The Roman Catholic Persecution of the Early British Christian Churches - Christogenea Europe, February 15th, 2015

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The Roman Catholic Persecution of the Early British Christian Churches

Some of the notes used for the program, the excerpts from Bede's Eccleiastical History and the Chronicles of Ireland, follow below.

From Bede, Book I, Chapter XIII, from the context of these statements this proves that there were already Christians among the Scots before the Catholics came to Scotland.


IN the year of our Lord 423, Theodosius the younger, next to Honorius, being the forty-fifth from Augustus, governed the Roman empire twenty-six years. In the eighth year of his reign, Palladius was sent by Celestinus, the Roman pontiff, to the Scots that believed in Christ, to be their first bishop. In the twenty-third year of his reign, Ætius, a renowned person, being also a patrician, discharged his third consulship with Symmachus for his colleague. To him the wretched remains of the Britons sent a letter, which began thus ­ "To Ætius, thrice Consul, the groans of the Britons." And in the sequel of the letter they thus expressed their calamities - "The barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea drives us back to the barbarians: between them we are to two sorts of death; we are either slain or drowned." Yet neither could all this procure any assistance from him, as he was then engaged in most dangerous wars with Bledla and Attila, kings of the Huns. And, though the year before this, Bledla had been murdered by the treachery of his brother Attila, yet Attila himself remained so intolerable an enemy to the Republic, that he ravaged almost all Europe, invading and destroying cities and castles. At the same time there was a famine at Constantinople, and shortly after, a plague followed, and a great part of the walls of that city, with fifty­seven towers, fell to the ground. Many cities also went to ruin, and the famine and pestilential state of the air destroyed thousands of men and cattle.

From Bede, Book 2, Chapter II, Bede's discussion of Augustine's meeting with the bishops of the Britons again proves the antiquity of Christianity in Britain before the coming of the Catholics.


IN the meantime, Augustine, with the assistance of King Ethelbert, drew together to a conference the bishops, or doctors, of the next province of the Britons, at a place which is to this day called Augustine's Ac, that is, Augustine's Oak, on the borders of the Wiccii and West Saxons; and began by brotherly admonitions to persuade them, that preserving Catholic unity with him, they should undertake the common labour of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. For they did not keep Easter Sunday at the proper time, but from the fourteenth to the twentieth moon; which computation is contained in a revolution of eighty-four years. Besides, they did several other things which were against the unity of the church. When, after long disputation, they did not comply with the entreaties, exhortations, or rebukes of Augustine and his companions, but, preferred their own traditions before all the churches in the world, which in Christ agree among themselves, the holy father, Augustine, put an end to this troublesome and tedious contention, saying, "Let us beg of God, who causes those who are of one mind to live in his Father's house, that He will vouchsafe, by his heavenly tokens, to declare to us, which tradition is to be followed; and by what means we are to find our way to his heavenly kingdom. Let some infirm person be brought, and let the faith and practice of those, by whose prayers he shall be healed, be looked - upon as acceptable to God, and be adopted by all." The adverse party unwillingly consenting, a blind man of the English race was brought, who having been presented to the priests of the Britons, found no benefit or cure from their ministry; at length, Augustine, compelled by real necessity, bowed his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying that the lost sight might be restored to the blind man, and by the corporeal enlightening of one man, the light of spiritual grace might be kindled in the hearts of many of the faithful. Immediately the blind man received sight, and Augustine was by all declared the preacher of the Divine truth. The Britons then confessed, that it was the true way of righteousness which Augustine taught; but that they could not depart from their ancient customs without the consent and leave of their people. They therefore desired that a second synod might be appointed, at which more of their number would be present.

From The Annals of Ireland translated from The Original Irish of The Four Masters by Owen Connellan in 1846, from the Appendix found on page 721:

As a favourable opportunity did not occur of giving the following important documents, at the periods to which they refer, they are inserted here:

