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THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
ffl 4

~
s

* f
A HISTORY FOR THE PEOPLE

BY THE

VERY REV. H. D. M. SPENCE-JONES, D.D.


DEAN OK GLOUCESTER

VOL. I.

THE BRITISH AND ANGLO-SAXON CHURCH

SPECIAL EDITION

CASSELL AND COMPANY, LIMITED


LONDON, PARIS, NEW YORK, TORONTO AND
MELBOURNE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
,4

1091fij
JUN 1 1 net
CONTENTS.

PAGE
INTRODUCTION . i

CHAPTER I.

THE BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH CHRISTIANITY .11


CHAPTER II.

THE ANCIENT BRITISH CHURCH DURING THE ANGLO-SAXON CONQUEST . . 22

CHAPTER III.

CELTIC-BRITISH MONASTICISM AND ITS WORK 31

CHAPTER IV.

THE WORK OF THE EARLY IRISH (CELTIC) CHURCH 52

CHAPTER V.

THE ROMAN MISSION OF AUGUSTINE 79

CHAPTER VI.

THE STRUGGLE OF CHRISTIANITY IN NORTHERN, MIDLAND, AND EASTERN


ENGLAND . \ . 112

CHAPTER VII.

THE COMING OF AIDAN . . . . . .128

CHAPTER VIII.

,
WORK OF THE CELTIC MISSIONARIES IN ENGLAND .
. . .\;. . . . .
145

CHAPTER IX.

HILDA S HOLY HOUSE AT WHIIT.Y . .


-. . . . . . ... ".
164

CHAPTER X.

THE COUNCIL OF WHITBY. DOWNFALL OF THE CELTIC CHURCH . . . .178


vi CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XI.
TAC-K
WILFRID AND THEODORE. GROWING POWER OF ROME . . , , .
199

CHAPTER XII.

CUTHBERT, THE LAST GREAT CELTIC SAINT . . .... . . . 233

CHAPTER XIII.

LITERATURE AND ART IN THE EARLY ENGLISH CHURCH . . . . 246

CHAPTER XIV.
ENGLISH CHRISTIANITY IN THE SEVENTH AND EIGHTH CENTURIES . . .:
280

CHAPTER XV.
THE FRANKISH EMPIRE AND THE ENGLISH CHURCH . .. . .
.- . .312

CHAPTER XVI.
THE COMING OF THE DANES . . . ,
332

CHAPTER XVII.

ENGLAND S HERO KING ... 368

CHAPTER XVIII.

ALFRED S WORK FOR THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND ENGLISH LITERATURE . .


383

CHAPTER XIX.
A GREAT ANGLO-SAXON CHURCHMAN AND HIS TIMES . . . . .
407

CHAPTER XX.
THE ANGLO-SAXON CHURCH AT THE END OF THE TENTH CKNTURY . . .
446

EXCURSUS A.

CONTEMPORARY AUTHORITIES. FOR THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF


BRITAIN IN THE SIXTH AND SEVENTH CENTURIES. <. . . .
469

EXCURSUS B.

ON THE WORD "MASS" . . ... . -. . . . . 472


LIST OF PLATES.

WESTMINSTER ABBEY Frontis.

MAP ILLUSTRATING CENTRES OF EARLY RELIGIOUS LIFE IN GREAT BRITAIN To face page 10

ST. ALBANS CATHEDRAL 14

ROCHESTER CASTLE 99

WHITBY ABBEY, FROM LARPOOL ........ ,, 167

LION OF ST. MARK, AN ILLUMINATION FROM THE BOOK OF DURROW . 290

LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL . .
329

ABBOT S BRIDGE, BURY ST. EDMUNDS . . . .


363

PAGE FROM THE ETHELWOLD BENEDICTIONAL, SHOWING THE


ANNUNCIATION ,, 423
INTRODUCTION.
N no country of Christen dustry of the tireless scholar, just enable
dom is the story of the us to gather memories sufficient to give an
Church so closely bound outlined picture of a storied past ;
but the
up with its national hands of ruthless destroyers have effectually
lifeand progress as in prevented us from giving any more than
England in no other
: a faint sketch of the Church as it existed

country has it played while the Romans dwelt in our midst, and
so prominent a part. during the prolonged period of awful con
Among the various influences that have quest and destruction that ensued when
combined to make the England of the the Roman armies had finally left us.

nineteenth century, with its boundless The story then goes on to a period richer
power and its measureless responsibilities, in materials for a writer, during which the

the Church must rank as the first and Church of conquered became the
the
chiefest. Church of the conquerors. It tells us how
Very dim are the memories of the first Rome, with her immemorial traditions and
two or three hundred years of the life of restless energy, first endeavoured to make
the Church in our island, for a great and the victorious Anglo-Saxons Christian, but

crushing calamity passed over the Britain how from various causes her noble efforts
known to the Roman Empire. A long- made but little way among the pagan
drawn-out invasion, a cruel conquest, such North -folk in England. Then it becomes
as perhaps no other Christian land has brighter and more animated, as it unfolds to
been subjected swept away well-nigh
to, us how missionaries of the race of the van

every vestige of its work, almost every quished Britons, from Scotland and Ireland,
trace of its life. The patient zeal of the were completely successful where Rome
lynx-eyed antiquary, and the painful in had failed, and then relates how, after their
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
success, Rome came again upon the scene, the state, as well as in the Church, genera
and showed the Northmen, now become have sung and told.
tion after generation

Christians, how to build up and to organise For King Alfred the Great was not only
a really great church in England. The a mighty warrior and profound statesman ;

tale grows more and more marvellous, as it he was also a great churchman, and
tells us how intensely earnest were many occupies a distinct place in the history
of these pagan conquerors, converted to we are about to tell.
the faith of the people they had conquered, For more than a century and a half from
for the cause of the Christ they had learnt the days of Alfred, the records we possess
to love ;
how Christianity flourished and of the Anglo-Saxon Church are of peculiar

developed among them how a Church ;


interest to Englishmen. These records not
with its wide and blessed influences, with only speak of it as powerful and united, as
its far-reaching civilising power, grew up in a mighty influence for good in the land
this distant and remote island, so learned (with its periods, of course, of special vigour
that from the whole of northern and and of comparative inaction), but they
western Europe, scholars came to be in show us a Church remarkable for its in

structed in all manner of secular lore as dependence, not only in government and
well as in religion, in the schools of Canter in organisation, but also in thought.

bury, Jarrow, and York. Although in communion with Western


Alas that concerning this flourishing
! Christendom and with Latin Christianity ;

Anglo-Saxon Church we should have to tell although admitting in a general way


of yet another storm which overwhelmed the authority of the Roman Pontiff;
it for a time a storm so desolating in its
; although supplying a constant stream of
effects that it well-nigh destroyed the pilgrims to the shrines of the Eternal City,
Church, which before this calamity was so and generous contributions to the support
learned, so powerful, and so beneficent. of these English pilgrims Romewards, and
We must relate how once more England even lavish gifts to the Bishop of the apos
was ravaged by another race of pagan tolic see the Church of Alfred, the Church
;

Northmen kinsmen these new-comers


;
of the Saxon kings of his house, the Church
so well known as Danish Vikings but of primates like Dunstan and Odo, Elfric
none the less bitter and relentless foes of and Stigand, was notwithstanding practically
those Northmen who had first conquered independent. She stood positively alone
Britain, conquering, had
and who, after among Western churches in her proud
received with joy the religion of the men insular freedom. She was free in her con
they had vanquished. independent in her teaching, differ
stitution,
This cloud too, however, after a sad ing gravely from some of the teachings of
interval of misery and woe, gradually Rome ; resting ever upon the traditions of

passed ;
and the chronicle will at this point her own famous school of York, traditions
have as its central figure one of the true handed down by Bede and Bede s famous
heroes of our island story ;
one whose masters, rather than upon the more recent
deeds and words in the battlefield and in developments of Roman doctrine.
INTRODUCTION.
As the history moves onwards, its task call heroes, some fewer saints ;
but all of
will now be to trace the strange and mar them, saints and heroes, were full of faults,
vellous career of Norman conquest, which and their work was marred with errors
so powerfully influenced the course of and mistakes. Yet in spite of their faults

events in the church, as in the world ;


to the heroes will be seen to have been, after
show how it peculiarly affected our island s all, true heroes, and their work, marred

religious history, by uniting it for a season though it was, good work : the saints also
with the Latin Christianity of Rome and true saints in our own acceptation of the
the continent of Europe, and thus depriving word, and their work, even with its earthly
it of the characteristic features so dear to admixture, to have been, as we believe,
the Englishmen of its age its freedom in acceptable to the Master.
thought and independence in government. Now and then it will be found that our
As the great drama proceeds, it will be seen portraits differ widely from the popular
how this fusion of the Church of Alfred ideal. Dunstan, for instance, will appear
and of Dunstan with the widespread different from and a grander character than

Latin communion of Rome and the con the Dunstan of our child-memories, which
tinent of Europe, was utterly at variance present only the recollection of a pettish
with the spirit of England and her people. workman in his forge engaged in silly
It will appear how soon really began combats with the Evil One, or else picture
that long struggle, culminating in the him as an overbearing, tyrannical priest,
Reformation of the sixteenth century, cruel and remorseless in his selfish ven
which restored the Church of England to geance. Edward the Confessor, the saint
the position of independence and freedom king, will stand out in our pages as a
she loves so well which gave back to her
;
venerable and a noble figure, not as the
the precious treasure of pure and primitive weak and vacillating, relic-loving and
doctrine which was her proud inheritance superstitious monarch of many historians

from the days of Alfred and his house and romancists.

ay, and from long before Alfred from the Not improbably one school of critics

times of the Christian children of the may find fault with our description of the

Vikings, when heroes like Edwin and monastic orders, with our pictures of the
Oswald and Edgar played so well their saintly men who lived and worked in

their fair and prayed in their


part as makers of the Anglo-Saxon Church. cloisters,

In the course of this story of the church glorious abbeys cloisters and abbeys dese

so dear to every lover of England, not a crated and ruined all too soon
perhaps may ;

few pictures must be painted of men who be indignant when they read our description
were chief actors in the eventful drama of ;
of the splendid and successful efforts of the
men who have won, as they deserved, a mendicant true disciples of Francis
friars,

place in the hearts of their fellow country and of Dominic, to sweeten the sad exist
men, a name in the golden book of her most lives of
ence, and to elevate the unhappy
illustrious and most patriotic sons. Some the poorer masses in the great cities of the
few of these were what men are pleased to Middle Ages. Another school will perhaps
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
be moved to anger as they turn over the Boleyn ;
to his
passionate desire for a
pages of our narrative and find in it an divorce from the stately Spanish princess,

apology for the earliest of the Reformers, the wife of his youth or to the vulgar ;

Wyclif ;
find that this truest of English greed of the same irresponsible monarch
men, who gave us the first English Bible, and his powerful satellites, which covered
is painted, in spite of shortcomings and the spoils of the glorious abbeys, and the
mistakes, as one of the noblest and most long-accumulated wealth of the Benedictine
learned of our English churchmen. But and his brother servants of God. These
our present work belongs to no one school vulgar passions were, after all, but very
of thought, to no party either in Church small influences in bringing about the
or State. It simply tells the true story as change which passed over the Church
the writer found it in the ancient chronicles of England the change men call the
and memoirs paints the portraits of
;
it Reformation.
the chief actors in the drama just as they The Reformation was, in truth and
appeared to him, as he read and pondered reality, a Renaissance of English doctrine,
for himself the contemporary records of English thought, English freedom in
their work and days. Church government. Far from having
Slowly and reluctantly we leave at last the effect which some superficial writers
the many-coloured chronicles of the Middle endeavour to ascribe to it viz., the

Ages which tell us of the days of chivalry destruction of the Church in England,
and knightly prowess of holy wars holy, ;
it resulted in the restoration of the Church
alas !
only in the ideal ;
of gorgeous page of England. was a period of stress and
It

and picturesque cities


ants, lordly castles, ; storm, of sorrow, and often of confusion a ;

of churches such as the world had never period in which much happened that every
seen before will perhaps never see again ;
lover of England and of religion must
which tell us of the ages when monastic mourn over. But in the providence of
orders played their great, and on the God, when the clouds of trial and trouble
whole beneficent part in the life of the had passed away, the Church of England
church. As we close our history of church appeared again, more English than ever ;

life in the England of the Middle Ages, we more than ever the church of the primitive
pass at once into another atmosphere of ages, more truly the church of the people
thought, and it with mingled feelings
is the old church which even in its darkest
that we tell of the changes brought about hour was generally loved and honoured
by the Reformation of the sixteenth cen by the nation but strengthened, purified,
tury, with its lights and shadows, so pitiful popularised, so to speak more capable of ;

often in its details, so glorious for England the indefinite expansion and adaptability
in its general results. which has been its lot through the times
It is but a maimed truth indeed, it is of the dynasties of Tudor, Stuart, and
scarcely a truth at all which traces the Guelph ;
but still the Church of the living
Reformation in England to the fancy of God, which, with all its shortcomings and
King Henry VIII. for the beautiful Anne its errors, has made our England free and
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
great and strong. The Reformation was fifteenth century, great and imposing and
the revolt of the Church of the people from wealthy as it seemed, lacked real power.
a foreign yoke, which had oppressed and It was sadly wanting in
spiritual earnest
weakened religion, and marred its holy ness. Lollardism in
its deeper and nobler

influence in our island for several cen aspects had stolen away the people s hearts
turies. More than this, it was an uprising from the Church. Wyclif s teaching, and
of the English people against grave errors especially Wyclif s English Bible, had pene
in doctrine,and strange superstitions which trated deeper into the homes of England
were blotting out not a few of the distinc than the hierarchy chose to think. The
tive truths of the Christian faith ;
errors Church, too, had never recovered the awful
and superstitions absolutely unknown to losses inflicted upon it by the plague of
the primitive church. 1349, and by subsequent visitations of
Much happened, many events took place, the same dread scourge the yawning :

in the fifteenth century in England which gaps made by the Angel of Death in its
contributed to the momentous change of the ranks had never been really filled up.
sixteenth century. Foremost among these Face armed with
to face, then, with a king
events was that sad war of rival dynasties, power never possessed by the proudest and
known as the Wars of the Roses, that long- ablest of Norman, Angevin, or Plantagenet
drawn-out conflict between the kindred monarchs, stood the still magnificent and
royal Houses of York and Lancaster ; stately, but sorely enfeebled mediaeval
that cruel war waged by Englishmen Church. Only these two mighty wielders

against Englishmen, stained by bloody of influence remained in England the

battles, scarred by pitiless State murders. Church and the Crown when the long
When at fury of. the
last the wild and bloody rivalry of the Roses was " "

Roses war had spent itself, the mighty


"
"

hushed in the presence of the House of


baronage of England was gone it had ;
Tudor.
been literally swept away. The next The royal power was rapidly and firmly
class, composed of county squires, town consolidated by the first Tudor sovereign,
traders, and other citizens beneath the and while he reigned, the Church grew
baronage, a class which was gradually gradually weaker. The various causes
growing with the growth of England in which were sapping its vitality, were cease
wealth and importance, was in the fifteenth lessly at work and when his brilliant and
;

century still a comparatively new order, versatile son Henry VIII. became king,
and more or less under the influence of all was ready for the crash of the Reforma
the baronage. As the barons disappeared, tion.
"

The Mediaeval Church of England,"


it, too, for a time was practically effaced as writes Stubbs, stood before the self-willed
"

a in the State.
power dictator, too splendid in wealth, fame, and
Thus the Church was left alone with honour to be allowed to share the dominion
the Sovereign, now enormously enriched that he claimed. It was no longer a

by the confiscation of the estates of the mediator, but a competitor for power. The
fallen barons. And the Church of the royal self-will itself furnished the occasion
INTRODUCTION.
i for a struggle, and the political claims of the fast fading influence of the Papacy,
\ the Church proved their weakness by the consequent on the scandalous schism
greatness of the fall." It was part of the which followed the long Papal residence
Divine providence that at this supreme at Avignon, prevented any real assistance

moment of the contest between the Crown, from being given to its too faithful monkish
with enormously augmented powers,
its garrisons in our distant island.
and the Church, with its ancient influence But other undreamed-of influences were
so enfeebled, the throne of England was working at this period against the monk
filledwith such conspicuously able occu and the friar. The most brilliant of

pants as the Tudor sovereigns Henry VII., French romancists pictures a scholar-priest
^ Henry VIII., and Queen Elizabeth. in the days of King Louis XL, with a

Strange to say, at this very moment one printed book (then a startling novelty) in
division of the Church s forces the his hand, gazing sorrowfully at the mighty
monastic orders became powerless, or pile of Notre Dame, at Paris one of the
well-nigh powerless. To the Church of noblest examples in Europe of Gothic
which during so many centuries they had architecture and exclaiming, "

The book
been the great strength, they became a will the building
kill !The prophetic
"

source of positive weakness and a faith


;
words of the ecclesiastic, telling of the doom
ful history ofthe Church, in those pages of mediaeval architecture, would have been
which recite the downfall in England of even more directly true of mediaeval mon-
the Benedictine and Cistercian monks, and asticism. In the days when the self-willed
the mendicant friars c f the Franciscan and Tudor king succeeded to the throne, the
Dominican orders, while repelling many of work of the monastic orders was virtually
the and exaggerated reports (which
false done ;
the need for their labour in the con
have been too easily believed) of their life servation and spread of literature, existed
and conduct, must still dwell upon the no longer. The printing press, which
causes which led to their ruin and utter already in the early years of Henry VIII.

collapse. had become a vast power, had effectually

Among these causes, first of all the superseded the monk and the friar as a

waning power of Rome, ever the powerful producer of books or a popular teacher.

patron and devoted friend of the monastic Looking back from the vantage ground of

orders, must be remembered. After the the closing years of the nineteenth century,
removal of the home of the popes from even a true defender of the monastic orders
Rome to Avignon, where for a long period must acknowledge that in the new world
the popes were purely French in policy, of the Tudor dynasty there was no place
the national hatred of England for its old for the monastery of the Middle Ages, no

