism to Catholicity, but his mission ceased after his death (407).

The conversion of the Franks to Catholic christianity and various political circumstances led to the abandonment of Arianism among the other Germanic tribes. The Burgundians who spread from the Rhine to the Rhone and Saone, embraced Catholic Christianity in 517, and were incorporated into the French kingdom in 534. The Suevi who spread from Eastern Germany into France and Spain, embraced the Catholic faith in 550. The Visigoths in Spain, through their king, Reccared the Catholic, subscribed an orthodox creed at the third Council of Toledo, a.d. 589, but the last of the Gothic kings, Roderic, was conquered by the Saracens, breaking into Spain from Africa, in the bloody battle of Xeres de la Frontera, a.d. 711.

 The last stronghold of Arianism were the Longobards or Lombards, who conquered Northern Italy (still called Lombardy) and at first persecuted the Catholics. They were converted to the orthodox faith by the wise influence of Pope Gregory I. (590616), and the Catholic queen Theodelinde (d. 625) whose husband Agilulf (590–616) remained Arian, but allowed his son Adelwald to be baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church. An Arian reaction followed, but Catholicism triumphed under Grimoald (662–671), and Liutprand (773–774). Towards the close of the eighth century, Pepin and Charlemagne, in the interest of France and the papacy, destroyed the independence of the Lombards after a duration of about two hundred years, and transferred the greater part of Italy to the Eastern empire and to the Pope. In these struggles the Popes, being then (as they have been ever since) opposed from hierarchical interest to the political unity of Italy, aided the Franks and reaped the benefit.


 § 22. Conversion of Clovis and the Franks.


Gregorius Turonensis (d. 595): Historia Francorum Eccles. (till A..D. 591).

J. W. Löbell: Gregor von Tours und seine Zeit, Leipz. 1839.

A. Thierry: Recits des temps Merovingiens. Par. 1842, 2 vols.

F. W. Rettberg: Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands. Gött. 1846, I. 258–278.

Kornhack: Geschichte der Franken unter den Merovingern. Greifsw. 1863.

Montalembert, l.c. II. 219 sqq.

Comp. also Henri Martin: Histoire de France; Sir James Stephen: Lectures on the History of France (Lond. 1859); Guizot: Histoire de la civilization en France (1830 sqq.), and his Histoire de France, 1870.


The Salian Franks were the first among the Teutonic tribes which were converted to catholic or orthodox Christianity. Hence the sovereign of France is styled by the Popes "the oldest son of the church," and Rheims, where Clovis was baptized, is the holy city where most of the French kings down to Charles X. (1824) were consecrated.98  The conversion of the Franks prepared the way for the downfall of the Arian heresy among the other Germanic nations, and for the triumph of the papacy in the German empire under Charlemagne.

The old Roman civilization of Gaul, though nominally Christian, was in the last stage of consumption when the German barbarians invaded the soil and introduced fresh blood. Several savage tribes, even the Huns, passed through Gaul like a tempest, leaving desolation behind them, but the Franks settled there and changed Gaul into France, as the Anglo-Saxons changed Britain into England. They conquered the Gallo-Romans, cruelly spoiled and almost exterminated them in the North-Eastern districts. Before they accepted the Christianity of the conquered race, they learned their vices. "The greatest evil of barbarian government," says Henri Martin,99 "was perhaps the influence of the greedy and corrupt Romans who insinuated themselves into the confidence of their new masters."  To these degenerate Christians Montalembert traces the arts of oppression and the refinements of debauchery and perfidy which the heathen Germans added to their native brutality. "The barbarians derived no advantage from their contact with the Roman world, depraved as it was under the empire. They brought with them manly virtues of which the conquered race had lost even the recollection; but they borrowed, at the same time, abject and contagious vices, of which the Germanic world had no conception. They found Christianity there; but before they yielded to its beneficent influence, they had time to plunge into all the baseness and debauchery, of a civilization corrupted long before it was vanquished. The patriarchal system of government which characterized the ancient Germans, in their relations with their children and slaves as well as with their chiefs, fell into ruin in contact with that contagious depravity."100

The conversion of the Salian Franks took place under the lead of their victorious king Chlodwig or Clovis (Ludovicus, Louis), the son of Childeric and grandson of Merovig (hence the name of Merovingians). He ruled from the year 481 to his death in 511. With him begins the history not only of the French empire, its government and laws, but also of the French nation, its religion and moral habits. He married a Christian princess, Chlotilda, a daughter of the king of the Burgundians (493), and allowed his child to be baptized. Before the critical battle at Tolbiac101 near Cologne against the invasion of the Allemanni, he prayed to Jesus Christ for aid after having first called upon his own gods, and promised, in case of victory, to submit to baptism together with his warriors. After the victory he was instructed by Bishop Remigius of Rheims. When he heard the story of the crucifixion of Christ, he exclaimed: "Would I had been there with my valiant Franks to avenge him!"  On Christmas, in the year 496, he descended before the cathedral of Rheims into the baptismal basin, and three thousand of his warriors followed him as into the joys of paradise. "When they arose from the waters, as Christian disciples, one might have seen fourteen centuries of empire rising with them; the whole array of chivalry, the long series of the crusades, the deep philosophy of the schools, in one word all the heroism, all the liberty, all the learning of the later ages. A great nation was commencing its career in the world—that nation was the Franks."102

But the change of religion had little or no effect on the character of Clovis and his descendants, whose history is tarnished with atrocious crimes. The Merovingians, half tigers, half lambs, passed with astonishing rapidity from horrible massacres to passionate demonstrations of contrition, and from the confessional back again to the excesses of their native cruelty. The crimes of Clovis are honestly told by such saintly biographers as Gregory of Tours and Hincmar, who feel no need of any excuse for him in view of his services to religion. St. Remigius even advised the war of conquest against the Visigoths, because they were Arians.

"The Franks," says a distinguished Catholic Frenchman,103 "were sad Christians. While they respected the freedom of the Catholic faith, and made external profession of it, they violated without scruple all its precepts, and at the same time the simplest laws of humanity. After having prostrated themselves before the tomb of some holy martyr or confessor; after having distinguished themselves by the choice of an irreproachable bishop; after having listened respectfully to the voice of a pontiff or monk, we see them, sometimes in outbreaks of fury, sometimes by cold-blooded cruelties, give full course to the evil instincts of their savage nature. Their incredible perversity was most apparent in the domestic tragedies, the fratricidal executions and assassinations, of which Clovis gave the first example, and which marked the history of his son and grandson with an ineffaceable stain. Polygamy and perjury mingled in their daily life with a semi-pagan superstition, and in reading these bloody biographies, scarcely lightened by some transient gleams of faith or humility, it is difficult to believe that, in embracing Christianity, they gave up a single pagan vice or adopted a single Christian virtue.

"It was against this barbarity of the soul, far more alarming than grossness and violence of manners, that the Church triumphantly struggled. From the midst of these frightful disorders, of this double current of corruption and ferocity, the pure and resplendent light of Christian sanctity was about to rise. But the secular clergy, itself tainted by the general demoralization of the two races, was not sufficient for this task. They needed the powerful and soon preponderating assistance of the monastic Army. It did not fail: the church and France owe to it the decisive victory of Christian civilization over a race much more difficult to subdue than the degenerate subjects of Rome or Byzantium. While the Franks, coming from the North, completed the subjugation of Gaul, the Benedictines were about to approach from the South, and super-impose a pacific and beneficent dominion upon the Germanic barbarian conquest. The junction and union of these forces, so unequal in their civilizing power, were destined to exercise a sovereign influence over the future of our country."

Among these Benedictine monks, St. Maurus occupies the most prominent place. He left Monte Casino before the death of St. Benedict (about 540), with four companions, crossed the Alps, founded Glanfeuil on the Loire, the first Benedictine monastery in France, and gave his name to that noble band of scholars who, more than a thousand years after, enriched the church with the best editions of the fathers and other works of sacred learning.104  He had an interview with King Theodebert (the grandson of Clovis), was treated with great reverence and received from him a large donation of crown lands. Monastic establishments soon multiplied and contributed greatly to the civilization of France.105


 § 23. Columbanus and the Irish Missionaries on the Continent.


I. Sources.

The works of Columbanus in Patrick Fleming’s Collectanea sacra (Lovanii, 1667), and in Migne: Patrolog., Tom. 87, pp. 1013–1055. His life by Jonas in the Acta Sanct. Ord. Bened., Tom. II., Sec. II., 2–26. (Also in Fleming’s Coll.)

II. Works.

Lanigan (R. K.): Eccles. Hist. of Ireland (1829), II. 263 sqq.

Montalembert: Monks of the West, II. 397 sqq.

Ph. Heber: Die vorkarolingischen Glaubenshelden am Rhein, 1867.

Lütolf (R.C.): Die Glaubensboten der Schweiz vor St. Gallus. Luzern, 1871.

Ebrard: Die iroschottische Missionskirche (1873), pp. 25–31; 284–340.

Killen: Ecclesiast. Hist. of Ireland (1875), I. 41 sqq.

W. Smith and H. Wace: Dict. Christ. Biography (1877), I. 605–607.

G. Hertel: Ueber des heil. Columba Leben und Wirken, besonders seine Klosterregel. In the "Zeitschrift für Hist. Theol.," 1875, p. 396; and another article in Brieger’s "Zeitschrift für Kirchengesch.," 1879, p. 145.


While the Latin Benedictine monks worked their way up from the South towards the heart of France, Keltic missionaries carried their independent Christianity from the West to the North of France, the banks of the Rhine, Switzerland and Lombardy; but they were counteracted by Roman missionaries, who at last secured the control over France and Germany as well as over the British Isles.

St. Columbanus106 is the pioneer of the Irish missionaries to the Continent. His life has been written with great minuteness by Jonas, a monk of his monastery at Bobbio. He was born in Leinster, a.d. 543, in which year St. Benedict, his celebrated monastic predecessor, died at Monte Casino, and was trained in the monastery of Bangor, on the coast of Down, under the direction of St. Comgall. Filled with missionary zeal, he left his native land with twelve companions, and crossed over the sea to Gaul in 590,107 or in 585,108 several years before Augustin landed in England. He found the country desolated by war; Christian virtue and discipline were almost extinct. He travelled for several years, preaching and giving an example of humility and charity. He lived for whole weeks without other food than herbs and wild berries. He liked best the solitude of the woods and eaves, where even the animals obeyed his voice and received his caresses. In Burgundy he was kindly received by King Gontran, one of the grandsons of Clovis; refused the offer of wealth, and chose a quiet retreat in the Vosges mountains, first in a ruined Roman fort at Annegray, and afterwards at Luxeuil (Luxovium). Here he established a celebrated monastery on the confines of Burgundy and Austrasia. A similar institution he founded at Fontaines. Several hundred disciples gathered around him. Luxeuil became the monastic capital of Gaul, a nursery of bishops and saints, and the mother of similar institutions.

Columbanus drew up a monastic rule, which in all essential points resembles the more famous rule of St. Benedict, but is shorter and more severe. It divides the time of the monks between ascetic exercises and useful agricultural labor, and enjoins absolute obedience on severe penalties. It was afterwards superseded by the Benedictine rule, which had the advantage of the papal sanction and patronage.109

The life of Columbanus in France was embittered and his authority weakened by his controversy with the French clergy and the court of Burgundy. He adhered tenaciously to the Irish usage of computing Easter, the Irish tonsure and costume. Besides, his extreme severity of life was a standing rebuke of the worldly priesthood and dissolute court. He was summoned before a synod in 602 or 603, and defended himself in a letter with great freedom and eloquence, and with a singular mixture of humility and pride. He calls himself (like St. Patrick) "Columbanus, a sinner," but speaks with an air of authority. He pleads that he is not the originator of those ritual differences, that he came to France, a poor stranger, for the cause of Christ, and asks nothing but to be permitted to live in silence in the depth of the forests near the bones of his seventeen brethren, whom he had already seen die. "Ah! let us live with you in this Gaul, where we now are, since we are destined to live with each other in heaven, if we are found worthy to enter there."  The letter is mixed with rebukes of the bishops, calculations of Easter and an array of Scripture quotations. At the same time he wrote several letters to Pope Gregory I., one of which only is preserved in the writings of Columbanus. There is no record of the action of the Synod on this controversy, nor of any answer of the Pope.

The conflict with the court of Burgundy is highly honorable to Columbanus, and resulted in his banishment. He reproved by word and writing the tyranny of queen Brunehild (or Brunehauld) and the profligacy of her grandson Theodoric (or Thierry II.); he refused to bless his illegitimate children and even threatened to excommunicate the young king. He could not be silenced by flattery and gifts, and was first sent as a prisoner to Besançon, and then expelled from the kingdom in 610.110

But this persecution extended his usefulness. We find him next, with his Irish friends who accompanied him, on the lake of Zurich, then in Bregenz (Bregentium) on the lake of Constance, planting the seeds of Christianity in those charming regions of German Switzerland. His preaching was accompanied by burning the heathen idols. Leaving his disciple St. Gall at Bregenz, he crossed the Alps to Lombardy, and founded a famous monastery at Bobbio. He manfully fought there the Arian heresy, but in a letter to Boniface IV. he defended the cause of Nestorius, as condemned by the Fifth General Council of 553, and called upon the Pope to vindicate the church of Rome against the charge of heresy. He speaks very boldly to the Pope, but acknowledges Rome to be "the head of the churches of the whole world, excepting only the singular prerogative of the place of the Lord’s resurrection" (Jerusalem).111  He died in Bobbio, Nov. 21, 615. The poetry of grateful love and superstitious faith has adorned his simple life with various miracles.

Columbanus was a man of considerable learning for his age. He seems to have had even some knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. His chief works are his Regula Monastica, in ten short chapters; seventeen Discourses; his Epistles to the Gallic Synod on the paschal controversy, to Gregory I., and to Boniface IV.; and a few poems. The following characteristic specimen of his ascetic view of life is from one of the discourses: "O mortal life!  how many hast thou deceived, seduced, and blinded!  Thou fliest and art nothing; thou appearest and art but a shade; thou risest and art but a vapor; thou fliest every day, and every day thou comest; thou fliest in coming, and comest in flying, the same at the point of departure, different at the end; sweet to the foolish, bitter to the wise. Those who love thee know thee not, and those only know thee who despise thee. What art thou, then, O human life?  Thou art the way of mortals, and not their life. Thou beginnest in sin and endest in death. Thou art then the way of life and not life itself. Thou art only a road, and an unequal road, long for some, short for others; wide for these, narrow for those; joyous for some, sad for others, but for all equally rapid and without return. It is necessary, then, O miserable human life! to fathom thee, to question thee, but not to trust in thee. We must traverse thee without dwelling in thee—no one dwells upon a great road; we but march over it, to reach the country beyond."112

Several of the disciples of Columbanus labored in eastern Helvetia and Rhaetia.

Sigisbert separated from him at the foot of the St. Gothard, crossed eastward over the Oberalp to the source of the Rhine, and laid the foundation of the monastery of Dissentis in the Grisons, which lasts to this day.

St. Gall (Gallus), the most celebrated of the pupils of Columbanus, remained in Switzerland, and became the father of the monastery and city called after him, on the banks of the river Steinach. He declined the bishopric of Constanz. His double struggle against the forces of nature and the gods of heathenism has been embellished with marvelous traits by the legendary poetry of the middle ages.113  When he died, ninety-five years old, a.d. 640, the whole surrounding country of the Allemanni was nominally Christianized. The monastery of St. Gall became one of the most celebrated schools of learning in Switzerland and Germany, where Irish and other missionaries learned German and prepared themselves for evangelistic work in Switzerland and Southern Germany. There Notker Balbulus, the abbot (died 912), gave a lasting impulse to sacred poetry and music, as the inventor or chief promoter of the mediaeval Laudes or Prosae, among which the famous "Media vita in morte sumus" still repeats in various tongues its solemn funeral warning throughout Christendom.

Fridold or Fridolin, who probably came from Scotland, preached the gospel to the Allemanni in South Germany. But his life is involved in great obscurity, and assigned by some to the time of Clovis I. (481–511), by others more probably to that of Clovis II. (638–656).

Kilian or Kyllina, of a noble Irish family, is said to have been the apostle of Franconia and the first bishop of Würzburg in the seventh century.


 § 24. German Missionaries before Boniface.


England derived its Anglo-Saxon population from Germany in the fifth century, and in return gave to Germany in the eighth century the Christian religion with a strong infusion of popery. Germany afterwards shook off the yoke of popery, and gave to England the Protestant Reformation. In the seventeenth century, England produced Deism, which was the first act of modern unbelief, and the forerunner of German Rationalism. The revival of evangelical theology and religion which followed in both countries, established new points of contact between these cognate races, which meet again on common ground in the Western hemisphere to commingle in the American nationality.

The conversion of Germany to Christianity and to Romanism was, like that of England, the slow work of several centuries. It was accomplished by missionaries of different nationalities, French, Scotch-Irish, English, and Greek. It began at the close of the second century, when Irenaeus spoke of Christian congregations in the two Germanies,114 i.e. Germania prima and secunda, on the upper and lower Rhine; and it was substantially completed in the age of Charlemagne in the eighth century. But nearly the entire North-Eastern part of Germany, which was inhabited mostly by Slavonic tribes, remained heathen till the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.

We must distinguish especially three stages: 1) the preparatory labors of Italian, French, and Scotch-Irish missionaries; 2) the consolidating romanizing work of Boniface of England and his successors; 3) the forcible military conversion of the Saxons under Charlemagne. The fourth and last missionary stage, the conversion of the Prussians and Slavonic races in North-Eastern Germany, belongs to the next period.

