Hebrew Origins of the Celtic Christian Church

Spread the love

“Modern historians, in dealing with the Roman invasions, completely ignore the reason for the great Roman invasion of Britain. Never once do they mention the Edict of Claudius, or explain that it was a war of religious extermination, designed to crush Christianity at its source.”

The Drama of the Lost Disciples (1961), George Jowett.


Applying the Trivium Method of Learning to this contentious issue, it seems appropriate to start with a selection of the most credible primary, secondary, modern and contemporary sources.


What was the original form of Christianity, where and when was it established, by whom, why and how?


According to Percy E Corbet in Why Britain (1984):

“Julius Caesar following his campaign in Britain, 55 B.C., wrote with admiration of the culture of the British, their sterling character and ingenuity in commerce and craftsmanship. He referred in amazement to the number of populous cities, the architecture, universities of learning and particularly to their religion with its belief in the immortality of the soul.

The comment on religion by Julius Caesar makes one wonder on what the pre-Christian British religion was based and this question leads us to consider the Impact of Druidism In Britain.

According to Isabel Hill Elder, a writer on the Celts and early British history, Hu Gadarn Hyscion (Isaacson) son of Isaac, led a party of settlers to Britain in 1800 B.C. She states that the date was confirmed by Dr. Gerald Hawkins in his researches in connection with Stonehenge as an astronomical circle and that Sir Norman Lockyer, Edward Dallies and William Stukeley affirm that the religion of ancient Britain was patriarchal. She tells us that, when the Hebrew religion was established by the descendants of Abraham and Moses, with the tribe of Levi set apart from both civil and religious administration in the nation (Israel) small detachments there from arrived frequently in Britain bringing with them the Levitical development which they named “The Truth.” This appellation was never altered in Britain and Druid (Truth) and Druthin (The Servant of Truth) were retained along with the motto (The Truth against the World) until finally Druidism became merged with Christianity as a perfectly natural sequence. She says that this happened in the same manner in which Christianity became the natural and prophesied sequence to the Hebrew faith.”


From the Works of Julius Caesar, (parallel English/Latin) tr. W.A. McDevitte and W.S. Bohn [1869], Gallic Wars Book 5 [54BC]:

“The interior portion of Britain is inhabited by those of whom they say that it is handed down by tradition that they were born in the island itself: the maritime portion by those who had passed over from the country of the Belgae for the purpose of plunder and making war; almost all of whom are called by the names of those states from which being sprung they went thither, and having waged war, continued there and began to cultivate the lands. The number of the people is countless, and their buildings exceedingly numerous, for the most part very like those of the Gauls: the number of cattle is great. They use either brass or iron rings, determined at a certain weight, as their money. Tin is produced in the midland regions; in the maritime, iron; but the quantity of it is small: they employ brass, which is imported. There, as in Gaul, is timber of every description, except beech and fir. They do not regard it lawful to eat the hare, and the cock, and the goose; they, however, breed them for amusement and pleasure. The climate is more temperate than in Gaul, the colds being less severe.”


Gallic Wars Book 6 [53BC]:

“But of these two orders, one is that of the Druids, the other that of the knights. The former are engaged in things sacred, conduct the public and the private sacrifices, and interpret all matters of religion. To these a large number of the young men resort for the purpose of instruction, and they [the Druids] are in great honor among them. For they determine respecting almost all controversies, public and private; and if any crime has been perpetrated, if murder has been committed, if there be any dispute about an inheritance, if any about boundaries, these same persons decide it; they decree rewards and punishments; if any one, either in a private or public capacity, has not submitted to their decision, they interdict him from the sacrifices. This among them is the most heavy punishment. Those who have been thus interdicted are esteemed in the number of the impious and the criminal: all shun them, and avoid their society and conversation, lest they receive some evil from their contact; nor is justice administered to them when seeking it, nor is any dignity bestowed on them. Over all these Druids one presides, who possesses supreme authority among them. Upon his death, if any individual among the rest is pre-eminent in dignity, he succeeds; but, if there are many equal, the election is made by the suffrages of the Druids; sometimes they even contend for the presidency with arms. These assemble at a fixed period of the year in a consecrated place in the territories of the Carnutes, which is reckoned the central region of the whole of Gaul. Hither all, who have disputes, assemble from every part, and submit to their decrees and determinations. This institution is supposed to have been devised in Britain, and to have been brought over from it into Gaul; and now those who desire to gain a more accurate knowledge of that system generally proceed thither for the purpose of studying it. The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters. Induced by such great advantages, many embrace this profession of their own accord, and [many] are sent to it by their parents and relations. They are said there to learn by heart a great number of verses; accordingly some remain in the course of training twenty years. Nor do they regard it lawful to commit these to writing, though in almost all other matters, in their public and private transactions, they use Greek characters. That practice they seem to me to have adopted for two reasons; because they neither desire their doctrines to be divulged among the mass of the people, nor those who learn, to devote themselves the less to the efforts of memory, relying on writing; since it generally occurs to most men, that, in their dependence on writing, they relax their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employment of the memory. They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded. They likewise discuss and impart to the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion, respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of the immortal gods.”


