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389 - 461

PATRICK was a missionary to the Irish, born in Roman Britain. He was the son of a local administrator (decurion) or magistrate called Calpurnius, who was also a deacon in the church. At the age of 15/16, while staying on his father's farm, Patrick was taken captive by raiders and taken to Ireland , to be sold as a slave. He was put to work as a swineherd. After 6 years he escaped and eventually reached home again. During his captivity his Christian faith had been greatly strengthened. He went to Gaul to study , and whilst he was there he had a vision which convinced him that he must return and evangelise Ireland. In 432 AD, he was consecrated as a bishop and returned to Ireland where he spent 30 years as a missionary, starting churches and baptising converts by immersion. He had great influence on several chieftains and special ties to the areas of Tara, Croagh Patrick and Armagh. He had contact with strict monasteries in Gaul and began to emphasise the ascetic life of monasticism. The basic unit of the church became the monastery led by an abbot rather than a bishop's diocese. He actively encouraged missionary work, which became a priority in the Celtic Church and produced great numbers of monks who evangelised W. Europe during the 6th. and 7th. Centuries. He was later canonised by the Roman Catholic Church as a political move to control the Irish churches. He was thereafter known as St. Patrick.

The diocesan system failed in Britain because of the lack of cities, but monasteries flourished in the Celtic church in Britain as in Ireland. The abbot ruled supreme, while the bishop had no administrative function, although he had powers of ordination, confirmation and consecration. In the rest of Europe the bishop was more powerful and had general oversight of the monasteries in his diocese.

The Romans abandoned England in the early 5th. Century. The country was overrun by Jutes, Angles and Saxons. The British were either
absorbed or fled westward and settled in the Welsh mountains or among the Cornish tors. The Christian church was destroyed in the conquered areas but it continued in the west.David (520 -580 AD) was a Celtic abbot-bishop, evangelist and founder of monasteries. Also important at this time were Illtyd, who washis teacher, Deniel and others.In Wales the church was isolated and did not try to convert the Saxons.



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