The light of Christianity came to Germany first from the Roman empire in the Roman colonies on the Rhine. At the council of Arles in 314, there was a bishop Maternus of Cologne with his deacon, Macrinus, and a bishop of Treves by the name of Agröcius.

In the fifth century the mysterious Severinus from the East appeared among the savages on the banks of the Danube in Bavaria as an angel of mercy, walking bare-footed in mid-winter, redeeming prisoners of war, bringing food and clothing with the comfort of the Gospel to the poor and unfortunate, and won by his self-denying labors universal esteem. French monks and hermits left traces of their work at St. Goar, St. Elig, Wulfach, and other places on the charming banks of the Rhine. The efficient labors of Columbanus and his Irish companions and pupils extended from the Vosges to South Germany and Eastern Switzerland. Willebrord, an Anglo-Saxon, brought up in an Irish convent, left with twelve brethren for Holland (690) became the Apostle of the Friesians, and was consecrated by the Pope the first bishop of Utrecht (Trajectum), under the name of Clemens. He developed an extensive activity of nearly fifty years till his death (739).

When Boniface arrived in Germany he found nearly in all parts which he visited, especially in Bavaria and Thuringia, missionaries and bishops independent of Rome, and his object was fully as much to romanize this earlier Christianity, as to convert the heathen. He transferred the conflict between the Anglo-Saxon mission of Rome and the older Keltic Christianity of Patrick and Columba and their successors from England to German soil, and repeated the role of Augustin of Canterbury. The old Easter controversy disappears after Columbanus, and the chief objects of dispute were freedom from popery and clerical marriage. In both respects, Boniface succeeded, after a hard struggle, in romanizing Germany.

The leaders of the opposition to Rome and to Bonifacius among his predecessors and contemporaries were Adelbert and Clemens. We know them only from the letters of Boniface, which represent them in a very, unfavorable light. Adelbert, or Aldebert (Eldebert), was a Gaul by nation, and perhaps bishop of Soissons; at all events he labored on the French side of the Rhine, had received episcopal ordination, and enjoyed great popularity from his preaching, being regarded as an apostle, a patron, and a worker of miracles. According to Boniface, he was a second Simon Magus, or immoral impostor, who deceived the people by false miracles and relics, claimed equal rank with the apostles, set up crosses and oratories in the fields, consecrated buildings in his own name, led women astray, and boasted to have relics better than those of Rome, and brought to him by an angel from the ends of the earth. Clemens was a Scotchman (Irishman), and labored in East Franconia. He opposed ecclesiastical traditions and clerical celibacy, and had two sons. He held marriage with a brother’s widow to be valid, and had peculiar views of divine predestination and Christ’s descent into Hades. Aldebert and Clemens were condemned without a hearing, and excommunicated as heretics and seducers of the people, by a provincial Synod of Soissons, a.d. 744, and again in a Synod of Rome, 745, by Pope Zacharias, who confirmed the decision of Boniface. Aldebert was at last imprisoned in the monastery of Fulda, and killed by shepherds after escaping from prison. Clemens disappeared.115


 § 25. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany.


I. Bonifacius: Epistolae et Sermones, first ed. by Serrarius, Mogunt. 1605, then by Würdtwein, 1790, by Giles, 1842, and in Migne’s Patrol. Tom, 89, pp. 593–801 (together with Vitae, etc.). Jaffe: Monumenta Moguntina. Berol. 1866.

II. Biographies of Bonifacius. The oldest by Willibald, his pupil and companion (in Pertz, Monum. II. 33, and in Migne, l.c. p. 603); by Othlo, a German Benedictine monk of the eleventh cent. (in Migne, p. 634); Letzner (1602); Löffler (1812); Seiters (1845); Cox (1853); J. P. Müller (1870); Hope (1872); Aug. Werner Bonifacius und die Romanisirung Von Mitteleuropa. Leipz., 1875;  Pfahler(Regensb. 1880); Otto Fischer (Leipz. 1881); Ebrard: Bonif. der Zerstörer des columbanischen Kirchenthums auf dem Festlande (Gütersloh, 1882; against Fischer and very unjust to B.; see against it Zöpffel in the "Theol. Lit. Zeitg," 1882, No. 22). Cf. the respective sections in Neander, Gfrörer, Rettberg (II. 307 sqq.)

On the Councils of Bonif see Hefele: Conciliengeschichte, III. 458.


Boniface or Winfried116 surpassed all his predecessors on the German mission-field by the extent and result of his labors, and acquired the name of the Apostle of Germany. He was born about 680 from a noble family, at Kirton in Wessex the last stronghold of paganism among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. He was brought up in the convent of Nutsal near Winchester, and ordained priest at the age of thirty. He felt it his duty, to christianize those countries from which his Anglo-Saxon forefathers had emigrated. It was a formidable task, requiring a heroic courage and indomitable perseverance.

He sacrificed his splendid prospects at home, crossed the channel, and began his missionary career with two or three companions among the Friesians in the neighborhood of Utrecht in Holland (715). His first attempt was a failure. Ratbod, the king of Friesland, was at war with Charles Martel, and devastated the churches and monasteries which had been founded by the Franks, and by Willibrord.

But far from being discouraged, he was only stimulated to greater exertion. After a brief sojourn in England, where he was offered the dignity of abbot of his convent, he left again his native land, and this time forever. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, was cordially welcomed by Pope Gregory II. and received a general commission to Christianize and romanize central Europe (718). Recrossing the Alps, he visited Bavaria and Thuringia, which had been evangelized in part by the disciples of Columban, but he was coldly received because he represented their Christianity as insufficient, and required submission to Rome. He turned his steps again to Friesland where order had been restored, and assisted Willibrord, archbishop of Utrecht, for three years. In 722 he returned to Thuringia in the wake of Charles Martel’s victorious army and preached to the heathen in Hesse who lived between the Franks and the Saxons, between the middle Rhine and the Elbe. He founded a convent at Amanaburg (Amöneburg) on the river Ohm.

In 723 he paid, on invitation, a second visit to Rome, and was consecrated by Gregory II. as a missionary bishop without a diocese (episcopus regionarius). He bound himself on the grave of St. Peter with the most stringent oath of fealty to the Pope similar to that which was imposed on the Italian or suburban bishops.117

From this time his work assumed a more systematic character in the closest contact with Rome as the centre of Christendom. Fortified with letters of commendation, he attached himself for a short time to the court of Charles Martel, who pushed his schemes of conquest towards the Hessians. Aided by this secular help and the Pope’s spiritual authority, he made rapid progress. By a master stroke of missionary policy he laid the axe to the root of Teutonic heathenism; with his own hand, in the presence of a vast assembly, he cut down the sacred and inviolable oak of the Thunder-God at Geismar (not far from Fritzlar), and built with the planks an oratory or church of St. Peter. His biographer, Willibald, adds that a sudden storm from heaven came to his aid and split the oak in four pieces of equal length. This practical sermon was the death and burial of German mythology. He received from time to time supplies of books, monks and nuns from England. The whole church of England took a deep interest in his work, as we learn from his correspondence. He founded monastic colonies near Erfurt, Fritzlar, Ohrdruf, Bischofsheim, and Homburg. The victory of Charles Martel over the Saracens at Tours (732) checked the westward progress of Islâm and insured the triumph of Christianity in central Europe.

Boniface was raised to the dignity of archbishop (without a see) and papal legate by the new Pope Gregory III. (732), and thus enabled to coerce the refractory bishops.

In 738 he made his third and last pilgrimage to Rome with a great retinue of monks and converts, and received authority to call a synod of bishops in Bavaria and Allemannia. On his return he founded, in concert with Duke Odilo, four Bavarian bishoprics at Salzburg, Freising, Passau, and Ratisbon or Regensburg (739). To these he added in central Germany the sees of Würzburg, Buraburg (near Fritzlar), Erfurt, Eichstädt (742). He held several synods in Mainz and elsewhere for the organization of the churches and the exercise of discipline. The number of his baptized converts till 739 is said to have amounted to many thousands.

In 743 he was installed Archbishop of Mainz or Mayence (Moguntum) in the place of bishop Gervillius (Gewielieb) who was deposed for indulging in sporting propensities and for homicide in battle. His diocese extended from Cologne to Strasburg and even to Coire. He would have preferred Cologne, but the clergy there feared his disciplinary severity. He aided the sons of Charles Martel in reducing the Gallic clergy to obedience, exterminating the Keltic element, and consolidating the union with Rome.

In 744, in a council at Soissons, where twenty-three bishops were present, his most energetic opponents were condemned. In the same year, in the very heart of Germany, he laid the foundation of Fulda, the greatest of his monasteries, which became the Monte Casino of Germany.

In 753 he named Lull or Lullus his successor at Mainz. Laying aside his dignities, he became once more an humble missionary, and returned with about fifty devoted followers to the field of the baffled labors of his youth among the Friesians, where a reaction in favor of heathenism had taken place since the death of Willibrord. He planted his tents on the banks of the river Borne near Dockum (between Franecker and Groningen), waiting for a large number of converts to be confirmed. But, instead of that, he was assailed and slain, with his companions, by armed pagans. He met the martyr’s death with calmness and resignation, June 5, 754 or 755. His bones were deposited first at Utrecht, then at Mainz, and at last in Fulda. Soon after his death, an English Synod chose him, together with Pope Gregory and Augustin, patron of the English church. In 1875 Pope Pius IX. directed the Catholics of Germany and England to invoke especially the aid of St. Boniface in the distress of modern times.

The works of Boniface are epistles and sermons. The former refer to his missionary labors and policy, the latter exhibit his theological views and practical piety. Fifteen short sermons are preserved, addressed not to heathen, but to Christian converts; they reveal therefore not so much his missionary as his edifying activity. They are without Scripture text, and are either festal discourses explaining the history of salvation, especially the fall and redemption of man, or catechetical expositions of Christian doctrine and duty. We give as a characteristic specimen of the latter, the fifteenth sermon, on the renunciation of the devil in baptism:


Sermon XV.


"I. Listen, my brethren, and consider well what you have solemnly renounced in your baptism. You have renounced the devil and all his works, and all his pomp. But what are the works of the devil?  They are pride, idolatry, envy, murder, calumny, lying, perjury, hatred, fornication, adultery, every kind of lewdness, theft, false witness, robbery, gluttony, drunkenness, Slander, fight, malice, philters, incantations, lots, belief in witches and were-wolves, abortion, disobedience to the Master, amulets. These and other such evil things are the works of the devil, all of which you have forsworn by your baptism, as the apostle says: Whosoever doeth such things deserves death, and shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. But as we believe that, by the mercy of God, you will renounce all these things, with heart and hand, in order to become fit for grace, I admonish you, my dearest brethren, to remember what you have promised Almighty God.

II. For, first, you have promised to believe in Almighty God, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, one almighty God in perfect trinity.

III. And these are the commandments which you shall keep and fulfil: to love God, whom you profess, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourselves; for on these commandments hang the whole law and the prophets. Be patient, have mercy, be benevolent, chaste, pure. Teach your sons to fear God; teach your whole family to do so. Make peace where you go, and let him who sits in court; give a just verdict and take no presents, for presents make even a wise man blind.

IV. Keep the Sabbath and go to church-to pray, but not to prattle. Give alms according to your power, for alms extinguish sins as water does fire. Show hospitality to travelers, visit the sick, take care of widows and orphans, pay your tithes to the church, and do to nobody what you would not have done to yourself. Fear God above all. Let the servants be obedient to their masters, and the masters just to their servants. Cling to the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, and communicate them to your own children and to those whose baptismal sponsors you are. Keep the fast, love what is right, stand up against the devil, and partake from time to time of the Lord’s Supper. Such are the works which God commands you to do and fulfil.

V. Believe in the advent of Christ, the resurrection of the body, and the judgment of all men. For then the impious shall be separated from the just, the one for the everlasting fire, the others for the eternal life. Then begins a life with God without death, a light without shadows, a health without sickness, a plenty without hunger, a happiness without fear, a joy with no misgivings. Then comes the eternal glory, in which the just shall shine like suns, for no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, no heart has ever dreamed, of all that which God has prepared for those whom he loves.

VI. I also remind you, my beloved brethren, that the birth-day of our Lord is approaching, in order that you may abstain from all that is worldly or lewd or impure or bad. Spit out all malice and hatred and envy; it is poison to your heart. Keep chaste even with respect to your own wives. Clothe yourselves with good works. Give alms to the poor who belong to Christ; invite them often to your feasts. Keep peace with all, and make peace between those who are at discord. If, with the aid of Christ, you will truly fulfil these commands, then in this life you can with confidence approach the altar of God, and in the next you shall partake of the everlasting bliss."118


Bonifacius combined the zeal and devotion of a missionary with worldly prudence and a rare genius for organization and administration. He was no profound scholar, but a practical statesman and a strict disciplinarian. He was not a theologian, but an ecclesiastic, and would have made a good Pope. He selected the best situations for his bishoprics and monasteries, and his far-sighted policy has been confirmed by history. He was a man of unblemished character and untiring energy. He was incessantly active, preaching, traveling, presiding over Synods, deciding perplexing questions about heathen customs and trivial ceremonies. He wrought no miracles, such as were usually expected from a missionary in those days. His disciple and biographer apologizes for this defect, and appeals as an offset to the invisible cures of souls which he performed.119

The weak spot in his character is the bigotry and intolerance which he displayed in his controversy with the independent missionaries of the French and Scotch-Irish schools who had done the pioneer work before him. He reaped the fruits of their labors, and destroyed their further usefulness, which he might have secured by a liberal Christian policy. He hated every feature of individuality and national independence in matters of the church. To him true Christianity was identical with Romanism, and he made Germany as loyal to the Pope as was his native England. He served under four Popes, Gregory II., Gregory III., Zacharias, and Stephen, and they could not have had a more devoted and faithful agent. Those who labored without papal authority were to him dangerous hirelings, thieves and robbers who climbed up some other way. He denounced them as false prophets, seducers of the people, idolaters and adulterers (because they were married and defended clerical marriage).120  He encountered from them a most determined opposition, especially in Bavaria. In connection with his servile Romanism is his pedantic legalism and ceremonialism. His epistles and sermons show a considerable knowledge of the Bible, but also a contracted legalistic spirit. He has much to say about matters of outward conformity to Roman authority and usages and about small questions of casuistry, such as whether it was right to eat horse flesh, rabbits, storks, meat offered to idols, to marry a widow after standing god-father to her son, how often the sign of the cross should be made in preaching. In his strength and his weakness, his loyalty, to Rome, and in the importance of the work he accomplished, he resembled Augustin, the Roman apostle of his Anglo-Saxon ancestors.

Boniface succeeded by indomitable perseverance, and his work survived him. This must be his vindication. In judging of him we should remember that the controversy between him and his French and Scotch-Irish opponents was not a controversy between Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism (which was not yet born), but between organized Catholicism or Romanism and independent Catholicism. Mediaeval Christianity was very weak, and required for its self-preservation a strong central power and legal discipline. It is doubtful whether in the barbarous condition of those times, and amid the commotions of almost constant civil wars, the independent and scattered labors of the anti-Roman missionaries could have survived as well and made as strong an impression upon the German nation as a consolidated Christianity with a common centre of unity, and authority.

Roman unity was better than undisciplined independency, but it was itself only a preparatory school for the self-governing freedom of manhood.

 After Boniface had nearly completed his work, a political revolution took place in France which gave it outward support. Pepin, the major domus of the corrupt Merovingian dynasty, overthrew it with the aid of Pope Zacharias, who for his conquest of the troublesome Lombards rewarded him with the royal crown of France (753). Fifty years afterwards this political alliance of France and Germany with the Italian papacy was completed by Charlemagne and Leo III., and lasted for many centuries. Rome had the enchantment of distance, the prestige of power and culture, and promised to furnish the strongest support to new and weak churches. Rome was also the connecting link between mediaeval and ancient civilization, and transmitted to the barbarian races the treasures of classical literature which in due time led to the revival of letters and to the Protestant Reformation.


 § 26. The Pupils of Boniface. Willibald, Gregory of Utrecht, Sturm of Fulda.


Boniface left behind him a number of devoted disciples who carried on his work.

Among these we mention St. Willibald, the first bishop of Eichstädt. He was born about a.d. 700 from a noble Anglo-Saxon family and a near relative of Boniface. In his early manhood he made a pilgrimage to Rome and to the Holy Land as far as Damascus, spent several years among the Benedictines in Monte Casino, met Boniface in Rome, joined him in Germany (a.d. 740) and became bishop of Eichstädt in Bavaria in 742. He directed his attention chiefly to the founding of monasteries after the Benedictine rule. He called to his side his brother Wunnebald, his sister Walpurgis, and other helpers from England. He died July 7, 781 or 787. He is considered by some as the author of the biography of Boniface; but it was probably the work of another Willibald, a presbyter of Mainz.

Gregory, Abbot of Utrecht, was related to the royal house of the Merovingians, educated at the court, converted in his fifteenth year by a sermon of Boniface, and accompanied him on his journeys. After the death of Boniface he superintended the mission among the Friesians, but declined the episcopal dignity. In his old age he became lame, and was carried by his pupils to wherever his presence was desired. He died in 781, seventy-three years old.