Seutonius (69 – 122 AD) stated in The Life of Claudius:

“He utterly abolished the cruel and inhuman religion of the Druids among the Gauls, which under Augustus had merely been prohibited to Roman citizens;”


Sozomen (400-450 AD) tells us in his Eccl. Hist.. lib. i. c. v.:

“It is well known that great Constantine received his Christian education in Britain.”


Writing in the sixth century in his Conquest of Britain, St. Gildas the Wise indicated that British Christianity was established in the last year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, that is 37 AD:

Ҥ8. Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received the beams of light, that is, the holy precepts of Christ, the true Sun, showing to the whole world his splendor, not only from the temporal firmament, but from the height of heaven, which surpasses every thing temporal, at the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with its professors.

§9. These rays of light were received with lukewarm minds by the inhabitants, but they nevertheless took root among some of them in a greater or less degree, until the nine years’ persecution of the tyrant Diocletian [303-11 AD], when the churches throughout the whole world were overthrown, all the copies of the Holy Scriptures which could be found burned in the streets, and the chosen pastors of God’s flock butchered, together with their innocent sheep, in order that not a vestige, if possible, might remain in some provinces of Christ’s religion.”


The Venerable Bede, writing about 740 AD, said in his Ecclesiastical History:

“The Britons preserved the Faith which they had received under King Lucius uncorrupted, and continued in peace and tranquility until the time of the Emperor Diocletian.”


The Doomsday Book (Survey Folio, page 249b) states:

“The Domus Dei, in the monastery of Glastonbury, called The Secret of our Lord. This Glastonbury Church possesses in its own ville XII hides of land which have never paid tax.”


Polydore Vergil (1470 – 1555 AD), lib. ii:

“Britain, partly through Joseph of Arimathea, partly through Fugatus and Damianus, was of all kingdoms the first that received the Gospel.”


Robert Parsons, the Jesuit scholar, in his Three Conversions of England (1603), admits that:

“The Christian religion began in Britain within fifty years of Christ’s ascension.”


Sir Henry Spelman’s states in Concilia, published in 1773 AD:

“We have abundant evidence that this Britain of ours received the faith, and that from the disciples of Christ Himself, soon after the crucifixion of Christ.”

Tertullian (c. 155-222A.D.) the theologian, wrote: “The extremities of Spain, the various parts of Gaul, the regions of Britain which have never been penetrated by Roman arms have received the religion of Christ.”
(Tertullian Def. Fidei, page 179)

According to Hengwst MSS, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bk. XI, Chap. XII, Humphrey Lloyd, ‘Sebright’ MSS; Abbot of Bangor Iscoed or Bangor-on-Dee, writing to the Bishop of Rome in the 7th century stated:

“We desire to love all-men, but he whom you call “Pope” is not entitled to style himself the “father of fathers” and the only submission we can render him is that which we owe to every Christian.”


Cadvan, Prince of Wales, 610 AD, expresses himself thus to the Abbot of Bangor on the subject of the mutual exclusivity of the churches of Britain and Rome:

“All men may hold the same truth, yet no man can hereby be drawn into slavery to another. If the Cymry believed all that Rome believes, that would be as strong a reason for Rome obeying us, as for us to obey Rome. It suffices for us that we obey the Truth. If other men obey the Truth, are they therefore to become subject to us? Then were the Truth of Christ made slavery and not freedom.”


Nathanial Bacon (1593–1660 AD), stated in Government of England:

“The Britons told Augustine they would not be subject to him, nor let him pervert the ancient laws of their Church. This was their resolution, and they were as good as their word, for they maintained the liberty of their Church five hundred years after his time, and were the last of all the Churches of Europe that gave up their power to the Roman Beast . . .”


Alford’s Regia Fides Brittanica 1663, Vol. 1, p. 19:

“The faith which was adopted by the nation of the Britons in the year of our Lord 165, was preserved inviolate, and in the enjoyment of peace, to the time of the Emperor Diocletian.”


Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 1765–1769, Vol. IV, p.105:

“The ancient British Church by whomsoever planted was a stranger to the bishop of Rome and all his pretended authorities.”


R.W. Morgan, St. Paul in Britain, p. 111:

“The British Church was represented during his [Constantine’s] reign by native bishops at the Councils of Arles, A.D. 308, and Nice, A.D. 325.”


From Lionel Smithett Lewis’ St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury (1922):

“It is certain that Britain received the Faith in the first age from the first sewers of the Word. Of all the churches whose origin I have investigated in Britain, the church of Glastonbury is the most ancient.”


Isabel Hill Elder wrtote in Celt, Druid and Culdee (1973):

“…in seven genealogical charts setting forth his pedigree, Arviragus is shown to be the son of Cunobelinus and grandsire of Lucius (in whose reign Christianity was established as the national religion); in the pedigree according to the classics, i.e. Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Suetonius, Dion Cassius and Orosius, Caractacus is shown to be the son of Cunobelinus; in Rome Caractacus was known also by his title, Arviragus, and is so referred to by the poet Juvenal. In the pedigree according to Tysilio and in the Welsh Chronicles, Caractacus appears under his title Gueirdd (Justiciary), son of Cunobelinus and grandsire of Lucius. Further, in the Triads, and some of the Welsh genealogies, Caractacus appears as the son of Bran and grandsire of Lucius. Bran, a contraction of Brenhan, i.e. ‘King’, is mentioned in the Triads as ‘Bran the Blessed’ (the Blessed King). This was the designation of Cunobelinus following his acceptance of Christianity and his resignation of the crown in favour of his third son, Caractacus. Bran the Blessed became Archdruid of Siluria in order to devote the remainder of his life to Christianity into which Druidism was beginning to merge.

[…] For almost two centuries Britain had been free from the domination of Imperial Rome; this fact enabled the supporters of the British Church at this time to quote the second canon of the Council of Constantinople, held in A.D.381, which ordained that the Churches that are without the Roman Empire should be governed by their ancient customs (Paper in the ‘Ecclesiastic’ for April 1864 on Dr. Todd’s ‘St. Patrick’, Concilia Constantiano Theodore-Martin (Lovar), 1517). But the canon was not held sufficient by Augustine and his successors to justify the British Church in its contention.

Though the doctrinal controversies which divided British and Roman Churches may seem unimportant to us, they plainly show our original ecclesiastical independence, and the stubborn resistance of our Church fathers to papal pretensions to supremacy (McCallum, ‘History of the Culdees,’ p.60, 61). Beyond all question, to the national Church of Britain belongs that per-eminence which the old British Triads claimed for it of being ‘primary in respect to Christianity.”


The Drama of the Lost Disciples (1961), George F. Jowett:

“It is interesting to note that the Bethany group who landed in Britain, was never referred to by the British priesthood as Christians, nor even later when the name was in common usage. They were called ‘Culdees’, as were the other disciples who later followed the Josephian mission into Britain. There are two interpretations given to the word ‘Culdee’, or ‘Culdich’, both words purely of the Celto-British language, the first meaning ‘certain strangers’, and the other as explained by Lewis Spence, who states that ‘Culdee’ is derived from ‘Ceile-De’, meaning, ‘Servant of the Lord’. In either case the meaning is appropriate. This title, applied to Joseph of Arimathea and his companions, clearly indicates that they were considered as more than ordinary strangers. The name sets them apart as somebody special. In this case, since they arrived in Britain on a special mission with a special message, we can fairly accept the title meant to identify them as ‘certain strangers, Servants of the Lord’…..In the ancient British Triads, Joseph and his twelve companions are all referred to as Culdees, as also are Paul, Peter, Lazarus, Simon Zelotes, Aristobulus and others. This is important. The name was not known outside Britain and therefore could only have been assigned to those who actually had dwelt among the British Cymri. The name was never applied to any disciple not associated with the early British missions. Even though Gaul was Celtic, the name was never employed there. In later years the name Culdee took on an added significance, emphasising the fact that the Culdee Christian Church was the original Church of Christ on earth. The name Culdee, and Culdich clung tenaciously to the Scottish Church, and its prelates, much longer than elsewhere.

[…] The Rig-Vedas, the ancient religious books of India, were written 1500 B.C. and the Druidic religion ante-dated that of India, circa 1800 B.C.