France, reacted with strange force on


rival, work for monk and friar. But none the less
the position of the monastic orders, who must he regret the ways and the method
were bound to Rome by no ordinary ties. by which an arbitrary king and an ungrate
In England they never recovered the popu fulpeople swept away a vast institution
larity which they lost in that age while ;
which had done such splendid work for
8 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
England and the Church. The recital of has told how the yoke of Rome was shaken
the cruel, ruthless ruin of the monastic off. The Marian reaction in favour of
orders will for ever be a dark page in the mediaeval Christianity and foreign guidance,

chronicles of that Reformation which has which immediately followed, is an interest


contributed so largely toward the making ing and instructive episode, but it is only
of the Church of England. an episode. The reign of Mary s sister and
A brighter page in the momentous successor, Elizabeth, however, a period is

Reformation drama is that which tells how of the highest importance in the making of

Greece arose from the dead with the New


"
the Church of England, scarcely second
Testament in her hand how from the
"

;
in interest to the reign of Henry VIII.,

fallen city of Constantinople and the ruined who commenced the Reformation work.

eastern empire, in 1453, Greek exiles Forced almost against her will, by the cir

brought to Italy (especially to Florence) cumstances of her environment, to be a


the science and literature of the older Protestant queen, the last and noblest of
world ;
how from Florence the "

new the Tudors, with her learned and scholarly

learning" soon reached Oxford,


and the advisers, revised the Anglican formularies
early years of the sixteenth century wit of religion, and somewhat sullenly accepted
nessed the publication of the New Testa the position, since filled by all who followed
ment in its original language. Then arose her on the British throne, as supreme
that honoured school of critics and com governor on earth of the Church of

mentators which unfolded the long-lost England.


meaning of
many and sayings
of the words Another curious and striking study will
of the Divine Founder of Christianity, and be the tracing of the rise of the two great
so helped the patient scholars of the Re parties into which the people of the re
formation the teaching of
to restore to formed Church soon divided themselves
the Church the primitive doctrines of our the Puritans and the High Church Angli
most holy faith. cans. Under the now well-known names
The Reformation necessarily occupies a of Churchmen and Nonconformists, these
considerable space in our history, a space parties exist to this day, with many and
out of proportion to the time occupied by varied developments, somewhat as they
the events specially connected with it. For were when Elizabeth the Tudor and
its importance cannot be over-estimated. James and Charles the Stuarts were
It rudely toreaway the veil which Lanfranc sovereigns. The Puritans, it will be seen,
and the Normans had so carefully thrown taking advantage of the unpopularity of
over the ancient teaching and practices of the Anglican party under leaders of the
the Anglo-Saxon Church teaching and school of Laud, gained for a time the

practices mostly based on an immemorial upper hand, and in the days of the Com
antiquity whose obscuration had been, monwealth, tyrannised with an unloved
on the whole, ever strange to and un tyranny over the religious
life of England ;

loved by the English people. But the but, although some


in respects their
recital is by no means concluded when it peculiar doctrines and teaching answered
P-I

w
7
^.
o>
ft;

5 t

5|S
>

w .
01 ft;

W "N
10 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
to men s
higher aspirations, it is clear of the true and spiritual Nonconformist
that the Puritans never found the key among us is a source of strength, not of
to English hearts. After a brief supre weakness, to the Church whose eventful
macy, they in their turn gave way to historyis to be told in these pages.

the supporters of what is generally known The concluding chapters of our work must
as the Anglican system, restored by the relate the last important revival of Church
great divines of the Tudor Sovereigns life in England up to the end of the nine
after the model of primitive tradition ;
teenth century. The events which have
the complete independence of the Church occurred since that date are too recent to be
from all Roman and foreign- interference, treated in their right perspective or alto

however, ever forming a prominent feature gether impartially. Not once or twice in the
in this Anglican system, which has been long and many-coloured history, the melan
accepted as the national religion of our choly record of decay in spiritual fervour
country. and intellectual activity occurs and recurs ;

The existence, however, of a large a decay, however, always succeeded by a

body of earnest and religious men out period of splendid activities and reawakened
side the pale of the Church of England, zeal and devotion. Such a golden period
but inside the broader pale of the Church of reawakened devotion and energy has
of Christ, must never be ignored by the occurred in this present nineteenth cen
fair historian. While deploring the schism tury, shared in alike by both the great
which separates so many devout souls from parties into which the Anglican Church
the communion of our national Church, is divided. It has been shared in by the
and grieving over the partial blindness earnest men who love and reverence the
which veils from their eyes the beauty and traditions of their saintly fathers with a
the strength of our gteat historic Chui ch of beautiful and
touching devotion, which
England the Church of Aidan and Cuth- perhaps now and again shades into some
bert, of Wilfrid and Dunstan, of Anselm thing like superstition, and even formalism ;

and Langton, of Grosseteste and Wyclif, of shared in also by those who, while fervent
Cranmer and Ridley, of Hooker and Pear lovers of Christ and imitators of His servant
son the faithful and loyal churchman will Paul, are perhaps too ready to despise
never forget to do justice to the successors traditions, however holy, and customs and
of the sturdy and honest, though mistaken rites, however saintly and venerable. The
Puritans, who did good work and true in present golden age of spiritual fervour and
the days of the unhappy Stuarts, and who intellectual activity is the outcome of the
in our day and time are fighting in noble restless work alike of High Churchmen
rivalry with the Church of England in the and Low Churchmen, whose healthy rivalry

never-ending campaign against sin and is not the least among the sources of the

shame, against the abominations and cor lifeand power of the immemorial Church
ruptions of the heathen world, both at of England, and both of whom alike share
home and beyond the seas. The presence her heritage of the past.
CHAPTER I.

THE BEGINNINGS OF BRITISH CHRISTIANITY.

Obscurity of Early British Church History St. Alban, the first British Martyr Subsequent Prosperity
of the British Church Early Legends as to its Origin Historical Notices Traces of the Early
Church Reasons for their Scarcity Ruthless Character of the Anglo-Saxon Conquest, and almost
complete Extermination of Christianity in England.

HE Church of Britain, Mercians, in the year of our Lord 793, had


for the first three hun established on the spot a famous monas
dred years of its exist tery which, owing to its sacred tradition,
ence shows like a val possessed peculiar privileges. Offa, no doubt,
in built his monks home round the beauti "

ley wrapt mists,


across which some ful church "

which Bede writes of some


fitful lights irregularly fifty years before Offa s days. The vast

gleam."* One of those and splendid Norman abbey, the monastic


a
rare gleams of light is the beautiful story buildings of Offa, the beautiful church
of St. Alban, which helps us in some of marked in succession the sacred
Bede,"

measure to understand the history of the spot where the first Christian martyr in
last years of the third century. It is Britain of whom we possess a record, in
one of the many striking records of brave pain and suffering passed to his rest.
and patient suffering for the Christian The story as Bede tells it, when stripped
faith which are treasured up in different of its useless marvellous adjuncts, is a simple
lands records which, for the most part, one. A
Christian presbyter in Britain,
lave a foundation of truth underlying the proscribed and hunted down by the stern
superstructure of marvellous and incredible edict emanating from the seat of govern
events often piled by later chroniclers over ment in Rome, asked hospitality and a
he first true, simple story. In this instance temporary refuge from a Roman-British
he legend, no doubt, faithfully repre- provincial named Alban, living in Verulam.
ented an incident in the Decian, or in Dean Milman believes Alban to have been
one of the later persecutions of Christians a Roman officer stationed there. From
n our island. the day, many of these Roman
first

The great Norman abbey of St. Albans, soldiers seem to have been kindly disposed
still in scarred but stately beauty one 01
its to the
"

Faith." Like the centurion who


he glories of England, replaced in the far guarded the Divine Martyr on the cross,
sack twelfth century a yet older sanctuary. and bowed in much reverence as he watched
History tells us how Offa, king of the the brave and patient sufferer, so Alban was
* Prof. touched to the heart by the conduct of the
Bright.
12 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
proscribed and hunted Christian whom he then charged with the grave offence of
sheltered and concealed. He soon adopted attempting to conceal a proscribed and
with intense earnestness the religion of his sacrilegious rebel against the Emperor.
guest and when the messenger of the
;
Alban not
only refused to betray the
Government discovered the poor pres hiding-place of his guest, but publicly de

byter s hiding
-
place, and peremptorily clared that he, too, was one of the pro
demanded that Alban should give him up, scribed Christians. The Roman judge then

W V V-

Phcto : Chester Vaughan, Acton, W.


ST. ALBANS ABBEY.

Alban refused. The Roman soldier s arrest urged him to purge himself of his crime
naturally followed. against the State, by sprinkling incense on
The scene of the trial was a striking the altar before the images of the Emperor
one. Led into the presence of the Im and the gods adored by Rome. Alban
perial magistrate, who was sitting sur refused, boldly saying,
"

I am a Christian,
rounded by all the stately insignia with and I worship and adore the true and living
which Rome was in the habit of investing God, Who created all things." Persisting
her great officers, the altar of sacrifice before in his refusal, he was scourged. He bore
him, the statue of the Emperor and the the torture of that cruel punishment
images of the gods were solemnly brougru patiently, says the old record, or rather
"

into the magistrate s presence the incense ; ioyfully, for our Lord s sake,"
and was then
and the wine to accompany the supplication led out to death. His head was struck
were placed ready. The soldier Alban was off in a spot called Holmhurst a woody
MARTYRDOM OF ST. ALBAN.

place, where the "

beautiful church "

when they had


of both sexes suffered, who,
was afterwards built to his memory, and endured sundry torments, and their limbs
where now the grey and massive Abbey of had been torn after an unheard-of manner,
St. Albans stands. yielded their souls up, to enjoy in the

TRIAL OF ST ALBAN (p. 12).

The same old writer,* to whom we owe heavenly city a reward tor the sufferings
so many pages of true history, closes his they had passed through." He further
little recital of the memorable death of relates how "

after a time the storm of


the martyr, by relating how in the same persecution ceased, and the faithful Chris
dread persecution in Britain, many more "

tians of our island rebuilt the churches

Bede. levelled to the ground, celebrating festivals,


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
and performing their sacred rites with clean marshes and sluggish streams. There, the
heart and mouth and how the peace con ; legend goes on to say, Joseph made his
tinued in the churches of Britain until the staff take root in the earth and grow into

day of the Arian madness, which, having the famous Holy Thorn. From Glaston

corrupted the whole world, infected this bury as a centre, the faith of Christ
island also." This peace in the churches spread over the island. Though this
continued for nearly a century after the legend apparently owes its genesis, or at
martyrdom of St. Alban, until about A.D. least its preservation, to Norman sources

394, when thedisputes connected with the in the twelfth century, it is certain that

heresy of Pelagius* on the subject of man s Glastonbury had bee^i a place renowned
free-will began to distract the Church of for sanctitymany generations before the
Britain. Norman Conquest it was
evidently a
;

famous sanctuary as early as the fifth


What now do we know of the laying
century. We
hear of the greatest and
of the early stones of this Christianity, most successful of the Celtic missionaries,
which must have taken so great a hold St. Patrick, for a time his home;
making it

upon the Roman-British provincials long and, as some think, it contains his grave.
before the close of the third century, when But though the preaching of Joseph of
the great persecution we have just been Arimathaea in Britain belongs to legend
speaking of harried so cruelly Christian ary history, there is no doubt but that
Britain, levelling its many churches to the Christianity was introduced into Britain at
ground ?
a very early period. Tertullian s state
The beautiful mediaeval romance which
ment, written as early as A.D. 196-201,
tells us how St. sent his friend
Philip that places in Britain not yet visited
"

of Arimathaea from Gaul into


Joseph by Romans were subjected to Christ,"
Britain, belongs to a Norman school of shows that the great North African scholar
teachers. No Saxon writer alludes to it.
believed that Christianity had already
William of Malmesbury, who tells the penetrated even beyond the limits of
story, relates how Joseph of Arimathaea, Roman conquest in Britain. It must be
with twelve companions, fixed himself at remembered that when Tertullian wrote
Glastonbury, then called Ynis-vitryn, the scarcely one hundred years had elapsed
Glassy Isle. It was encompassed by watery since St. John had passed away. As early
* This Pelagius was a native of our island, is no doubt that three
as A.D. 314 there
probably a monk, but attached to no community attended by an
;
British bishops, equal
he taught and wrote at the end of the fourth and
in the early years of the fifth century. His heresy number of presbyters and deacons, were
consisted in the affirmation of the
"

Freedom of
present at the great Council of Aries, in
the Human in opposition to the Catholic
France, and their signatures
Will,"
the south of
teaching of the Power of Divine Grace." His
"

most famous opponent has been St. Augustine. are appended to the canons enacted at that
The Pelagian tenets were condemned, with more famous assembly. This would indicate
or less severity, in various provincial Councils and
that, two hundred years after the death
Synods, and formally by the voice of the Catholic
Church in the General Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431. of St. John, not only was Christianity
EARLY MEMORIES OF THE BRITISH CHURCH.
known in Britain, but that a formally- the faith carried on their work in the
organised church, with a regular hier island are, and must remain, unknown.
archy, existed in the island. Only a few One tradition seems never to have been
years later, British bishops probably were absent from the early British church ;
it
*
present at the Church councils of Sardica comes out again and again, and in some
and of Ariminium.t Bede also relates way accounts for the strange obstinacy

how a little earlier in the same cen with which they held to certain peculiar
tury, 304, the persecution of the
A.D. rites and customs, which differed from
Emperor Diocletian reached Britain, and the general rites and customs of western
how many persons there, with the con Christendom. The British Christians
stancy of martyrs, died in the confession traced these peculiar practices of small
of their faith. The same historian, too, interest themselves, but which, as we
in
dwells on the fact that numbers of the shall see, in the seventh and eighth cen

faithful in Britain, in the course of this turies acquired a fictitious importance in


persecution, hid themselves in woods and the unhappy rivalry between the Celtic
caves, and that these, after the time of and Roman churches to the teaching of
trialwas ended, appeared again in public, St. John and his pupils. It is, therefore,
and rebuilt their churches which had been highly probable that the Roman-British
levelled with the ground. provincials received the faith in the first
Such notices as these, by writers in instance from men who came from Jeru
different lands, the records of chroniclers salem or Ephesus from men who had
of church councils, and others, amply listened to the voice of John. The legend
justify the historian s deliberate opinion of Joseph of Arimathaea at Glastonbury,
that "

there can be no doubt that con not improbably was originally part of the
quered and half-civilised Britain, like the same ancient tradition.

rest of the Roman


Empire, gradually re Another curious and interesting fact in
ceived through the second and third cen connection with these few early memories
turies the faith of Christ the depth of ;
of the church in Britain is its cordial
her Christian cultivation appears from her alliance with the native Druidism that

fertility in saints and heretics." J The strange mystic faith with which the first^
rare and somewhat doubtful legends which missionaries must have come into daily
speak of the beginnings of British Chris contact. A kind of alliance seems to have

tianity are, after all, of little importance in existedbetween Christianity and Druidism ;

the face of facts like these, which tell us the Christian teachers evidently took pos

authoritatively that a considerable Chris session of the holy places of the island,
tian church existed in Britain from consecrating them to a new and a better
very early days, though the exact circum worship. Bangor, a name appropriated
stances in which the first preachers of in Britain and in Ireland to several famous

* and ancient monastic foundations, signifies,


Sofia in Bulgaria.
t Rimini. according to many interpretations,
"

the
J Dean Milman Latin Great thus connecting these places
"

:
Christianity." Circle,"
i6 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
with Druidical worship and Druidical now divided the vast Empire. Constan-

remains, and showing how Christianity tius share was the West ; and, though he
had occupied and superseded them. The carried out the persecuting edicts of
close connection between the Druid bard Diocletian, he is described even by Christian
and the Christian teacher will appear writers as a man of courtesy and clemency.
when we come to relate the dark story On succeeding to supreme power, however,
of the fifth and sixth centuries, when the he professed himself a Christian, and under
the sunshine of Imperial favour, the
churches ruined during the late perse
cution were rebuilt, and the scattered

congregations were again permitted to


worship publicly. Constantius himself
soon died (A.D. 306), and was buried at
York (Eboracum), but Constantine, his
son, the Christian Emperor, succeeded.
His mother, the famous Helena, was prob
ably of British lineage some suppose her ;

to have been the daughter of a British

prince, but more trustworthy tradition


relates that she sprang from the people.
We still possess no formal record of the
British church, but the presence, already
alluded to, of British bishops at the Council
of Aries (A.D. 314), at that of Sardica in

347, and at that of Ariminium in A.D.

ST. JOSEPH S CHAPEL, GLASTONBURY. 359, tells us that the British church was
reckoned in the first half of the fourth

Anglo-Saxons were doing their hard and century as a power in Christendom.


cruel work in Britain. Hilary of Poitiers indeed congratulates
^
After the great Decian persecution had his British brethren on their freedom from

ceased, the story of the British church all contagion of the heresy of Arius.* St.

emerges into a partial light out of the * The distinctive tenet of this heretic s teaching

obscurity which had hitherto veiled it. was the denial of the Saviour s Arius
"

godhead."
himself taught in the early years of the fourth
In the year 305 the Emperor Diocletian,
century; his doctrines were formally condemned
wearied with absolute power, carried out in the first General Council of Nice, A.D. 325. His
a long cherished design, and, abdicating, views, and a modification of them under the general
titleof Semi-Arianism, have appeared and reap
retired for rest into his beautiful villa-
peared in all the Christian ages, but have ever met
palace of Salona, on the Adriatic. Con- with the sternest condemnation on the part of the
stantius and Galerius, who, as assistant- Catholic Church. The present Unitarians hold " "

the same doctrinal views, but possess only a very


emperors each bearing the title of Cassar limited influence compared with the Arians of the
had been rulers in a subordinate capacity, patristic age.
EARLY MEMORIES OF THE BRITISH CHURCH.
Athanasius alludes to the inhabitants of Pictish tribes, a missionary establishment
the island as among orthodox sup
his known as the White House (Candida

porters, as among those faithful ones who, Casa). It was this Ninian of whose life

when many fell away, remained steadfastly and labours we possess scarcely any in

loyal to the Catholic faith. St. Chrysostom, formation who in after times, strangely

too, writes of the British Isles as pro enough, was revered as the apostle of

fessing the Christian faith, and especially the southern Picts. He died in 432.