Sturm, the first Abbot of Fulda (710 to Dec. 17, 779), was of a noble Bavarian family and educated by Boniface. With his approval he passed with two companions through the dense beech forests of Hesse in pursuit of a proper place for a monastery. Singing psalms, he rode on an ass, cutting a way through the thicket inhabited by wild beasts; at night after saying his prayers and making the sign of the cross he slept on the bare ground under the canopy of heaven till sunrise. He met no human being except a troupe of heathen slaves who bathed in the river Fulda, and afterwards a man with a horse who was well acquainted with the country. He found at last a suitable place, and took solemn possession of it in 744, after it was presented to him for a monastery by Karloman at the request of Boniface, who joined him there with a large number of monks, and often resorted to this his favorite monastery. "In a vast solitude," he wrote to Pope Zacharias in 751, "among the tribes entrusted to my preaching, there is a place where I erected a convent and peopled it with monks who live according to the rule of St. Benedict in strict abstinence, without flesh and wine, without intoxicating drink and slaves, earning their living with their own hands. This spot I have rightfully secured from pious men, especially from Karloman, the late prince of the Franks, and dedicated to the Saviour. There I will occasionally rest my weary limbs, and repose in death, continuing faithful to the Roman Church and to the people to which I was sent?"121

Fulda received special privileges from Pope Zacharias and his successors,122 and became a centre of German Christianity and civilization from which proceeded the clearing of the forests, the cultivation of the soil, and the education of youths. The number of Benedictine monks was increased by large re-enforcements from Monte Casino, after an Italian journey of Sturm in 747. The later years of his life were disturbed by a controversy with Lullus of Mainz about the bones of Boniface after his martyrdom (755) and by calumniations of three monks who brought upon him the displeasure of King Pepin. He was, however, reinstated in his dignity and received the remains of his beloved teacher which repose in Fulda. Charlemagne employed him as missionary among the Saxons. His bones were deposited in the convent church. Pope Innocent II. canonized him, A. D, 1139.123


 § 27. The Conversion of the Saxons. Charlemagne and Alcuin. The Heliand, and the Gospel-Harmony.


Funk: Die Unterwerfung der Sachsen unter Karl dem Gr. 1833.

A. Schaumann: Geschichte des niedersächs. Volkes. Götting. 1839.

Böttger: Die Einfahrung des Christenthums in Sachsen. Hann. 1859.

W. Giesebrecht; Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit, Vol. I. (1863), pp. 110 sqq.


Of all the German tribes the fierce and warlike Saxons were the last to accept the Christian religion. They differed in this respect very much from their kinsmen who had invaded and conquered England. But the means employed were also as different: rude force in one case, moral suasion in the other. The Saxons inhabited the districts of modern Hanover, Oldenburg, Brunswick, and Westphalia, which were covered with dense forests. They had driven the Franks beyond the Weser and the Rhine, and they were now driven back in turn by Charles Martel, Pepin, and Charlemagne. They hated the foreign yoke of the Franks, and far-off Rome; they hated the tithe which was imposed upon them for the support of the church. They looked upon Christianity as the enemy of their wild liberty and independence. The first efforts of Ewald, Suidbert, and other missionaries were fruitless. Their conversion was at last brought about by the sword from political as well as religious motives, and was at first merely nominal, but resulted finally in a real change under the silent influence of the moral forces of the Christian religion.

Charlemagne, who became master of the French kingdom in 768, had the noble ambition to unite the German tribes in one great empire and one religion in filial communion with Rome, but he mistook the means. He employed material force, believing that people become Christians by water-baptism, though baptized against their will. He thought that the Saxons, who were the most dangerous enemies of his kingdom, must be either subdued and Christianized, or killed. He pursued the same policy towards them as the squatter sovereigns would have the United States government pursue towards the wild Indians in the Western territories. Treaties were broken, and shocking cruelties were committed on both sides, by the Saxons from revenge and for independence, by Christians for punishment in the name of religion and civilization. Prominent among these atrocities is the massacre of four thousand five hundred captives at Verden in one day. As soon as the French army was gone, the Saxons destroyed the churches and murdered the priests, for which they were in turn put to death.

Their subjugation was a work of thirty-three years, from 772 to 805. Widukind (Wittekind) and Albio (Abbio), the two most powerful Saxon chiefs, seeing the fruitlessness of the resistance, submitted to baptism in 785, with Charlemagne as sponsor.124

But the Saxons were not entirely defeated till 804, when 10,000 families were driven from house and home and scattered in other provinces. Bloody laws prohibited the relapse into heathenism. The spirit of national independence was defeated, but not entirely crushed, and broke out seven centuries afterwards in another form against the Babylonian tyranny of Rome under the lead of the Saxon monk, Martin Luther.

The war of Charlemagne against the Saxons was the first ominous example of a bloody crusade for the overthrow of heathenism and the extension of the church. It was a radical departure from the apostolic method, and diametrically opposed to the spirit of the gospel. This was felt even in that age by the more enlightened divines. Alcuin, who represents the English school of missionaries, and who expresses in his letters great respect and admiration for Charlemagne, modestly protested, though without effect, against this wholesale conversion by force, and asked him rather to make peace with the "abominable" people of the Saxons. He properly held that the heathen should first be instructed before they are required to be baptized and to pay tithes; that water-baptism without faith was of no use; that baptism implies three visible things, namely, the priest, the body, and the water, and three invisible things, namely, the Spirit, the soul, and faith; that the Holy Spirit regenerates the soul by faith; that faith is a free act which cannot be enforced; that instruction, persuasion, love and self-denial are the only proper means for converting the heathen.125

Charlemagne relaxed somewhat the severity of his laws or capitularies after the year 797. He founded eight bishoprics among the Saxons: Osnabrück, Münster, Minden, Paderborn, Verden, Bremen, Hildesheim, and Halberstadt. From these bishoprics and the parochial churches grouped around them, and from monasteries such as Fulda, proceeded those higher and nobler influences which acted on the mind and heart.

The first monument of real Christianity among the Saxons is the "Heliand" (Heiland, i.e., Healer, Saviour) or a harmony of the Gospels. It is a religious epos strongly resembling the older work of the Anglo-Saxon Caedmon on the Passion and Resurrection. From this it no doubt derived its inspiration. For since Bonifacius there was a lively intercourse between the church of England and the church in Germany, and the language of the two countries was at that time essentially the same. In both works Christ appears as the youthful hero of the human race, the divine conqueror of the world and the devil, and the Christians as his faithful knights and warriors. The Heliand was composed in the ninth century by one or more poets whose language points to Westphalia as their home. The doctrine is free from the worship of saints, the glorification of Peter, and from ascetic excesses, but mixed somewhat with mythological reminiscences. Vilmar calls it the only real Christian epos, and a wonderful creation of the German genius.126

A little later (about 870) Otfried, a Franconian, educated at Fulda and St. Gall, produced another poetic harmony of the Gospels, which is one of the chief monuments of old high German literature. It is a life of Christ from his birth to the ascension, and ends with a description of the judgment. It consists of fifteen thousand rhymed lines in strophes of four lines.

Thus the victory of Christianity in Germany as well as it, England, was the beginning of poetry and literature, and of true civilization,

The Christianization of North-Eastern Germany, among the Slavonic races, along the Baltic shores in Prussia, Livonia, and Courland, went on in the next period, chiefly through Bishop Otto of Bamberg, the apostle of Pomerania, and the Knights of the Teutonic order, and was completed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.




General Literature.


I. Scandinavia before Christianity.

The Eddas, edit. Rask (Copenhagen, 1818); A. Munch (Christiania, 1847); Möbius (Leipzig, 1860).

N. M. Petersen: Danmarks Historie i Hedenold. Copenhagen, 1834–37, 3 vols.; Den Nordiske Mythologie, Copenhagen, 1839.

N. F. S. Grundtvig: Nordens Mythologie. Copenhagen, 1839.

Thorpe: Northern Mythology. London, 1852, 3 vols.

Rasmus B. Anderson: Norse MythologyMyths of the Eddas systematized and interpreted. Chicago, 1875.


II. The Christianization of Scandinavia.

Claudius Oernhjalm: Historia Sueonum Gothorumque Ecclesiae. Stockholm, 1689, 4 vols.

E. Pontoppidan: Annales Ecclesiae Danicae. Copenhagen, 1741.

F. Münter: Kirchengeschichte von Dänmark und Norwegen. Copenhagen and Leipzig, 1823–33, 3 vols.

R. Reuterdahl: Svenska kyrkans historia. Lund, 1833, 3 vols., first volume translated into German by E. T. Mayerhof, under the title: Leben Ansgars.

Fred Helweg: Den Danske Kirkes Historie. Copenhagen, 1862.

A. Jorgensen: Den nordiske Kirkes Grundloeggelse. Copenhagen, 1874.

Neander: Geschichte der christlichen Kirche, Vol. IV., pp. 1–150


 § 28. Scandinavian Heathenism.


Wheaton: History of the Northmen. London 1831.

Depping: Histoire des expeditions maritimes des Normands. Paris, 1843. 2 vols.

F. Worsaae: Account of the Danes in England, Ireland, and Scotland. London, 1852; The Danish Conquest of England and Normandy. London, 1863. These works are translated from the Danish.


Scandinavia was inhabited by one of the wildest and fiercest, but also one of the strongest and most valiant branches of the Teutonic race, a people of robbers which grew into a people of conquerors. Speaking the same language—that which is still spoken in Iceland—and worshipping the same gods, they were split into a number of small kingdoms covering the present Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Every spring, when the ice broke in the fjords, they launched their boats or skiffs, and swept, each swarm under the leadership of its own king, down upon the coasts of the neighboring countries. By the rivers they penetrated far into the countries, burning and destroying what they could not carry away with them. When autumn came, they returned home, loaded with spoil, and they spent the winter round the open hearth, devouring their prey. But in course of time, the swarms congregated and formed large armies, and the robber-campaigns became organized expeditions for conquest; kingdoms were founded in Russia, England, France, and Sicily. In their new homes, however, the Northern vikings soon forgot both their native language and their old gods, and became the strong bearers of new departures of civilization and the valiant knights of Christianity.

In the Scandinavian mythology, there were not a few ideas which the Christian missionary could use as connecting links. It was not absolutely necessary for him to begin with a mere negation; here, too, there was an "unknown God" and many traits indicate that, during the eighth and ninth centuries, people throughout Scandinavia became more and more anxious to hear something about him. When a man died, he went to Walhall, if he had been brave, and to Niflheim, if he had been a coward. In Walhall he lived together with the gods, in great brightness and joy, fighting all the day, feasting all the night. In Niflheim he sat alone, a shadow, surrounded with everything disgusting and degrading. But Walhall and Niflheim were not to last forever. A deep darkness, Ragnarokr, shall fall over the universe; Walhall and Niflheim shall be destroyed by fire; the gods, the heroes, the shadows, shall perish. Then a new heaven and a new earth shall be created by the All-Father, and he shall judge men not according as they have been brave or cowardly, but according as they have been good or bad. From the Eddas themseIves, it appears that, throughout Scandinavian heathendom, there now and then arose characters who, though they would not cease to be brave, longed to be good. The representative of this goodness, this dim fore-shadowing of the Christian idea of holiness, was Baldur, the young god standing on the rainbow and watching the worlds, and he was also the link which held together the whole chain of the Walhall gods; when he died, Ragnarokr came.

A transition from the myth of Baldur to the gospel of Christ cannot have been very difficult to the Scandinavian imagination; and, indeed, it is apparent that the first ideas which the Scandinavian heathens formed of the "White Christ" were influenced by their ideas of Baldur. It is a question, however, not yet settled, whether certain parts of the Scandinavian mythology, as, for instance, the above myths of Ragnarokr and Baldur, are not a reflex of Christian ideas; and it is quite probable that when the Scandinavians in the ninth century began to look at Christ under the image of Baldur, they had long before unconsciously remodeled their idea of Baldur after the image of Christ.

Another point, of considerable importance to the Christian missionary, was that, in Scandinavian heathendom, he had no priesthood to encounter. Scandinavian paganism never became an institution. There were temples, or at least altars, at Leire, near Roeskilde, in Denmark; at Sigtuna, near Upsall, in Sweden, and at Moere, near Drontheim, in Norway; and huge sacrifices of ninety-nine horses, ninety-nine cocks, and ninety-nine slaves were offered up there every Juul-time. But every man was his own priest. At the time when Christianity first appeared in Scandinavia, the old religion was evidently losing its hold on the individuals and for the very reason, that it had never succeeded in laying hold on the nation. People continued to swear by the gods, and drink in their honor; but they ceased to pray to them. They continued to sacrifice before taking the field or after the victory, and to make the sign of the cross, meaning Thor’s hammer, over a child when it was named; but there was really nothing in their life, national or individual, public or private, which demanded religious consecration. As, on the one side, characters developed which actually went beyond the established religion, longing for something higher and deeper, it was, on the other side, still more frequent to meet with characters which passed by the established religion with utter indifference, believing in nothing but their own strength.

The principal obstacle which Christianity had to encounter in Scandinavia was moral rather than religious. In his passions, the old Scandinavian was sometimes worse than a beast. Gluttony and drunkenness he considered as accomplishments. But he was chaste. A dishonored woman was very seldom heard of, adultery never. In his energy, he was sometimes fiercer than a demon. He destroyed for the sake of destruction, and there were no indignities or cruelties which he would not inflict upon a vanquished enemy. But for his friend, his king, his wife, his child, he would sacrifice everything, even life itself; and he would do it without a doubt, without a pang, in pure and noble enthusiasm. Such, however, as his morals were, they, had absolute sway over him. The gods he could forget, but not his duties. The evil one, among gods and men, was he who saw the duty, but stole away from it. The highest spiritual power among the old Scandinavians, their only enthusiasm, was their feeling of duty; but the direction which had been given to this feeling was so absolutely opposed to that pointed out by the Christian morality, that no reconciliation was possible. Revenge was the noblest sentiment and passion of man; forgiveness was a sin. The battle-field reeking with blood and fire was the highest beauty the earth could show; patient and peaceful labor was an abomination. It was quite natural, therefore, that the actual conflict between Christianity and Scandinavian paganism should take place in the field of morals. The pagans slew the missionaries, and burnt their schools and churches, not because they preached new gods, but because they "corrupted the morals of the people" (by averting them from their warlike pursuits), and when, after a contest of more than a century, it became apparent that Christianity would be victorious, the pagan heroes left the country in great swarms, as if they were flying from some awful plague. The first and hardest work which Christianity had to do in Scandinavia was generally humanitarian rather than specifically religious.


 § 29. The Christianization of Denmark. St. Ansgar.


Ansgarius: Pigmenta, ed. Lappenberg. Hamburg, 1844. Vita Wilehadi, in Pertz: Monumenta II.; and in Migne: Patrol. Tom. 118, pp. 1014–1051.

Rimbertus: Vita Ansgarii, in Pertz: Monumenta II., and in Migne, l.c. pp. 961–1011.

Adamus Bremensis (d. 1076): Gesta Hamenburgensis Eccl. pontificum (embracing the history of the archbishopric of Hamburg, of Scandinavia, Denmark, and Northwestern Germany, from 788–1072); reprinted in Pertz: Monumenta, VII.; separate edition by Lappenberg. Hanover, 1846.

Laurent: Leben der Erzb.  Ansgar und Rimbert. 1856.

A. Tappehorn: Leben d. h. Ansgar. 1863.

G. Dehio: Geschichte d. Erzb. Hamburg-Bremen. 1877.

H. N. A. Jensen: Schleswig-Holsteinische Kirchengeschichte, edit. A. L. J. Michelsen (1879).


During the sixth and seventh centuries the Danes first came in contact with Christianity, partly through their commercial intercourse with Duerstede in Holland, partly through their perpetual raids on Ireland; and tales of the "White Christ" were frequently told among them, though probably with no other effect than that of wonder. The first Christian missionary who visited them and worked among them was Willebrord. Born in Northumbria and educated within the pale of the Keltic Kirk he went out, in 690, as a missionary to the Frises. Expelled by them he came, about 700, to Denmark, was well received by king Yngrin (Ogendus), formed a congregation and bought thirty Danish boys, whom he educated in the Christian religion, and of whom one, Sigwald, is still remembered as the patron saint of Nuremberg, St. Sebaldus. But his work seems to have been of merely temporary effect.

Soon, however, the tremendous activity which Charlemagne developed as a political organizer, was felt even on the Danish frontier. His realm touched the Eyder. Political relations sprang up between the Roman empire and Denmark, and they opened a freer and broader entrance to the Christian missionaries. In Essehoe, in Holstein, Charlemagne built a chapel for the use of the garrison; in Hamburg he settled Heridock as the head of a Christian congregation; and from a passage in one of Alcuin’s letters127 it appears that a conversion of the Danes did not lie altogether outside of his plans. Under his successor, Lewis the Pious, Harald Klak, one of the many petty kings among whom Denmark was then divided, sought the emperor’s support and decision in a family feud, and Lewis sent archbishop Ebo of Rheims, celebrated both as a political negotiator and as a zealous missionary, to Denmark. In 822 Ebo crossed the Eyder, accompanied by bishop Halitgar of Cambray. In the following years he made several journeys to Denmark, preached, baptized, and established a station of the Danish mission at Cella Wellana, the present Welnau, near Essehoe. But he was too much occupied with the internal affairs of the empire and the opportunity which now opened for the Danish mission, demanded the whole and undivided energy of a great man. In 826 Harald Klak was expelled and sought refuge with the emperor, Ebo acting as a mediator. At Ingelheim, near Mentz, the king, the queen, their son and their whole retinue, were solemnly baptized, and when Harald shortly after returned to Denmark with support from the emperor, he was accompanied by that man who was destined to become the Apostle of the North, Ansgar.