The wise men of India record the visit of Jesus among them, stating that He dwelt in Nepal. They also make several references to Britain as a great centre of religious learning, therefore, on several scores, Jesus would know of the eminence of Druidic religious wisdom. He would know from his uncle Joseph, who frequently visited Britain on his tin mining expeditions. It was popular knowledge among the Greeks and Romans who heavily populated Judea. He would know from personal contact with Britain, made when his uncle Joseph took Him on his seafaring trips to that country. Eastern and Western tradition claim Jesus completed His studies in Britain. This could be possible. At that time the Druidic universities were the largest in the world, both in size and in attendance with a listing of sixty large universities and an average attendance of over sixty thousand students. (Gildas, ‘Cottonian MS’ and Morgan, ‘History of Britain’) This is affirmed by Greek and Roman Testimony which states that the noble and wealthy of Rome and other nations sent their children to study law, science and religion in Britain.”


From Bharath Khand of Bhavishya Purana (believed to have been written around 1500 BC):

“The revelation of God who is eternal, Holy, Compassionate and giver of Salvation; who dwells within our heart is manifested. His name is Yeesha (Jesus) Masih (Christ).”


In Why Britain? (1984), Percy E. Corbett wrote:

“William of Malmesbury records in his “De Antiquitate Glastoniae” that St. David A.D. 540, when he came to Glastonbury to rededicate the new church, had a dream which changed his mind. During the first night St. David slept at Glastonbury, the vision of Jesus appeared to him in a dream telling David that rededication was unnecessary saying “He Himself had long before dedicated the church in honour of His mother and the sacrament ought not to be profaned by human repetition.

In order to perpetuate the historic beginnings of the church St. David erected a new stone in addition to the old church in A.D. 546 bearing a brass tablet which read:- “The first ground of God, the first ground of the saints in Britain, the rise and foundation of all religion in Britain, and the burial place of the Saints.”


William of Malmesbury also wrote concerning the original church at Glastonbury:

“Of wattle work at first, it savoured somewhat of heavenly sanctity even from its very foundation and exhaled it all over the country, claiming superior reverence. A model of the wattle church exists in the British Museum.”


In his all but lost, History of Britain from the Flood to AD 700, R.W. Morgan wrote:

“The Roman Catholic Church has no pretensions to being the primitive or apostolic church of Britain. It came in so late as a century a half after the Saxon, and four centuries after the national establishment of the native British church.”


Morgan continued on Page 37:

“When Druidism merged into Christianity, these rites, festivals, and canonicals, became those of the Christian Church. Little variation exists between the modern ceremonials of religion, as witnessed in a Roman Catholic cathedral, and those of Druidic Britain two thousand years since. Their derivation from Druidism is not more evident than the striking contrast they present to the simple and unadorned ritual of Primitive Christianity. Some of these observances are common to Judaism and Druidism—others are to be found in Druidism alone.”


On page 51, Morgan considers the failed Julian invasions of Britain, 55-54 BC:

“The consequences attending the second Julian invasion, skilfully glossed over and coloured as they are in the Commentaries of the Roman general, demonstrates that both at Rome and the continent it was regarded as a more serious failure than the first.__

For ninety-seven years no Roman again ventured to plant a hostile foot on our Island. And when the Roman eagle under Claudius once more expanded its wings to the stormy winds of Britain, it was when no other enemy unconquered met its eye from the Euphrates to Gibraltar, and the Empire it symbolized had leisure to turn the whole of its vast forces against the sole free people of the West.”


Morgan then considers the failed Claudian invasion, including the eventual expulsion of the Romans from Britain in 86 AD:

“The Claudian invasion which commences here, A.D. 43, and terminated after a war of forty-three years’ duration waged with fluctuating success, in the expulsion of the Romans from Britain, A.D. 86, is remarkable for the succession of able com¬manders produced by it on both sides. Britain during this period, served the same purpose for Rome as Hindustan has, during the last century, for Britain—it was the nursery for raising generals and maintaining the efficiency of her troops. With the exception of the campaigns of Corbulo, in Germany (A.D. 47), and Armenia (A.D. 58), and of the conquest of Dacia effected in one campaign, (A.D. 86), no other foreign hostilities engaged the attention of the Roman arms. The emperors were at liberty to direct the whole force of the empire against this island alone—a fact as it has been carefully ignored by the Roman historians, so it excites no surprise that it should not have been observed by the modern writers who can see nothing British in these heroic old times except through the hostile and distorting medium of Roman eyes.”