ASSEMBLING FOR DRUIDICAL WORSHIP.

mentions the churches and altars there This well-nigh all the history
is we
erected. St. Jerome also names our island possess of the British church of the first

with approval; for Britain, "he says, "wor


"

days. We have, however, enough of these


ships the same Christ, observes the same scant relics to assure us of its existence.
rule of truth with other Christian countries." It was probably numerous and influential ;

Early in the fifth century we read of it was certainly earnest and devoted. It
Ninian, a native of the Cumbrian district possessed a regular organisation it was ;

in North Britain, afterhaving studied at ruled by bishops who were acknowledged


Rome, erecting in the wild districts of the as the successors of the Apostles by the
south of Scotland, on the churches of Western Christendom
promontory called great ;

Whithorne, the home of the marauding but we possess no details, on which we can
i8 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
certainly depend, of its history, or of the it lasted roughly 1
50 to 200 years spared
position which it held among the Roman nothing ;
all was destroyed. The old life

officials or soldiers. of Britain its cities, its people, its faith

The visible traces of Roman-British vanished as though it had never existed.

Christianity in the England with which Only a poor remnant of the people, carrying
we are acquainted are few indeed. A with them their faith, had found a refuge
few stones marked with the Christian in the west of the island (including Devon
monogram in Roman Villas, a few tiles and Cornwall), and in Cumberland (Strath-
marked I.H.S., here and there a tomb clyde). It will be deeply interesting to

stone recording that a Christian slept see what they carried with them of Chris
below, complete the scanty list. Traces tianity, when we come to speak of these

of some ecclesiastical Romano - British dispossessed ones in detail.

work have been discovered at Lyminge Men are coming at length to see now
in Kent, and at Brixworth. In the ex that the awful scenes of the Northmen s

cavations at Silchester, near Reading invasion are fairly studied among us that

destroyed in the sixth century, probably the British people who were swept away
by Ceawlin, the West-Saxon King the by the invaders were not that timorous
foundations, fairly perfect, of a British easily-conquered folk most men have im
church of the fourth and fifth century have agined them. Their struggle against the
been found, with the sanctuary pavement barbarian was no weak and unworthy one.
and similar precious finds
intact (p. 19),
" "
"

Nowhere throughout the whole circuit

may with tolerable certainty be looked for. of the Roman world, was so long, so
But up to the present time very scanty are desperate a resistance offered to the assail
the gleanings of British remains which ants of the Empire as by Britain." A
can with any certainty be identified as popular belief ascribes if not cowardice, at
Christian though, in spite of the scanty
;
least supineness to the British inhabitants

contemporary historical mention and the of our island after the departure of the
fewness of relics of ancient British Chris Roman legionaries ;
and the northern

tianity, we have good reason to believe invaders are generally supposed to have
that the British church before the coming had, on the whole, an easy task before them
of the North-folk was a flourishing and when they proceeded to take possession
community, well instructed in
influential of the country. The contrary, however,
Divine truth, earnest and devout. The was the case. Of all the nations under the
reasons for this belief will be more pro dominion of the Roman Empire, it is the
perly dealt with and discussed as the story Britons whose
long and bitter
alone
of the Church proceeds. struggle with the northern barbarian has
The paucity of relics of our ancient a history ;
and that history lasted well-nigh
church can easily be accounted for. Over two centuries.
our island in the fifth and sixth centuries The chronicles of that dreary period are

swept a desolating flood of barbarian con most meagre, but taken into account
querors, who, in their slow but cruel march with the ruins which we can still trace.
NATURE OF THE ANGLO-SAXON CONQUEST.
clear that every district was hotly desolate towns. Every Roman
"

it is station

fought for. Farm by farm, village by and house in the north shows traces of
village, town by town, was only won after having been destroyed by fire."* Similar
stubborn fighting. The defenders at least, havoc and utter destruction can be traced
as many as survived the bloody work in the south and midlands. The fate of

suddenly withdrew a little space, and then Anderida in Sussex is a good instance of
stoutly endeavoured again to stay the the doom of the southern cities. The

ThEPKIOW. WhlTMORN

WHITHORN PRIORY ON THE SITE OF THE


"CANDIDA CASA."

terrible words of the Saxon Chronicle pre


sently cited tell tersely, but with awful

clearness, the story of its fall. Anderida


remained as a wreck of uninhabited stones :

RUINS OF ANCIENT CHURCH (ON THE ISLAND OF this was its condition in the twelfth cen
WHITHORN LOCALLY KNOWN AS ST. NINIAN S tury; its square of walls remains lonely
CHURCH). and uninhabited still.
(Photos: Messrs. W. Hunter (y Son, Newton-Stewart.)
Nowhere perhaps in the island, though,
conqueror s onward march. The fault do we possess so striking an object-lesson,
in the resistance of the allied British- teaching us the pathetic details of the
Provincials was want of union among true story of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of
themselves, not lack of patriotism or of Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum), the famous
splendid courage. Roman-British near our modern
city
The prolonged and stubborn defence of A vast weird wall of remote
Reading.
the British people left only burned and * Canon Raine.
20 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
antiquity imposing still in its ruin en cities were utterly destroyed this was espe:

closes a large area of ploughed land, golden cially the case in the east and south. The
in the summer months with waving corn. very memory of the people had perished.
The patient industry of modern antiquaries The British tongue, the language of the
has uncovered parts of the enclosure sur mass of the people even under Roman rule,
rounded by these ancient walls, and with though it lived on as the tongue of the
little difficulty we can trace the founda fugitives in Wales and the remote West,
tions of the streets, the shops, the temples, has left hardly a trace in England proper.

Photo: S. V. White, Reading.


EXCAVATED REMAINS OF AN EARLY BRITISH CHURCH, SILCHESTER.

the forum, the basilica of the once What now of


faith? What of
the

flourishing showing well-nigh


Silchester, that Christianity which had lived and
everywhere the marks of the terrible fire flourished for some four hundred years in
which no doubt closely followed the sack Britain ?
Nothing brings home to us so
"

and plunder of the renowned Roman- vividly the change which had passed over
British city. the conquered country, as the entire dis
The fate of Silchester was the fate of appearance of the older religion." When
every city east of the Severn, in southern, Rome long afterwards sought to renew its
in middle and eastern The contact with
England. Britain, it was as with a
result of the Anglo-Saxon invasion was heathen country. When missionaries at
that well-nigh every Roman and every last made their way into its bounds, there
Briton vanished out of the land. Their is no record of their having found a single
CHRISTIANITY SWEPT AWAY. 21

Christian ;
in the whole of the conquered latter half of the seventh century, many
land (east of the Severn) Christianity had harsh measures, intended to obliterate
disappeared. The church, and the organi Celtic influence in the church, were de
sation of the church, had vanished as visedby the ever-growing party of Rome.
though it had never been. This will ac Yet this animosity would never account
count for the extreme paucity of relics of for the complete wiping out of all vestiges
the ancient British Church. of the old British Christianity. Nothing
To dwell again for an instant on one but the unexampled character of the Anglo-
detail of the vanished church, it is true Saxon conquest could have accomplished
that Church historians largely attribute the so complete a work of obliteration.
absence of the Celtic saints among the We have, therefore, from the absence of

dedications of the Saxon and Norman visible remains, or the paucity of contem

churches, to the influence or Bishop porary records, no grounds for entertain


Wilfrid, of Archbishop Theodore, and of ing the too common idea that the British
the Roman school in the seventh and Church before the coming of the Saxon
eighth centuries. There is no doubt but and the Angle, was either numerically
that between the Celtic disciples of the great weak, or deficient in organisation, or of
Irish and Scottish missionaries Columba small influence or importance. cannotWe
and Aidan, and those who received their endorse the words of a famous historian
Christianity from Roman teachers, such as our who considers that
"

of Church,
Augustine, Paulinus, and Wilfrid, a bitter Christianity had struck but feeble roots

animosity existed and as the Roman


;
in the land before the coming of the
school gradually became supreme in the Northmen."

ST. AI.BAN S SHRINE, ST. AI.BANS ABBEY.


CHAPTER II.

THE ANCIENT BRITISH CHURCH DURING THE ANGLO-SAXON CONQUEST.

Invasion of England by the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, A.D. 449-485 Terrible and complete Extermina
tion of the British Inhabitants Sources of Information concerning that Period Sack of a City
described by Gildas The British Bards Their Testimony to Christian Faith and Organisation
And to Corruption of Life and Manners among the Britons.

A the close of the sixth century the


borderland of the Angles, Saxons,
and Jutes *
ran from Ettrick across
of the Britons had taken refuge, had
to tempt the invader.
The Roman legions were finally with
little

Cheviot, along the Yorkshire moors to drawn by the Emperor Honorius about
the Peak of Derbyshire thence by the ;
A.D. 409. It was about forty years after

Forest of Arden to the mouth of the their departure that the terrible northerners
Severn ;
then across the Severn estuary by began their conquest in real earnest. The
Mendip through the woods of Dorset to Jutes,under Hengist and Horsa, landed
the sea. Britain was virtually conquered in the Isle of Thanet in 449. By the
and parcelled out. The wild land to west year 475 Kent was completely conquered ;

ward and northward, whither the remnant Ella and the south Saxons had overrun
Sussex beforeDuring the same
491.
* The geographical signification of these tribal period the East Saxons had made them
names is given at length on page 112, chapter VI.
selves masters of the country north of the
On the term Angle, we would observe that the
spellings "Angle or
"

Engle are interchangeable.


" "

mouth of the Thames ;


the Angles, in 480,
They are used to designate the same people, who
conquered all the district of the east known
dwelt originally along the Elbe and on the banks
of the Weser, and also on the narrow neck of land subsequently as East Anglia. The latter
which parts the Baltic from the North Sea. These tribe very soon afterwards penetrated
or roughly made up the
"

northward, and founded Angle or Engle


"Angles," Engles,"

conquering tribes who occupied Northumbria and


Deira (Yorkshire), Middle Britain (Mercia), and kingdoms stretching from the Firth of
the eastern counties (East Anglia). It is not pos Forth to the river Humber. Another
sible to adopt always the same term when speak
division of these Angles had subjugated
ing of them, for the terms Engle-land, England,
Englishman, compel us frequently to use the Middle England aftenvards known as
word "

Engle while such widely used and


"

In the mean
;
Mercia, by the year 560.
comprehensive expressions as Anglo-Saxon,
Anglican, etc., seem to call us back to the
time, between A.D. 514 and 552, the West
other name Angle." Again, the settlers in that Saxons, under Cerdic and Cynric, slowly
"

great district of our island known as the Eastern drove the Britons westward. The pitched
Counties, have given to that district the name of
East Anglia, an appellation current among us to battle of Deorham, in 577, followed by
this day. the fall and sack of the cities of Bath,
449-585-] EXTERMINATION OF THE BRITISH.
Gloucester, and Cirencester, threw the A.D. 456. This year, Hengist and JEsc slew
four troops of Britons with the edge of
western part of the island open to the
the sword in the place which is named
invaders, and before A.D. 585 the conquest Creecanford [Crayford].
of the west country was completed. A.D. 457. This year, Hengist and ysc his son

Such a bald chronicle of the successive fought against the Britons, and slew there
[at Crayford] four thousand men, and the
landings of fresh hordes of North-folk, of Britons then forsook Kent, and fled to

bloody battles, of sieges, and the fall and London.

Photo, /. Dugdale Co., Bath.


EXCAVATED REMAINS OF ROMAN BATH AT BATH.
(Before restoration.}

ruin of fair tells the long- A.D. 491. This year Aella and Cissa besieged
cities, curtly
Andredceaster [Anderida in Sussex], and
drawn-out agony of the British in their
slew all that dwelt therein, so that not a
unequal conflict. The Saxon Chronicle, single Briton was there left.
A.D. 577. This year Cuthwine and Ceawlin the
copied probably from contemporary records
West-Saxons fought against the Britons,
in the scriptorium or writing-chamber of
and they slew three kings, Conmail, and
the monastery at Winchester, if referred Candidan and Farinmael, at the place
would add but little further information which is called Deorham, and took three
to,
cities from them, Gloucester, Cirencester.
save perhaps some such harrowing details, and Bath.
couched in the fewest possible words, as
these following :
Reading these short, dreary descriptions,
24 THE CHURCH OF ENGLANU [449585.

the student hurries quickly on, forgetting in from the female slaves who must here
what a scene of utter misery and desola and there have been seized by the invaders.
tion is covered by the curt record of the And as with the names and towns and
fall of Anderida, where all that were within language, so too with the faith of Britain :

that hapless city perished by famine, or it perished utterly.


the sword, or in the flames of their ruined What now is the true story of this vanish
houses. Four lines are sufficient to de ing away of British Christianity ? That it

scribe the stricken field of Deorham, which existed once, a mighty influence, we shall

sealed the fate of the west of Britain, be able to show from the meagre relics
and to paint the sack and destruction of its literature that it was once strong,
;

of the three beautiful cities of Bath, and full of noble purpose and restless

Gloucester, and Cirencester. Bath and striving, we are in a still stronger position
Gloucester from various causes recovered to assert, as we can point to the enduring

century of desolation, the


after a
"

awful work and matchless energy of the poor


morrow of the fight at Deorham.
"

Ciren fugitives who, after a splendid and pro


cester never won back
old position, andits tracted resistance, escaped, few in number
remains a small country town to this day and stripped of everything but their faith,
about a third of its former size. into the desolate fastnesses of the wild and
But what of the Church of Britain barren west. The resurrection and life

during these awful days ? What is its of the Celtic church after the crushing

eventful story during these 150 years of disaster which apparently overwhelmed it

perhaps the most cruel and most desolating with complete and utter ruin, is, indeed,
conquest recorded in history ? It must be a story worth telling a story which no
remembered that the country after the Englishman can surely read unmoved ;

conquest showed no sign of British or without, indeed, a thrill of pride and thank
Roman life that in the history
;
we owe to fulness.

Bede, written shortly after the Northmen We possess four well - known and
had finished their terrible work, we meet authentic documents ;
the first of them
with no British or Roman names at all ;
written during the terrible events which
that amidst the hundreds of men and took place in the course of the 1 50 years
women whom Bede records as living and of the conquest of the Britons, by one

acting in the new England there is not who was evidently an eye-witness of the
one whose name not certainly English
is ;
deeds and disasters of which he writes ;

that as the conquest passed over them, the other three composed shortly after the
the towns of Roman Britain sank into events in question, when information was
ruins ;
that with this desolating conquest procurable from eye-witnesses, or from
the British towns all disappear. The those who had conversed with eye-wit
language of the Britons also vanished. nesses of at least a portion of the tragedy.
The Celtic words
our earlier English
in The first are the works of Gildas. They
are few, and mostly words of domestic use, consist of two pieces the Historia and
such as basket, which may well have crept the Epistnla but they may be viewed as

-
449 5 8 5-] FATE OF THE BRITISH CHURCH.
forming one treatise. The second, third, bards, who lived and wrote in the sixth
and fourth consist of the History of Nennius, century ;
and the poems are, in the
the earlier portion of the Saxon Chronicle, majority of cases, probably the work of
and the important History of Bede. men who seem to have been eye-witnesses
But besides these three often -quoted of the events they sing. If these are
histories and the meagre earlier records of genuine in such a story as we are now

LANDING OF THE JUTES.

the Saxon Chronicle, there exist a few poems tellingthey are, of course, of the highest
of great antiquity in the ancient dialect value and of the deepest interest.
of Wales, whose theme is the war between The foundation stories of the famous
the Britons and their Saxon and Angle mediaeval Arthurian romance appear in
foes. The poems number, and
are few in them, and the real King Arthur, who lived
the more ancient songs might be con and warred in the first quarter of the sixth
tained in the compass of a small volume. century, is found among the British heroes
They are the work professedly of three of our ancient songs but he is a very
;
26 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [550560.

different Arthur from the blameless king who drawbacks, they possess a peculiar beauty
isthe centre figure of the various Arthurian of their own, a passionate and a restless

romances of the Trouveurs of the brilliant force and power like no other known
court of Henry II. in the twelfth century. poetry.They tell the story of the awful
In the old bardic poems here referred to, agony of the Britons in a way no dry
Arthur spoken of as a well-known and
is chronicle, no mere historical memoirs, could
famous warrior-king but he is only one ; hope to do. The reader who patiently
and not even the favourite one of a studies these strange songs feels they are

group of chieftains who warred in those the real outcome of the hearts of patriot

desperate but hopeless campaigns in ;


sharers in the deadly war for the poet, ;

deed, only five of our poems mention him while dwelling in weird, and even at times
at all.But one fact is deserving of special in glowing language, upon the splendid

notice, the Arthur of Nennius and of " "

devotion of his national heroes, never


the pre-eminently a attempts to conceal their weaknesses, never
"

bardic songs
"

is

Christian leader. tries to draw a veil over their mistakes,

The ancient poems to which we are their backsliding, their sins. No language
here referring as contemporary pieces of is too glowing when the ancient British

history,* are mostly descriptive of battle song-men hymn the prowess and the splen
scenes ;
several of them are death-songs of did valour of their heroic fellow-country
famous chiefs. They are deeply coloured men but no words are too severe when
;

with profound melancholy they breathe ; they deplore the vices which these truth-
throughout a hopeless lamentation for the telling lovers of their lost country were
calamities of a ruined people ; scarcely a conscious had much to do with- the fatal

ray of hope lights up these sombre and national disasters. Only British eye-wit
melancholy folk-songs, whose sad burden nesses of the deeds and disasters the theme

throughout is lamentation and mourning of these strange poems could possibly have
and woe. We feel that they are mutilated, drawn such a picture as these bardic folk
here and there altered, often re-edited, songs present to us.
even re-cast ;
at times the old dialect is un But the important witness which these
translatable ; but, notwithstanding these contemporary poets of the long-drawn-out
war which resulted in the conquest of
The Britain, bear to the Christianity of the
question of the critical value of these war
songs of the Bards, is discussed at some length in British people before the conquest of the
Excursus A, The Contemporary Authorities for
"