Ansgar was born about 800 (according to general acceptation Sept. 9, 801) in the diocese of Amiens, of Frankish parents, and educated in the abbey of Corbie, under the guidance of Adalhard. Paschasius Radbertus was among his teachers. In 822 a missionary colony was planted by Corbie in Westphalia, and the German monastery of Corwey or New Corwey was founded. Hither Ansgar was removed, as teacher in the new school, and he soon acquired great fame both on account of his powers as a preacher and on account of his ardent piety. When still a boy he had holy visions, and was deeply impressed with the vanity of all earthly greatness. The crown of the martyr seemed to him the highest grace which human life could attain, and he ardently prayed that it might be given to him. The proposition to follow king Harald as a missionary, among the heathen Danes he immediately accepted, in spite of the remonstrances of his friends, and accompanied by Autbert he repaired, in 827, to Denmark, where he immediately established a missionary station at Hedeby, in the province of Schleswig. The task was difficult, but the beginning was not without success. Twelve young boys were bought to be educated as teachers, and not a few people were converted and baptized. His kindness to the poor, the sick, to all who were in distress, attracted attention; his fervor as a preacher and teacher produced sympathy without, as yet, provoking resistance. But in 829 king Harald was again expelled and retired to Riustri, a possession on the mouth of the Weser, which the emperor had given to him as a fief. Ansgar was compelled to follow him and the prospects of the Danish mission became very dark, the more so as Autbert had to give up any further participation in the work on account of ill health, and return to New Corwey. At this time an invitation from the Swedish king, Björn, gave Ansgar an opportunity to visit Sweden, and he stayed there till 831, when the establishment of an episcopal see at Hamburg, determined upon by the diet of Aix-le-chapelle in 831, promised to give the Danish mission a new impulse. All Scandinavia was laid under the new see, and Ansgar was consecrated its first bishop by bishop Drago of Metz, a brother of the emperor, with the solemn assistance of three archbishops, Ebo of Rheims, Hetti of Treves and Obgar of Mentz. A bull of Gregory IV.128  confirmed the whole arrangement, and Ansgar received personally the pallium from the hands of the Pope. In 834 the emperor endowed the see with the rich monastery of Thorout, in West Flanders, south of Bruges, and the work of the Danish mission could now be pushed with vigor. Enabled to treat with the petty kings of Denmark on terms of equality, and possessed of means to impress them with the importance of the cause, Ansgar made rapid progress, but, as was to be expected, the progress soon awakened opposition. In 834 a swarm of heathen Danes penetrated with a fleet of six hundred small vessels into the Elb under the command of king Horich I., and laid siege to Hamburg. The city was taken, sacked and burnt; the church which Ansgar had built, the monastery in which he lived, his library containing a copy of the Bible which the emperor had presented to him, etc., were destroyed and the Christians were driven away from the place. For many days Ansgar fled from hiding-place to hiding-place in imminent danger of his life. He sought refuge with the bishop of Bremen, but the bishop of Bremen was jealous, because Scandinavia had not been laid under his see, and refused to give any assistance. The revenues of Thorout he lost, as the emperor, Charles the Bald, gave the fief to one of his favorites. Even his own pupils deserted him.

In this great emergency his character shone forth in all its strength and splendor; he bore what God laid upon him in silence and made no complaint. Meanwhile Lewis the German came to his support. In 846 the see of Bremen became vacant. The see of Hamburg was then united to that of Bremen, and to this new see, which Ansgar was called to fill, a papal bull of May 31, 864, gave archiepiscopal rank. Installed in Bremen, Ansgar immediately took up again the Danish mission and again with success. He won even king Horich himself for the Christian cause, and obtained permission from him to build a church in Hedeby, the first Christian church in Denmark, dedicated to Our Lady. Under king Horich’s son this church was allowed to have bells, a particular horror to the heathens, and a new and larger church was commenced in Ribe. By Ansgar’s activity Christianity became an established and acknowledged institution in Denmark, and not only in Denmark but also in Sweden, which he visited once more, 848–850.

The principal feature of his spiritual character was ascetic severity; he wore a coarse hair-shirt close to the skin, fasted much and spent most of his time in prayer. But with this asceticism he connected a great deal of practical energy; he rebuked the idleness of the monks, demanded of his pupils that they should have some actual work at hand, and was often occupied in knitting, while praying. His enthusiasm and holy raptures were also singularly well-tempered by good common sense. To those who wished to extol his greatness and goodness by ascribing miracles to him, he said that the greatest miracle in his life would be, if God ever made a thoroughly pious man out of him.129  Most prominent, however, among the spiritual features of his character shines forth his unwavering faith in the final success of his cause and the never-failing patience with which this faith fortified his soul. In spite of apparent failure he never gave up his work; overwhelmed with disaster, he still continued it. From his death-bed he wrote a letter to king Lewis to recommend to him the Scandinavian mission. Other missionaries may have excelled him in sagacity and organizing talent, but none in heroic patience and humility. He died at Bremen, Feb. 3, 865, and lies buried there in the church dedicated to him. He was canonized by Nicholas I.

Ansgar’s successor in the archiepiscopal see of Hamburg-Bremen was his friend and biographer, Rimbert, 865–888. In his time all the petty kingdoms into which Denmark was divided, were gathered together under one sceptre by King Gorm the Old; but this event, in one respect very favorable to the rapid spread of Christianity, was in other respects a real obstacle to the Christian cause as it placed Denmark, politically, in opposition to Germany, which was the basis and only support of the Christian mission to Denmark. King Gorm himself was a grim heathen; but his queen, Thyra Danabod, had embraced Christianity, and both under Rimbert and his successor, Adalgar, 888–909, the Christian missionaries were allowed to work undisturbed. A new church, the third in Denmark, was built at Aarhus. But under Adalgar’s successor, Unni, 909–936, King Gorm’s fury, half political and half religious, suddenly burst forth. The churches were burnt, the missionaries were killed or expelled, and nothing but the decisive victory of Henry the Fowler, king of Germany, over the Danish king saved the Christians in Denmark from complete extermination. By the peace it was agreed that King Gorm should allow the preaching of Christianity in his realm, and Unni took up the cause again with great energy. Between Unni’s successor, Adaldag, 936–988, and King Harald Blue Tooth, a son of Gorm the Old, there grew up a relation which almost might be called a co-operation. Around the three churches in Jutland: Schleswig, Ribe and Aarhus, and a fourth in Fünen: Odense, bishoprics were formed, and Adaldag consecrated four native bishops. The church obtained right to accept and hold donations, and instances of very large endowments occurred.

The war between King Harald and the German king, Otto II., arose from merely political causes, but led to the baptism of the former, and soon after the royal residence was moved from Leire, one of the chief centres of Scandinavian heathendom, to Roeskilde, where a Christian church was built. Among the Danes, however, there was a large party which was very ill-pleased at this turn of affairs. They were heathens because heathenism was the only religion which suited their passions. They clung to Thor, not from conviction, but from pride. They looked down with indignation and dismay upon the transformation which Christianity everywhere effected both of the character and the life of the people. Finally they left the country and settled under the leadership of Palnatoke, at the mouth of the Oder, where they founded a kind of republic, Jomsborg.

From this place they waged a continuous war upon Christianity in Denmark for more than a decade, and with dreadful effect. The names of the martyrs would fill a whole volume, says Adam of Bremen. The church in Roeskilde was burnt. The bishopric of Fünen was abolished. The king’s own son, Swen, was one of the leaders, and the king himself was finally shot by Palnatoke, 991. Swen, however, soon fell out with the Joms vikings, and his invasion of England gave the warlike passions of the nation another direction.

From the conquest of that country and its union with Denmark, the Danish mission received a vigorous impulse. King Swen himself was converted, and showed great zeal for Christianity. He rebuilt the church in Roeskilde, erected a new church at Lund, in Skaane, placed the sign of the cross on his coins, and exhorted, on his death-bed, his son Canute to work for the Christianization of Denmark. The ardor of the Hamburg-Bremen archbishops for the Danish mission seemed at this time to have cooled, or perhaps the growing difference between the language spoken to the north of the Eyder and that spoken to the south of that river made missionary work in Denmark very difficult for a German preacher. Ansgar had not felt this difference; but two centuries later it had probably become necessary for the German missionary to learn a foreign language before entering on his work in Denmark.

Between England and Denmark there existed no such difference of language. King Canute the Great, during whose reign (1019–1035) the conversion of Denmark was completed, could employ English priests and monks in Denmark without the least embarrassment. He re-established the bishopric of Fünen, and founded two new bishoprics in Sealand and Skaane; and these three sees were filled with Englishmen consecrated by the archbishop of Canterbury. He invited a number of English monks to Denmark, and settled them partly as ecclesiastics at the churches, partly in small missionary stations, scattered all around in the country; and everywhere, in the style of the church-building and in the character of the service the English influence was predominating. This circumstance, however, did in no way affect the ecclesiastical relation between Denmark and the archiepiscopal see of Hamburg-Bremen. The authority of the archbishop, though not altogether unassailed, was nevertheless generally submitted to with good grace, and until in the twelfth century an independent Scandinavian archbishopric was established at Lund, with the exception of the above cases, he always appointed and consecrated the Danish bishops. Also the relation to the Pope was very cordial. Canute made a pilgrimage to Rome, and founded several Hospitia Danorum there. He refused, however, to permit the introduction of the Peter’s pence in Denmark, and the tribute which, up to the fourteenth century, was annually sent from that country to Rome, was considered a voluntary gift.

The last part of Denmark which was converted was the island of Bornholm. It was christianized in 1060 by Bishop Egius of Lund. It is noticeable, however, that in Denmark Christianity was not made a part of the law of the land, such as was the case in England and in Norway.


 § 30. The Christianization of Sweden.


Rimbertus: Vita Ansgarii, in Pertz: Monumenta II.

Adamus Bremensis: Gesta Ham. Eccl. Pont., in Pertz: Monumenta VII; separate edition by Lappenberg. Hanover, 1846.

Historia S. Sigfridi, in Scriptt. Rer. Suec. Medii-oevi, T. II.


Just when the expulsion of Harald Klak compelled Ansgar to give up the Danish mission, at least for the time being, an embassy was sent by the Swedish king, Björn, to the emperor, Lewis the Pious, asking him to send Christian missionaries to Sweden. Like the Danes, the Swedes had become acquainted with Christianity through their wars and commercial connections with foreign countries, and with many this acquaintance appears to have awakened an actual desire to become Christians. Accordingly Ansgar went to Sweden in 829, accompanied by Witmar. While crossing the Baltic, the vessel was overtaken and plundered by pirates, and he arrived empty handed, not to say destitute, at Björkö or Birka, the residence of King Björn, situated on an island in the Maelarn. Although poverty, and misery were very poor introduction to a heathen king in ancient Scandinavia, he was well received by the king; and in Hergeir, one of the most prominent men at the court of Birka, he found a warm and reliable friend. Hergeir built the first Christian chapel in Sweden, and during his whole life he proved an unfailing and powerful support of the Christian cause. After two years’ successful labor, Ansgar returned to Germany; but he did not forget the work begun. As soon as he was well established as bishop in Hamburg, he sent, in 834, Gautbert, a nephew of Ebo, to Sweden, accompanied by Nithard and a number of other Christian priests, and well provided with everything necessary for the work. Gautbert labored with great success. In Birka he built a church, and thus it became possible for the Christians, scattered all over Sweden, to celebrate service and partake of the Lord’s Supper in their own country without going to Duerstede or some other foreign place. But here, as in Denmark, the success of the Christian mission aroused the jealousy and hatred of the heathen, and, at last, even Hergeir was not able to keep them within bounds. An infuriated swarm broke into the house of Gautbert. The house was plundered; Nithard was murdered; the church was burnt, and Gautbert himself was sent in chains beyond the frontier. He never returned to Sweden, but died as bishop of Osnabrück, shortly before Ansgar. When Ansgar first heard of the outbreak in Sweden, he was himself flying before the fury of the Danish heathen, and for several years he was unable to do anything for the Swedish mission. Ardgar, a former hermit, now a priest, went to Sweden, and in Birka he found that Hergeir had succeeded in keeping together and defending the Christian congregation; but Hergeir died shortly after, and with him fell the last defence against the attacks of the heathen and barbarians.

Meanwhile Ansgar had been established in the archiepiscopal see of Hamburg-Bremen. In 848, he determined to go himself to Sweden. The costly presents he gave to king Olaf, the urgent letters he brought from the emperor, and the king of Denmark, the magnificence and solemnity of the appearance of the mission made a deep impression. The king promised that the question should be laid before the assembled people, whether or not they would allow Christianity to be preached again in the country. In the assembly it was the address of an old Swede, proving that the god of the Christians was stronger even than Thor, and that it was poor policy for a nation not to have the strongest god, which finally turned the scales, and once more the Christian missionaries were allowed to preach undisturbed in the country, . Before Ansgar left, in 850, the church was rebuilt in Birka, and, for a number of years, the missionary labor was continued with great zeal by Erimbert, a nephew of Gautbert, by Ansfrid, born a Dane, and by Rimbert, also a Dane.

Nevertheless, although the persecutions ceased, Christianity made little progress, and when, in 935, Archbishop Unni himself visited Birka, his principal labor consisted in bringing back to the Christian fold such members as had strayed away among the heathen, and forgotten their faith. Half a century later, however, during the reign of Olaf Skotkonge, the mission received a vigorous impulse. The king himself and his sons were won for the Christian cause, and from Denmark a number of English missionaries entered the country. The most prominent among these was Sigfrid, who has been mentioned beside Ansgar as the apostle of the North. By his exertions many were converted, and Christianity became a legally recognized religion in the country beside the old heathenism. In the Southern part of Sweden, heathen sacrifices ceased, and heathen altars disappeared. In the Northern part, however, the old faith still continued to live on, partly because it was difficult for the missionaries to penetrate into those wild and forbidding regions, partly because there existed a difference of tribe between the Northern and Southern Swedes, which again gave rise to political differences.

The Christianization of Sweden was not completed until the middle of the twelfth century.


 § 31. The Christianization of Norway and Iceland.


Snorre Sturleson (d. 1241): Heimskringla (i.e. Circle of Home, written first in Icelandic), seu Historia Regum Septentrionalium, etc. Stockholm, 1697, 2 vols. The same in Icelandic, Danish, and Latin. Havn., 1777–1826; in German by Mohnike, 1835; in English, transl. by Sam. Laing. London, 1844, 3 vols. This history of the Norwegian kings reaches from the mythological age to a.d. 1177.

N. P. Sibbern: Bibliotheca Historica Dano-Norvegica. Hamburg, 1716. Fornmanna-Sögur seu Scripta Hist. Islandorum. Hafniae, 1828.

K. Maurer: Bekehrung des Norwegischen Stammes zum Christenthum. München, 1855–56, 2 vols.

Thomas Carlyle: Early Kings of Norway. London and N. York, 1875.

G. F. Maclear: The Conversion of the Northmen. London, 1879.


Christianity was introduced in Norway almost exclusively by the exertions of the kings, and the means employed were chiefly violence and tricks. The people accepted Christianity not because they had become acquainted with it and felt a craving for it, but because they were compelled to accept it, and the result was that heathen customs and heathen ideas lived on in Christian Norway for centuries after they had disappeared from the rest of Scandinavia.

The first attempt to introduce Christianity in the country was made in the middle of the tenth century by Hakon the Good. Norway was gathered into one state in the latter part of the ninth century by Harald Haarfagr, but internal wars broke out again under Harald’s son and successor, Eric. These troubles induced Hakon, an illegitimate son of Harald Haarfagr and educated in England at the court of king Athelstan, to return to Norway and lay claim to the crown. He succeeded in gaining a party in his favor, expelled Eric and conquered all Norway, where he soon became exceedingly popular, partly on account of his valor and military ability, partly also on account of the refinement and suavity of his manners. Hakon was a Christian, and the Christianization of Norway seems to have been his highest goal from the very first days of his reign. But he was prudent. Without attracting any great attention to the matter, he won over to Christianity a number of those who stood nearest to him, called Christian priests from England, and built a church at Drontheim. Meanwhile he began to think that the time had come for a more public and more decisive step, and at the great Frostething, where all the most prominent men of the country were assembled, he addressed the people on the matter and exhorted them to become Christians. The answer he received was very characteristic. They had no objection to Christianity itself, for they did not know what it meant, but they suspected the king’s proposition, as if it were a political stratagem by means of which he intended to defraud them of their political rights and liberties. Thus they not only refused to become Christians themselves, but even compelled the king to partake in their heathen festivals and offer sacrifices to their heathen gods. The king was very indignant and determined to take revenge, but just as he had got an army together, the sons of the expelled Eric landed in Norway and in the battle against them, 961, he received a deadly wound.

The sons of Eric, who had lived in England during their exile, were likewise Christians, and they took up the cause of Christianity in a very high-handed manner, overthrowing the heathen altars and forbidding sacrifices. But the impression they made was merely odious, and their successor, Hakon Jarl, was a rank heathen. The first time Christianity really gained a footing in Norway, was under Olaf Trygveson. Descended from Harald Haarfagr, but sold, while a child, as a slave in Esthonia, he was ransomed by a relative who incidentally met him and recognized his own kin in the beauty of the boy, and was educated at Moscow. Afterwards he roved about much in Denmark, Wendland, England and Ireland, living as a sea-king. In England he became acquainted with Christianity and immediately embraced it, but he carried his viking-nature almost unchanged over into Christianity, and a fiercer knight of the cross was probably never seen. Invited to Norway by a party which had grown impatient of the tyranny of Hakon Jarl, he easily made himself master of the country, in 995, and immediately set about making Christianity its religion, "punishing severely," as Snorre says, "all who opposed him, killing some, mutilating others, and driving the rest into banishment."  In the Southern part there still lingered a remembrance of Christianity from the days of Hakon the Good, and things went on here somewhat more smoothly, though Olaf more than once gave the people assembled in council with him the choice between fighting him or accepting baptism forthwith. But in the Northern part all the craft and all the energy of the king were needed in order to overcome the opposition. Once, at a great heathen festival at Moere, he told the assembled people that, if he should return to the heathen gods it would be necessary for him to make some great and awful sacrifice, and accordingly he seized twelve of the most prominent men present and prepared to sacrifice them to Thor. They were rescued, however, when the whole assembly accepted Christianity and were baptized. In the year 1000, he fell in a battle against the united Danish and Swedish kings, but though he reigned only five years, he nevertheless succeeded in establishing Christianity as the religion of Norway and, what is still more remarkable, no general relapse into heathenism seems to have taken place after his death.