If the foregoing grammar or even certain portions of it prove to be correct, notwithstanding certain errors and omissions, it seems logical to conclude that in its original form, Christianity may well have been a natural sequence to the Ancient British Druidic Religion, which was epitomised by the belief in the immortality of the soul, vicarious atonement and the bardic maxim, The Truth against the World, whilst its epicentre appears to have been the western isles of the lands now known as Ireland and Scotland.


It also seems somewhat obvious, despite centuries of confusion, obfuscation and deception, that the ancient church of the Culdees or the Chaldeans of Ur may have been the prototype for the Apostolic Christian Church in Britain, which predates St. Augustine’s attempts to impose the Catholic faith upon the Britons by more than half a millennium, given the abundance of credible sources which claim that the primary seat of Christianity was established in Glastonbury, in the year now known as 37 AD, whilst St. Augustine’s crusade began in 597 AD.

Furthermore, if the deductions of William Comyns Beaumont in Britain – Key to World History prove to be correct, then at least until it was razed to the ground around 135 AD by Emperor Hadrian, Jerusalem, where Joseph is believed to have kept a home and high office, was the sacred city which was built on the site we now know as Edinburgh in Scotland, which was known as Judea in biblical times. This subject, along with the question of Christ’s existence, will be discussed in detail in subsequent articles.

As to who founded the original seat of Christianity, it appears likely that the original church was founded on the Islands of Britain, but the specifics of who founded it remain less certain. Whilst there are numerous claims that Joseph of Arimathea and the primary disciples of Christ and/or Christ himself built the original wattle church in or near Glastonbury, it seems more than probable that it was founded by those who were considered to be Culdees or Chaldeans by the ancient Britons.


Many have misunderstood the term “Culdees”. Due to this, the Orthodox Church of the Culdees has the following definitions in the appendix of many of our publications:

(Quidam advanae — ‘certain strangers’ — old Latin. In later Latin, “Culdich” or Anglicised, “Culdees.”) (E. Raymond Capt, “The Traditions of Glastonbury”, pg. 41
When Joseph and the Bethany group landed in the Isles, and even later disciples that would come from Gaul, they were not called Christians, but rather ‘Culdees’, meaning ‘certain strangers’, which is derived from ‘Ceile De’, meaning ‘Servant of the Lord’. In the ancient British Triads, Joseph and his twelve companions are referred to as Culdees, as were Paul, Peter, Lazarus, Simon Zelotes, Aristobulus and others of that walk, and the name is not known outside of Britain. It is attributed to Cymric, and even though Gaul was Keltic, the name ‘Culdee’ was never employed there.
In later years, the word Culdee emphasized that it was the ‘Culdee’ Christian Church that was the original Church of Christ on earth. It was termed the Culdee Church as late as A.D. 939, in church documents at Saint Peter’s Church, York. According to records, the Canons of York were called Culdees as late as the reign of King Henry II (A.D. 1133-1189). In Ireland, a whole county was so named. The Scottish Church was where would be found the latest use of the names ‘Culdee’ and ‘Culdish’. The first converts of the Culdees or ‘Judaean refugees’ were the Druids of Britain.
From the book
“Celt, Druid and Culdee” (1973)
Isabel Hill Elder
To trace the history of the Culdees from the days of St. Columba is a comparatively easy task; to find their origin is more difficult. In the minute examination which such an investigation involves the name Culdee is discovered to have quite a different origin from that usually assigned to it.

