Feb 24, 2009

Let's talk about Celtic Christianity

What do you know about it? What do you want to know? Here are two topics that I'd love to hear your thoughts on as I work on gathering material for a new book.

  • I think many evangelical Christians (and maybe others as well) steer clear of anything Celtic, believing it to be pagan. Some even equate paganism with Satan worship. Do you or anyone you know shun Celtic crosses, Celtic knots, and other Celtic symbols because it's unclear what they represent and a Christian doesn't want to promote paganism?
  • Do you believe Irish saints, like St. Patrick, are Catholic? Where does this idea come from, in your opinion?
I really want to know what people are thinking, so please leave your thoughts. Thank you!!!


  1. Hey Cindy, no, I don't personally known anyone who shuns things Celtic but then again, I don't hang out with idiots much! I've heard of it third hand from others but never encountered personally. The Early Celts were pagan and some of their concepts entered their Christianity when it served to explain Christian ideas. Most of their beliefs, however, were already held the Early Church so it wasn't much of a step for them.

    As for St Patrick, he predated the Catholic Church, so he couldn't be a Catholic priest. He was, however, from the Roman Church which eventually split from the rest of Christianity and called themselves Catholics. Of course, Irish Catholics wouldn't care about the timing nor that he was from Wales! Some things in history are stranger than fiction!

    BTW, did you ever notice the 'trefoil' on the spine of the NJKV?

  2. I only know that the Germans shun Celtic symbols, particularly the ringed cross, due to its unfortunate connection to Nazi history. It's actually illegal to wear or show it there. But I really like it myself, along with the trefoils and knots. The mystique is grand, isn't it?
    In Ireland local Christians told me the triple curl (similar to what you show here) is a really evil symbol, but I forget what it stood for.

  3. Saint Patrick was Catholic. Everyone who followed Jesus was Catholic up until the Reformation as I understand it. Celtic symbols are an artistic expression of the oneness of things in God and, like God, show that things have no beginning and no end. They are eternal. The Celtic crosses (like ours in Sligo) often have Bible scenes-so why would ... Read moreanyone ever think they were pagan? True, most of these symbols predate anything Christian but it all blends together.Beginning, middle and unending! Also, Celtic Christians were mostly organized around monasteries. You have probably read the Sister Fidelma books...

  4. Sure Patrick and Jesus were catholic, but not roman catholic! It would be very wrong to suggest that either believed and taught worship of saints and idols, Mary worship, papal infalliability, Peter being first Pope, purgatory, indulgences....I could go on and on.

  5. jesus was a jew...

  6. I actually have that tattooed on my wrist! And I'm catholic!

  7. I am Irish (County Carlow) and I find some of the comments on this page to be quite insulting and uneducated. First of all St Patrick was a representation of the Christian (Chatholic Church in Rome) He was the son of a Roman general stationed in Wales so he is actually Italian. He was enslaved in Ireland after being kidnapped by Nial of the Nine Hostages (Pirate). After being free'd he went to study in Rome and vowed to bring the word of our lord back to Ireland.
    Also Germans definitely do not have any problem with Irish symbols, I lived there for 2 years and my sister is a teacher/tattoo artist in Frankfurt for the past 15 years. Most Germans are aware that they are descendants of the Celts who originated in the France/ Germany area. They all want Celtic tattoos.
    The Trefoil is actually a very Chatholic Symbol, it represents the Shamrock (Three)and was used by St Patrick to explain the relation ship between "The Father", "The Son", and "The Holy Spirit". For crying out loud people stop blogging and read a book for crying out loud.

    1. Certainly didn't intend for anyone to be insulted, Richard. I just asked the question and wanted to hear what people think. Some of the people commenting here have done more than just "read a book." And one, like you, actually lived in Germany. The truth is, we only have two existent writings by St. Patrick. They leave lots of room for speculation, and people have certainly done that both today and down through the ages.

      I'm wondering about St. Patrick being Italian, though. Are you basing that on anything other than the fact he was a Roman citizen? I'd like to hear more.

  8. Greetings Richard,

    Thanks for adding to the discussion. I'd like to address so issues regarding your post. Patricus was definitely of the Roman elite in Wales but it was his grand father who had first come there. He was born in Wales making him more Welsh! The rest of your historical account is correct, however, he was abducted, enslaved, escaped, returned and later decided to study in Rome for the priesthood.

    At this time however, Rome was still in agreement with the other 5 patriarchates making it part of the Othodox Church. The only exception at this time was the use of Latin rather than Greek for the services. It wasn't until after the Great Schism that the church split into Catholic and Orthodox.

    Regarding the trefoil, its not catholic either. It is an ancient symbol depicting the trible gods of the Celts. Each region had slightly different versions of who the gods were but it was a well known symbol in pre-christian times. Later the Celtic monks 'christianized' many of the ancient beliefs to incorporate them into their form of Christianity. Such as the goddess Brigit being transformed into St Brigid of Kildare. (how she could be the wet-nurse to Jesus I'll never understand!)

    Again, sorry if opinions here annoy you but this is a discussion group for sharing and learning. There is never any attempt at insulting or misrepresenting (shading) the facts about Patricks mission to Ireland. Thanks again for sharing your opinions.