Anglo -
Saxon, is what we have here
the history of the Church of Britain in the 6th
and 7th centuries," at the end of the volume. especially to dwell on. The patriot bards
While dn the one hand the rare MSS. containing of the sixth and seventh centuries were
them belong to a post-Norman age, the internal
evidence supplied by the poems themselves is of evidently Christians, writing of and to
such a nature as to enable scholars to agree in Christian people.
the main with the conclusions of Sharon Turner, Gildas (circa 550-560) the genuine
Dr. Guest, Villeraarque, Mr. Green, and Pro
fessor Skene, who use some of these poems as
ness of whose history is now absolutely
authentic pieces of contemporary history. undoubted, and who wrote, too, with
550560.] GILDAS THE BRITISH BARDS. 27

the authority of an eye-witness of some with no chance of being buried, save in


of the scenes he chronicles describes, the ruins of the houses or in the ravening
in words somewhat turgid and rhetorical, bellies of wild beasts and birds." The stern,

the sack of a British city by an Anglo- curt language of the Saxon Chronicle,
Saxon army. Here the Christian aspect describing, for instance, the fall of Anderida
of the doomed city appears especially in Sussex, as already cited on p. 19, shows
to have been the thoughtdominant this description was not exaggerated.
in the mind of and Gildas, it
Gildas, It was in the course of this terrible and
should be remembered, was far from protracted agony of the Britons, that the
being an indiscriminate admirer of the bardic poems the folk-songs of the people

religion and morality of his fellow-country who were so slowly, and only after a long
men. He lashed what he looked upon as and determined resistance, either exter
their backslidings with an unsparing pen; minated or a poor remnant driven into
with a pen so merciless, indeed, that his the fastnesses of the west were probably
words of bitter fault-finding have been composed. The historicalpoems of the
even looked upon as not a little exagger British bards were no doubt animated
ated. But in spite of this anger at the rather by a Pagan than a Christian spirit
errors of the church of his countrymen, the spirit of bitter hatred of a merciless
the Christian aspect of the city whose fall foe. But in spite of the Pagan vengeful
he describes, very remarkable, and evi
is spirit which lives along the pages of these
dently points to the fact that in these strange sad poems, Christian allusions crop
British cities, before the Saxon conquest, up in them here and there; comparatively
the "Faith of Christ" had obtained a few in number it is true, but still
amply
recognised position and
widespread a sufficient to show that the bardic writers
influence. His description of a doomed were well instructed in the faith of Christ,

city is as follows : and wrote for people equally well in


All the columns speaks of the structed, otherwise of the allusions
" "

(he many
assaults of the enemy as though they were would be simply meaningless. The bitter,
especially made on the church or temple protracted war of extermination, the
of God)
"

were levelled with the ground relentless cruelties of the Anglo-Saxon


by the frequent strokes of the battering- invaders, persuasion, ever grbwing
the
ram, all the husbandmen routed, together stronger and stronger, that the country
with the bishops, priests, and people, whilst they loved so passionately was lost to
the sword gleamed and the flames crackled them for ever, had, so to speak, dried up
round them on every side ;
lamentable to in our British songmen well-nigh all the
behold, in the midst of the street lay the spirit of Christianity but still Christian
;

tops of lofty towers, tumbled to the ground ;


ideas and Christian words and terms
stones of high walls, holy altars, fragments lingered in their minds, and even a
of human bodies covered with livid clots of cursory examination of these ancient folk
coagulated blood, looking as if
they had songs brings to light such allusions as
been squeezed together in a press, and the following :
28 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [550-560.

"

May he find a complete reception There are also allusions to the u Great
With the Trinity in perfect Unity."
Son of Mary," and the Gracious Son of "

Gododin, Poems : Book of Aneurin.


Mary
"

in the Book of Taliesin.


"

No one will be satisfied


With the power of the Trinity."
"

Let him who offends Christ sleep not ;

Gododin, Poems : Book of Taliesin. Let not a man sleep, for the sake of the passion
Of the Son of God, but wake up at early dawn,
"

In the name of the God of Trinity." And he will obtain heaven and forgiveness."
Death Song of Erof: Book of Taliesin.
Attributed to Elaeth. a Royal Bard of the 6th or ^th
"

May the Trinity grant me Black Book of Carmarthen.


Century :

Mercy in the Day of Judgment."


Booh of Taliesin. great Gododin
In the poem (Book of

Aneurin) we read :

References to the invocation of the


Trinity are to be met with frequently "

He gave gold to the altar."

in these poems. Baptism is mentioned


several times in such passages as
The Gododin contains the words

Firmly did he clasp in his hands a blue blade,


"

"

Ercwlf chief of baptism


Ercwlf said . . ."
A shaft ponderous as a chief priest s crozier ;
"

Death Song of Erof : Book of Taliesin.

"

I saw great anxiety


and in the same group of poems we find

the hosts of also the statement


Among baptism."
Urien Reged : Red Book of Hergerst.
"

Since he has received the Communion, he shall


"

With blades full of vigour in defence of baptism." be interred."


Gododin: Book of Aneurin -

"

enrich the praises of baptism,


I will
These quotations are taken from his
At the baptism of the Ruler the worshippers
wondered." Book of Taliesin.
torical songs from war-songs for the most
part attributed to the three great bards,
Joyful, the bards of baptism.
"

Whilst thy life continues." Aneurin, Taliesin, and Llywarch-Hen,


Urien Reged : Book of Taliesin. who were contemporary witnesses of the

There are several mentions of Christ deadly contest between the Britons and
and ofJesus : the Anglo-Saxon invaders, and they by
no means exhaust the Christian allusions
"

I will pray to the Lord, the Great Supreme,


That I be not wretched, Christ be my portion." imbedded in the ancient relics of British
Arthur the Guledig : Book of Taliesin. are
poetry. They especially interesting
"

Erof, the Cruel, caused and important to us are these folk-songs


Treacheries to Jesus." in our inquiry into the existence and
Book of Taliesin.
influence of Christianity during the sad
"

There was a calling on the Creator,


Christ for causes days of the conquest of North-men.
Upon ;

Until the eternal The words, however, ofGildas, written


Should relieve those whomhe had made."
during the same period of deep gloom and
Gododin : Book of Aneurin.
suffering, more important, and
are yet
"

Who was Confessor


To the gracious Son of
throw a strong light upon the question
Mary."

Red Book of Hergerst. of the position which the religion of


Circa 550 600.] THE BRITISH BARDS. 29

Christ held among the British peoples were debased by worldly, and even vicious
before the coming of the North-folk con- habits ;they were neglectful of their holy
querors. functionSj and were guilty of graver sins.

-
t

Unxc scwttnicc-cjwccm
e ccnpe-<feigcopa;

AN EARLY HISTORICAL RECORD : PACK FROM MS. COPY OF BEDE s "ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY," 8TH
CENTURY (British Museum).

Gildas, the
contemporary prose historian Simony was practised among the priests,
of this sad age, in his Epistola, draws a and even with the bishops was this sin not
singularly dark picture of the state of unknown. The best among them were
Britain at the period of the conquest. cowardly, or at least careless, in the matter
According to Gildas, the princes were of rebuking sin. He cites Eli as an in

tyrannical, avaricious, sensual. The clergy stance of this neglect to rebuke open sin.
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [Circa 560.

He "

The Warriors went to Cattraeth, they were


begins his scathing diatribe against
famous ;

the church of his people with the bitter Wine and maad from gold had been their liquor.
words Britain has priests, but they are
:
"

Of three heroes, and three score and three


foolish." even this vehement accuser hundred
Still,
Wearing the golden torques,
of his hapless nation owns that Britain yet There escaped only three from the sword."

contained a few good pastors. It is gener Canto XXI.

ally considered by most serious scholars "

Men went to Cattraeth . . .

that Gildas accusations are exaggerated, Pale mead had been their feast, and was their

but they certainly prove the existence of a poison."


Canto V.

considerable and influential church at the "

the light of the rushes drank the


By they
time of the invasion of the North-men. sparkling mead ;
Pleasant was its taste, long was its woe."
The testimony of the above-quoted folk Canto XV.
songs of the national bardic writers "

Idrank wine and mead in Mordai,


Aneurin, Taliesin, and Llywarch-Hen
And because I drank I fell by the side of the
to some extent supports the witness of rampart ;

Gildas the prose writer, in the matter of The fate of allurement." Canto XX.
the falling away of the British nation from
the practice of Christian living in the years There are many similar allusions to this
of the conquest. For these sombre and vice in the poem.
touching poems, which treated of the There seems no question but that the
national disasters in that sad age of ruin fierce relentless war which went on, year
and calamity, while bearing ample testi after year, sapping the life-blood of the
mony to the reckless bravery and splendid British peoples, destroying all their earthly
devotion of the heroic warriors of the hopes and onlooks, weakened at the same
Britons, contain too many a reference to time their religious fervour. Such a bitter
a spirit of vengeance and of cruelty, alas !
"

life-or-death
"

contest would, alas ! too

everywhere present ; contain, too, many a surely stir up all the slumbering, fierce
bitter reproach, many a solemn warning, passions of human nature, by exciting the
connected with the vices which these bitterest feelings of hopeless anger, un
truth-telling patriot song-men felt had satisfied revenge, and intense hatred of
much to do with the fatal national disas their remorseless foes. This hatred was so
ters. They dwell again and again upon indiscriminate and relentless that Bede,
that vice which had grown into a national quoting from Gildas, tells us that the
sin the love of revelling and of drunken Britons,
"

among other most wicked ac


ness. tions expressed, added this,
not to be
Thus in the Gododin poem of the bard that they never preached the faith to the
Aneurin we read : Saxons or English who dwelt among them."
CHAPTER III.

CELTIC-BRITISH MONASTICISM AND ITS WORK.

Power Wales Its Testimony to the early British Church Ireland evangelised
of Christianity in Ancient
from Wales and England again from Ireland Immense Power and Activity of the Irish Church
St. Patrick His vast Influence and Success Subsequent Decline in religious Fervour, and
revival from Britain St. Bridget Sketch of the Irish Monasteries Abbots and Bishops Life
and Work in the Irish Monasteries.

although many perhaps the ma of the old imperial city, Tadiocus, when
BUT jority of the
British peoples fell he saw the hostile armies pouring in,

away, in this their day of sore trial joined Theonas, bishop of London, and
and utter ruin from Christianity and from all fled for his life to Wales. After this the
that its
holy teaching presses men, home to names "

Welsh "

and "

British
"

are iden
still it is certain that there was a goodly tical.

remnant among the fugitives who had In the story of Christianity in Wales, a
taken shelter in the mountains and valleys few names, and certain interesting particu
of Wales, who were conspicuous as ser lars respecting great monastic foundations
vants of God. Nay more, it is an acknow and eminent men connected with them,
ledged fact that among that poor remnant, still survive. The fact that these vast
in a country destitute of great cities, and of monastic communities sprang up and
allthe appliances of wealth, civilisation, flourished in the latter half of the fifth and
and culture, religion flourished in an extra in the sixth century rests on undoubted
ordinary degree. We
see the strange sight testimony ;
and the knowledge which we
of even great monasteries devoted to re certainly possess that they owed, if not

ligious culture and learning in that poor their foundation, certainly their subse

colony of exiles we find these great


; quent singular prosperity and influence to
religious communities able to aid in no the fugitives from Christian Britain, is an
small degree, even to guide, the singular evidence none can gainsay of the existence
and marvellous springing up and develop of a learned and influential church in
ment of religion and learning in that sad Britain before the Anglo-Saxon conquest.

age, which we shall soon have to study in We find great monasteries, which were
the neighbouring Ireland. at the same time colleges for study and
We
read among the "York" traditions devotion, in this age that is,
in the period
in which are probably the germs of truth between 500 and 600
A.D. flourishing
that when the torrent of Angle invaders in that poor and barren Wales, a country
became so strong as to sweep the British with few cities, a scanty population, cer
out of York for ever, the last British bishop tainly without wealth or culture. Such a
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [500 600

marked activity on the part of these Chris afterwards bishop, the patron saint of
tian fugitives in Wales and Ireland, as is Wales, was trained. This David is said to
shown the foundation and rapid de
in have lived to the age of 100 years, and was
velopment of these great religious and buried in the Monastery of Menevia (St.
educational communities a remarkable Davids), which he had built in the re
development, indeed, when the circum motest extremity of South Wales, where
stances of the founders are taken into
"

the cathedral that bears his name pre


consideration seems to tell us that these sents so unique and pathetic a combi
poor fugitives were reproducing what to nation of indefeasible majesty and irre
a great measure had existed in their own versible decay."
There David, surrounded
country before its subjugation. by the reverence of all, in reality the
We
hear of monasteries such as Bangor chief of the remnant of the British people,
Iscoed, in the south-east corner of Flint died in 544.* A beautiful tradition,
shire, a community said to contain posi perhaps based on fact, says that, when
tively more than 2,000 monks at the time dying, David had a vision in which he
of its sudden and total desolation in the saw Christ, and breathed his last, crying,
eighth century. Another great house was
"

Lord, take me up after Thee."

that Bangor on the Menai Strait, of which St. Cadoc


s great monastery of Llan-

Daniel was the first abbot and bishop, by a carvan, founded apparently soon after the
custom well known and common in these year 522, must not be omitted in this
Celtic foundations. Another holy house bare enumeration of some of the vast
of Bangor, founded by Kentigern, once religious establishments which owe their

bishop of Glasgow, whence he had prob foundation to the Britons who escaped
ably been driven by the Angle invasion, from conquering Saxon or Angle.
the
existed at the junction of the Clwyd and Llancarvan, too, became a famous reli
Elwy. wasItan immense monastery, in gious and literary school ;
it was resorted
habited, we are told, by 965 monks, 300 of to by many who were not training for
cultivated the fields the life of a It became for a
"

whom, being illiterate, ; religious."

300 fulfilled literary work in the interior lengthened period the favourite school for
of the house ;
and the 365 others cele the sons of British chiefs.
brated divine service without intermission. We know that these important and vast
This great foundation was called after St. religious and educational communities came
Asaph, the successor of the first founder, into existence, and gradually developed in
St. Kentigern. Many years earlier than the period when the remnant of British
St. Asaph, Dubricius, who is
placed by Christians, flying before the Angle and
early tradition in the last years of the fifth Saxon, found a home in Wales but we
;

and early part of the sixth century, and know very little in detail of these vast
who traditionally was consecrated by Ger- Welsh monasteries beyond the names of
manus, bishop of Auxerre, founded the the founders and of the more distinguished
famous house of Llandaff in South Wales, * Canon
Bright places his death some fifty
in which the renowned and loved David, years later than the date adopted in the text.
500-600.] REMNANT OF THE BRITISH CHURCH IN WALES. 33

of their inmates. The traditions are too monks, who represented the Christian

vague, and contain too much of the mar church of the ancient people.
vellous for us to rely upon them, when More weighty still is the fact of the

seeking for material for a serious history undoubted influence which this British

CELTIC MONASTIC LIFE.

of a British Church in Wales. More church in Wales exercised upon that great
weighty is the undoubted, simple fact, that and world-renowned Christian community,
when Augustine paid his celebrated and which sprang up in the same period
unfortunate visit to the banks of the (fifth and sixth centuries) in the neigh
Severn, he found the population to the bouring Ireland.
west of the river, Christian ; that he was Montalembert, in his picturesque and
met in conference by several British devotional
"

Monks of the West," speaking


bishops and by a company of learned of the influence of the British church in
c
34 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [500 6oo.