During the reign of Olaf the Saint, who ruled from a.d. 1014–’30, the Christianization of the country was completed. His task it was to uproot heathenism wherever it was still found lurking, and to give the Christian religion an ecclesiastical organization. Like his predecessors, he used craft and violence to reach his goal. Heathen idols and altars disappeared, heathen customs and festivals were suppressed, the civil laws were brought into conformity with the rules of Christian morals. The country was divided into dioceses and parishes, churches were built, and regular revenues were raised for the sustenance of the clergy. For the most part he employed English monks and priests, but with the consent of the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, under whose authority he placed the Norwegian church. After his death, in the battle of Stiklestad, July 29, 1030, he was canonized and became the patron saint of Norway.

To Norway belonged, at that time, Iceland. From Icelandic tradition as well as from the "De Mensura Orbis" by Dicuilus, an Irish monk in the beginning of the ninth century, it appears that Culdee anchorites used to retire to Iceland as early as the beginning of the eighth century, while the island was still uninhabited. These anchorites, however, seem to have had no influence whatever on the Norwegian settlers who, flying from the tyranny of Harald Haarfagr, came to Iceland in the latter part of the ninth century and began to people the country. The new-comers were heathen, and they looked with amazement at Auda the Rich, the widow of Olaf the White, king of Dublin, who in 892 took up her abode in Iceland and reared a lofty cross in front of her house. But the Icelanders were great travellers, and one of them, Thorvald Kodranson, who in Saxony had embraced Christianity, brought bishop Frederic home to Iceland. Frederic stayed there for four years, and his preaching found easy access among the people. The mission of Thangbrand in the latter part of the tenth century failed, but when Norway, or at least the Norwegian coast, became Christian, the intimate relation between Iceland and Norway soon brought the germs which Frederic had planted, into rapid growth, and in the year 1000 the Icelandic Althing declared Christianity to be the established religion of the country. The first church was built shortly after from timber sent by Olaf the Saint from Norway to the treeless island.






 § 32. General Survey.


A. Regenvolscius: Systema Hist. chronol. Ecclesiarum Slavonic. Traj. ad Rhen., 1652.

A. Wengerscius: Hist. ecclesiast. Ecclesiarum Slavonic. Amst., 1689.

Kohlius: Introductio in Hist. Slavorum imprimis sacram. Altona, 1704.

J. Ch. Jordan: Origines Slavicae. Vindob., 1745.

S. de Bohusz: Recherches hist. sur l’origine des Sarmates, des Esclavons, et des Slaves, et sur les époques de la conversion de ces peuples. St. Petersburg and London, 1812.

P. J. Schafarik: Slavische Alterthümer. Leipzig, 1844, 2 vols.

Horvat: Urgeschichte der Slaven. Pest, 1844.

W. A. Maciejowsky: Essai Hist. sur l’église ehrét. primitive de deux rites chez les Slaves. Translated from Polish into French by L. F. Sauvet, Paris, 1846.


At what time the Slavs first made their appearance in Europe is not known. Latin and Greek writers of the second half of the sixth century, such as Procopius, Jornandes, Agathias, the emperor Mauritius and others, knew only those Slavs who lived along the frontiers of the Roman empire. In the era of Charlemagne the Slavs occupied the whole of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Balkan; the Obotrites and Wends between the Elbe and the Vistula; the Poles around the Vistula, and behind them the Russians; the Czechs in Bohemia. Further to the South the compact mass of Slavs was split by the invasion of various Finnish or Turanian tribes; the Huns in the fifth century, the Avars in the sixth, the Bulgarians in the seventh, the Magyars in the ninth. The Avars penetrated to the Adriatic, but were thrown back in 640 by the Bulgarians; they then settled in Panonia, were subdued and converted by Charlemagne, 791–796, and disappeared altogether from history in the ninth century. The Bulgarians adopted the Slavic language and became Slavs, not only in language, but also in customs and habits. Only the Magyars, who settled around the Theiss and the Danube, and are the ruling race in Hungary, vindicated themselves as a distinct nationality.

The great mass of Slavs had no common political organization, but formed a number of kingdoms, which flourished, some for a shorter, and others for a longer period, such as Moravia, Bulgaria, Bohemia, Poland, and Russia. In a religious respect also great differences existed among them. They were agriculturists, and their gods were representatives of natural forces; but while Radigost and Sviatovit, worshipped by the Obotrites and Wends, were cruel gods, in whose temples, especially at Arcona in the island of Rügen, human beings were sacrificed, Svarog worshipped by the Poles, and Dazhbog, worshipped by the Bohemians, were mild gods, who demanded love and prayer. Common to all Slavs, however, was a very elaborate belief in fairies and trolls; and polygamy, sometimes connected with sutteeism, widely prevailed among them. Their conversion was attempted both by Constantinople and by Rome; but the chaotic and ever-shifting political conditions under which they lived, the rising difference and jealousy between the Eastern and Western churches, and the great difficulty which the missionaries experienced in learning their language, presented formidable obstacles, and at the close of the period the work was not yet completed.


 § 33. Christian Missions among the Wends.


ADAM Of BRENEN (d. 1067): Gesta Hammenb. (Hamburgensis) Eccl. Pont., in Pertz: Monumenta Germ., VII.

Helmoldus (d. 1147) and Arnoldus Lubecensis: Chronicon Slavorum sive Annales Slavorum, from Charlemagne to 1170, ed. H. Bangert. Lubecae, 1659. German translation by Laurent. Berlin, 1852.

Spieker: Kirchengeschichte der Mark Brandenburg. Berlin, 1839.

Wiggers: Kirchengeschichte Mecklenburgs. Parchim, 1840.

Giesebrecht: Wendische Geschichten. Berlin, 1843.


Charlemagne was the first who attempted to introduce Christianity among the Slavic tribes which, under the collective name of Wends, occupied the Northern part of Germany, along the coast of the Baltic, from the mouth of the Elbe to the Vistula: Wagrians in Holstein, Obotrites in Mecklenburg, Sorbians on the Saxon boundary, Wilzians in Brandenburg, etc. But in the hands of Charlemagne, the Christian mission was a political weapon; and to the Slavs, acceptation of Christianity became synonymous with political and national subjugation. Hence their fury against Christianity which, time after time, broke forth, volcano-like, and completely destroyed the work of the missionaries. The decisive victories which Otto I. gained over the Wends, gave him an opportunity to attempt, on a large scale, the establishment of the Christian church among them. Episcopal sees were founded at Havelberg in 946, at Altenburg or Oldenburg in 948, at Meissen, Merseburg, and Zeitz in 968, and in the last year an archiepiscopal see was founded at Magdeburg. Boso, a monk from St. Emmeran, at Regensburg, who first had translated the formulas of the liturgy into the language of the natives, became bishop of Merseburg, and Adalbert, who first had preached Christianity in the island of Rügen, became archbishop.

But again the Christian church was used as a means for political purposes, and, in the reign of Otto II., a fearful rising took place among the Wends under the leadership of Prince Mistiwoi. He had become a Christian himself; but, indignant at the suppression which was practiced in the name of the Christian religion, he returned to heathenism, assembled the tribes at Rethre, one of the chief centres of Wendish heathendom, and began, in 983, a war which spread devastation all over Northern Germany. The churches and monasteries were burnt, and the Christian priests were expelled. Afterwards Mistiwoi was seized with remorse, and tried to cure the evil he had done in an outburst of passion. But then his subjects abandoned him; he left the country, and spent the last days of his life in a Christian monastery at Bardewick. His grandson, Gottschalk, whose Slavic name is unknown, was educated in the Christian faith in the monastery of St. Michael., near Lüneburg; but when he heard that his father, Uto, had been murdered, 1032, the old heathen instincts of revenge at once awakened within him. He left the monastery, abandoned Christianity, and raised a storm of persecution against the Christians, which swept over all Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, and Holstein. Defeated and taken prisoner by Bernard of Lower Saxony, he returned to Christianity; lived afterwards at the court of Canute the Great in Denmark and England; married a Danish princess, and was made ruler of the Obotrites. A great warrior, he conquered Holstein and Pommerania, and formed a powerful Wendish empire; and on this solid political foundation, he attempted, with considerable success, to build up the Christian church. The old bishoprics were re-established, and new ones were founded at Razzeburg and Mecklenburg; monasteries were built at Leuzen, Oldenburg, Razzeburg, Lübeck, and Mecklenburg; missionaries were provided by Adalbert, archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen; the liturgy was translated into the native tongue, and revenues were raised for the support of the clergy, the churches, and the service.

But, as might have been expected, the deeper Christianity penetrated into the mass of the people, the fiercer became the resistance of the heathen. Gottschalk was murdered at Lentz, June 7, 1066, together with his old teacher, Abbot Uppo, and a general rising now took place. The churches and schools were destroyed; the priests and monks were stoned or killed as sacrifices on the heathen altars; and Christianity, was literally swept out of the country. It took several decades before a new beginning could be made, and the final Christianization of the Wends was not achieved until the middle of the twelfth century.


 § 34. Cyrillus and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs. Christianization of Moravia, Bohemia and Poland.


F. M. Pelzel et J. Dobrowsky: Rerrum Bohemic. Scriptores. Prague.

Friese: Kirchengeschichte d. Konigreichs Polen. Breslau, 1786.

Franz. Palacky: Geschichte von Böhmen. Prague, 3d ed., 1864 sqq., 5 vols. (down to 1520).

Wattenbach: Geschichte d. christl. Kirche in Böhmen und Mähren. Wien, 1849.

A. Friud: Die Kirchengesch. Böhmens. Prague, 1863 sqq.

Biographies of Cyrillus and Methodius, by J. Dobrowsky (Prague, 1823, and 1826); J. A. Ginzel (Geschichte der Slawenapostel und der Slawischen Liturgie. Leitmeritz, 1857); Philaret (in the Russian, German translation, Mitau, 1847); J. E. Biley (Prague, 1863); Dümmler and F. Milkosisch (Wien, 1870).


The Moravian Slavs were subjugated by Charlemagne, and the bishop of Passau was charged with the establishment of a Christian mission among them. Moymir, their chief, was converted and bishoprics were founded at Olmütz and Nitra. But Lewis the German suspected Moymir of striving after independence and supplanted him by Rastislaw or Radislaw. Rastislaw, however, accomplished what Moymir had only been suspected of. He formed an independent Moravian kingdom and defeated Lewis the German, and with the political he also broke the ecclesiastical connections with Germany, requesting the Byzantine emperor, Michael III., to send him some Greek missionaries.

Cyrillus and Methodius became the apostles of the Slavs. Cyrillus, whose original name was Constantinus, was born at Thessalonica, in the first half of the ninth century, and studied philosophy in Constantinople, whence his by-name: the philosopher. Afterwards he devoted himself to the study of theology, and went to live, together with his brother Methodius, in a monastery. A strong ascetic, he became a zealous missionary. In 860 he visited the Chazares, a Tartar tribe settled on the North-Eastern shore of the Black Sea, and planted a Christian church there. He afterward labored among the Bulgarians and finally went, in company with his brother, to Moravia, on the invitation of Rastislaw, in 863.

Cyrillus understood the Slavic language, and succeeded in making it available for literary purposes by inventing a suitable alphabet. He used Greek letters, with some Armenian and Hebrew, and some original letters. His Slavonic alphabet is still used with alterations in Russia, Wallachia, Moldavia, Bulgaria, and Servia. He translated the liturgy and the pericopes into Slavic, and his ability to preach and celebrate service in the native language soon brought hundreds of converts into his fold. A national Slavic church rapidly arose; the German priests with the Latin liturgy left the country. It corresponded well with the political plans of Rastislaw, to have a church establishment entirely independent of the German prelates, but in the difference which now developed between the Eastern and Western churches, it was quite natural for the young Slavic church to connect itself with Rome and not with Constantinople, partly because Cyrillus always had shown a kind of partiality to Rome, partly because the prudence and discrimination with which Pope Nicholas I. recently had interfered in the Bulgarian church, must have made a good impression.

In 868 Cyrillus and Methodius went to Rome, and a perfect agreement was arrived at between them and Pope Adrian II., both with respect to the use of the Slavic language in religious service and with respect to the independent position of the Slavic church, subject only to the authority of the Pope. Cyrillus died in Rome, Feb. 14, 869, but Methodius returned to Moravia, having been consecrated archbishop of the Pannonian diocese.

The organization of this new diocese of Pannonia was, to some extent, an encroachment on the dioceses of Passau and Salzburg, and such an encroachment must have been so much the more irritating to the German prelates, as they really had been the first to sow the seed of Christianity among the Slavs. The growing difference between the Eastern and Western churches also had its effect. The German clergy considered the use of the Slavic language in the mass an unwarranted innovation, and the Greek doctrine of the single procession of the Holy Spirit, still adhered to by Methodius and the Slavic church, they considered as a heresy. Their attacks, however, had at first no practical consequences, but when Rastislaw was succeeded in 870 by Swatopluk, and Adrian II. in 872 by John VIII., the position of Methodius became difficult. Once more, in 879, he was summoned to Rome, and although, this time too, a perfect agreement was arrived at, by which the independence of the Slavic church was confirmed, and all her natural peculiarities were acknowledged, neither the energy of Methodius, nor the support of the Pope was able to defend her against the attacks which now were made upon her both from without and from within. Swatopluk inclined towards the German-Roman views, and Wichin one of Methodius’s bishops, became their powerful champion.

After the death of Swatopluk, the Moravian kingdom fell to pieces and was divided between the Germans, the Czechs of Bohemia, and the Magyars of Hungary; and thereby the Slavic church lost, so to speak, its very foundation. Methodius died between 881 and 910. At the opening of the tenth century the Slavic church had entirely lost its national character. The Slavic priests were expelled and the Slavic liturgy abolished, German priests and the Latin liturgy taking their place. The expelled priests fled to Bulgaria, whither they brought the Slavic translations of the Bible and the liturgy.

Neither Charlemagne nor Lewis the Pious succeeded in subjugating Bohemia, and although the country was added to the diocese of Regensburg, the inhabitants remained pagans. But when Bohemia became a dependency of the Moravian empire and Swatopluk married a daughter of the Bohemian duke, Borziwai, a door was opened to Christianity. Borziwai and his wife, Ludmilla, were baptized, and their children were educated in the Christian faith. Nevertheless, when Wratislav, Borziwai’s son and successor, died in 925, a violent reaction took place. He left two sons, Wenzeslav and Boleslav, who were placed under the tutelage of their grandmother, Ludmilla. But their mother, Drahomira, was an inveterate heathen, and she caused the murder first of Ludmilla, and then of Wenzeslav, 938. Boleslav, surnamed the Cruel, had his mother’s nature and also her faith, and he almost succeeded in sweeping Christianity out of Bohemia. But in 950 he was utterly defeated by the emperor, Otto I., and compelled not only to admit the Christian priests into the country, but also to rebuild the churches which had been destroyed, and this misfortune seems actually to have changed his mind. He now became, if not friendly, at least forbearing to his Christian subjects, and, during the reign of his son and successor, Boleslav the Mild, the Christian Church progressed so far in Bohemia that an independent archbishopric was founded in Prague. The mass of the people, however, still remained barbarous, and heathenish customs and ideas lingered among them for more than a century. Adalbert, archbishop of Prague, from 983 to 997,130 preached against polygamy, the trade in Christian slaves, chiefly carried on by the Jews, but in vain. Twice he left his see, disgusted and discouraged; finally he was martyred by the Prussian Wends. Not until 1038 archbishop Severus succeeded in enforcing laws concerning marriage, the celebration of the Lord’s Day, and other points of Christian morals. About the contest between the Romano-Slavic and the Romano-Germanic churches in Bohemia, nothing is known. Legend tells that Methodius himself baptized Borziwai and Ludmilla, and the first missionary, work was, no doubt, done by Slavic priests, but at the time of Adalbert the Germanic tendency was prevailing.

Also among the Poles the Gospel was first preached by Slavic missionaries, and Cyrillus and Methodius are celebrated in the Polish liturgy131 as the apostles of the country. As the Moravian empire under Rastislaw comprised vast regions which afterward belonged to the kingdom of Poland, it is only natural that the movement started by Cyrillus and Methodius should have reached also these regions, and the name of at least one Slavic missionary among the Poles, Wiznach, is known to history.

After the breaking up of the Moravian kingdom, Moravian nobles and priests sought refuge in Poland, and during the reign of duke Semovit Christianity had become so powerful among the Poles, that it began to excite the jealousy of the pagans, and a violent contest took place. By the marriage between Duke Mieczyslav and the Bohemian princess Dombrowka, a sister of Boleslav the Mild, the influence of Christianity became still stronger. Dombrowka brought a number of Bohemian priests with her to Poland, 965, and in the following year Mieczyslav himself was converted and baptized. With characteristic arrogance he simply demanded that all his subjects should follow his example, and the pagan idols were now burnt or thrown into the river, pagan sacrifices were forbidden and severely punished, and Christian churches were built. So far the introduction of Christianity among the Poles was entirely due to Slavic influences, but at this time the close political connection between Duke Mieczyslav and Otto I. opened the way for a powerful German influence. Mieczyslav borrowed the whole organization of the Polish church from Germany. It was on the advice of Otto I. that he founded the first Polish bishopric at Posen and placed it under the authority of the archbishop of Magdeburg. German priests, representing Roman doctrines and rites, and using the Latin language, began to work beside the Slavic priests who represented Greek doctrines and rites and used the native language, and when finally the Polish church was placed wholly under the authority of Rome, this was not due to any spontaneous movement within the church itself, such as Polish chroniclers like to represent it, but to the influence of the German emperor and the German church. Under Mieczyslav’s son, Boleslav Chrobry, the first king of Poland and one of the most brilliant heroes of Polish history, Poland, although christianized only on the surface, became itself the basis for missionary labor among other Slavic tribes.

