Monastery and High Cross - The Forgotten Eastern Roots of Irish Christianity

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Since the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a heightened fascination with “Celtic Christianity,” construed by some as a spirituality of semi-pagan sensibilities — without rules, never united with Rome, and aligned with ecological and feminist concerns. Celtic prayers and “Celtic liturgies” continue to be fashionable in certain circles. This groundbreaking book presents a comprehensive authentic history of Christianity in Ireland in late antiquity for the first time.

It is a little-known fact that there were Christians in Ireland before St. Patrick. In 2006, an astonishing discovery was made in Ireland. Found by accident in a peat bog was an early medieval Irish manuscript with Egyptian papyrus in the binding of the manuscript! How did that get there?  

This is tangible proof that Egyptian monks were in Ireland in the days of Late Antiquity — proof of what art historians had long believed and archaeologists had recently concluded.

This easily read book documents art, architecture, monastic traditions, manuscript writing, and liturgy from the time of the earliest Christians in Ireland — and finds the evidence of influence from Egypt and Armenia.

As you read about the origins and legacy of the first Christians in Ireland, you will learn:

  • How the faith actually came to Ireland and who visited the Emerald Isle, according to artifacts left behind 
  • Where the first Christians in Ireland came from (you will be surprised!) and how they lived the Faith
  • Who wrote the earliest non-liturgical hymns to Mary in Western Europe
  • How great devotion to the Holy Eucharist there led to the construction of the first tabernacle 
  • The identity of the real St. Patrick  

For centuries, scholars denied the possibility of links between Ireland and the Mediterranean. However, some early Irish practices and customs were known only in the Mediterranean and not in Europe. For instance, author Connie Marshner reveals how Irish monasticism — which eventually led to the Sacrament of Confession as we know it — came from Egypt. She rediscovers magnificent hymns and prayers to Mary — the earliest ever written. Additionally, she unveils the development of the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical prayers in Irish history, with roots in Eastern Christianity.

Monastery and High Cross presents convincing evidence that the earliest Christians in Ireland came from the Mediterranean and brought with them deep asceticism, fervent devotion to the Mother of God, and the Gallican liturgy — along with beehive huts, high crosses, and manuscript decoration.  Careful footnotes and a collection of resources are presented for further exploration.

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