Wales upon Ireland, relates with his (Britons) the Irish scholars also received
accustomed charm, mixing up legend and their liturgies, about the middle of the
history as is his custom, the curious story sixth century. These facts, that many of
of the monk Modonnoc, a Briton of the the great Irish saints received their ecclesi
house which St. David had founded on the astical education in Wales, and that Wales

wild west coast of the Atlantic, known as also furnished the Irish church with
Menevia, later as St. Davids. Towards liturgies, rest upon no mere tradition,
the end of his days Modonnoc embarked but upon genuine documents, well known
for Ireland, and all the bees of Menevia and quoted by Irish scholars.
followed him. Three times, says the story, It was certainly from the ancient British

he turned back, endeavouring to free him church in Wales that Ireland received that
self from his strange companions, but in fresh impulse, after the death of St. Patrick,
vain ;
the bees loved the old man too well, which led to the development of the re
and persisted accompanying the monk
in nowned monastic schools in Ireland. Nor
across the sea, and thus the culture of is it too much to
say that the preparation
bees was introduced into Ireland, where it of Columba, the great Celtic missionary,

speedily became a source of wealth to for the work of his life namely, the
the country. carrying to lona and North Britain that
Such stories as these probably have some which laid the founda
Irish Christianity,
foundation of truth. There are others of tions of English Christianity was derived
similar import ;
but we rest our assertion measure from Britain, from that
in a large

respecting knowledge of this far-reaching poor remnant of the Church which, having
and undoubted influence which the escaped from the deadly sword of the
British Christians in Wales exercised in Anglo-Saxon, had found shelter in the
Ireland, upon the fact, allowed by all monasteries of Wales.
the leading Irish scholars, that Finnian,
the founder of the school and monas No story of the Church of England
tery of Clonard, in 520, the most can be truly told without dwelling for a
famous of the great Irish monks of the little upon the beginnings of Christianity

sixth century Finnian, who was known as in the sister-isle of Ireland. The debt
the tutor or foster-father of Ireland s world- England owes to Ireland can never be
renowned saints, and others of the so-called exaggerated. There is no fair-minded
"

second order of saints,"


who were the Anglo-Saxon historian but would acknow
real founders of the famous Irish monastic ledge now
that the Christianity of England

schools, received their training from Wales was owing rather to the Irish work of
at the hands of St. David and other Welsh Columba in lona and North Britain, than
saints. Finnian was the associate or to the Roman work of Augustine in Canter

disciple of the three Britons, David, Cadoc, bury. It is equally clear, too, that Ireland

and Gildas, who occupy the first place in the first instance received the faith

among the teachers of the British Church from Britain through Patrick, the North
in Wales. From these famous Welshmen Briton and again, that after the first
;
5 oo-6oo.] REMNANT OF THE BRITISH CHURCH IN WALES. 35

fervour excited by the early preaching of and their northern conquerors. We can
Patrick had died down, Ireland for a only dimly imagine now, the hatred, bitter
second time received from Britain a new and ineradicable, which in the fifth and sixth
religious impulse nay more, that it re centuries existed between the Northern
ceived definite Christian teaching, formal conquerors and the poor remnant of the
Christian liturgies, from the ancient British vanquished and dispossessed inhabitants of

church which had found a refuge from the Britain.


storm of the North-men s conquest in the In the providence of God the intense hate
mountains of Wales. which existed between the races the con
It was after the second period of assist quered and the conqueror, the Celt and
ance from the British church of the the Northman was not allowed to inter

refugees in Wales, that Ireland began the fere in the long run with the blessed work
great evangelising work in our island, in of evangelisation. Celtic Britain told the
what was then the land of the Angles story of the Cross to Celtic Ireland and ;

and Saxons. Nor was the mission work Celtic Ireland soon repeated the same glad

of the Irish church confined to England ; story to the children of the North-folk
it laboured, too, on the continent of conquerors, and thus, as we shall see,
Europe, and its self-denying work there the pagan Britain of the Anglo-Saxons in
was crowned, as we shall see, with extra its turn became Christian.

ordinary success. Of the work and in The annals of Christendom contain


fluence of the ancient British church in many a strange recital, many a marvel
Ireland, during the wonderful develop lous history of the spread of the faith

ment of Christianity there, we have ample of the Crucified, but nowhere is a more
contemporary evidence. marvellous history told than the story of
There were reasons why Anglo-Saxon the reception and sudden growth of the
Britain could never have received the faith in Ireland in the fifth and sixth

directly from the Christian refugees centuries indeed, were it not based upon
"

faith" ;

in Wales. The antipathy between the the amplest and most assured testimonies,
survivors of the British and the North-folk it would be read rather as a romance than
(who, with such awful cruelty and pitiless as a serious history. A student who for

severity, had driven the conquered from the first time came upon the wonderful
their landsand homes) was, alas so bitter ! recital of the rapid rise and the strange
that no impulse to tell the story of the greatness of the power and influence of the
Cross and Redemption to their merciless religion of Jesus during the fifth and sixth
supplanters seems ever to have fired the centuries in the hitherto unknown island
hearts of the Christian refugees in Wales. of the western ocean,would naturally lay
We may deplore, and possibly condemn, the record down, and at once ask whether
this want of human love and divine he had not been reading the feverish
forgiveness ;
but perhaps we shall never dreams of an imaginative enthusiast.
be able fairly to picture to ourselves the But he would find on research that the
relations which existed between the British general statements which had so amazed
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [Circa 400.

it could be effected) by the Danes in the


ninth and following centuries of many such
records. He would find it borne witness
to by the existence also of contemporary
Latin writings. All this mass of evidence
of different kinds, from many lands, in vari
ous languages, would assure the amazed
student that the story of the Christian
church of Ireland in the fifth and sixth
centuries, the mother of the Church of
THE CLONMACNOIS
CROZIER. England, was no mere romance, but serious
(Museum of the Royal history.
Irish Academy.) No Roman legionary ever set his foot
on that great and beautiful island, whose
him referring to blue mountains can be dimly seen from

great Irish monas some of the northern headlands of Britain.


teries containing Alone in the western world save in the
2,000 or 3,000 in regions of the inhospitable north or in the
mates ;
to a vast wild regions which lie to the extreme east
network of religious of modern Europe was Ireland free from
influences ;
to many books claiming Irish
men as their writers ;
to beautiful works
of art created for religious purposes ;

and, above all, to burning and successful

missionary zeal in many lands were


abundantly corroborated in many ways,
and from many unsuspected sources.

They are borne out by monumental


remains and names connected with them
in all parts of Ireland and of Scotland,

by notices in serious and trustworthy


ancient writers in foreign lands, such
as by the Venerable Bede in England,
by men of the type of St. Bernard
on the continent of Europe. He would W. G. Moore, Dublin.
[Photo :

find it
corroborated, too, by the many
THE TARA BROOCH.
remains of Irish literature, some of it, of
(Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.)
course, mixed with incredible legendary
details, but at the same time containing Roman influences, Roman garrisons, Roman
undoubted historic facts and this, too, ; development. Latin was an unknown
after the wholesale destruction (so far as tongue there before the fifth century,
Circa 400.] IRELAND. 37

and the gods of Greece and Rome had of which derived their name from an
never been heard of in the Celtic island. ancestor who was regarded in a certain
The Roman general
famous Agricola, sense as still the head. In Ireland the
who commanded in Britain in the last tribal life which the Celts had originally

MAP OF IRELAND IN THE SIXTH CENTURY


(showing monastic centres).

quarter of the first century, had planned brought with them from the Asian plains,
an invasion of the neighbouring isle, but went on with little change or modification.
he was recalled, and his design was never The clans, though severally independent,
carried outby any of his successors. Ire acknowledged the authority of an over-king,
land remained free, and was ever classed who in early times resided at Tara, but his

by the Romans as a barbarous island. rule was nominal. "

Usages," we are re
It was a country of clans, the members minded,
<l

which elsewhere marked a remote


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [400
- 460.

antiquity, lingered on here into historic sixteen years old, he was carried off by one
time." of the numerous pirate bands who were
A few, but only a very few legends then plaguing the coasts of the wide
all

are preserved which tell us anything of Roman empire, and for some six years he

Christianity in Ireland before the fifth remained in captivity, the slave of a petty
century. We
hear of a Cormac-mac-Art king in the north of Ireland, to whom he
in the third century directing that his had been sold by his captors. Patrick was
grave should not be made among his a Christian, and as he watched his master s

pagan ancestors ;
we read of Druids watch cattle he tells the story himself prayer
ing the progress of Christianity across the gave him strength to endure the hardships
narrow channel, and prophesying the tri of his sad lot. At length he escaped from,
umph of the new faith across the stormy his captors ;
but in his recovered freedom,
sea. Kieran of Saigin, a native of southern and again in the peaceful seclusion of his
Ireland, in the fourth century is termed father s house at Dumbarton, he longed
the first-born ot the Irish saints. It seems once more to return to the country of
probable that in the third and fourth his captivity, was eager to carry the gospel
centuries isolated and accidental visits to the people he had learned to love, whose
made by Christian merchants had raised language he had acquired, and with whose
up here and there, in the south and south ways he was familiar. One night in his
east of Ireland, some few Christian families. father s house he heard a voice speaking to
But it is not until the century that
fifth him in a dream, and the voice said to him:
we reach the solid ground of authentic "We entreat thee, holy youth, to come
history. and walk still among us." He obeyed
About A.D. 373, at Ailclyde, now Dum what he considered a supernatural sum
barton, the great Irish evangelist, Patrick, mons, and the date of his return to
was born. We
have an immense amount Ireland as missionary is
generally given as
of legendary lore bearing upon this remark A.D. 397.
able and well-loved teacher ;
and possess For some thirty-two years he laboured
ing as we do a few contemporary documents among the people he longed so intensely
apparently free from fables and marvels, to win, with passionate earnestness and
and as to the genuineness of which no varying success. Round his long missionary
serious doubt exists, Irish historians have life has gathered as we have remarked
been able to the more legendary ac
sift a cloud of legendary history, mingled
counts, and to present us with a probably with credible statements. In no land has
accurate picture of the life and work of the apostle who first brought the story
this gifted man, whose influence in his of the Cross been regarded with the
own time was so enormous, and to whom, veneration which has been given to the

indirectly, the Church of England owes its great Irish saint and the interest, even in
;

being. His father was a Roman magis our time, shows no symptom of flagging.
trate in north Britain in the last days of Lives of St. Patrick are still being written
the Roman rule. When Patrick was only by scholars and devout men of various
400 460.1 WORK OF ST. PATRICK. 39

communions, nor are his biographers and during his thirty years of labours. He
panegyrists by any means confined to his found an Ireland devoted to strange idola
own grateful countrymen. But nowhere, trous customs and heathen rites, which

perhaps, have the results of his marvellous effectually barred all progress in civilisa
work been more strikingly summed up tion ;
he left an Ireland, if not largely
than by the English scholar* who was converted to Christianity, at least kindly
taken too soon from our midst.
"

The disposed to the religion of Jesus. It was


Church they [St. Patrick and his com not, of course, the Christian Ireland of
panions] founded, grew up purely Irish legendary history, for at the period of his
in spirit as in form. The Celtic passion, death many of the people remained un
like the Celtic anarchy, stamped itself on converted. Not a few it is evident
Irish religion. There was something still continued to regard him and his

strangely picturesque in its asceticism, in preaching with hostility ;


for in his
its terrible penances, its life-long fasts, its
"

Confession," a book which the severest


sudden contrasts of wrath and pity, the critic is compelled to regard as genuine,
sweetness and tenderness of its legends he represents himself as in daily ex
and hymn&, the awful vindictiveness of its pectation of being put to death. But
curses. But in good as in ill, its type his influence with . the petty kings and
of moral conduct was utterly unlike that tribal chieftains seems to have been really
which Christianity elsewhere developed. very great ;
as a rule, it was to them

It was wanting in moral earnestness, in he addressed himself in the first instance.


the sense of human dignity, in self-com The chieftain once secure, the clan as a
mand ;
it recognised spiritual excellence matter of course were disposed to follow
in a rigid abstinence from sensual excess, in his steps.

and the repetition of countless hymns This is the probable explanation of


and countless litanies. But, on the other such legends as tell of the great baptism

hand, Ireland gave to Christianity a force, at Tara of several thousands on one


a passionateness, a restless energy such as occasion. There seems, however, no
it had never before known. It threw reason to doubt that the simultaneous
around it something of the grace, the profession of Christianity by great multi
witchery, the romance of the Irish temper. tudes happened more than once during
It coloured even its tenderness with the the stirring and eventful life of the fervid

peculiar pathos of the Celt."


apostle of the Irish. One of his latest and
There is no doubt but that the preach most thoughtful biographers tells us with
u
ing of St. Patrick had a wonderful, possibly great force that the people may not have
an unprecedented success when the ac :
adopted the outward profession of Chris
counts of his life-work are stripped of the tianity (which was all, perhaps, that in the
marvellous and the incredible, there still firstinstance they adopted) from any clear
remains a historic groundwork of true or intellectual appreciation of its superiority
records of what he really accomplished to their former religion
"

;
but to obtain
* Mr. R. Green. from the people even an otttward profession
J.
40 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [400 460.

of Christianity was an important step dwelling round them, who, watching their
towards its ultimate success, for it secured self-denying, holy lives, then began to

toleration at least for Christian institutions. listen to their teaching, and thus, certainly

It enabled Patrick and the early mission within the century succeeding the death
aries to plant in every tribe, churches, of the great missionary, Ireland became

schools, and religious communities, which generally a Christian country.

\_Pkoto: W. G. Moore, Dublin.


ST. PATRICK S BELL.
{Museum of the Royal Irish Academy?)

in a comparatively short space of time There is no doubt that this fervid and
after he had passed away, grew into those devoted man was much more than the
vast monasteries and schools of which we mere passionate preacher. He was the
shallpresently speak, and which became successful imitator of the wisdom as well
the wonder and admiration of western as of the faith of St. Paul. Patrick, in
Christendom. These colonies of holy men, good truth, became "all
things to all
perhaps at first only tolerated, soon won men." Dwelling as he did in the midst
the hearts of the semi-barbarous people of rude and barbaric tribes, so different
400 460.] WORK OF ST. PATRICK.
from the generality of the people of western but rather in the outer framework and
Europe, he seems to have ever dealt setting of those momentous articles.
very tenderly with their cherished usages The great work done by Patrick and
and long-inherited prejudices he adopted
;
his pupils was enduring ;
the Celtic

THE BAPTISM AT TARA.

rheir language, and Christianised rather Christianity of which Patrick and his first
:han swept away their ancient customs, missionaries were the wise and devoted
[t was Christianity he introduced, but it master builders, possessed a strange power
emained ever an Irish, a national Chris- such a power as the heathen world had
Sanity ;
it differed markedly from the never experienced since the days of the
Christianity of other nations not in any first preachers of the faith, and has rarely

)f the great fundamental articles of belief, seen again. Within a hundred years of the
42 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [400523.

death of the Irish apostle, the barbarous devotion only second to that of Patrick, has
and half-savage land, the scene of his gathered a vast mass of legendary lore, but
self-denying labours, became the home of when disentangled from incredible tradi
famous schools, to which not only the tion, the story of this eminent saint is
inhabitants of Britain that remote found to be based on authentic sources.
island of the wild western seas resorted, She was a pupil of some of the hearers and
but it
positively became the educational disciples of Patrick, whose winding-sheet
home of crowds of eager students of she is said to have made. This last tradi
various ranks from all parts of cultured tion however, baseless, for she hardly
is,

western Europe. For a time "

it seemed could have known Patrick. Her career


as if the course of the world s history must be dated in the years 450-523. What
was to be changed as if the older Celtic ;
is about Bridget is her pure and
certain

race, that Roman and German had driven devoted life, her conspicuous ability, and
before them, had turned to the moral determination to raise and elevate her
conquest of their conquerors ;
for a time sex. The women of Ireland of her day
it seemed as if Celtic and not Latin occupied a low and comparatively de

Christianity was to mould the destinies of graded position but owing to Bridget s
;

the churches of the west." This strange noble labours and saintly example, there
however, was not to come to pass,
result, is no doubt but that from her time her
and the marvellous Celtic church, when sisters began to attain in Ireland and
in God s providence it had once quickened in many other countries the placeand
with new life that Christianity which seemed influence which the divine Founder
to be well-nigh everywhere languishing of our faith had claimed and won for

and even dying, suddenly came to an end, them.


and gave place again to that older and Bridget founded the double monastery
more stately church, which at one time (monks and nuns) of Kildare, a mighty
it appeared likely to sweep away and religious foundation which subsequently
supplant. had affiliated houses of monks and nuns
all over Ireland. The double monastery
Two contemporaries or imme
of the of Kildare was the prototype of Hilda s
diate successors of Patrick claim a special house of Whitby, and of many other double
mention. monasteries of Celtic origin, which at a

Benignus, the early follower and life latertime exercised so great an influence
long companion of Patrick, is spoken of in Anglo-Saxon England, as well as on the
as the Singer of Psalms."
"

He became continent of Europe. With some ingenu


bishop of Armagh, and is accounted the ity and perhaps with a certain amount of
special apostle of Connaught he only ; truth, the French writer Ozanam attri

survived his loved master five years, dying butes the chivalry of the French character
in 468. to this association of the sexes in the great
Around Bridget, whose memory among double monasteries of monks and nuns
the Irish people is venerated with a founded under Irish influence in France.
46o 666.] SUCCESSION OF ST. PATRICK. 43-

But to return to Ireland and the church The third order of saints the hermits
of Patrick. Patrick died in 463. We consisted of presbyters and a few bishops ;

possess a very ancient document, dating they dwelt in deserts and lived on alms ;

certainly from the eighth century, which their food consisted of herbs and water.
somewhat fancifully divides into three They continued until the great mortality
periods the time between the rise of in 666.

Patrick s influence and the year of our The picture painted in this venerable
Lord 666, the date of the third visitation document is of course fanciful, but it
gives
of the deadly Yellow Plague which was a though rough representation of Irish
fair,

so fatal a scourge, in the British isles religion, during the first two hundred years

especially. The document in question, of Christianity in the "Island of Saints."

"

A Catalogue of the Saints of Ireland ac Taken in conjunction with other records


cording to their different periods," although and remains, we gather from it that there
a genuine writing of the eighth century, is was a decline in religious fervour some
more or a fanciful description of what
less time after the death of Patrick ;
that a

really happened to Ireland in those two new spirit was infused into Irish Chris
eventful centuries. Roughly, it divides tianity by missionaries from the ancient
the Irish saints into three distinct classes British church in Wales ;
that the religious
or orders, which may be described as secular, communities founded by Patrick and the
monastic, and hermits. firstpreachers of the gospel, thus rein-^
The saints of the first order the secular forced from Britain, received an enormous
which continued for about a century development, and became, as time went
after Patrick s death, were all bishops on, the vast monastic houses so celebrated
says our ancient writing 350 in num in the history of western Christendom. It

ber, founders of churches. They had one is with them and their life and work that
head, Christ, and one leader, Patrick ;
one we shall have especially to do, as it was
nass, one celebration, one tonsure from ear from these great "houses" that Celtic

:o ear, one Easter on the fourteenth moon Christianity received so marvellous an im


ifter the vernal equinox. They did not pulse as it was from them that the
;

efuse the service and society of women; religion of the Crucified was re-introduced
into the pagan Britain of the
they feared not temptation, because
"or- Anglo-
bunded on Christ the Rock. Saxons.
The second order the monastic con- While much that is connected with the
few bishops and many presbyters.
isted of Irish church remains uncertain, and to a

They had one head our Lord their ; degree inexplicable, for want of detailed
master and tonsure were as in the first information, the fact of the existence and
rder, but they refused the service of the enormous influence of its great reli

pomen, separating them from their mon- gious communities upon the life, not only

steries. These received their ritual and of Ireland and north Britain, but of western

caching from the ancient British church Europe generally, is indisputable, and rests,
a Wales. upon the solid basis of authentic history.
44 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [460666.

The sixth century, within a hundred central Britain owed the re-introduction

years of the death of Patrick, witnessed of Christianity.

the foundation and extraordinarily rapid The monastic system seems to have

development of these monasteries and arisen about century, when


the third

schools, the special and important feature numbers of Christians were driven from

of Irish Christianity. The number of their city homes into the desert by the

Photo : T. Hoban, Ath one.