It was Boleslav who sent Adalbert of Prague among the Wends, and when Adalbert here was pitifully martyred, Boleslav ransomed his remains, had them buried at Gnesen (whence they afterwards were carried to Prague), and founded here an archiepiscopal see, around which the Polish church was finally consolidated. The Christian mission, however, was in the hands of Boleslav, just as it often had been in the hands of the German emperors, and sometimes even in the hands of the Pope himself, nothing but a political weapon. The mass of the population of his own realm was still pagan in their very hearts. Annually the Poles assembled on the day on which their idols had been thrown into the rivers or burnt, and celebrated the memory of their gods by dismal dirges,132 and the simplest rules of Christian morals could be enforced only by the application of the most barbarous punishments. Yea, under the political disturbances which occurred after the death of Mieczyslav II., 1034, a general outburst of heathenism took place throughout the Polish kingdom, and it took a long time before it was fully put down.


 § 35. The Conversion of the Bulgarians.


Constantinus Porphyrogenitus: Life of Basilius Macedo, in Hist. Byzant. Continuatores post Theophanem. Greek and Latin, Paris, 1685.

Photii Epistola, ed. Richard. Montacutius. London, 1647.

Nicholas I.: Responsa ad Consulta Bulgarorum, in Mansi: Coll. Concil., Tom. XV., pp. 401–434; and in Harduin: Coll. Concil., V., pp. 353–386.

A. Pichler: Geschichte der kirchlichen Trennung zwischen dem Orient und Occident. München, 1864, I., pp. 192 sqq.

Comp. the biographies of Cyrillus and Methodius, mentioned in § 34.


The Bulgarians were of Turanian descent, but, having lived for centuries among Slavic nations, they had adopted Slavic language, religion, customs and habits. Occupying the plains between the Danube and the Balkan range, they made frequent inroads into the territory of the Byzantine empire. In 813 they conquered Adrianople and carried a number of Christians, among whom was the bishop himself, as prisoners to Bulgaria. Here these Christian prisoners formed a congregation and began to labor for the conversion of their captors, though not with any great success, as it would seem, since the bishop was martyred. But in 861 a sister of the Bulgarian prince, Bogoris, who had been carried as a prisoner to Constantinople, and educated there in the Christian faith, returned to her native country, and her exertions for the conversion of her brother at last succeeded.

Methodius was sent to her aid, and a picture he painted of the last judgment is said to have made an overwhelming impression on Bogoris, and determined him to embrace Christianity. He was baptized in 863, and entered immediately in correspondence with Photius, the patriarch of Constantinople. His baptism, however, occasioned a revolt among his subjects, and the horrible punishment, which he inflicted upon the rebels, shows how little as yet he had understood the teachings of Christianity.

Meanwhile Greek missionaries, mostly monks, had entered the country, but they were intriguing, arrogant, and produced nothing but confusion among the people. In 865 Bogoris addressed himself to Pope Nicolas I., asking for Roman missionaries, and laying before the Pope one hundred and six questions concerning Christian doctrines, morals and ritual, which he wished to have answered. The Pope sent two bishops to Bulgaria, and gave Bogoris very elaborate and sensible answers to his questions.

Nevertheless, the Roman mission did not succeed either. The Bulgarians disliked to submit to any foreign authority. They desired the establishment of an independent national church, but this was not to be gained either from Rome or from Constantinople. Finally the Byzantine emperor, Basilius Macedo, succeeded in establishing Greek bishops and a Greek archbishop in the country, and thus the Bulgarian church came under the authority of the patriarch of Constantinople, but its history up to this very day has been a continuous struggle against this authority. The church is now ruled by a Holy Synod, with an independent exarch.

Fearful atrocities of the Turks against the Christians gave rise to the Russo-Turkish war in 1877, and resulted in the independence of Bulgaria, which by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878 was constituted into "an autonomous and tributary principality, under the suzerainty of the Sultan," but with a Christian government and a national militia. Religious proselytism is prohibited, and religious school-books must be previously examined by the Holy Synod. But Protestant missionaries are at work among the people, and practically enjoy full liberty.


 § 36. The Conversion of the Magyars.


Joh. de Thwrocz: Chronica Hungarorum, in Schwandtner: Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, I. Vienna, 1746–8.

Vita S. Stephani, in Act. Sanctor. September.

Vita S. Adalberti, in Monument. German. IV.

Horvath: History of Hungary. Pest, 1842–46.

Aug. Theiner: Monumenta vetera historica Hungariam sacram illustrantia. Rom., 1859, 1860, 2 Tom. fol.


The Magyars, belonging to the Turanian family of nations, and allied to the Finns and the Turks, penetrated into Europe in the ninth century, and settled, in 884, in the plains between the Bug and the Sereth, near the mouth of the Danube. On the instigation of the Byzantine emperor, Leo the Wise, they attacked the Bulgarians, and completely defeated them. The military renown they thus acquired gave them a new opportunity. The Frankish king Arnulf invoked their aid against Swatopluk, the ruler of the Moravian empire. Swatopluk, too, was defeated, and his realm was divided between the victors. The Magyars, retracing their steps across the Carpathian range, settled in the plains around the Theiss and the Danube, the country which their forefathers, the Huns, once had ruled over, the, present Hungary. They were a wild and fierce race, worshipping one supreme god under the guise of various natural phenomena: the sky, the river, etc. They had no temples and no priesthood, and their sacrifices consisted of animals only, mostly horses. But the oath was kept sacred among them, and their marriages were monogamous, and inaugurated with religious rites.

The first acquaintance with Christianity the Magyars made through their connections with the Byzantine court, without any further consequences. But after settling in Hungary, where they were surrounded on all sides by Christian nations, they were compelled, in 950, by the emperor, Otto I., to allow the bishop of Passau to send missionaries into their country; and various circumstances contributed to make this mission a rapid and complete success. Their prince, Geyza, had married a daughter of the Transylvanian prince, Gyula, and this princess, Savolta, had been educated in the Christian faith. Thus Geyza felt friendly towards the Christians; and as soon as this became known, Christianity broke forth from the mass of the population like flowers from the earth when spring has come. The people which the Magyars had subdued when settling in Hungary, and the captives whom they had carried along with them from Bulgaria and Moravia, were Christians. Hitherto these Christians had concealed their religion from fear of their rulers, and their children had been baptized clandestinely; but now they assembled in great multitudes around the missionaries, and the entrance of Christianity into Hungary looked like a triumphal march.133

Political disturbances afterwards interrupted this progress, but only for a short time. Adalbert of Prague visited the country, and made a great impression. He baptized Geyza’s son, Voik, born in 961, and gave him the name of Stephanus, 994. Adalbert’s pupil, Rodla, remained for a longer period in the country, and was held in so high esteem by the people, that they afterwards would not let him go. When Stephanus ascended the throne in 997, he determined at once to establish Christianity as the sole religion of his realm, and ordered that all Magyars should be baptized, and that all Christian slaves should be set free. This, however, caused a rising of the pagan party under the head of Kuppa, a relative of Stephanus; but Kuppa was defeated at Veszprim, and the order had to be obeyed.

Stephanus’ marriage with Gisela, a relative of the emperor, Otto III., brought him in still closer contact with the German empire, and he, like Mieczyslav of Poland, borrowed the whole ecclesiastical organization from the German church. Ten bishoprics were formed, and placed under the authority of the archbishop of Gran on the Danube (which is still the seat of the primate of Hungary); churches were built, schools and monasteries were founded, and rich revenues were procured for their support; the clergy was declared the first order in rank, and the Latin language was made the official language not only in ecclesiastical, but also in secular matters. As a reward for his zeal, Stephanus was presented by Pope Silvester II. with a golden crown, and, in the year 1000, he was solemnly crowned king by the archbishop of Gran, while a papal bull conferred on him the title of "His Apostolic Majesty."  And, indeed, Stephanus was the apostle of the Magyars. As most of the priests and monks, called from Germany, did not understand the language of the people, the king himself travelled about from town to town, preached, prayed, and exhorted all to keep the Lord’s Day, the fast, and other Christian duties. Nevertheless, it took a long time before Christianity really took hold of the Magyars, chiefly on account of the deep gulf created between the priests and their flocks, partly by the difference of language, partly by the exceptional position which Stephanus had given the clergy in the community, and which the clergy soon learned to utilize for selfish purposes. Twice during the eleventh century there occurred heavy relapses into paganism; in 1045, under King Andreas, and in 1060, under King Bela.


 § 37. The Christianization of Russia.


Nestor (monk of Kieff, the oldest Russian annalist, d. 1116): Annales, or Chronicon (from the building of the Babylonian tower to 1093). Continued by Niphontes (Nifon) from 1116–1157, and by others to 1676. Complete ed. in Russ by Pogodin, 1841, and with a Latin version and glossary by Fr. Miklosisch, Vindobon, 1860. German translation by Schlözer, Göttingen, 1802–’9, 5 vols. (incomplete).

J. G. Stritter: Memoriae Populorum olim ad Danubium, etc., incolentium ex Byzant. Script. Petropoli, 1771. 4  vols. A collection of the Byzantine sources.

N. M. Karamsin: History of Russia, 12 vols. St. Petersburg, 1816–29, translated into German and French.

Ph. Strahl: Beiträge zur russ. Kirchen-Geschichte (vol. I.). Halle, 1827; and Geschichte d. russ Kirche (vol. I.). Halle, 1830 (incomplete).

A. N. Mouravieff (late chamberlain to the Czar and Under-Procurator of the Most Holy Synod): A History of the Church of Russia (to the founding of the Holy Synod in 1721). St. Petersburg, 1840, translated into English by Rev. R. W. Blackmore. Oxford, 1862.

A. P. Stanley: Lectures on the Eastern Church. Lec. IX.-XII. London, 1862.

L. Boissard: L’église de Bussie. Paris, 1867, 2 vols.


The legend traces Christianity in Russia back to the Apostle St. Andrew, who is especially revered by the Russians. Mouravieff commences his history of the Russian church with these words: "The Russian church, like the other Orthodox churches of the East, had an apostle for its founder. St. Andrew, the first called of the Twelve, hailed with his blessing long beforehand the destined introduction of Christianity into our country. Ascending up and penetrating by the Dniepr into the deserts of Scythia, he planted the first cross on the hills of Kieff, and ’See you,’ said he to his disciples, ’those hills?  On those hills shall shine the light of divine grace. There shall be here a great city, and God shall have in it many churches to His name.’  Such are the words of the holy Nestor that point from whence Christian Russia has sprung."

This tradition is an expansion of the report that Andrew labored and died a martyr in Scythia,134 and nothing more.

In the ninth century the Russian tribes, inhabiting the Eastern part of Europe, were gathered together under the rule of Ruric, a Varangian prince,135 who from the coasts of the Baltic penetrated into the centre of the present Russia, and was voluntarily accepted, if not actually chosen by the tribes as their chief. He is regarded as the founder of the Russian empire, a.d. 862, which in 1862 celebrated its millennial anniversary. About the same time or a little later the Russians became somewhat acquainted with Christianity through their connections with the Byzantine empire. The Eastern church, however, never developed any great missionary activity, and when Photius, the patriarch of Constantinople, in his circular letter against the Roman see, speaks of the Russians as already converted at his time (867), a few years after the founding of the empire, he certainly exaggerates. When, in 945, peace was concluded between the Russian grand-duke, Igor, and the Byzantine emperor, some of the Russian soldiers took the oath in the name of Christ, but by far the greatest number swore by Perun, the old Russian god. In Kieff, on the Dniepr, the capital of the Russian realm, there was at that time a Christian church, dedicated to Elijah, and in 955 the grand-duchess, Olga, went to Constantinople and was baptized. She did not succeed, however, in persuading her son, Svatoslav, to embrace the Christian faith.

The progress of Christianity among the Russians was slow until the grand-duke Vladimir (980–1015), a grandson of Olga, and revered as Isapostolos ("Equal to an Apostle") with one sweep established it as the religion of the country. The narrative of this event by Nestor is very dramatic. Envoys from the Greek and the Roman churches, from the Mohammedans and the Jews (settled among the Chazares) came to Vladimir to persuade him to leave his old gods. He hesitated and did not know which of the new religions he should choose. Finally he determined to send wise men from among his own people to the various places to investigate the matter. The envoys were so powerfully impressed by a picture of the last judgment and by the service in the church of St. Sophia in Constantinople, that the question at once was settled in favor of the religion of the Byzantine court.

Vladimir, however, would not introduce it without compensation. He was staying at Cherson in the Crimea, which he had just taken and sacked, and thence he sent word to the emperor Basil, that he had determined either to adopt Christianity and receive the emperor’s sister, Anne, in marriage, or to go to Constantinople and do to that city as he had done to Cherson. He married Anne, and was baptized on the day of his wedding, a.d. 988.

As soon as he was baptized preparations were made for the baptism of his people. The wooden image of Perun was dragged at a horse’s tail through the country, soundly flogged by all passers-by, and finally thrown into the Dniepr. Next, at a given hour, all the people of Kieff, men, women and children, descended into the river, while the grand Duke kneeled, and the Christian priests read the prayers from the top of the cliffs on the shore. Nestor, the Russian monk and annalist, thus describes the scene: "Some stood in the water up to their necks, others up to their breasts, holding their young children in their arms; the priests read the prayers from the shore, naming at once whole companies by the same name. It was a sight wonderfully curious and beautiful to behold; and when the people were baptized each returned to his own home."

Thus the Russian nation was converted in wholesale style to Christianity by despotic power. It is characteristic of the supreme influence of the ruler and the slavish submission of the subjects in that country. Nevertheless, at its first entrance in Russia, Christianity penetrated deeper into the life of the people than it did in any other country, without, however, bringing about a corresponding thorough moral transformation. Only a comparatively short period elapsed, before a complete union of the forms of religion and the nationality took place. Every event in the history of the nation, yea, every event in the life of the individual was looked upon from a religious point of view, and referred to some distinctly religious idea. The explanation of this striking phenomenon is due in part to Cyrill’s translation of the Bible into the Slavic language, which had been driven out from Moravia and Bohemia by the Roman priests, and was now brought from Bulgaria into Russia, where it took root. While the Roman church always insisted upon the exclusive use of the Latin translation of the Bible and the Latin language in divine service, the Greek church always allowed the use of the vernacular. Under its auspices there were produced translations into the Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Slavic languages, and the effects of this principle were, at least in Russia, most beneficial. During the reign of Vladimir’s successor, Jaroslaff, 1019–1054, not only were churches and monasteries and schools built all over the country, but Greek theological books were translated, and the Russian church had, at an early date, a religious literature in the native tongue of the people. Jaroslaff, by his celebrated code of laws, became the Justinian of Russia.

The Czars and people of Russia have ever since faithfully adhered to the Oriental church which grew with the growth of the empire all along the Northern line of two Continents. As in the West, so in Russia, monasticism was the chief institution for the spread of Christianity among heathen savages. Hilarion (afterwards Metropolitan), Anthony, Theodosius, Sergius, Lazarus, are prominent names in the early history of Russian monasticism.

The subsequent history of the Russian church is isolated from the main current of histoy, and almost barren of events till the age of Nikon and Peter the Great. At first she was dependent on the patriarch of Constantinople. In 1325 Moscow was founded, and became, in the place of Kieff, the Russian Rome, with a metropolitan, who after the fall of Constantinople became independent (1461), and a century later was raised to the dignity of one of the five patriarchs of the Eastern Church (1587). But Peter the Great made the Northern city of his own founding the ecclesiastical as well as the political metropolis, and transferred the authority of the patriarchate of Moscow to the "Holy Synod" (1721), which permanently resides in St. Petersburg and constitutes the highest ecclesiastical judicatory of Russia under the caesaropapal rule of the Czar, the most powerful rival of the Roman Pope.



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

6  Max Müller, Science of Language, I. 121.

7  The word Druid or Druidh is not from the Greek dru'", oak (as the elder Pliny thought), but a Keltic term draiod, meaning sage, priest, and is equivalent to the magi in the ancient East. In the Irish Scriptures draiod is used for magi, Matt. 2:1.

8  See Haddan & Stubbs, Counc. and Eccles. Doc. I. 22-26, and Pryce, 31 sqq. Haddan says, that "statements respecting (a) British Christians at Rome, (b) British Christians in Britain, (c) Apostles or apostolic men preaching in Britain, in the first century—rest upon either guess, mistake or fable;" and that "evidence alleged for the existence of a Christian church in Britain during the second century is simply unhistorical." Pryce calls these early agencies "gratuitons assumptions, plausible guesses, or legendary fables." Eusebius, Dem. Ev. III. 5, speaks as if some of the Twelve or of the Seventy had "crossed the ocean to the isles called British;" but the passage is rhetorical and indefinite. In his Church History he omits Britain from the apostolic mission-field.

