Further Quotes on Patrick of Ireland and Columba, missionary to Scotland

The following are quotes from well-known historian Ruth Tucker, Ph.D. in History, Northern Illinois University, from her book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. Regarding St. Patrick, Columba, and Roman Catholicism.


Re: Patrick


Shrouded in legend and glorified by sainthood, Ireland's great fifth century missionary is one of the most misrepresented figures in Christian History. Popular opinion notwithstanding, Patrick was neither Roman Catholic nor an Irishman, and his promotion to sainthood happened centuries later in a bid for Catholic domination of the Celtic church and the Isle of Ireland. Lost in legend, his true ministry has been obscured almost beyond recognition.


Re: Columba (6th century missionary from Ireland to Scotland)


Celtic missionaries, according to E.H. Broadbent, conducted "a purer form of missionary work...than that which went out from Rome."

...They were free to marry or remain single

...They accepted the Holy Scriptures as the source of faith and life and preached justification by faith.  They did not take part in politics or appeal to the state for aid.

...were independent of Rome and different in important respects from the Roman Catholic system.


Many later historians have attempted to give the missionaries commissioned by the Pope a greater share of the credit than they rightly deserve.  There was strong competition between Roman Catholic and Celtic missionaries, the Catholics eventually gaining the upper hand [due to political domination of Ireland by certain later political leaders and capitulation to this by certain Celtic leaders], but the intial work of evangelizing much of Britain and central Europe was accomplished by the energetic and faithful Celtic missionaries.

Re: Roman Catholic Missions

From the beginning, Roman Catholic missions were closely tied to politics and military exploits, and mass conversions [often with threats backing it] were the major factor in [their] church growth.  Political leaders were sought out and through promises of military aid became nominal Christians, their subjects following suit.  In some instances the need for military aid was mixed with a superstitious belief that the Christian God was a better ally in battle than the pagan god or gods.

...it was [these] mass conversions that expanded the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages.

E.g.:  Clovis  (496), who accepted Catholicism and had three thousand of his troops baptized because it would make him the only orthodox Germanic king in Gaul and thus could then depend on the Gallo-Romans as allies as his conquests proceeded.

[* No doubt there were some medieval Roman Catholic missionaries of note e.g.: Boniface, Lull etc.] 

However as pointed out by Tucker and V. Raymond Edman: Despite their sincere efforts there is reflected...The lowering spiritual tone...which began to emphasize Church more than Christ and Sacrament more than Scripture.



Quotes on Patrick of Ireland from: A. Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang, Randy Petersen from the book The one hundred most important events in Christian History.


The church in Ireland had developed outside the hierachical system of Rome, because Patrick evangelized the nation without relying on the established church.


Lacking the desire to establish church bureacacies, Irish leaders encouraged...the "real business of the church: preaching, studying, and ministering to the poor."


Ireland did not really become Catholic until the 1100’s, when the Pope gave the English king, Henry II, sovereignty over Ireland.  The Catholic church...made him a saint [at that point].