An Irish Saint

June 23, 2008

An account of the life of Sir Oliver Plunkett. What are your thoughts on the Cromwellian period of Irish history?


Guest Bloggers Welcome

June 12, 2008

If you have a passion for things Celtic, we’d like to hear from you! Posts should be about culture-related topics, but not from an overly-academic perspective.

Possible Topics Include:

Archeology in Celtic Lands

Celtic Languages

History (all eras)

Religion (Christian and pre-Christian)

Economic/Political Contemporary Issues




if interested, please post a Reply to this page that includes your e-mail address and links to writing samples and/or a sample post.

Read it here

Celtic Christianity is quickly becoming a popular expression of Christianity. However, many misconceptions abound about what Celtic Christianity is, and many people are confused by the multitude of Celtic Christian groups with varying types of theology. Are Celtic Christians devout Irish Catholics? Or, perhaps, Anglicans? Are they, maybe, a unique brand of western Orthodox Christianity? Is there space in the Celtic Christian movement for evangelical Celtic Christians? In short, the answer to all of these is yes.

Celtic Christianity cannot claim any one group within the Christian faith. It’s a truly para-church expression of faith. Celtic Christianity encompasses those in historic denominations, those who attend distinctly Celtic churches, and those without a regular church home. It’s easy to hear the term Celtic Christian, and automatically assume that Irish Catholicism or Scottish Presbyterianism is meant. The Christianity of the ancient Celts was distinctive, and while some groups have retained Celtic practices, I’m not aware of any Celtic churches that have existed in a continuous line since the introduction of Christianity in the British Isles.

In short, ancient Celtic Christianity was more community-based, very incarnational, and managed to avoid most of the heresies and controversies that plagued the early Church. Many of the more divisive theological issues have their origins in teachings that the Celtic churches never embraced. For example, many Celtic Christians reject the belief of Original Sin, mainly because it wasn’t a part of Christian teaching at the time Christianity was introduced to their lands. Many Celtic Christians today are able to take the best of Celtic Christian belief and adapt it to their own faith. Here, I’ll highlight some of the “streams” within Celtic Christianity.

Probably the largest group of people who identify as Celtic Christians are in established denominations, often Catholic and Anglican churches. These Christians are able to bring Celtic Christianity into the mainstream, so to speak. Many Episcopal parishes here in the US are offering Celtic-style Eucharist services. Christians from many backgrounds are using Celtic prayer books to enrich their worship. Authors such as George G. Hunter have been very influential in bringing attention to Celtic Christianity in a modern context.

Celtic denominations typically tend to follow an Old Catholic, Anglican, or Orthodox form of worship. Most of these denominations have an apostolic succession that includes bishops from various backgrounds. Beliefs differ as to whether women may be ordained to the diaconate or priesthood. Many Old Catholic and Anglican Celtic groups are liberal in theology, while many Orthodox Celtic groups are conservative. Franciscan theology is very popular, since many Celtic Christians consider St. Francis to be an “honorary” Celtic saint due to his love for all creatures.

Yes, evangelical Celtic Christians exist as well! One such group in existence is a communion of Celtic Christian Anabaptists. Anabaptists represent the tradition within Christianity that the Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren belong to. Some independent Celtic groups are more evangelical in their approach. Another common expression of Celtic Christianity is what is known as the convergence movement. The convergence movement blends catholic, evangelical, and charismatic expressions of faith. Many Christians are embracing the convergence movement, as it brings together varying beliefs in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

As we can see, Celtic Christianity is not a monolithic movement by any means. It brings together Christians of all backgrounds, united by a unique theology about God’s incarnational presence in the world He created.

A form of worship unlike traditional Christian liturgy is being practiced in church communities around the United States. The ancient traditions of Celtic Christianity, practiced in Ireland from the 5th until the 12th century are being incorporated into worship services using versions of ancient Celtic prayers. The Celtic Christian Church is an Old Catholic Church which celebrates the Celtic Rite, and is inclusive. 

Celtic Christians aren’t Catholic in the traditional sense, although they are Catholic. They differ from Roman Catholics since both men and women priests are allowed to marry, all baptized Christians may receive communion, and bishops are allowed to marry. Celtic Christians aren’t in full communion with Rome, neither are they Protestant. Celtic spirituality is central to the worship service and the traditional sacraments are celebrated.