9  It is merely an inference from the well-known passage of Clement of Rome, Ep. ad Corinth. c. 5, that Paul carried the gospel "to the end of the West" (ejpi;to;tevrmath'"duvsew"). But this is far more naturally understood of a visit to Spain which Paul intended (Rom. xv. 28), and which seems confirmed by a passage in the Muratorian Fragment about 170 ("Profectionem Pauli ab urbe ad Spaniam proficiscentis "); while there is no trace whatever of an intended or actual visit to Britain. Canon Bright calls this merely a "pious fancy" (p. 1), and Bishop Lightfoot remarks: "For the patriotic belief of some English writers, who have included Britain in the Apostle’s travels, there is neither evidence nor probability" (St. Clement of Rome p. 50). It is barely possible however, that some Galatian converts of Paul, visiting the far West to barter the hair-cloths of their native land for the useful metal of Britain, may have first made known the gospel to the Britons in their kindred Keltic tongue. See Lightfoot, Com. on Gal., p. 246.

10  Book I., ch. 4: "Lucius, king of the Britons, sent a letter to Eleutherus, entreating that by his command he might be made a Christian. He soon obtained his pious request, and the Britons preserved the faith, which they had received, uncorrupted and entire, in peace and tranquillity, until the time of the Emperor Diocletian." Comp. the footnote of Giles in loc. Haddan says (I. 25): "The story of Lucius rests solely upon the later form of the Catalogus Pontificum Romanorum which was written c. a. d. 530, and which adds to the Vita Eleutherus (a. d. 171-186) that ’Hic (Eleutherus)accepit epistolam a Lucio Britanniae Rege, ut Chrristianus efficeretur par ejus mandatum.’  But these words are not in the original Catalogus, written shortly after a. d. 353." Beda copies the Roman account. Gildas knows nothing of Lucius. According to other accounts, Lucius ((Lever Maur, or the Great Light) sent Pagan and Dervan to Rome, who were ordained by Evaristus or Eleutherus, and on their return established the British church. See Lingard, History of England, I. 46.

11  Adv. Judaeos 7: "Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca, Christo vero subdita." Bishop Kaye (Tertull., p. 94) understands this passage as referring to the farthest extremities of Britain. So Burton (II. 207): "Parts of the island which had not been visited by the Romans." See Bright, p. 5.

12  Bede I. 7. The story of St. Alban is first narrated by Gildas in the sixth century. Milman and Bright (p. 6) admit his historic reality.

13  Wiltsch, Handbuch der Kirchl. Geogr. und Statistik I. 42 and 238, Mansi, Conc. II. 467, Haddan and Stubbs, l.c., I. 7. Haddan identifies Colonia Londinensium with Col. Legionensium, i.e. Caerleon-on-Usk.

14  See Haddan and Stubbs, I. 7-10.

15  Bede I. 21 ascribes the triumph of the Catholic faith over the Pelagian heresy to the miraculous healing of a lame youth by Germanus (St. Germain), Bishop of Auxerre. Comp. also Haddan and Stubbs, I. 15-17.

16  See Haddan and Stubbs, I. 36-40.

17  The British and Irish Christians were stigmatized by their Roman opponents as heretical Quartodecimans (Bede III. 4); but the Eastern Quartodecimans invariably celebrated Easter on the fourteenth day of the month (hence their designation), whether it fell on a Sunday or not; while the Britons and Irish celebrated it always on a Sunday between the 14th and the 20th of the month; the Romans between the 15th and 21st. Comp. Skene, l.c. II. 9 sq.; the elaborate discussion of Ebrard, Die, iro-schott. Missionskirche, 19-77, and Killen, Eccles. Hist. of Ireland, I. 57 sqq.

18  The chronology, is somewhat uncertain. See Lappenberg’s Geschichte von England, Bd. I., p. 73 sqq.

19  Quoted by Lingard, I. 62. The picture here given corresponds closely with that given in Beowulf’s Drapa, from the 9th century.

20  King Arthur (or Artus), the hero of Wales, of the Chronicles of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and the romances of the Round Table, if not entirely mythical, was one of the last Keltic chiefs, who struggled against the Saxon invaders in the sixth century. He resided in great state at Caerleon in Wales, surrounded by valorous knights, seated with him at a round table, gained twelve victories over the Saxons, and died in the battle of Mount Badon or Badon Hill near Bath (a. d. 520). The legend was afterwards Christianized, transferred to French soil, and blended with the Carlovingian Knights of the Round Table, which never existed. Arthur’s name was also connected since the Crusades with the quest of the Holy Grail or Graal (Keltic gréal, old French san gréal or greel), i.e. the wonderful bowl-shaped vessel of the Lord’s Supper (used for the Paschal Lamb, or, according to another view, for the cup of blessing), in which Joseph of Arimathaea caught the blood of the Saviour at the cross, and which appears in the Arthurian romances as the token of the visible presence of Christ, or the symbolic embodiment of the doctrine of transubstantiation. Hence the derivation of Grail from sanguis realis, real blood, or sang royal, the Lord’s blood. Others derive it from the Romanic greal, cup or dish; still others from the Latin graduale.  See Geoffrey of Monmouth, Chronicon sive Historia Britonum (1130 and 1147, translated into English by Aaron Thomson, London, 1718); Sir T. Malory, History of Prince Arthur (1480-1485, new ed. by, Southey, 1817); Wolfram von Eschenbach Parcival and Titurel (about 1205, transl. by K. Simrock, Stuttg., 1842); Lachmann, Wolfram von Eschenbach (Berlin, 1833, 2nd ed, 1854); Göschel Die Sage von Parcival und vom Gral nach Wolfram von Eschenbach (Berlin, 1858); Paulin Paris, Les Romans de la Table Ronde (Paris, 1860); Tennyson, The Idylls, of the King (1859), and The Holy Grail (1869); Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales (1868); Stuart-Glennie, Arthurian Localities (1869); Birch-Herschfeld, Die Sage vom Gral, (Leipz., 1877); and an article of Göschel, Gral in the first ed. of Herzog’s Encykl. V. 312 (omitted in the second ed.).

21  Bede (I. 22) counts it among the most wicked acts or neglects rather, of the Britons mentioned even by their own historian Gildas, that they, never preached the faith to the Saxons who dwelt among them.

22  History of the Norman conquest of England, Vol. I., p. 22 (Oxford ed. of 1873).

23  Beda (B. II., ch.1 at the close) received this account "from the ancients" (ab antiquis, or traditione majorum), but gives it as an episode, not as a part of the English mission (which is related I. 53). The elaborate play on words excites critical suspicion of the truth of the story, which, though well told, is probably invented or embellished, like so many legends about Gregory, ."Se non vero, e ben trovato."

24  Among these books were a Bible in 2 vols., a Psalter, a book of the Gospels, a Martyrology, Apocryphal Lives of the Apostles, and some Commentaries. "These are the foundation or beginning of the library of the whole English church."

25  The first journey of Augustin, in 595, was a failure. He started finally for England July 23d, 596, wintered in Gaul, and landed in England the following year with about forty persons, including Gallic priests and interpreters. Haddan and Stubbs, III. 4.

26  Bede I. 25.

27  "Non enim omnes electi miracula faciunt, sed tamen eorum omnium nomina in caelo sunt ascripta."Greg., Ad Augustinum Anglorum Episcopum, Epp. Lib. XI. 28, and Bede I. 31.

28  Not AEtherius, as Bede has it, I. 27, and in other places. AEtherius was the contemporary archbishop of Lyons.

29  Bede I. 27 sqq. gives extracts from Gregory’s answers. It is curious how the pope handles such delicate subjects as the monthly courses and the carnal intercourse between married people. A husband, he says, should not approach his wife after the birth of an infant, till the infant be weaned. Mothers should not give their children to other women to suckle. A man who has approached his wife is not to enter the church unless washed with water and till after sunset. We see here the genius of Romanism which aims to control by its legislation all the ramifications of human life, and to shackle the conscience by a subtle and minute casuistry. Barbarians, however, must be treated like children.

30  "Non enim pro locis res, sed pro bonis rebus loca amanda sunt. Ex singulis ergo quibusdam ecclesiis, quae pia, quae religiosa, quae recta sunt, elige, et haec quasi in fasciculum collecta apud Anglorum mentes in consuetudinem depone." Gr. Respons. ad interrogat. Aug., Ep. XI. 64, and Bede I. 27.

31  "Is qui locum summum ascendere nititur, gradibus wel passibus, saltibus elevatur." Ep. lib. XI. 76 (and Bede I. 30). This epistle of the year 601 is addressed to Mellitus on his way to England, but is intended for Augustin ad faciliorem Anglorum conversionem. In Sardinia, where Christianity already prevailed, Gregory advised Bishop Januarius to suppress the remaining heathenism by imprisonment and corporal punishment.

32  York and London had been the first metropolitan sees among the Britons. London was even then, as Bede (II. 3) remarks, a mart of many nations resorting to it by sea and land.

33  On the time and place of the two conferences see the notes in Haddan and Stubbs, III. 40 and 41.

34  Bede mentions twelve hundred, but the Saxon chronicle (a. d. 607) only two hundred.

35  Bede II., c. 3; Haddan and Stubbs, III. 53.

36  Bede III., c. 14-17; V. 24.

37  See the details of the missionary labors in the seven kingdoms in Bede; also in Milman l.c.; and the documents in Haddan and Stubbs, vol. III.

38  "The conversion of the heptarchic kingdom," says Professor Stubbs (Constitutional History of England, Vol. I., p. 217), "during the seventh century not only revealed to Europe and Christendom the existence of a new nation, but may be said to have rendered the new nation conscious of its unity in a way in which, under the influence of heathenism, community of language and custom had failed to do."

39  See a full account of this controversy in Bede, III, c. 25, 26, and in Haddan and Stubbs, III. 100-106.

40  The works of Theodore (Poenitentiale, etc.) in Migne’s Patrol., Tom. 99, p. 902. Comp. also Bede, IV. 2, Bright, p. 223, and especially Haddan and Stubbs, III. 114-227, where his Penitential is given in full. It was probably no direct work of Theodore, but drawn up under his eye and published by his authority. It presupposes a very bad state of morals among the clergy of that age.

41  See Karl Werner (R.C.), Beda und seine Zeit, 1875. Bright, l.c., pp. 326 sqq.

42  Beda, Hist. Eccl. Angl., IV. 24. Caedmonis monachi Paraphrasis poetica Genescos ac praecipuarum sacrae paginae Historiarum, ed. F. Junius, Amst., 1655; modern editions by B. Thorpe, Lond., 1832, and C. W. M. Grein, Götting., 1857. Bouterwek, Caedmon’s des Angelsachen biblische Dichtungen, Elberfeld, 1849-54, 2 Parts. F. Hammerich, AElteste christliche Epik der Angelsachsen, Deutschen und Nordländer. Transl. from the Danish by Michelsen, 1874. Comp. also the literature on the German Heliand, § 27.

43  From Bright, p. 449, compared with the dates in Haddan and Stubbs vol. III.

44  Agricola thought of invading Ireland, and holding it by a single legion, in order to remove from Britain the dangerous sight of freedom. Tacitus, Agric., c. 24.

45  Isidore of Seville in 580 (Origines XIV. 6) was the first to call Hibernia by the name of Scotia: "Scotia eadem et Ibernia, proxima Britanniae insula."

46  Prosper Aquitan. (a. d. 455-463), Chron. ad an. 431: "Ad Scotos in Christum credentes ordinatus a Papa Coelestino Palladius primus Episcopus mittitur." Comp. Vita S. Palladii in the Book of Armagh, and the notes by Haddan and Stubbs, Vol. II., Part II., pp. 290, 291.

47  He is said to have left in Ireland, when he withdrew, some relics of St. Peter and Paul, and a copy of the Old and New Testaments, which the Pope had given him, together with the tablets on which he himself used to write. Haddan & Stubbs, p. 291.

48  Hence Montalembert says (II. 393): "The Christian faith dawned upon Ireland by means of two slaves." The slave-trade between Ireland and England flourished for many centuries.

49  This fact is usually, omitted by Roman Catholic writers. Butler says simply: "His father was of a good family." Even Montalembert conceals it by calling "the Gallo-Roman (?) Patrick, son of a relative of the great St. Martin of Tours" (II. 390). He also repeats, without a shadow of proof, the legend that St. Patrick was consecrated and commissioned by Pope St. Celestine (p. 391), though he admits that "legend and history have vied in taking possession of the life of St. Patrick."

50  The dates are merely conjectural. Haddan & Stubbs (p. 295) select a. d. 440 for St. Patrick’s mission (as did Tillemont & Todd), and 493 as the year of his death. According to other accounts, his mission began much earlier, and lasted sixty years. The alleged date of the foundation of Armagh is a. d. 445.

51  Afterwards Armagh disputed the claims of Downpatrick See Killen I. 71-73.

52  Killen, Vol. I. 12. Patrick describes himself as "Hiberione constitutus episcopus." Afterwards he was called "Episcopus Scotorum," then "Archiapostolus Scotorum," then "Abbat of all Ireland," and "Archbishop, First Primate, and Chief Apostle of Ireland.’ See Haddan & Stubbs, p. 295.

53  Haddan & Stubbs, p. 294, note: "The language of the Hymns of S. Sechnall and of S. Fiacc, and of S. Patrick’s own Confessio, and the silence of Prosper, besides chronological difficulties, disprove, upon purely historical grounds, the supposed mission from Rome of S. Patrick himself; which first appears in the Scholia on S. Fiacc’s Hymn."

54  The probable date of foundation is a. d. 480. Haddan & Stubbs, p. 295.

55  The Irish was first published by Dr. Petrie, and translated by Dr. Todd. Haddan & Stubbs (320-323) give the Irish and English in parallel columns. Some parts of this hymn are said to be still remembered by the Irish peasantry, and repeated at bed-time as a protection from evil, or "as a religious armor to protect body and soul against demons and men and vices."

56  See Killen I. 76, note. Montalembert says, III. 118, note: "Irish narratives know scarcely any numerals but those of three hundred and three thousand.

57  A witty Irishman, who rowed me (in 1875) over Lake Killarney, told me that St. Patrick put the last snake into an iron box, and sunk it to the bottom of the lake, although he had solemnly promised to let the creature out. I asked him whether it was not a sin to cheat a snake? "Not at all," was his quick reply, "he only paid him in the same coin; for the first snake cheated the whole world." The same guide told me that Cromwell killed all the good people in Ireland, and let the bad ones live; and when I objected that he must have made an exception with his ancestors, he politely replied: "No, my parents came from America."

58  Petrie (Round Towers, p. 137, quoted by Killen I. 26) speaks of crowds of foreign ecclesiastics—Roman, Egyptian, French, British, Saxon—who flocked Ireland as a place of refuge in the fifth and sixth centuries.

59  Montalembert, II. 397.

60  See Reeves, S. Columba, Introd, p. lxxi.

61  Catalogus Sanctorum Hiberniae published by Ussher from two MSS, and in Haddan & Stubbs, 292-294.

62  Contained in the Leabhar Breac, and in the Book of Leinster.

63  Skene II. 22

64  Ammianus Marcellinus (XV. 9) describes the Druids as "bound together in brotherhoods and corporations, according to the precepts of Pythagoras!" See Killen, I. 29.

65  See next section. St. Patrick also is said to have been one of St. Martin’s disciples; but St. Martin lived nearly one hundred years earlier.

66  Angus the Culdee, in his Litany, invokes "forty thousand monks, with the blessing of God, under the rule of Comgall of Bangor." But this is no doubt a slip of the pen for "four thousand." Skene II. 56. Bangor on the northeastern coast of Ireland must not be confounded with Bangor on the westem coast of Wales.

67  Haddan & Stubbs, Vol. I., 170-198, give a collection of Latin Scripture quotations of British or Irish writers from the fifth to the ninth century (Fastidius, St. Patrick, Gildas, Columbanus, Adamnanus, Nennius, Asser, etc.), and come to the conclusion that the Vulgate, though known to Fastidius in Britain about a. d. 420, was probably unknown to St. Patrick, writing half a century later in Ireland, but that from the seventh century on, the Vulgate gradually superseded the Irish Latin version formerly in use.

68  Haddan & Stubbs, I. 192; Comp. p. 10. Ebrard and other writers state the contrary, but without proof.

69  First published in the Swords Parish Magazine, 1861.

70  See details in Lanigan and Killen (ch. vii.).

71  This papal-Irish bull is not found in the Bullarium Romanum, the editors of which were ashamed of it, and is denounced by some Irish Romanists as a monstrous and outrageous forgery, but it is given by, Matthew Paris (1155), was confirmed by Pope Alexander III. in a letter to Henry II. (a. d. 1172), published in Ireland in 1175, printed in Baronius, Annales, ad a. d. 1159, who took his copy from a Codex Vaticanus and is acknowledged as undoubtedly genuine by Dr. Lanigan, the Roman Catholic historian of Ireland (IV. 64), and other authorities; comp. Killen I. 211 sqq. It is as follows:

"Adrian, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, to his dearest son in Christ, the illustrious King of England, greeting and apostolic benediction.

" Full laudably, and profitably has your magnificence conceived the design of propagating your glorious renown on earth, and of completing your reward of eternal happiness in heaven, whilst as a Catholic prince you are intent on enlarging the borders of the Church, teaching the truth of the Christian faith to the ignorant and rude, extirpating the nurseries of iniquity from the field of the Lord, and for the more convenient execution of this purpose, requiring the counsel and favor of the Apostolic See. In which the maturer your deliberation and the greater the discretion of your procedure, by, so much the happier, we trust, will be your progress, with the assistance of the Lord; because whatever has its origin in ardent faith and in love of religion always has a prosperous end and issue.

"There is indeed no doubt but that Ireland and all the islands on which Christ the Sun of Righteousness has shone, and which have received the doctrines of the Christian faith, belong to the jurisdiction of St. Peter and of the holy Roman Church, as your Excellency also acknowledges. And therefore we are the more solicitous to propagate a faithful plantation among them, and a seed pleasing to the Lord, as we have the secret conviction of conscience that a very, rigorous account must be rendered of them.

