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Showing posts from May, 2023

The Cosmological Cross

  Why are some Celtic crosses surrounded by a ring shape? If you ask this on an internet forum, the stock answer is that it's a leftover from the time of sun worship: some sort of compromise with the pagans. I have even heard it asserted that Celtic crosses existed before Christianity. So, I set out to find whether this was true. Turning to art history and archaeology, I found that there are no carved stone crosses in Ireland or Britain before the 8th century.  The earliest surviving Irish standing high crosses, Pictish stones with crosses and Christian motifs, and the Northumbrian crosses all date to around 800 A.D. This is centuries after the Gospel was first proclaimed in the British Isles, well after the establishment of monasteries, and over 100 years after the Synod of Whitby. The term "sun cross" was coined after World War II and refers to European Bronze Age sun chariot wheels created by sun worshiping cultures. As you can see, these are quite different objects al

A Tailcenn Will Come Over the Raging Sea

Book of Armagh, Folio 54 [ie 55]r I wonder sometimes how St. Patrick so thoroughly won over the Irish for Christianity during his time.  It was the Holy Spirit of course, because no such thing can be accomplished by advertising or slick social media campaigns, especially not during the 5th century. Were they expecting someone like Patrick to come? In the book of Armagh (7th century) we find a biography of St. Patrick by Muirchu who claims King Loegaire's druids, Lochia and Luchat Mael prophesied: "A Tailcenn* will come over the raging sea, with his perforated garment, his crook-headed staff, With his table at the east end of his house, and all his people will answer 'Amen, Amen.'" *bald-head, referring to the Roman clerical tonsure When St. Patrick and his missionary companions finally landed in Ireland and began their ministry, Loegaire, the High King, summoned all of his chieftains and druids to a great feast on the Hill of Tara. Patrick saw a golden opportu