The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0531  Friday, 22 February 2002

From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 22 Feb 2002 08:16:35 -0500
Subject: 13.0507 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0507 Re: Proto-Catholilcs? Proto-Prods?

> There is the old question of Celtic Catholicism being subverted by
> Roman Catholicism, in the person of Saint Augustine and Canterbury
> itself, in was it the sixth or seventh century (I'm a bit hazy on
> dates). Celtic Catholicism was of much older date in the Isles, and had
> a much stronger monastic rather than episcopal tradition. But of course
> Ireland kept that much longer than England did--it is really stretching
> a long bow to suggest that the Reformers were acting in the spirit of
> the Celtic Christians! To them the Irish--with their Celtic Catholic
> traditions--were not the model, but benighted savages, surely?
> Sophie Masson

I don't think it's such a long bow. The Celtic Catholicism of Iona and
St.  Patrick did have closer links to the Eastern Orthodox Church than
to Rome, and the Reformers' presbyterianism made reference to a return
to "original" Christianity which some thought the Eastern Church had
more closely preserved.  I am not aware of any reference to St Patrick
by the Reformation (references welcome), but I would find such reticence
conspicuous enough to suspect repression, perhaps owing to an
unwillingness to associate themselves with their Irish enemies. I
certainly do not think it safe to assume that they viewed the native
Celtic tradition as benighted. On the contrary, the view of history as a
progress of enlightenment is a modern idea and is inconsistent with the
providentialist view of history as a decay from pure gold to base iron.
For them, the dark ages from which they had just emerged was the high
point of spiritual benightedness.  That the process of historical decay
seemed to have ended appeared as a providential sign that God intended
them not to institute a new age, but to revive the lost golden age for
which Celtic Catholic traditions should have served as an ideal,
preceding the advent of the Whore of Babylon instituted in Rome and
offering a link to nationalistic mytho history of the once and future
king.  But it would take a lot more research in Reformation polemics
than I have done to confirm these suspicions.


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