" You then, most dear son in Christ, have signified to us your desire to enter into the island of Ireland that you may reduce the people to obedience to laws, and extirpate the nurseries of vice, and that you are willing to pay from each house a yearly pension of one penny to St. Peter, and that you will preserve the rights of the churches of this land whole and inviolate. We, therefore, with that grace and acceptance suited to your pious and laudable design, and favorably assenting to your petition, hold it good and acceptable that, for extending the borders of the church, restraining the progress of vice, for the correction of manners, the planting of virtue, and the increase of the Christian religion, you enter that island, and execute therein whatever shall pertain to the honor of God and welfare of the land; and that the people of that land receive you honorably, and reverence you as their lord—the rights of their churches still remaining sacred and inviolate, and saving to St. Peter the annual pension of one penny from every house.

"If then you are resolved to carry the design you have conceived into effectual execution, study to train that nation to virtuous manners, and labor by yourself and others whom you shall judge meet for this work, in faith, word, and life, that the church may be there adorned; that the religion of the Christian faith may be planted and grow up, and that all things pertaining to the honor of God and the salvation of souls be so ordered that you may be entitled to the fulness of eternal reward in God, and obtain a glorious renown on throughout all ages."

72  Killen, I. 226 sq.

73  In Gaelic, Calyddom, land of forests, or, according to others, from Kaled, i.e hard and wild.

74  On Whittern and the Candida Casa, see Nicholson, History of Galloway, I. 115; Forbes, S. Ninian and S. Kentigern, 268, and Skene, II. 46.

75  In Welsh, Cyndeyrn means chief, Munghu dear, amiable. See Skene, II. 183.

76  The meeting of the two saints, as recorded by Jocelyn, reminds one of the meeting of St. Antony with the fabulous Paul of Thebes.

77  See Forbes, Kalendars, p. 372, and Skene, II. 197.

78  Forbes (p. 319) gives a list of 26.

79  In the Irish calendar there are twenty saints of the name Columba, or Columbanus, Columbus, Columb. The most distinguished next to Columbcille is Columbanus, the Continental missionary, who has often been confounded with Columba. In the Continental hagiology, the name is used for female saints. See Reeves, p. 248.

80  Montalembert, III. 112. This poem strikes the key-note of father Prout’s more musical "Bells of Shandon which sound so grand on the river Lee."

81  "Pro Christo peregrinare volens," says Adamnan (p. 108), who knows nothing of his excommunication and exile from Ireland in consequence of a great battle. And yet it is difficult to account for this tradition. In one of the Irish Keltic poems ascribed to Columba, he laments to have been driven from Erin by his own fault and in consequence of the blood shed in his battles. Montalembert, III. 145.

82  This is not an adaptation to Columba’s Hebrew name (Neander), but a corruption of Ii-shona, i.e. the Holy Island (from Ii, the Keltic name for island, and hona or shona, sacred). So Dr. Lindsay Alexander and Cunningham. But Reeves (l.c. Introd., p. cxxx.) regards Ioua as the genuine form, which is the feminine adjective of Iou (to be pronounced like the English Yeo). The island has borne no fewer than thirty names.

83  "No two objects of interest," says the Duke of Argyll (Iona, p. 1) "could be more absolutely dissimilar in kind than the two neighboring islands, Staffa and Iona:—Iona dear to Christendom for more than a thousand years;—Staffa known to the scientific and the curious only since the close of the last century. Nothing but an accident of geography could unite their names. The number of those who can thoroughly understand and enjoy them both is probably very small."

84  "Hither came holy men from Erin to take counsel with the Saint on the troubles of clans and monasteries which were still dear to him. Hither came also bad men red-handed from blood and sacrilege to make confession and do penance at Columba’s feet. Hither, too, came chieftains to be blessed, and even kings to be ordained—for it is curious that on this lonely spot, so far distant from the ancient centres of Christendom, took place the first recorded case of a temporal sovereign seeking from a minister of the Church what appears to have been very like formal consecration. Adamnan, as usual, connects his narrative of this event, which took place in 547, with miraculous circumstances, and with Divine direction to Columba, in his selection of Aidan, one of the early kings of the Irish Dalriadic colony in Scotland.

" The fame of Columba’s supernatural powers attracted many and strange visitors to the shores on which we are now looking. Nor can we fail to remember, with the Reilig Odhrain at our feet, how often the beautiful galleys of that olden time came up the sound laden with the dead,—’their dark freight a vanished life.’ A grassy mound not far from the present landing place is known as the spot on which bodies were laid when they were first carried to the shore. We know from the account of Columba’s own burial that the custom is to wake the body with the singing of psalms during three days and nights before laying it to its final rest. It was then home in solemn procession to the grave. How many of such processions must have wound along the path that leads to the Reilig Odhrain! How many fleets of galley must have ridden at anchor on that bay below us, with all those expressive signs of mourning which belong to ships, when kings and chiefs who had died in distant lands were carried hither to be buried in this holy Isle! From Ireland, from Scotland, and from distant Norway there came, during many centuries, many royal funerals to its shores. And at this day by far the most interesting remains upon the Island are the curious and beautiful tombstones and crosses which lie in the Reilig Odhrain. They belong indeed, even the most ancient of them, to, in age removed by many hundred years from Columba’s time. But they represent the lasting reverence which his name has inspired during so many generations and the desire of a long succession of chiefs and warriors through the Middle Ages and down almost to our own time, to be buried in the soil he trod." The Duke of Argyll, l.c., pp. 95-98.

85  See a list of churches in Reeves, p. xlix. lxxi., and Forbes, Kalendar, etc. p. 306, 307; comp. also Skene, II. 127 sqq.

86  Montalembert’s delineation of Columba’s character assumes, apparently, the truth of these biographies, and is more eloquent than true. See Skene, II. 145.

87  On the regula Columbani, see Ebrard, 147 sqq.

88  Bede, H. E., III. 4; V. 9.

89  For a very full account of the economy and constitution of Iona, see Reeves, Introduction to Life of Saint Columba, pp. c.-cxxxii.

90  H. E. III. 4.

91  To Adamnan and to Bede, the name was entirely unknown. Skene (II. 226) says: "In the whole range of ecclesiastical history there is nothing more entirely destitute of authority than the application of this name to the Columban monks of the sixth and seventh centuries, or more utterly baseless than the fabric which has been raised upon that assumption." The most learned and ingenious construction of an imaginary Protestant Culdee Church was furnished by Ebrard and McLauchlan.

92  The word Culdee is variously derived from the Gaelic Gille De, servant of God; from the Keltic Cuil or Ceal, retreat, recess, and Cuildich, men of the recess (Jamieson, McLauchlan, Cunningham); from the Irish Ceile De, the spouse of God (Ebrard), or the servant of God (Reeves); from the Irish Culla, cowl, i.e. the black monk; from the Latin Deicola, cultores Dei (Colidei), worshippers of God the Father, in distinction from Christicolae (Calechrist in Irish), or ordinary Christians (Skene); from the Greek kellew'tai, men of the cells (Goodall). The earliest Latin form is Kaledei. in Irish Keile as a substantive means socius maritus, also servus. On the name, see Braun, De Culdeis, Bonn, 1840, McLauchlan pp. 175 sq.; Ebrard pp. 2 sq., and Skene, II. 238.

93  The Duke of Argyll who is a Scotch Presbyterian, remarks (l.c. p. 41): "It is vain to look, in the peculiarities of the Scoto-Irish Church, for the model either of primitive practice, or of any particular system. As regards the theology of Columba’s time, although it was not what we now understand as Roman, neither assuredly was it what we understand as Protestant. Montalembert boasts, and I think with truth, that in Columba’s life we have proof of the practice of the auricular confession, of the invocation of saints, of confidence in their protection, of belief in transubstantiation [?], of the practices of fasting and of penance, of prayers for the dead, of the sign of the crow in familiar—and it must be added—in most superstitious use. On the other hand there is no symptom of the worship or ’cultus’ of the Virgin, and not even an allusion to such an idea as the universal bishopric of Rome, or to any special authority as seated there."

94  Cunningham, Church Hist. of Scotland, p. 100.

95  Skene, II. 418.

96  The usual spelling. Better: Wulfila, i.e. Wölflein, Little Wolf.

97  In his testamentary creed, which he always held (semper sic credidi), he confesses faith "in God the Father and in his only begotten Son our Lord and God, and in the Holy Spirit as virtutem illuminantem et sanctificantem nec Deum nec Dominum sed ministrum Christi." Comp. Krafft, l.c. 328 sqq.

98  With the oil of the miraculous cruise of oil (Ampulla Remensis) which, according to Hincmar, a dove brought from heaven at the confirmation of Clovis, and which was destroyed in 1794, but recovered in 1824.

99  Vol. I. p. 394, quoted by Montalembert.

100  Montalembert, Vol. II. p. 230.

101  Tolbiacum Zülpich.

102  Ozanam, Etudes Germaniques, II. 54.

103  Montalembert II. 235. Comp. also the graphic description of the Merovingian house in Dean Milman’s Lat. Christ., Bk. III, ch.2 (Vol. I., p. 395, Am. ed.).

104  The brotherhood of St. Maur was founded in 1618, and numbered such scholars as Mabillon, Montfaucon, and Ruinart.

105  The legendary history of monasticism under the Merovingians is well told by Montalembert, II. 236-386.

106  Also called Columba the younger, to distinguish him from the Scotch Columba. There is a second St. Columbanus, an abbot of St. Trudo (St. Troud) in France, and a poet, who died about the middle of the ninth century.

107  The date assigned by Hertel, l.c., and Meyer von Knonau, in "Allg. Deutsche Biographie," IV. 424 (1876).

108  The date according to the Bollandists and Smith’s Dict. of Chr. Biogr. Ebrard puts the emigration of Columbanus to Gaul in the year 594.

109  There is a considerable difference between his Regula Monastica, in ten chapters, and his Regula Coenobialis Fratrum, sive, Liber de quotidianis Poenitentiis Monachorum, in fifteen chapters. The latter is unreasonably rigorous, and imposes corporal punishments for the slightest offences, even speaking at table, or coughing at chanting. Ebrard (l.c., p. 148 sqq.) contends that the Regula Coenobialis, which is found only in two codices, is of later origin. Comp. Hertel, l.c.

110  For a full account of this quarrel see Montalembert, II. 411 sqq.

111  "Roma orbis terrarum caput est ecclesiarum, salva loci Dominicae resurrectiois singulari praerogativa."

112  Montalembert, II. 436.

113  See the anonymous Vita S. Galli in Pertz, Monumenta II. 123, and in the Acta Sanct., Tom. VII. Octobris. Also Greith, Geschichte der altirischen Kirche … als Einleitung in die, Gesch. des Stifts St. Gallen (1857), the chapter on Gallus, pp. 333 sqq.

114  aiJejntai'" Germanivai"iJdrumevnaiejkklhsivai. Adv. haer. I. 10, 2

115  Comp. besides the Letters of Boniface, the works of Neander, Rettberg, Ebrard, Werner and Fischer, quoted below.

116  One that wins peace. His Latin name Bonifacius, Benefactor, was probably his monastic name, or given to him by the pope on his second visit to Rome. 723.

117  The juramentum of Boniface, which he ever afterwards remembered and observed with painful conscientiousness deserves to be quoted in full, as it contains his whole missionary policy (see Migne, l.c., p. 803):

"In nomine Domini Dei Salvatoris nostri Jesus Christi, imperante domino Leone Magno imperatore, anno 7 post consulatum ejus, sed et Constantini Magni imperatoris ejus filii anno 4, indictione 6. Promitto ego Bonifacius, Dei gratia episcopus, tibi, beate Petre, apostolorum princeps vicarioque tuo beato Gregorio papae et successoribus ejus, per Patrem et Filium, et Spiritum Sanctum, Trinitatem inseparabilem, et hoc sacratissimum corpus tuum, me omnem fidem et puritatem sanctae fidei catholicae exhibere, et in unitate ejusdem fidei, Deo operante, persistere in quo omnis Christianorum salus esse sine dubio comprobatur, nullo modo me contra unitatem communis et universalis Ecclesiae, quopiam consentire, sed, ut dixi, fidem et puritatem meam atque concursum, tibi et utilitatibus tiae Ecclesiae, cui a Domino Deo potestasligandi solvendique data est, et praedicto vicario tuo atque successoribus ejus, per omnia exhibere. Sed et si cognovero antistites contra instituta antiqua sanctorum patrum conversari, cum eis nullam habere communionem aut conjunctionem; sed magis, si valuero prohibere, prohibeam; si minus, hoc fideliter statim Domino meo apostolico renuntiabo. Quod si, quod absit, contra hujus professionis meae seriem aliquid facere quolibet modo, seu ingenio, vel occasione, tentavero, reus inveniar in aeterno judicio, ultionem Ananiae et Saphirae incurram, qui vorbis etiam de rebus propriis fraudem facere praesumpsit: hoc autem indiculum sacramenti ego Bonifacius exiguus episcopus manu propria, ita ut praescriptum, Deo teste et judice, feci sacramentum, quod et conservare promitto."

With all his devotion to the Roman See, Boniface was manly and independent enough to complain in a letter to Pope Zacharias of the scandalous heathen practices in Rome which were reported by travellers and filled the German Christians with prejudice and disobedience to Rome. See the letter in Migne, l.c. p. 746 sqq.

118  In Migne, l.c., p. 870. A German translation in Cruel, Geschichte der deutschen Predigt im Mittelalter (1879), p. 14.

119  Othlo, Vita Bonif., c. 26 (Migne, l.c. fol. 664).

120  The description he gives of their immorality, must be taken with considerable deduction. In Ep. 49 to Pope Zacharias (a. d. 742) in Migne, l.c., p. 745, he speaks of deacons, priests and bishops hostile to Rome, as being guilty of habitual drunkenness, concubinage, and even polygamy. I will only quote what he says of the bishops: "Et inveniuntur quidem inter eos episcopi, qui, licet dicant se fornicarios vel adulteros non esse, sed sunt ebriosi, et injuriosi, vel venatores, et qui pugnant in exercitu armati, et effundunt propria manu sanguinem hominum, sive paganorum, sive Christianorum."

121  Condensed translation from Epist. 75 in Migne, fol. 778.

122  See "Fulda und seine Privilegien" in Jul. Harttung, Diplomatisch-historische Forschungen, Gotha, 1879, pp. 193 sqq.

123  The chief source is the Vita Sturmi by his pupil Eigil abbot of Fulda, 818 to 822, in Mabillon, "Acta Sanct. Ord. Bened." Saec. VIII. Tom. 242-259.

124  "Jetzt war Sachsen besiegt," says Giesebrecht (l.c., p. 117), "und mit Blutgesetzen worden das Christenthum und das Königthum zugliech den Sachsen aufgedrungen. Mit Todesstrafen wurde die Taufe erzwungen, die heidnischen Gebräuche bedroht; jede Verletzung eines chistlichen Priesters wurde, wie der Aufruhr gegen den König und der Ungehorsam gegen seine Befehle, zu einem todeswuerdigen Verbrechen gestempelt."

125  Neander III. 152 sqq. (Germ, ed.; Torrey’s trnsl. III. 76). It seems to me, from looking over Alcuin’s numerous epistles to the emperor, he might have used his influence much more freely with his pupil. Merivale says (p. 131): "Alcuin of York, exerted his influence upon those Northern missions from the centre of France, in which he had planted himself. The purity and simplicity of the English school of teachers contrasted favoably with the worldly, character of the Frankish priesthood, and Charlemagne himelf was impressed with the importance of intrusting the establishment of the Church throughout his Northern conquests to these foreigners rather than to his own subjects. He appointed the Anglo-Saxon Willibrord to preside over the district of Estphalia, and Liudger, a Friesian by birth, but an Englishman by his training at York, to organize the church in Westphalia; while he left to the earlier foundation of Fulda, which had also received its first Christian traditions from the English Boniface and his pupil Sturm, the charge of Engern or Angaria. From the teaching of these strangers there sprang up a crop of Saxon priests and missionaries; from among the youths of noble family whom the conqueror had carried off from their homes as hostages, many were selected to be trained in the monasteries for the life of monks and preachers. Eventually the Abbey of Corbie, near Amiens, was founded by one of the Saxon converts, and became an important centre of Christian teaching. From hence sprang the daughter-foundation of the New Corbie, or Corby, on the banks of the Weser, in the diocese of Paderborn. This abbey received its charter from Louis le Debonnaire in 823, and became no less important an institution for the propagation of the faith in the north of Germany, than Fulda still continued to be in the centre, and St. Gall in the South."

126  See Ed. Sievers, Heliand, Halle, 1878.

127  Epist. 13, in Monumenta Alcuiniana, Ed. Jaffé.

128  Mabillon: Act. Sanct. Bened. Ord. IV. 2, p. 124.

129  Si dignus essem apud Deum meum, rogarem quatenus unum mihi concederet signum, videlicet ut de me sua gratia faceret bonum hominem." Vita by Rimbert, c. 67 (Migne 118, p. 1008).

130  Passio S. Adalberti, in Scriptores Rerum Prussicarum I., and Vita S. Adalberti in Monumenta German. IV.

131  Missale proprium regum Poloniae, Venet. 1629; Officia propria patronorum regni Poloniae, Antwerp, 1627.

132  Grimm: Deutsche Mythologie, II. 733.

133  See the letter from Bishop Pilgrin of Passau to Pope Benedict VI. in Mansi, Concil. I.

134  Euseb. III. 1.

135  The Varangians were a tribe of piratical Northmen who made the Slavs and Finns tributary.