The obscurity of the origin of the Culdich (Anglicized Culdees) has led many writers to assume that their name was derived from their life and work. The interpretations ‘Cultores Dei’ (Worshippers of God) and ‘Gille De’ (Servants of God) are ingenious but do not go far to solve the problem. Culdich is still in use among some of the Gael, of Cultores Dei and Gille De they know nothing.(1)
John Calgan, the celebrated hagiologist and topographer, translates Culdich ‘quidam advanae’ – certain strangers(2) – particularly strangers from a distance; this would seem an unaccountable interpretation of the name for these early Christians were it not for the statement of Freculphus(3) that certain friends and disciples of our Lord, in the persecution that followed His Ascension, found refuge in Britain in A.D. 37.(4) Further, here is the strong, unvarying tradition in the West of England of the arrival in this country in the early days A.D. of certain ‘Judean refugees’. It seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that Colgan’s Culdich, ‘certain strangers’, were one and the same with these refugees who found asylum in Britain and were hospitably received by Arviragus (Caractacus), king of the West Britons or Silures and temporarily settled in a Druidic college. Land to the extent of twelve hides or ploughs, on which they built the first Christian church, was made over to them in free gift by Arviragus. This land has never been taxed. Of the twelve hides of land conferred by Arviragus on this church, the Domesday Survey, A.D. 1088, supplies conformation. ‘The Domus Dei, in the great monastery in Glastonbury. This Glastngbury Church possesses in its own villa XII hides of land which have never paid tax.(5)
In Spelman’s ‘Concilia'(6) is an engraving of a brass plate which was formerly affixed to a column to mark the exact site of the church in Glastonbury.(7) ‘The first ground of God, the first ground of the Saints in Britain, the rise and foundation of all religion in Britain, the burial place of the Saints.'(8) This plate was dug up at Glastonbury and came into Spelman’s possession.
From a ‘mass of evidence’ to which William of Malmesbury gave careful study, the antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury was unquestionable. He says:
‘From its antiquity called, by way of distinction, “Ealde Chirche”, that is the Old Church of wattlework at first, savoured somewhat of heavenly sanctity, even from its very foundation, and exhaled it all over the country, claiming superior reverence, though the structure was mean. Hence, here assembled whole tribes of the lower orders, thronging every path; hence assembled the opulent, divested of their pomp; hence it became the crowded residence of the religious and the literary. For, as we have heard from men of elder times, here Gildas, an historian, neither unlearned nor inelegant, captivated by the sanctity of the place, took up his abode for a series of years. This Church, then, is certainly the oldest I am acquainted with in England, and from this circumstance derives its name. Moreover there are documents of no small credit, which have been discovered in certain places, to the following effect: No other hands than those of the disciples of Christ erected the Church at Glastonbury …. for if Phillip the Apostle reached to the Gauls, as Freculphus relates in the fourth chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he also planted the word on the hither side of the channel.'(19)
The first converts of the Culdees were Druids. The Druids of Britain, in embracing Christianity, found no difficulty in reconciling the teaching of the Culdees, or ‘Judean refugees’, with their own teaching of the resurrection and inheritance of eternal life. Numerous writers have commented upon the remarkable coincidence which existed between the two systems – Druidism and Christianity. (Amongst the Druidic names for the Supreme God which they had in use before the introduction of Christianity were the terms: ‘Distributor’, ‘Governor’, ‘The Mysterious One’, ‘The Wonderful’, The Ancient of Days’, terms strictly of Old Testament origin.(10)
Taliesen, a bard of the sixth century, declares :
‘Christ, the Word from the beginning, was from the beginning our teacher, and we never lost His teaching. Christianity was a new thing in Asia, but there never was a time when the Druids of Britain held not its doctrines.'(11)
From ‘Ecclesiastical An Antiquities’ of the Cymry we learn that the Silurian Druids embraced Christianity on its first promulgation in these islands, and that in right of their office they were exclusively elected as Christian ministers, though their claims to national privileges as such were not finally sanctioned until the reign of Lles ap Coel (Lucius), A.D. 156. Even so all the bardic privileges and immunities were recognized by law before the reign of this king.
‘And those Druids that formerly had dominion of the Britons’ faith become now to be helpers of their joy and are become the leaders of the blind, which through God’s mercy hath continued in this Island ever since through many storms and dark mists of time until the present day.'(12)
