Catholic or Celtic?

Celtic Christianity

“In the 5th and 6th centuries … the Irish Christians were all spiritual children and grandchildren of Patrick, the man who brought Christianity to the Irish. … One of the more notable spiritual “grandsons” of Patrick was Columba (Celtic name, Colum Cille) … born in Donegal, northern Ireland … a descendant of Irish kings … .

“In 563, when Columba was forty-two, he and twelve other men set out in a small, hide-covered currach to bring the Gospel to Scotland. … the closest pagan country to Ireland. … During Columba’s lifetime, Scotland was inhabited both by the pagan Scots from Ireland and the idol-worshipping Picts. …

“As his mission base, Columba chose the savagely wild and mystic island of Iona, off of the west coast of Scotland. He couldn’t have chosen a more bleak and barren spot … They well knew that Scotland could only be won by prayer. …

“At his preaching, thousands of Scots destroyed their idols and abandoned their pagan lives. Despite the considerable risk to his own life, Columba even journeyed to Inverness in northern Scotland to witness to King Brude of the savage Picts. God opened Brude’s heart, and soon the Gospel spread throughout the nation of the Picts. …

“Columbanus … a large warm man with flaming hair and freckles … was a younger contemporary of Columba. … At that time, Christians from all over the Roman Empire were visiting Ireland because of its reputation for sanctity. These visitors told Columbanus about the pagan Germanic tribes of Europe that had not yet heard the Gospel. … He and twelve other men resolved to bring Christianity to them. …

“Columbanus and his fellow Irish missionaries first settled in Burgundy, in what is now eastern France. … Eventually Columbanus and his men brought thousands of pagans to a living faith in Christ. They also founded several religious communities in Burgundy, which became centers of evangelism and Christian education. Like Patrick, Columbanus refused to mix Christianity with paganism. …

“However, for several reasons, Columbanus and his missionaries were opposed by the Roman Catholic clergy in Gaul. First, they refused to subject themselves to the Catholic bishops. Secondly, they insisted on maintaining the customs of the Irish church, instead of those of Rome. Finally, they often rebuked the Roman Catholic clergy for their spiritual laxity. …

“The rulers of Burgundy were equally incensed (with them). Columbanus didn’t hesitate to severely reprove rulers who professed to be Christians, yet still lived in ungodliness. Eventually, Queen Brunhild and her son Theodoric arrested Columbanus and threw him into a dark, filthy dungeon. Although the queen and her son did eventually release Columbanus from prison, they then forcibly expelled him and his men from Burgundy. … Their Germanic converts stayed on to continue the work. …

“Leaving Burgundy, they travelled east through the rugged Alps to the lake of Zurich, in modern day Switzerland … and began preaching the Gospel … . Multitudes … received the Gospel … . Centuries later Swiss Christians like Ulrich Zwingli and Conrad Grebel gave birth to the Reformed and Anabaptist movements. …

“Burgundian power eventually spread to Switzerland, and the Burgundian rulers expelled Columbanus and his men once again. These tireless Irish evangelists … trekked through the rugged mountain terrain to Lombardy in present-day northern Italy. … Columbanus and a handful of his men reached northern Italy and began preaching to the pagan Lombards who had settled there.

Here they built a, “monastery at a place called Bobbio (which) became a celebrated center of spirituality and Christian scholarship. … Although criticized by the Roman Catholic clergy, Columbanus and his men didn’t let up in their preaching. In fact, the aged Columbanus even sent a letter of rebuke to the Pope! …

From Celtic Christianity

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