The Celtic Christian Church is drawing more former Roman Catholics; especially women, since they can attend seminary and be ordained as priests. However, if you’re interested in attending a Celtic Christian church, it’s not easy to find one. There are only a few communities scattered around the U.S., one located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania., which has established several Cell communities. A listng of the communities is found on the Celtic Christian Church website (

To learn more about Celtic Christianity, the following resources provide a wealth of information. St. Mark’s Episcopal church in Highland, Maryland has a page devoted to Celtic Christianity with special emphasis on what modern churches can learn from the Celtic Church:

Books on Celtic Christianity:

Celtic Christian Music:

Celtic Christian Webring:  



Dunvegan Castle

April 26, 2008

Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continously inhabited castle in Scotland, located on the Isle of Skye and home to the MacLeod Clan chiefs. The MacLeods have had the castle in their possession since the 1200’s, but parts of the castle may be older.

The castle is home to the famed Fairy Flag. This 7th century banner is said to bring success to the clan if unfurled in an emergency.  As the legend states, this can only be done three times, and the flag has been used twice. The castle is also home to several Jacobite relics.

The Isle of Skye has a mild climate, with snow generally confined to the Black Cuillin range.  Seals and birds such as herons and Arctic terns can be seen in the area.  This is a popular destination for tourists, as well as for weddings.

 Many misconceptions exist regarding the Anglican church, and the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion refers to the Anglican church worldwide. No single Anglican church has autonomy over all others. Each national church, such as the ECUSA (The Episcopal Church in the United States) has autonomy, a presiding bishop, and bishops elected to each diocese. Churches in full communion with the Church of England comprise the Anglican Communion. 

The Celtic church in Ireland traces its origins back to the time of St. Patrick, when the church was centered around monastic communities. The Irish Church is considered to be both Catholic and Reformed, since Henry Vlll was named the head of the Irish church by the Parliament of Ireland during the Reformation. At that time the Church of England severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church.  When the Church of England was reformed by Edward Vl, so was the Church of Ireland.

During the Reformation, the Irish church underwent more radical changes due mainly to the doctrines of John Calvin. However the Bishop of Armagh authored the Irish Articles which were adopted in 1615, and accepted along with the Thirty Nine Articles, the official doctrine of the Church of England. The Thirty Nine Articles are now the official doctrine of the Church of Ireland. 

The first Irish translation of the New Testament was published in 1602, and the translation of the Old Testament was published in 1680 by the Archbishop of Dublin. The translation of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (the official prayerbook of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion) was published in 1712.

Although there are Anglo-Catholic parishes, referred to as High Church, the majority of the churches in Ireland are consideered more Low Church. The Church of Ireland has two cathedrals, Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, both located in Dublin. However there are cathedrals in other dioceses as well.

The majority of Anglicans numbering 75%, live in Northern Ireland. During the last century there was a decline in the membership both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but the Republic has experienced more growth since the church has relaxed standards about children of mixed marriages being brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, Anglicans moving to Ireland, and Roman Catholics who have left the Catholic church in favor of Anglicanism.

Recent developments in the church have left their mark on every parish, and we can only pray that resolutions will be found to overcome challenges facing the Irish church and restore the stability of the Anglican Communion worldwide.


Communities in Action

April 9, 2008

With the rise of interest in Celtic Christianity, many are starting to seek out modern-day counterparts to this early Celtic Church. While many groups within Christianity have some practices similar to that of the early Celts, the early Celtic Church was unique.

Not only did the Celtic Church come out of the monastic tradition, the monastic tradition of the Celts, particuarly in Ireland, was unique.  The Celtic monasteries were not only places of prayer, but places of work for clergy, religious, and families.  The early monastery and church typically had a full settlement develop around it. There was less of a clergy/laity distinction, which changed with the more hierarchial style of the Roman Catholic Church.

Such a community would be hard to replicate in this day and age.  Indeed, this was probably what set the early Celtic Church apart.  There are modern communities that are Celtic-oriented in their spirituality, and have helped renew interest in Celtic tradition. Among these are the Northumbria and Iona communities.

More Info:

The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter

A Celtic Adventure Story

August 21, 2007

Three Doves, A Bell, A Cross, And A Candle is the first of three books about early Christianity in Ireland authored by Pastor Peter Olson. Pastor Peter is from a Lutheran and Fellowship of Christian Assemblies background with much experience in journalism. His experience as a journalist shines through in his writing.
Per is a young Viking prince in 6th century Norway. Although he’s the heir to the throne, he realizes there may be more for him.  From an Irishman captured on a raid, Per learns of the one true God and of the fame of St. Patrick. He also has a vision of a young woman who will become his wife. Per sets off with his closest friends for Ireland. Not only will they encounter faithful Irish Christians willing to mentor them, but they will also encounter hostile kings, pagan priests waiting to lure them into a trap, love/romance, imprisonment, and miracles.

The characters are colorful  and easy for us to relate to. The story moves in an easy flow from one adventure to the next. I believe this story, though fictional, gives a great account of what Celtic Christianity of the time must have been like.