A Welsh Triad mentions Amesbury (Avebury) in Wiltshire as one of the three great Druidic ‘Cors’ or colleges of Britain, and one of the earliest to be converted to Christian uses. In the church attached to this college there were two thousand four hundred ‘saints’, that is, there were a hundred for every hour of the day and night in rotation, perpetuating the praise of God without intermission. This mode of worship was very usual in the early Church.(13)
The Christian king Lucius, third in descent from Winchester, and grandson of Pudens and Claudia(14) built the first minister on the site of a Druidic Cor at Winchester, and at a National Council held there in A.D.156 established Christianity the national religion as the natural successor to Druidism, when the Christian ministry was inducted into all the rights of the Druidic hierarchy, tithes included.(15)
The change over from Druidism was not a mere arbitrary act of the king, for, according to the Druidic law, there were three things that required the unanimous vote of the nation: deposition of the Sovereign, suspension of law, introduction of novelties in religion.(16)
Archbishop Usher quotes twenty-three authors, including Bede and Nennius, on this point and also brings in proof from ancient British coinage.(17)
So uncontested was the point that at the Council of Constance it was pleaded as an argument for British precedence.
‘There are many circumstances’, writes Lewis Spence, ‘connected with the Culdees to show that if they practised a species of Christianity their doctrine still retained a large measure of the Druidic philosophy, and that indeed they were the direct descendants of the Druidic caste….
The Culdees who dwelt on Iona and professed the rule of Columba, were Christianized Druids, mingling with their faith a large element of the ancient Druidic cultus. . . . But all their power they ascribed to Christ – Christ is my Druid, said Columba.'(18)
Toland says that:
‘…the Druidical college of Derry was converted into a Culdee monastery. In Wales Druidism cease to be practised by the end of the FIRST century, but long after the advent of St.Patrick the chief monarchs of Ireland adhered to Druidism… Laegaire and all the provincial kings of Ireland, however, granted to every man free liberty of preaching and professing the Christian religion if he wished to do so.'(19)
The cumulative evidence of early historians leaves no shadow of doubt that Britain was one of the first, if not THE FIRST country to receive the Gospel, and that the apostolic missionaries were instrumental in influencing the change whereby the native religion of Druidism merged into Christianity.(20)
It is a remarkable circumstance that while statues of gods and goddesses prevail throughout the heathen sites of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Hindu and other idolatrous nations, NOT A VESTIGE of an IDOL or IMAGE has been found in Britain.
If Mithraism is argued to contest this statement it should be observed that invaders were not free from idolatry. Mithra worship was a Roman importation. The British were entirely free from all forms of idolatry; they never adopted Mithraism. The Druids’ invocation was to ONE all-healing and all-saving power. Can we be surprised that they so readily embraced the gospel of Christ?
Further support for the early introduction of Christianity to Britain is gathered from the following widely diverse sources:
EUSEBIUS of Ceasarea speaks of apostolic missions to Britain as matters of notoriety. ‘The Apostles passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Brittanic Isles.'(21)
TERTULLIUS of Carthage, A.D.208, the embodiment of the highest learning of that age, tells us that the Christian Church in the second century extended to ‘all the boundaries of Spain, and the different nations of Gaul and parts of Britain inaccessible to the Romans but subject to Christ.'(22)
ORIGEN, in the third century states: ‘The power of Lord is with those who in Britain are separated from our coasts.'(23)
‘From India to Britain’, writes St.JEROME, A.D.378, ‘all nations resound with the death and resurrection of Christ.'(24)
ARNOBIUS, on the same subject, writes: ‘So swiftly runs the word of God that within the space of a few years His word is concealed neither from the Indians in the East nor from the Britons in the West.'(25)
CHRYSOSTOM, Patriarch of Constantinople, A.D.402, supplies evidence in these words: ‘The British Isles which lie beyond the sea, and which lie in the ocean, have received the virtue of the Word. Churches are there found and altars erected. Though thou should’st go to the ocean, to the British Isles, there thou should’st hear all men everywhere discussing matters out of the Scriptures.'(26)
GILDS, the British historian, writing in A.D.542, states: ‘We certainly know that Christ, the True Sun, afforded His light, the knowledge of His precepts, to our Island in the last year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar, A.D.37.'(27)
Sir HENRY SPELMAN states: ‘We have abundant evidence that this Britain of ours received the Faith, and that from the disciples of Christ Himself soon after the Crucifixion’,(28)
POLYDORE VERGIL observes: ‘that Britain was of all kingdoms the first that received the Gospel’.(29)