DOORWAY, CLONMACNOIS.

such communities, their enormous size, Decian and other persecutions, who sti
their wide-spread influence far beyond retained and elaborated their ascetic an
the comparatively narrow limits of Ire associated mode of when the actu.
life

land claim a somewhat detailed de pressure was removed. The primitiv


scription, especially asthe peculiarity of Irish monasteries with which we are her
these singular world-famous establishments concerned were of the same type as thos
belongs not to fanciful tradition, but to the of Egypt and Syria, and utterly unlik
domain of serious history. It was to these those mediaeval communities, the ruins

great religious houses that northern and whose vast houses, with the depender
460 666.]
IRISH MONASTICISM. 45

buildings, are still to be seen in Ireland, in humble character, surrounded by a rough


England, and on the continent of Europe. stone wall or by an earthen rampart with
In Ireland we must picture to our- a ditch, and on the top of the rampart a

THE CRUCIFIXION, FROM A CELTIC BRONZE, PROBABLY FROM CLONMACNOIS.


(Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.)

selves when we think ot the monasteries palisade, partly to seclude the inmates and
of Clonmacnois and Clonard, of Moville partly for protection against enemies. The
and Bangor (in Ulster) in the sixth cells were mere rough wooden or wattled

century a number of scattered huts or huts, sometimes, though more rarely, of


cells grouped round a church or oratory of stone, and generally of beehive form. The
46 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [460-666.

church or oratory .in the centre was


little of each monastic family, including the
invariably oblong, without a chancel the ; daughter houses. The abbot was some
doorways of the huts were often so low times a bishop, but usually a simple priest,
that a man would have to creep through, with one or even more bishops as members
and the interior of these primitive simple of the community subject to him. These
dwellings only the roughest
contained subject bishops occupied a peculiar position
furniture. Although stone was sometimes in the community ; they alone performed
used, the greater number of these early episcopal functions, and were treated with
monastic foundations the churches, the honour and respect as belonging to a
monks cells, and the other buildings higher order. We find abbesses such as
which must have been often of very con St. Bridget with such episcopal chaplains ;

siderable size, such as kitchens, refectories, these chaplains being always absolutely

writing-rooms, etc., as a rule were con subject to the authority of the abbot or
structed simply of wood, wattles, and clay, abbess of the This strange Irish
"

house."

and so have perished ages ago. Not a system was one of monastic territorial

trace, for instance, Columba s


remains of St. jurisdiction rather than one of diocesan
famous monastery at lona, which was built episcopacy but episcopacy was always
;

before the close of the same sixth century. held to be essential to the very existence
Besides the church, there were a few of the church.

public buildings in these great Irish com The number of these subject bishops,
munities, such as a kitchen and a refectory, to ourmodern view, seems to have been
with a guest-house for strangers there ;
enormous indeed, the degree or order or
;

were also storehouses, mills, and work the episcopacy was frequently conferred in

shops, and almost certainly some large recognition of the pre-eminence in sanctity
rooms solely for writing or study. The or learning of some distinguished ecclesi
art of illuminating, extensively cultivated astic, who nevertheless continued to live
these Cities of the as they either as a hermit or as the head of a
"

in Saints,"

were termed, no doubt grew by degrees ;


school in his monastery, without neces
but manuscripts were copied, and to a sarily taking upon him the charge of any
certain degree ornamented, in the earliest diocese or district, or even of a church. But

years of these foundations, and the scribes the peculiar functions of his episcopal rank
must have had some scriptorium or writing- were never overlooked. The bishops were
chamber, where they had abundance of always applied to for the consecration of
light their own little beehive cells must
; churches, for the ordaining to the eccle
have been too dark for any such work. siastical degrees, or holy orders they ;

Each monastery, with its dependent alone confirmed, and also gave the more
houses, appears to have had a rule of its solemn benedictions, and administered
own, though these rules had a general the Holy Communion with peculiar rites
resemblance in the most important points. of greater pomp and ceremony.
The Abbot, or Co-arb as he was often An interesting example of the peculiar
termed in Ireland, was the supreme head position held by the bishop in one of
460 666.] IRISH MONASTICISM. 47

these great Irish monasteries is afforded have had that number within its enclosure

by the records of St. Bridget s double at one time. Bede, writing of another

monastery of Kildare. Bishop Condlaed, famous Celtic monastery the British


who was appointed by this famous abbess (Welsh) Bangor gives the number of

to assist her in her work, on one occasion inmates as 2,100. These great numbers
had gone to Brittany and had brought were probably not reached till the fame
back with him certain foreign vestments of the monastery as a teaching school
which he used at special functions. But had penetrated far into the continent of
the abbess, always sympathising with dis Europe ;
for we read, for instance, of many
tress, and perhaps, too, not caring for foreigners resorting to such a school as

foreign innovations, cut these up and the monastery of Armagh, and grouping
made clothes -of them for the poor. On their huts in the monastic enclosure
another occasion Bishop Condlaed ex according to nationality.
pressed a desire to visit Rome. Now The food of these great "

families of
Rome was then the home of art, and was extremely simple, and was
saints"

Condlaed was not only her bishop but prepared in large cauldrons, in the same
her chief artist. He was one of those manner as we read in the Old Testa
workers in gold and silver and other ment that food used to be prepared for

metals, who have left beautiful speci the sons of the Prophets. Many of their
mens of ecclesiastical art for the admira disciples were employed in agricultural
tion of the present age. On his applying pursuits they sowed and ground the corn
;

to the abbess for permission for the used in their fished in the
"

house," they

journey, she refused to grant it. He dis river, and had milk in abundance from
obeyed her commands, and on his way their cows in the rich Irish pastures. The
thither, the record tells us, he was de ordinary dress of a monk in these vast
voured by wolves. This death of Bishop communities the like of which the world
Condlaed was interpreted as a judgment for had never seen before was a coarse woollen
disobedience, because he tried to go to wrapper or cowl, with a cord or strap
Rome in violation of an order of Bridget. round the loins, over a tunic or under
An abbot or abbess of a great monastery garment. The monk, as a rule, slept in
ike Clonmacnois, Clonard, or Kildare, his clothes on a straw mat in his cell, with,
ranked among the powers of the land. perhaps, a skin over him. The tonsure
ings quailed before their spiritual threats. peculiar to these Celtic houses was made
Dccasionally they or their officers even led by shaving off all the hair in front of a line
dnsfolk and tribesmen to the field. drawn across from ear to ear. The services
The number of monks and students in in these monastic churches do not seem to
some of these Irish monasteries appears have materially differed from the ordinary
:o have been enormous. In certain cases Western use which we are acquainted
5,000 does not seem to have been an ex- with in the mediaeval monasteries of the
iggerated estimate. The monastic school Benedictine and other Orders, save in
)f St. Finnian at Clonard is reputed to unimportant details.
48 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [460666.

The employments of the inmates of In these wonderful seminaries of a distant


these Irish religious houses of course in and almost unknown island in the midst
cluded all manner of field work vast ; of the stormy Atlantic sea whither, in
farming and grazing grounds, the gifts of these far-back ages, students numbering

kings and chieftains, were attached to these their thousands used to resort from the
monasteries. But the principal work out- continent of Europe Holy Scripture was,

Photo: T. Hoban, Aihlone.


TOWER AND CROSS : CLONMACNOIS.

side the solemn, constantly - recurring duty of course, a principal object of study. Th
of prayer and praise, was literary work of Psalms were often learnt by heart. Latin
various kinds. Indeed, the special raz son which before the days of St. Patrick ir
d^etre of an Irish monastery of the sixth, the fifth century was an unknown tongue

seventh, and eighth centuries was writing never heard save perhaps in the rare cas<

books, copying books, illuminating books; of families of some merchant settlers in th<

the study of Holy Scripture and theology; extreme south of the island, became ir

and above all, teaching and instructing the these monastic cities a living language.

young of many lands. Greek and even Hebrew were studied there.
460666.] IRISH MONASTICISM. 49

Writing formed, however, a large por- holy homes of prayer and study. In spite
tion of the occupation of the monks and of the ravages of the Danes, and the

AN INITIAL FROM THE BOOK OF KELLS.


(Trinity College, Dublin.)

the scholars. We read of waxed tablets, wholesale destruction of the Viking pirates
styles, skins, inkhorns. The art of ilium- in the ninth and tenth centuries, a
ination was evidently extensively practised few magnificent specimens of the patient
in these quiet, remote, but thronged, care and unwearied industry of these monk
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [460-666.

artists still survive. The Book of Kells and navigator, so called from his love of travel,
the Book of Durrow, beautiful and elaborate had a yet greater fame than even Clonard,
pieces of artistic workmanship, have been and was said to have been even more
attributed to the famous Columba himself. frequented by students. St. Brendan died
The of Kells" is a tolerably pure
"Book at the advanced age of ninety-four, in the

copy of the Vulgate, modified with ad year 577.


ditions. "It is impossible to give any The school of Moville, at the head of
idea of the splendour and elaboration of Strangford Lough in Down, acquired at one j

its ornamental pages and letters, or of the period the greatest reputation on the
extreme minuteness of the work, which continent of Europe. The abbots of Mo
often requires a lens to trace it ; yet these ville for about 200 years appear to have

minute lines are as firm as if drawn by a been bishops. After a time, however,

machine, and as free as if they were the the foreign fame of Moville was eclipsed

growth of Nature." The more carefully by the reputation of the Irish Bangor,
and elaborately ornamented manuscripts an enormous and renowned community
were kept in satchels of embossed leather, founded by St. Comgall in Ulster, in 559.
into which they would just fit these had ;
St. Bernard writes of this house as being
long straps to hang them on the wall or the head of
"

many monasteries, a holy


round the neck. place, fruitful of saints; one of whom,
To give anything like a mere catalogue named Luan, alone is
reported to have
of these vast Irish monasteries would be been the founder of 100 monasteries." Its

wearisome ;
three or four of the best- pupils are said to have been scattered over
known, however, may just be named. Ireland and Scotland, and poured over the
The monastic school of Clonard, founded continent like a flood.

by St. Finnian, became one of the most One more of these renowned monas
famous of these great sixth - century Irish teries and schools, which flourished in the
seminaries. Finnian was trained by refugee Ireland of the sixth and two following
monks and bishops of the ancient British centuries with a lustre never equalled be
church in Wales. In this house, as al fore or after, must be mentioned. The
ready mentioned, the monks and students house of St. Ciaran of Clonmacnois was
numbered as many as 3,000 at one time. founded in 544-548. The God s Acre of
Instruction seems to have been usually this monastery remained famous as a sacred

given in the open air, the pupils being burying-place for several centuries after its
seated around on the grassy slopes, so that foundation. As a school it was celebrated
a -vast congregation of scholars could hear far and wide. The scholar Alcuin, whom
the lecturer s words. The famous founder one great writer calls the u intellectual
of this illustrious school died somewhere Prime Minister of Charlemagne," was a
about A.D. 550. pupil of its head teacher, and, after he
But Clonfert, founded by Brendan the had attained the position of the foremost
* Life of Columba.
scholar in Europe, he addressed a letter
Adamnan, Oxford edition,
1894. to his old master at Clonmacnois, couched
46o-666.] IRISH MONASTICISM.

in terms implying the utmost respect and Of never ending lustre. Hear, brothers, great
their deserts,
deference. Alcuin sent an alms to his
Whom the Lord hath gathered to the mansions of
Irish house, and a quantity of olive oil, His heavenly kingdom.
then a rare commodity in Ireland, to be
"

Christ loved Comgill he the Lord


; well, too did ;

distributed among the bishops for sacra He held Beogna dear ;


He
graced the ruler Aedh ;

mental purposes. He chose the holy Sillan, a famous teacher of the


world.
This sketch of the Irish monastic church
Whom the Lord hath gathered to the mansions of
of the fifth and sixth centuries, organised His heavenly kingdom.
by the ancient British church sheltered in
"He made Finten accepted, an heir generous
Wales, will be fittingly closed with the renowned ;

following hymn, translated from the


"

An- Herendered Maclaisre illustrious, the chief of all


abbots
tiphonary of Bangor," the great religious ;

With a sacred torch He enlightened Segene,


house of Ulster, founded in 559 by St.
A great Physician of Scripture,
Comgall the monastery whence proceeded
; Whom the Lord hath gathered to the mansions of
St.Columban and his companions, whose His heavenly kingdom.

work and extraordinary success on the "

Bercenus was a distinguished man ; Cumine also


continent of Europe will be briefly told in had grace ;

the next chapter. The "Antiphonary," Columba a congenial shepherd ; Aidan without
which contains this characteristic and complaint ;

Baithene a worthy ruler Cretan a chief President, ;

striking hymn, is a splendid relic of the Whom the Lord hath gathered to the mansions of
His heavenly kingdom.
last quarter of the seventh century. It

was written in Bangor in Ulster, and has "

To these so excellent succeeded Caman, a man


seen for 1,200 years absent from Ireland; to be beloved by all,

where it was executed ;


it is now one of Singing praises to Christ he now sits on high.
That Cronan
the treasures of the Ambrosian Library at The fifteenth may lay hold on life, the Lord pre
Milan. serve him,
Whom the Lord will gather to the mansions of
HYMN OF THE SEVENTH CENTURY His heavenly kingdom.

(From the Antiphonary of Bangor in Ulster). "

The truest merits of these holy abbots


"

The holy valiant deeds of sacred fathers Meet for Comgill most exalted we invoke,
Based on the matchless Church of Benchor ;
That we may blot out all our offences
The noble deeds of abbots, their number, times, Through Jesus Christ, who reigns for ages ever
and names lasting."
CHAPTER IV.

THE WORK OF THE EARLY IRISH (CELTIC) CHURCH.

Marked Spiritual Power of the Celtic Church St. Columban, and his Network of Monasteries on the
Continent of Europe Luxeuil Austerity of the Columban Rule Reasons why replaced by the
Benedictine Double Monasteries Their subsequent Decline Pagan England Columba His
Rank and Influence in Ireland Bitter Quarrel with the King, and sanguinary Battle thence result
ing Columba s Remorse Apparent Change in his Character Adamnan s Biography Columba s
Mission to Britain lona Wonderful Success of the Mission Columba s Personality His Ver
satility Holiness of his Character His Death Creed of the Church in Columba s time.

r 1 AHE story of the church in Ireland in first burning love for Christ lit by British
the sixth century, the result of the missionaries, when dying out was ever
preaching and influence of the an kept alive by the constant visits of teachers
cient British Church, reads like a romance. from the west of Britain the doctrines and
;

Itswonderfully rapid progress among the subsequently completed organisation of


native population its vast monastic institu
;
Christian life in Ireland proceeded from
tions ;
the widespread work and influence the same source.
of these communities ;
all this, as we have Christianity in this sixth century was,

said, reads more like the recital of a dream we are well aware, at its lowest ebb in
than a chapter of sober history. But the many of the provinces of the dying Roman
account of the work of some of the Irish empire. The barbarous races who had
monks, trained in the monastic schools on settled in many provinces were still pagan,
which we have been dwelling, and the or, at least,very imperfectly instructed in
results of that work on the continent of Christianity the old provincial inhabi
;

Europe, is an even more marvellous story. tants, impoverished and depressed, made
It must be told very briefly, for it leads but little way in the work of evangelising-
us far away from Ireland or Britain but ;
their conquerors. But a new impulse was-
it cannot be ignored, for it tells us who
given to the religion of the Crucified in
and what were the men trained in the these half Christian, half pagan provinces
ancient monasteries of our Church. It in the heart of the old Roman empire of
throws a strong light upon the spiritual the West, by an Irish monk who had been
power which must have dwelt in the educated in the monastery of Bangor in
Celtic church of our fathers in Ireland Ulster, under the learned and saintly
and in Britain
that Celtic church, the Comgall.
mother of the Church of England and, ;
What decided the young monk Colum
also, must never be forgotten that the
it ban to leave Bangor, his loved home of
impulse which stirred up the Irish people prayer and study on the shores of the
to do these mighty, far-reaching works, no one knows. Some mysterious
Atlantic,
came from the old British Church. The impulse seems to have urged him to seek
59] ST. COLUMBAN. 53

a new habitation and a larger sphere of province which is now known as Alsace,
work in distant lands perhaps the idea
;
in a desolate spot near the of the site

of founding another "Bangor" among the Roman town of Anegratis, then a heap of
half pagan conquerors of the western Em ruins. Many disciples joined the little

pire, decided
him and twelve friends to . Irish band of monks ;
the first settlement
undertake their strange and seemingly wild soon was unable to contain them, and a
mission. They went not as preachers of the second monastery became necessary.

Photo : Pattegay, Luxeuil.