The Bull of Pope Adrian IV. to King Henry II. - An account of this document is given by the various Irish historians, particularly in Mac Geoghegan’s Ireland, and Lanigan’s Ecclesiastical History. Pope Adrian IV,, by name Nicholas Breakspeare, was by birth an Englishman; he was a monk of St. Albans, and was elected Pope in 1154, and died in 1159. Being a personal friend of King Henry II., of England, it is said he was influenced to grant him a Bull, conferring on him the sovereignty of Ireland; and it is stated in Hanmer’s Chronicle (p. 215), that king Henry sent a monk named John of Salisbury, and others, as a deputation to Rome, to solicit this Bull from Adrian, who granted it in the year 1155, at which time Henry meditated an invasion of Ireland. [Adrian did not possess Ireland, but “granted” it to the king under the papal pretense that the Church of Rome owned everything. Adrian was hoping, as the Bull read, that the King would become the enforcer in Ireland in order that the pretense would become a reality. That is the insolence of Roman Catholicism.] But king Henry postponed this object, and it is stated by Mac Geoghegan, that the empress Matilda, the king's mother, was opposed to the publication of the Bull, and the invasion of Ireland. King Henry came to Ireland in 1171, and returned to England in 1172 ; and Adrian’s grant of Ireland to him, was confirmed by a Bull, or Brief of Pope Alexander III., in 1172, according to Lanigan. Keating states that Adrian’s Bull was published at Waterford, in a meeting of bishops and clergy, before this time; and, according to other accounts, the Bull was produced in 1172, by king Henry, at the council of bishops and clergy which he had convened at Cashel [the Synod of Cashel]; but Lanigan correctly states, that the Bulls of Adrian and Alexander were, for the first time, publicly read at Waterford, in, the year 1175, at a meeting of bishops and clergy convened for that purpose, by Nicholas, prior of Wallingford, who had been sent with these documents, from England, accompanied by William Fitz Adelm de Burgo, afterwards lord deputy of Ireland. Thus it appears the Bull of Adrian was kept private, and not published, ’till 20 years after it had been received by king Henry. The Bull of Adrian is represented as a forgery by Mac Geoghegan, and in Cambrensis Eversus, these writers being of opinion that it was fabricated to facilitate the conquest of Ireland, by the English; but Lanigan, who is considered the best authority on the subject, maintains that it is an absolutely authentic document. The Bulls of Adrian and Alexander are given in Latin, in the French edition of Mac Geoghegan, and in English, in the edition by Duffy, of Dublin, in which the Bull of Adrian is translated as follows:

Adrian, bishop and servant of the servants of God, to his most dear son in Christ, the illustrious king of England, greeting, health, and apostolical benediction.

“Thy greatness, as is becoming a Catholick prince, is laudably and successfully employed in thought and intention, to propagate a glorious name upon earth, and lay up in heaven the rewards of a happy eternity, by extending the boundaries of the church, and making known to nations which are uninstructed, and still ignorant of the Christian faith, its truths and doctrine, by rooting up the seeds of vice from the land of the Lord: and to perform this more efficaciously, thou seekest the counsel and protection of the apostolical see, in which undertaking, the more exalted thy design will be, united with prudence, the more propitious, we trust, will be thy progress under a benign Providence, since a happy issue and end are always the result of what has been undertaken from an ardour of faith, and a love of religion. It is not indeed to be doubted, that the kingdom of Ireland, and every island upon which Christ the sun of justice hath shone, and which has received the principles of the Christian faith, belong of right to St. Peter, and to the holy Roman church, (which thy majesty likewise admits), from whence we the more fully implant in them the seed of faith, that seed which is acceptable to God, and to which we, after a minute investigation, consider that a conformity should by us be the more rigidly required. Thou, dearest son in Christ, hast likewise signified to us, that for the purpose of subjecting the people of Ireland to laws, and eradicating vice from amongst them, thou art desirous of entering that island; and also of paying for each house an annual tribute of one penny to St. Peter; and of preserving the privileges of its churches, pure and undefiled. [It is admitted that Ireland already had churches, and this entire Bull endeavors to assure that Rome will control them.] We, therefore, with approving and favorable views, commend thy pious and laudable desire, and to aid thy undertaking we give to thy petition our grateful and willing consent, that for the extending the boundaries of the church [the Roman Catholic Church, by which we see the Irish had churches, but they were not Roman Catholic], the restraining the prevalence of vice, the improvement of morals, the implanting of virtue, and propagation of the Christian religion, thou enter that island, and pursue those things which shall tend to the honour of God and salvation of his people; and that they may receive thee with honour, and revere thee as their lord: the privilege of their churches continuing pure and unrestrained, and the annual tribute of one penny from each house remaining secure to St. Peter, and the holy Roman Church. If thou therefore deem what thou hast projected in mind, possible to be completed, study to instil good morals into that people, [force them to comply with Roman Catholic Church doctrines] and act so that thou thyself, and such persons as thou wilt judge competent from their faith, words, and actions, be instrumental in advancing the honour of the Irish church, propagate and promote religion, and the faith of Christ, to advance thereby the honour of God, and salvation of souls, that thou mayest merit an everlasting reward of happiness hereafter, and establish on earth a name of glory, which shall last for ages to come. Given at Rome, &c. &c. &c.”