The fact that Lucius established Christianity as the State religion excludes the claim of the Latin Church to that eminence. That this early establishment was acknowledged beyond the confines of Britain is well expressed by Sabellius, A.D.250. ‘Christianity was privately expressed elsewhere, but the first nation that proclaimed it as their religion, and called itself Christian, after the name of Christ, was Britain’;(30) and Ebrard remarks, ‘The glory of Britain consists not only in this, that she was the first country which in a national capacity publicly professed herself Christian, but that she made this confession when the Roman Empire itself was pagan and a cruel persecutor of Christianity.’
The writer of ‘Vale Royal’ states: ‘The Christian faith and baptism came into Chester in the reign of Lucius, king of the Britons, probably from Cambria, circa A.D.140.'(31)
Missionaries are said to have come from Glastonbury, only thirty miles distant, to instruct the Druids of Amesbury in the Christian faith. When the Druids adopted and preached Christianity, their universities were turned into Christian colleges and the Druid priests became Christian ministers; the transition was to them a natural one.
In the days of Giraldus Cambrensis (twelfth century), as a result of Roman Catholic doctrine, martyrdom and celibacy were much overrated, and it was thought a reproach to the Druids that none of their saints had ‘cemented’ the foundation of the Church with their blood, all of them being confessors, and not one gaining the crown of martyrdom.(32)
An absurd charge, blaming the people for their reasonableness, moderation and humanity, and taxing the new converts for not provoking persecution in order to gain martyrdom.
It is not contended that every individual Druid and bard accepted Christianity on its first promulgation in Britain Even after Christianity had become a national religion, petty kings, princes and the nobility retained, in many instances, Druids and bards. Druidism did not entirely cease until almost a thousand years after Christ.
Had the large collection of British archives and MSS deposited at Verulum as late as A.D.860 descended to our time, invaluable light would have been thrown on this as on many other subjects of native interest.
We read in an historical essay, ‘The Ancient British Church’, by the Rev.John Pryce, which was awarded the prize at the National Eisteddfod of 1876, these words:
‘In this distant corner of the earth (Britain), cut off from the rest of the world, unfrequented except by merchants from the opposite coast of Gaul, a people who only conveyed to the Roman mind the idea of untamed fierceness was beingprepared for the Lord. Forecasting the whole from the beginning and at length bringing the work to a head, the Divine Logos unveiled Himself to them in the person of Christ, as the realization of their searching instincts and the fulfilment of their highest hopes. It would be difficult to conceive of Christianity being preached to any people for the first time under more favourable conditions. There was hardly a feature in their national character in which it would not find a chord answering and vibrating to its touch. Theirs was not the sceptical mind of the Greek, nor the worn-out civilization of the Roman, which even Christianity failed to quicken into life, but a religious, impulsive imagination – children in feeling and knowledge, and therefore meet recipients of the good news of the kingdom of heaven.
To a people whose sense of future existence was so absorbing that its presentiment was almost too deeply felt by them, the preaching of Jesus and the Resurrection would appeal with irresistible force. There was no violent divorce between the new teaching and that of their own Druids, nor were they called upon so much to reverse their ancient faith to lay it down for a fuller and more perfect revelation.
Well has the Swedish poet, Tegner, in ‘Frithiofs Saga’, pictured the glimmerings of the dawn of Gospel day, when he described the old priest as prophesying
‘All hail, ye generations yet unborn
Than us far happier; ye shall one day drink
That cup of consolation, and behold
The torch of Truth illuminate the world,
Yet do not us despise; for we have sought
With earnest zeal and unaverted eye,
To catch one ray of that ethereal light,
Alfader still is one, and still the same;
But many are his messengers Divine.’
1. Rev. T. McLauchlan, ‘The Early Scottish Church,’ p.431.
2. Trias Thaumaturga, p.156b.
3. Freculphus apud Godwin, p.10. See Hist. Lit.,II,18.
4. Baronius add. ann. 306. Vatican MSS. Nova Legenda.
5. Domesday Survey Fol., p.449.
6. See Epistolae ad Gregorium Papam.
7. See Joseph of Arimathea, by Rev.L.Smithett Lewis.
8. Concilia, Vol.I, p.9.
9. Malmes., ‘History of the Kings,’ pp.19,20.
10.G.Smith, ‘Religion of Ancient Britain,’ Chap. II, p.37.
11.Morgan, ‘St.Paul in Britain,’ p.73.
12.Nath. Bacon, ‘Laws and Government of England,’ p.3.
13.Baronius ad Ann 459, ex. Actis Marcelli.
14.Moncaeus Atrebas, ‘In Syntagma,’ p.38.
15.Nennius(ed.Giles), p.164. Book of Llandau, pp.26,68,289.
16.Morgan’s ‘British Cymry.’
17.Ussher (ed.1639), pp.5,7,20.
18.’The Mysteries of Britain,’ pp.62,64,65.
19.Dudley Wright, ‘Druidism,’ p.12.
20.Holinshed, ‘Chronicles,’ p.23.
21.’De Demostratione Evangelii,’ Lib. III.
22.’Adv.Judaeos,’ Chap. VII. Def.
Fidei, p.179.
23.Origen, ‘Hom. VI in Lucae.’
24.’Hom. in Isaiah,’ Chap.
LIV and Epist. XIII ad Paulinum.
25.’Ad Psalm,’ CXLV, III.
26.Chrysostom, ‘Orat O Theo Xristos.’
27.’De Excidio Britanniae,’ Sect. 8, p.25.
28.’Concilia,’ fol., p.1.
29.Lib. II.
30.Sabell. Enno, Lib. VII, Chap. V.
31.King’s ‘Vale Royal,’ Bk. II, p.25.
32.Topograph. Hibern Distinct. III, Cap. XXIX.

Leave a Reply