LUXEUIL (1896).

gospel, but only as monks who would show About eight miles from their first home,
by their own austere lives how to climb not from the now known as
"

far city
the rugged path," they understood it,
as Besangon, among the ruins of the once
which leads to the city of God. They slowly fair Roman town of Luxovium (celebrated
wandered south, telling as they went their for its warm springs), a site was chosen for

simple story and as they went, seem to


;
the new house. The forest around was
have been met generally with kindness, strewn with the wrecks of marble statues
and by some of the Prankish chiefs were and other remains of a great and wealthy
even generously welcomed. Eventually health resort amid these relics of the past
;

the Irish monks of Bangor settled at the arose the rough huts and little church
foot of the Vosges Mountains, in. the of the Irish monastery of Luxeuil, soon to
54 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [590600.

be famous throughout the western world. space of time, that mighty network of
A third monastery under Columban was monastic establishments, owning the rule
soon founded in the same district, at a of Columban the monk, of the Irish Ban-

place called Fontaines. gor, which extended from Luxeuil in the


The life lived by the stranger Irish Vosges, southward to the Lake of Geneva
monks in their three houses, their extreme and the Lake of Zurich far to the north ;

austerities, the lofty ideal they presented, and north-west to the shores of what we
had, by the very sharpness of its contrast have named the English Channel and the
with the excesses and self-indulgence of that North Sea, where the chain of his com
barbarous age,* a peculiar attraction for the munities stretched from the Seine to the
Prankish and Burgundian warriors who had Scheldt. Many of the most famous monas
taken possession of the Vosges country. teries of central and northern Europe,
Disciples in great numbers, rich and poor, which played so great a part in mediaeval

collected round the saintly Irish monk. history for several eventful centuries, were
He gradually became a power in the land, founded by Columban and his companions.
and dared publicly to rebuke the more They were dotted over western Germany,
conspicuous vices of the kings and princes ; Switzerland, France, and the Low Coun
no threats affrighted him, and his fame tries not a few of those great religious
;

grew with each succeeding year. He was houses where the lamp of religion and
surrounded by companions as earnest and learning was kept brightly burning during
capable as himself among them were men
;
several hundred stormy years of wars and
like St. Gall and St. Deicola, whose names confusion and trouble, were the after-

have gone down in history among those fruits of the prayers and labours of
who have played a distinguished part in Columban and his noble band of workers.
influencing the course -of events. The student of history, as he reads the
Continued reinforcements from the great many-coloured, saddening chronicles of
Irish monasteries, whose rapid rise we have the Middle Ages, and pauses with admira

already briefly sketched, enabled Columban tion and surprise as he comes upon the
to make fresh, and ever fresh, settlements. noble record of Remiremont and St.
It is, indeed, a wondrous story. From those Vandrille, Fontenelle, Jumieges, and St.

rough groups of huts and poor churches Riquier ;


of Sithiu and St. Omer ;
of
erected by the friendless, homeless, land Kempten, and Bobbio, and, greatest of
less children of the ancient British Church all, St. Gallen, remembers with astonish
in Ireland, sprang, in an incredibly short ment that all these mighty foundations
to which Christianity and culture owe
* This undoubted work
was probably the cause in great measure, so deep a debt, were the
as well as the partial justification, of monasticism.
of St. Columban and his Irish disciples,
Even its false and exaggerated ideal, so long as it
was really lived up to, was a protest against the to whom the foundation of these numerous
impurity and licence around, which outweighed and influential communities is owing.
much evil. The subject will be discussed at more
That ancient British Church, whose poor
length when the suppression of the monasteries in
the sixteenth century comes to be treated. fugitives in Wales had accomplished so
590600.] ST. COLUMBAN AND LUXEUIL 55

vast and so permanent a work in Ire 600 monks. Missionaries, solitary or in

land, and,through Ireland, not only in parties, were constantly issuing forth to
conquered pagan Britain, but on the found new monastic colonies at a distance,

broad continent of Western Europe who were under the stern grave
to live
this ancient British Church before the "

rule
"

devised by Columban.
Saxon conquest, of which we know so This "

rule," extraordinarily ascetic in

little, must verily have been a power character, no doubt gave to the Christian
greater, grander, nobler, than modern ity preached by the monks of Luxeuil a
writers of history have usually chosen to force, a passion, a restless, resistless energy
paint it. such as had not been known before since
To return now for a short space to Colum- the ages of the faith. But its extreme
first

ban the Irishman and the mother house severity made


life too hard, too difficult for

of Luxeuil. In a comparatively short ordinary men and women. When the first
time after its
foundation, Columban s fervour inspired by its founder and his

monastery attained to the climax of its immediate pupils died down with the lives
greatness and prosperity. Under the of these eminent saints, the next generation

government of its
abbot, second St. sought a somewhat easier rule, and sheltered
Eustace, between the years 610-625, it themselves under the great shadow of
became the monastic capital of all the Benedict and the teachers of his famous
countries under Prankish rule. Through Order, who preached also a strict, self-

thisseventh century it was the most cele denying life, but one infinitely easier to
brated school of Christendom, and the aim at than the utter abnegation and
most frequented. The children of the suppression of self insisted on by the Irish
noblestFrank and Burgundian families Columban, and by Gall and Deicola, his
crowded to it the most famous cities of
; life-long friends.
the south provinces of Gaul such as The rule of Luxeuil, devised by the

Lyons, Autun, Strasbourg sent their Irish Columban, among other peculiarly
youth thither. Every year saw the rise of harsh requirements for its monks, in
some religious house, peopled and founded sisted upon an absolute and passive obedi
by the children of Luxeuil, and number ence to the presiding officers of the house.
less sees sought as bishops men trained There was no reservation here as in the
in this world-famous centre. Ecclesiasti case of the Benedictines. Perfect silence
cal writers
proudly enumerated twenty- was also imposed upon the brethren
one of the alumni of Luxeuil, who received except for useful and necessary causes.
after death the honours of canonisation. In the matter of food, the rule prescribed
Under the presidency of Walbert, the the most austere diet conceivable with
third abbot, the house was made exempt the preservation of health. Benedict
from all episcopal
authority, by an act of granted meat to the weak and ailing,
Pope John IV. (A.D. 641). In Walbert s and even a small measure of wine (this
abbacy the permanent garrison of the injunction was afterwards too much re

monastic citadel of Luxeuil amounted to laxed among the Benedictines). Columban


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [590600.

allowed for the sickly as for the healthy, great Irish monk in all the many mo
only pulse meal, moistened with water, nasteries Columban
of. and when the ;

and a small loaf. The monks of Luxeuil Council of Autun sat in 670, only fifty-
and crowd of daughter houses, were
its five years after the death of the mighty

to eat only in the evening fasting was ;


monk of Bangor, throughout the
Irish

to be a daily exercise, like work, prayer, countless houses which looked on Columban
or reading. Fish, however, was not en as their founder, no "rule" save that of

tirely prohibited. Benedict seems to have been recognised.


These excessive severities at first dis No doubt the exaggerated austerity of
couraged no one. His army of disciples Luxeuil was found too hard and too diffi

cult to enforce, and this


in large measure contri
buted to the substitu
tion of the easier
yoke
and lighter burden of
Benedict.
But another and more
potent factor must
be sought for, which
brought about a state
of things that in less
than a century, in his
own "

houses," eclipsed
the rule and dimmed
the name and fame of
Columban, and changed
KILDARE CATHEDRAL. t h at Vast network of
Columban Celtic mo-
increased day by day, the sanctuaries nasteries into Benedictine Roman commu-

they away from Luxeuil


founded far nities. It was the same mighty influence we

became more and more numerous. His shall find at work later in Britain, which for

wondrous influence ceased only with his good or evil gave the sovereign imprima-
"

life. But the strong fascination which tur" to the work of the Italian Benedict
catted out from the world this mighty army rather than to the labours of the Irish
of "

toilers for God,"


all following in good Columban ;
which chose the Roman
earnest the rugged and painful path they rather than the Celtic spirit to guide and
had marked out for themselves towards mould the newly-awakened Christianity,
a heavenly city, was possessed only in a It was the sovereign will of imperious
lesser degree by Columban s successors. Rome that the Italian Benedict, not our
The "

rule
"

Benedict, less ofsevere, own Irish Columban, the disciple of the


gradually superseded the "rule" of the ancient British Church and the inheritor
620] DOUBLE MONASTERY OF REMIREMONT. 57

of hallowed traditions, should be re


its rose the castle of Romaric, a noble of vast
vered and honoured as the great apostle wealth, and occupying a high position at
of the monastic Christianity of the future. the court of Clotaire II., king of the
Franks. The heart of Romaric was touched
Before laying aside the charmed story of by the words and friendship of the well-
the mighty and far-reaching work of the known Luxeuil monk, Amatus. He gave
Irish monks on the continent of
Europe, his vast possessions to the poor and on ;

"

LAUS PERENNIS (/. 58).

a brief notice must be given of the intro the site of his castle on the hillby the
duction of one of the peculiarly Celtic Moselle he built a church, and then
customs that of the double monastery established round his church the greatest
which St. Bridget seems first to have in female monastery that had hitherto been
troduced on a large scale in her holy house known in Gaul, named after himself,
of Kildare in the end of the fifth
century.
"

Romarici Mons," known so well in


A few leagues north of Luxeuil in the mediaeval story as Remiremont; this was
Southern Vdsges, on the slopes of a moun in 620. Enormous gifts were presented to
tain by the Moselle, in the seventh century the new foundation by successive Frankish
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [620.

kings and wealthy nobles Remiremont ;


The case of St. Hilda, as we shall pre

soon became for women what Luxeuil al sently see, was a very notable one. Mon-
ready was for men. The number of nuns talembert pleads for this strange union of
in this holy house was so great that the the sexes in the double monasteries, and
"Laus
perennis
"

(the service of perpetual recalls the comparatively late example

praise) was organised there, and kept up afforded by the solitaries of Port Royal
by means of seven choirs of nuns, who re during their sojourn near the nuns of
lieved each other in succession, so that not that celebrated valley. Michelet curiously
forone moment, day or night, was there defends it thus :
"

The vicinity of the


an intermission in the solemn devotions monasteries, the abuses of which have been
believed in those days to be peculiarly certainly exaggerated, created between
acceptable as service to the Almighty. the brethren and the sisters a happy emu
There were two monasteries at Remire lation of study as well as of piety. The
mont, one for monks and one for nuns, men tempered their seriousness by sharing
connected with each other, but with a in the moral graces of the women. They,
special Superior for each of the communi on their side, took from the austere asceti
ties. This was also the case at Jouarre, cism of the men a noble flight towards

Faremoutiers, and at several other great divine things. Both, according to the
foundations for women. The ranks of noble expression of Bossuet, helped each
these nuns, whose life -long sacrifice is other to climb the narrow path."

praised in the where prayer is


"

Liturgy," The custom appears to come, in the


asked for the people and the clergy, and a first instance, from that great home of
special intercession is added for all conse monasticism, Ireland. St. Bridget (A.D.

crated ora pro populo, interveni 450-523) founded in her native Ireland
"

women,
pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo the first Irish female monastery, known
increased every day.
sexu" as Kildare "

the cell of the oak." Her


It was in these great foundations of early biographer, St. Cogitosus, who
Gaul, which sprang up under the imme wrote in 800-835 (some scholars give
diate influence of the Irish Columban and even an earlier date), tells us
"

how, when
his disciples, that the famous idea of a innumerable people of both sexes flocked
double monastery, for monk and nun, struck to her from all the provinces of Ireland,
root on the Continent of Europe. This she erected on the plain of Life or Liffey,
singular custom, of which in the sixth, on the sure foundation of faith, a monas
seventh, and eighth centuries we have tery which is the head ot nearly all the
many notable instances, was evidently a Irish churches, and the pinnacle tow ering
Celtic one. At Remiremont the abbot had above all monasteries of the Scots, whose
the supreme government ;
but in other jurisdiction (parochid) spread throughout
instances, apparently the majority of in the whole Hibernian land, reaching from
instances of these double houses, the abbess sea to sea." This establishment of St.
as in the case of St. Bridget at Kildare Bridget s at Kildare comprehended both
and St. Hilda at Whitby was supreme. sexes, who were divided from each other
480-563] THE NORTHERN INVASION. 59

in the cathedral of Kildare by a partition. in which year the devoted Irish missionary
This foundation of the great Irish female Columba set his foot for the first time on
saint was no doubt the example followed the barren, sea-washed island of lona (Hy).

by Columban, the Irish missionary, the In A.D. 563 the Englishman was really

great founder of Gallic monasticism. master of the great tract of Britain which
Innumerable convents of women trace lay between the Humber and the Firth of
their origin to Bridget, abbess of Kildare. Forth, and which was soon known as the
Wherever Irish monks have worked, says kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, including
Montalembert, from Cologne to Seville, all the land north of the Humber. From
churches have been raised in her honour. all this part of Britain Christianity had
In England the influence and power of wholly disappeared among the settlers by
;

these abbesses of double houses for a time the banks of the rivers we know as the
was enormous ; but, as we shall have to Humber, the Tees, and the Tyne, by the
they were alien to the spirit of
relate, year 563 the worship of Woden was as
that Roman form of Christianity which, firmly established as was by the Elbe
it

after a short, sharp struggle with the and the Weser, or on the shores of North
Celtic form of Christianity, prevailed ; Germany, washed by the Baltic and the
and gradually these double houses, once Northern seas.

so notable a feature inmonasticism, The supremacy of Woden in the lands


and which exercised upon the Chris north of the Humber endured for some 130
tianity of the sixth and following cen years. After this dreary period of perpetual
turies so vast an influence, disappeared wars first of conquest, then of ceaseless

altogether. strife among the conquerors the religion


of Christ with extraordinary rapidity won
When the events next to be related its way among the Angle settlers in
were taking place, the race of invaders Northumbria. A new era began, and with
who were to stamp their afterwards Christianity a period of comparative tran
famous name on the people that sprang quillity succeeded to the long and weary
from the union of the various Northern age we shall have shortly to describe.

conquerors of Britain, had well-nigh done From Northumberland the faith spread to
their work. The men whose special
"

the Midland and Southern districts of the


work it was to colonise Mid-Britain, as conquered island and before the middle
;

well as to win for their own the vast of the seventh century well-nigh all the

regions between the Firth of Forth and land possessed by Angle, Saxon, and Jute
the Humber, were drawn from a tribe was again Christian.
whose name was destined to absorb that The first great instrument of this strange
of Saxon and Jute. These were the Angles conversion of a whole people was an Irish
or Engles or Englishmen." man named Columba. Once more our
They landed on the East coast of Britain story takes us back to that island in the
about the year 480, and their conquering Atlantic so long unknown to history, so
work was well-nigh completed before 563, long reckoned by the Roman world as
6o THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [540-563

barbaric, but which for weal and woe has and teaching is so largely owing. His
exercised so mighty, so enduring an in name Columba (or as his countrymen
fluence over the fortunes of the Anglo- have loved to call him, Columb-kill : the
Saxon race. Once more we must concen dove of the cells) was borrowed from
trate our thoughts upon that marvellous the Latin ;
was a symbolical name, which
it

monastic life which had taken possession signified the dove of the Holy Ghost."
"

of Ireland, that strange monastic form of Cell or Cells was probably added subse
Christianity, as it has been well termed, quently, and recalled to memory the
"

temper and in form, but which


alike in number of religious communities founded
in a hundred different ways leavened the by him. Besides in the school of Moville,
entire Christianity of the West which ;
he studied in the monastery of the other
threw itself with a fiery zeal into battle and yet greater Finnian at Clonard, who
with the mass of heathenism which was sent him to Etchen, bishop of Clonfad, for

rolling in upon the Christian world"; ordination. Etchen was at the plough, the

which attacked heathenism with a zeal probably true story tells us, when Columba
and with a success militant Christianity came to him and this ;
curious little

had never known before since the apostolic memory of the saint s early student life

age. throws light upon the humble position


Few have brought themselves to ac which an Irish bishop of the sixth century
knowledge the mighty debt which England might occupy. Further training the future
and the Christian world owe to Ireland. apostle of Caledonia received from an old
Few have taken the pains to unravel the bard, Gemmain, who taught the young
details of the story, perhaps the most scholar to love the traditions and poetry
marvellous page of Christian history. Men of Ireland.
have forgotten the work of the Celt. As Columba himself seems to have been
we shall see, it is a somewhat sad story ;
no mean bard, and several poems said
for it was the Celtic Christians who played to have been composed by him have
the part of devoted and successful pioneers, come down to us. He wrote in Latin as

while others entered into and reaped the well as in his native Irish. At a com
fruit of their toils. paratively early age he acquired great in
fluence among his countrymen. Many
It was in the sacred enclosure of one ot circumstances helped him to gather round
those monasteries in Ireland we have been his person a band of enthusiastic friends.

describing, that a youth, who sprang His learning, and the bardic gift of song
from an important house whose chief exer which he possessed, was a key that
cised the over-lordship among many Irish opened many hearts of his ever-impression

chieftains, grew up in the first half of able countrymen and passionate


;
his wild
the sixth century, under the tutelage of devotion, too, contributed to win him that
Finnian of Moville, one of those rare souls strange power which he evidently possessed
to whose devotion and fervour the fame over the souls of so many men and women.
of these remarkable communities of prayer His high birth, closely allied as he was to
540-563-] ST. COLUMBA. 01

the royal house which exercised over- petulance and impatience of contradic-
lordship among the native Irish chieftains, tion which seem to have led him in the
gave him a peculiar position of authority earlier portion of his life into the com-
among the crowd of young and devoted mission of high-handed, unchristian acts,.

