Emmaus Community - Saint Patrick - Albuquerque, NM
Emmaus Community - An independent home-church ministry with an ALF for veterans

Saint Patrick our patron saint

  St. Patrick, Apostle to the Irish By the early fifth century the religion had spread to Ireland, which had never been part of the Roman Empire. The highly successful 5th-century mission of Saint Patrick established churches in conjunction with civitates like his own in Armagh; small enclosures in which groups of Christians, often of both sexes and including the married, lived together, served in various roles and ministered to the local population.


 Within a few generations of the arrival of the first missionaries the monastic and clerical class of the isle had become fully integrated with the culture of Latin letters. Besides Latin, Irish ecclesiastics developed a written form of Old Irish. During the late 5th and 6th centuries true monasteries became the most important centres: in Patrick's own see of Armagh the change seems to have happened before the end of the 5th century, thereafter the bishop was the abbot also.  Finnian of Clonard is said to have trained the Twelve Apostles of Ireland at Clonard Abbey. 

In the sixth and seventh centuries, Irish monks established monastic institutions in parts of modern-day Scotland (especially Columba, also known as Colmcille or, in Old Irish, Colum Cille), and on the continent, particularly in Gaul (especially Columbanus). Monks from Iona under St. Aidan founded the See of Lindisfarne in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria in 635, whence Celtic practice heavily influenced northern England.  

The achievements of insular art, in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells, high crosses, and metalwork like the Ardagh Chalice remain very well known, and in the case of manuscript decoration had a profound influence on Western medieval art.  The manuscripts were certainly produced by and for monasteries, and the evidence suggests that metalwork was produced in both monastic and royal workshops, perhaps as well as secular commercial ones.   Irish monks also founded monasteries across the continent, exerting influence greater than many more ancient continental centres. The first issuance of a papal privilege granting a monastery freedom from episcopal oversight was that of Pope Honorius I to Bobbio Abbey, one of Columbanus's institutions.  

At least in Ireland, the monastic system became increasingly secularised from the 8th century, as close ties between ruling families and monasteries became apparent. The major monasteries were now wealthy in land and had political importance. On occasion they made war either upon each other or took part in secular wars - a battle in 764 is supposed to have killed 200 from Durrow Abbey when they were defeated by Clonmacnoise.   From early periods the kin nature of many monasteries had meant that some married men were part of the community, supplying labour and with some rights, including in the election of abbots (but obliged to abstain from sex during fasting periods). Some abbacies passed from father to son, and then even grandsons.  A revival of the ascetic tradition came in the second half of the century, with the culdee or "clients (vassals) of God" movement founding new monasteries detached from family groupings.   Others who influenced the development of Christianity in Ireland include Brigid and Moluag.   

Unification:   Saxon connections with the greater Latin West led to papal preferment and brought the Celtic-speaking peoples into closer contact with the orthodoxy of the councils. The customs and traditions particular to Insular Christianity became a matter of dispute, especially the matter of the proper calculation of Easter. Synods were held in Ireland, Gaul, and England (e.g. the Synod of Whitby) but a degree of variation continued in Britain after the Ionan church accepted the Roman date.

  The Easter question was settled at various times in different places. The following dates are derived from Haddan and Stubbs: South Ireland, 626-8; North Ireland, 692; Northumbria (converted by Celtic missions), 664; East Devon and Somerset, the Celts under Wessex, 705; the Picts, 710; Iona, 716-8; Strathclyde, 721; North Wales, 768; South Wales, 777. Cornwall held out the longest of any, perhaps even, in parts, to the time of Bishop Aedwulf of Crediton (909). 

A uniquely Irish penitential system was eventually adopted as a universal practice of the Church by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215.  
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