MONASTIC HUSBANDRY.

men who were growing up under the of which he in after


bitterly repented
shadow of the strange monastic schools of years.
that extraordinary age. It is not unlikely, Before Columba had reached the age of
however, that to the accident of his royal twenty-five, the records of his early days
birth, and to the natural reverence and relate how he presided over a crowd of
respect which his fellow-students paid him monasteries. As many as thirty-seven of
as one of their princes, was
owing that these religious houses in Ireland recognised
62 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [540
-
563.

him as their founder ; among these, Durrow, his fellow-countrymen. He was not merely

Derry, and Kells are specially famous. For the fervid preacher, not merely one of the

Derry, a smaller foundation, and its holy skilled, wise organisers of that strange

house, the great missionary ever retained a monastic life which exercised so great an

deep affection. Some of his lines telling of influence on Christianity at an age when
this love are still preserved the true faith seemed everywhere waning,
but also the patient, unwearied student of
"

The reason why I love Derry is.


the Divine Word, the tireless scribe, and
For its quietness, for its purity ;

For tis full of angels white."


even the trained artist.
The circumstances are variously related
For some twenty years after reaching which led to Columba leaving his beloved

manhood, roughly between the years 540 country and beginning a new life as the
and 563, Columba was evidently one of the ardent and devoted missionary apostle in
leading spirits in Ireland of the great monas the neighbouring country of North Britain,
tic development of Christianity, in which where Christianity was almost unknown,
literary labours including poetry, art, and and where a struggling Irish colony had
the study of languages, as well as theology been planted among the nation of pagan
and its deep soul-stirring inquiries played Picts some forty years before. Some of
so distinguished a part. These literary his biographers are evidently loth to ascribe
labours of the great monastics of Ireland, any motive to the save the.
"saint"

a few years later made the fame of the loftiest, and are perhaps unwilling to take
remote island in the Atlantic, so long cognisance of what the noble Columba
despised and looked upon as barbarian himself recognised his guilt in the matter
and hopelessly illiterate, ring through of the bloody war with the over-king
cultured Europe, and raised Ireland into Diarmait. But Columba himself very evi
the position of a great home of learning, dently looked upon his banishment and new
the resort of students from all parts of the hard life among the wild Picts of North
continent of northern and even central Britain in the light of a life-long expiation for

Europe. a deadly sin. Abbot Adamnan s words have


Tradition even relates how two of the been quoted as suggesting the only possible
most ancient and beautiful of the Irish motive for his missionary enterprise u : He
manuscripts remaining to us were the work journeyed forth, simply longing to wander
of Columba s own hands the Book of : abroad for Christ s sake." But it is surely
Durrow and the Book of Kells.* Modern consistent with the theory of a life-long

experts somewhat hesitatingly ascribe these expiation to describe the state of mind
books to a rather later date than the first which drove him into desolate and un
half of the sixth century, when Columba friendly lands to win souls to his Master s

lived but the ancient tradition, very


; side, as an impulse urging him to dare and
possibly a true one, shows us how broad to suffer for Christ s sake.
were Columba s sympathies in the eyes of Columba was aboutforty years old when
* See previous chapter. the bitter quarrel arose between himself
540-563-]
EARLY LIFE OF COLUMBA.
and the over-king of Ireland the quarrel his own. The claim was referred for de
whose fatal consequences induced the grief cision to the over-king, who gave it in

and sorrow which drove him out of his favour of the Abbot of Moville. His judg
beloved Ireland, which made him the ment, awarding the daughter volume to
apostle of the wild Picts, the founder of the possessor of the original from which
the holy house of lona, that mother the copy was made, passed into a famous
house of the Church of England. A young Irish proverb, "To every cow her calf."

scion of the reigning house of Connaught, These grievances, and others doubtless
a kinsman of Columba, had the misfortune, of which no record has been preserved,
accidentally, to kill a playfellow in the laid the foundation of an irreconcilable

sports at the royal city of Tara. He fled feud ;


Columba fled from Tara for his

for protection to Columba ;


but the over- life, and one of remarkable poems in
his

king seized the boy prince and put him the ancient Irish tongue, telling the
to death. Columba was enraged at the story of this flight, has been preserved.
public affront, as well
being sorelyas Some of the thoughts, even in the rough
grieved at the death of his boy-friend translation, are singular and beautiful, and
and relation, and threatened the king are worthy of record. They show how
with prompt vengeance. strongly the monastic life and its symbols
But other causes of mutual irritation coloured all the thoughts and expressions

existed, and a curious story is preserved to of teachers like Columba, even when they

account for this fatal* enmity between the were speaking of the highest mysteries of
over-king and the famous monk. It is the faith.

interesting, for throws light on the pas


it
"Alone am I on the mountain,
sionate literary instincts of this remarkable royal sun ;
prosper my path,
far-back age in Ireland. Columba s love And then I shall have nothing to fear.
Were I guarded by six thousand,
for books and rare MSS. and his taste and
In no fortress would I be safe.
skill in illuminating and transcribing, have # * * * *
been alluded to -already. When visiting But God are safe,
s elect

his old master St. Finnian at the monastic Even in the front of battle,
schools of Moville, he found a precious He in whom we trust,
The King who has made us all,

copy of the Psalms. The more valuable Who will not leave me to-night without refuge.
and interesting of such books seem to 1adore not the voice of birds
Nor chance, nor the love of a son or a wife ;

have been preserved and guarded with


My Druid is Christ, the Son of God,
jealous care. Unknown to St. Finnian, The Son of Mary, the Great Abbot,
Columba made a copy of this Psalter ;
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
whether itsvalue consisted in the beauty My lands are with the King of Kings,
My order at Kells and at Moone."*
of the illumination or the preciousness
we have no knowledge. Finnian
of the text, The hatred between the monk and the
was angry, however, that Columba had king ended in a disastrous war ;
a bloody

dared to copy his precious volume without * references to Christ as a Druid, and as the
The
permission, and claimed the copy as Great Abbot, are singular. The Moone referred
"

his "
64 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [540563.

battle is recorded to have taken place become a perpetual exile from the land
between the friends and clansmen of he loved so passionately, and where he
Columba and the vassals of the over-king had done so many illustrious deeds, and
at a place called Culdreimhne. The vic had so many friends and followers, and
tory remained with the partisans of the live a life in heathen lands, winning to the

monk, who, with awful earnestness, fasted Christian faith as many heathen souls as
and prayed for the success of his party ;
there were Christians slain in the bloody
there was certainly much blood shed, and battle ofwhich he had been the instigator.
the king and his followers fled in confusion Columba, we read, bowed with sad resig
to Tara. nation to this stern sentence. "

What
The vindictive conduct of Columba in you have commanded," he said,
"

shall

this matterwas severely criticised, and a be done."

synod subsequently convoked at Tara ex


communicated him. The sentence was, Columba is the religious hero of the

however, soon revoked through the in Celtic races. No name, not even that
fluence of the famous St. Brendan, surnamed of St. Patrick, has received such veneration
the Navigator, one of his dearest friends, in subsequent ages, and deservedly so for ;

who is said to have pleaded for Columba not only the wild and imperfectly civilised
with intense fervour. But it appears cer Picts, who owned that great country we
tain that from this moment a new spirit know as
Scotland, eventually became
entered into the wayward, impetuous, Christian through his missionary labours;
and passionate monk ;
a bitter remorse but the subsequent evangelisation of con
troubled his soul ; he could not forgive quered Britain our England was in a
himself for the blood he had caused to be great measure the work of Columba s im
shed, in what he saw now was his own pri mediate disciples. Englishmen have good
vate quarrel. We hear of him wandering reason indeed to think on his name with
from solitude to solitude, from monastery reverence and love.-

to monastery, asking one or other of the In the many - coloured story of the
great Christian teachers of Ireland what heroes of our Church, Columba must hold
he should do to obtain God s pardon for the foremost place. His early life has
his awful sin. been sketched. It will ever be a difficult
A saintly confessor, who is spoken of as task to present a vivid picture of the first
his soul-friend, known in Irish story as forty years of the life of this great toiler
St. Molaise, of Innishmurry on the Sligo for God. The historian has to wade
coast, famed for his profound studies in through a maze of curious and partly-
Holy Scripture, indicated to him how he legendary narratives and the figure which
;

could find the peace he sought. He must emerges from the maze seems half saint,
to is in the county of Kildare, where the abbatical half sinner a brilliant and wayward
Cross of Columba is preserved. The rendering of
personality, evidently burning with zeal to
this most ancient poem is translated from Monta-
lembert (Monks of the West), from the version of Dr.
do a great work for God, but constantly
Reeves, with some slight modifications." swayed and influenced by worldly con-
540563.] EARLY LIFE OF COLUMBA.
siderations,by national and tribal jealousies, memory of some real or imaginary affront
by personal ambition and passion, all or wrong, and if not the actual leader in

struggling for the mastery. To-day, for a war of vengeance, certainly the guiding

COLUMBA EMBARKING FOR SCOTLAND. (See p. 67.)

instance, he is the ascetic monk, the spirit among fierce Irish clansmen, only

earnest and devoted scholar, gathering too eager for the fray.
round him a vast company of his faithful But all this came to an end soon after
kinsmen and enthusiastic countrymen in Columba s fortieth year. The two natures
rough and lowly cells of a great Irish of this strange man ceased to come in

monastery to-morrow he is the haughty


;
conflict one with the other. There was
md passionate chieftain, chafing under the evidently a mighty soul-struggle ;
but the
E
66 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [563-

victory remained with the nobler nature, and upon a still earlier narrative, written by
the second half of the life of the famous another abbot of lona Cummian, and
founder of the world - renowned lona reproduced almost word for word by
monastery was wholly given up to the Adamnan. It is, unfortunately, without
high service of his adored master, Jesus. any chronological order but, as Monta- ;

It seems as though of a sudden a bitter, lembert remarks, it is un des monuments "

stinging sorrow for the evil his passionate les les


plus attrayants, et les
plus vivants,
and jealous nature had wrought among authentiques
i>lus de rhistoire Chretienne"

thoughtless and excitable men, had deter Well-known Irish scholars, such as Dr.
mined him to fly the scene of his former Reeves, form a like high opinion of this
power, and to seek a new home and a new most important document. Dr. Reeves

work, where he might spend himself far speaks of it as an inestimable literary relic
away from the old scenes of his temptation of the Irish church, perhaps, with all its
and his fall wholly for God .
defects, the most valuable monument of
We have for the second and more that institution which has escaped the
eventful portion of his life an admir ravages of time. It is one of the most
able witness in the beautiful biography important pieces of hagiology in existence.
of the monk Adamnan. No longer de The Duke of Argyll s estimate of the
pendent upon partly-uncertain and half- almost record the
"
"

contemporary of

legendary sources, our chief guide in greatest figure in the early history of our
forming an accurate estimate of a life church is interesting :
"

We find in
which has exercised so measureless an in Adamnan s Life of Columba not only
fluence on the fortunes of England, is the the firm foot-hold of history, but the vivid
memoir of a calm, thoughtful, pious monk, portraiture of an individual man. Not
who subsequently succeeded to the abbot s one historical character of the time is in
chair in the lona monastery, and who any similar degree known to us. On one
must have talked with men who knew spot, and one spot only, of British soil

Columba. there shines in this dark time a light,


Adamnan was not merely a holy monk, more vivid even than the light of common
given up to ascetic practices, to medita history the light of personal anecdote
tion, and to prayer ;
he was all this, but, and of domestic narrative. When we land
in addition, was a man of varied
learning. upon lona, we feel that we are treading
We knowthat he could write Latin, and in the very footsteps of a man whom
was, besides, a Hebrew and Greek scholar. we have known in voice, in gesture, in
Men of the type of Bede, Alcuin, and habits, and in many peculiarities of charac
others, by no means likely to write very ter and yet of a man who walked on the
;

exaggerated praises of a Celtic scholar same ground before the Heptarchy, when
monk, bear high testimony to his learning Roman cities still stood in Britain, and
and goodness. This Adamnan was born when the ancient Christianised Celts of
in 624, onlytwenty-seven years after the Britain were maintaining a doubtful con
death of Columba. His work is based test with Teutonic heathenism." With
563-] COLUMBA LEAVES IRELAND.
this curious and authentic document of the little band landed upon the desolate
Adamnan before us, we can draw a real island ofOronsay but, climbing a hill in ;

and vivid picture of Columba s life and the island, he caught sight of the Irish
work after he left Ireland, in 563, for mountains beyond the narrow sea they
what we have termed his great mission of had just crossed, and this fact determined
expiation. him to seek another site for his new home.
Columba chose for the scene of his new He would not live in a spot whence he
life and work the neighbouring coasts of could see the Ireland he loved so ardently,
North Britain. Some forty years before and which he thought and hoped he had
an Irish colony, under stress of famine, had left for ever. This passionate attachment

emigrated from Ireland, and had settled to his fatherland he never lost ; again and
along the coast and in the islands of again, we find touching allusions to it in
Scotland (we adopt the well-known com his new life, In some of those fragments
i

paratively modern term), north of the of verse still extant attributed to him, we
mouth ot the Clyde, in the district which have ever and anon references to this love

has since taken the name of Argyll. for his old home in sad lines, as

These settlers called the district which O in the West


"

Arran, my sun, my heart is

they made their new home, Dalriada, after with thee."

the name
"

To live within the sound of thy bells is to


of their old province in the
live in joy."
north-east of Ireland. These Dalriadans
belonged to the clan of Columba, and were It appears, too, often in simple, sad memories
thus kinsmen of the famous missionary like these :
"

In lona once he called one of


monk. Lately they had experienced a his monks and said to him, Go and seat

grave reverse of fortune (A.D. 560), when thyself by the sea on the western shore ;

Brude, the king of the Picts, had driven there thou wilt see arrive from Ireland a
them into the peninsula of Kintyre and travelling stork, long beaten by the winds
other parts most remote from the main and worn out with fatigue. Take up the
land, and, at the same time, had slain their poor bird with pity, feed her and watch
king. Their Christianity, too, seemed her three days. When she is refreshed

dying was among these, his kins


out. It and strengthened she will no longer wish
men, weakened and impoverished in body to prolong her exile among us ;
she will
and soul, that Columba determined to fly to sweet Ireland,
her dear country,
dwell, and to light anew the dying torch where she was born. I bid thee care for
of the faith. her thus because she comes from the land
It was year 563 that, with
in the where I, too, was born. Adamnan goes "

some twelve companions, chosen out of on to say that the stork was sheltered and
fed, and, on the third day after, the monks
the ranks of his dearest friends, Columba
embarked for the shores of North Britain watched her fly back over the sea to her
inone of those great boats of osier covered old home in Ireland.
with hide, common among these Celtic He chose, finally, the desolate island of
peoples. It was only a short voyage, and Hii for the establishment of his new
68 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [563-

monastery. Hii, or Hy, is a small and sandy beach, the little plain covered with

lonely island, three miles long by one mile scanty prickly grass, the low desolate hills,
and a half broad. Only the eastern part washed by the grey waters of a sullen
was fitted for cultivation, while the thin sea, were all Montalembert could discern
pasturage of the western coast was often in the famous island of Columba s choice.
covered with drifting sand. The surface is The old barbarian name was in Irish
uneven, but the low hills never rise over writings la or I. The Latin writers and
300 to 350 feet, and from none of them the Saxon chronicles usually call it Hii ;

is the Irish coast visible. This seems to Adamnan seems to have turned the old
have been the chief point of attraction in name into an adjective, loua insula, which
the home-sick Columba s eyes. lona is gradually was corrupted into the more
separated from the Ross of Mull by a melodious sound of lona, by which name
strait about a mile across. This arm of the holy house founded by Columba is
sea no doubt helped the monk colony known through all the Christian world
considerably ;
Adamnan speaks of it as of the west. Some fancifully connect the
abounding in fish. Hebrew word signifying a dove (Columba)
It is curious to observe the effect which Yona" with the more musical name of
"

this west coast of Scotland has on different lona ;


nor
it improbable that some
is

minds. We are familiar with the glowing very early monk-scholar suggested the
descriptions of its brilliant colouring, its curious and suggestive play on the old
blue and misty mountains, its seas beau adjective used by Adamnan.
tiful alike in storm and calm, though with But beautiful or ugly as different eyes
a different and ever-changing loveliness, or varying tempers view the Isle of Columba,
in the glowing pictures of that famous where he built his first rough group of
word-painter and novelist, who in his own monastic dwellings, lona will ever rank
peculiar winning way is never tired of among those few world-renowned sanc
dilating upon the exquisite landscapes tuaries whence men have issued, whose
and seascapes of what to him is
verily a work has largely influenced the story
charmed land. Yet the eloquent and of the nations. We in England re

ever-fascinating historian of the western cognise somewhat grudgingly our debt


monks, the Frenchman Montalembert, can of gratitude, and perhaps with difficulty

scarcely find words sombre enough to bring ourselves to acknowledge that to the
what was to him a country of
describe work of Columba and his disciples, the
gloom and mists. He paints, too, the monks of lona, is primarily owing all that
same Hebridean archipelago, which he is good and great, strong and enduring, in

us picturesque without charm our Anglo-Saxon peoples.


"

tells is

and grand without grace." He writes of The bay where Columba landed is still

the dull and sullen waters which washed called


"

the bay of the osier bark


"

(Port-na-
Columba s Isle as entirely colourless and Churaich). The site chosen for the little

hopelessly forlorn, and as only lit up on monastery was on the east of the island
rare days by the pale northern sun. The opposite the great island of Mull. From
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [563597-

Adamnan we learn that the first buildings in the immediate neighbourhood of Argyll
erected for the band of strange monks shire, re-lighting the torch of the faith, which,
were made of wood and wattles. No as we have said, was burning very dimly
mention occurs of any stone buildings in among these Irish settlers. After the first

lona for many years, save perhaps the two years began his more important work
"

kiln." A rude church "

oratorium
"

among the Picts. No Christian missionary

was built, but even this sacred oratory before Columba had ever penetrated into

was at first constructed of the same rough the Highlands, and many strange stories
and perishable materials. Somewhat later are told of his preaching among this wild

an oratorium" of oak
"

brought from a people. Near the modern Inverness dwelt


distance was substituted. Some bee-hive the Pictish king Brude, who became, if not
cells and other stone buildings of a a professing Christian, at least Columba s

monastery founded by Columba in the friend and protector. Many converts were
little Isle of Saints, shortly after the first made among these heathen half-barbarian
building of lona, still however remain, but folk the number of churches dedicated to
;

no vestige of the original lona has been St.Columba, in the neighbourhood of king
preserved. The present ruins of the Brude s royal residence, still bears witness
mediaeval monastery no doubt occupy the to the remarkable influence of the mission

original site of the first rude huts


and the ary. It needed more than thirty years of
other equally simple structures. unremitting toil, however, to accomplish
The small community of twelve quickly these ends. The number of churches, each

grew. The name of Columba, already surrounded by its colony of monks, large
famous, his remarkable austerities, and his or small, in many districts of Scotland i

singular power over men, brought over variously estimated.


"

Modern learning,
many from Ireland who wished to share has discovered and
"

says Montalembert,
in his life and work. The great mission registered the existence of ninety of these
ary lived alone in a rough plank hut, monastic churches. Traces of fifty-three of

sleeping on a hard floor with a stone for them still remain in modern Scotland."

his pillow, and this way of living he never The narrow limits of the island and of
changed ;
ceaseless work of various kinds, the original holy house of lona, very soon

only interrupted by prolonged prayer, were too small for the ever multiplying
filled his life. When he was not preaching crowd of disciples who flocked thither,
or sharing in the outdoor labours of his drawn by the name and growing influence
monks, he was studying the meaning of of Columba. Into the neighbouring isles,

holy Scripture or making fresh copies through the hills and valleys inhabited by
of the sacred text. Tradition affirms that the Picts, fresh and ever fresh little com
he made with his own hands three hundred panics were constantly going forth, plantin
copies of the Gospels. new religious communities on the sam
For the first two years after settling at lines as the mother house of lona, all unde
lona, he and his companion laboured with the supremacy of the great missiona
his Dalriadan kinsmen monk, and bearing the name of Familia
"

untiring zeal among


563-597] COLUMBA IN IONA.

Columba-cillae." Some traditions even through St. Aidan, Celtic Christianity and
attribute 300 of such foundations to him Celtic art. The
Lindisfarne gospels and
"

and his disciples. This number is


probably many sculptured crosses, and other works
exaggerated, but that these communities of the Celtic school, remain as abiding monu
were very numerous and scattered all over ments of the source whence we first of all

the country, is indisputable. Although it derive the Christianity of the north of

would be vain to assert that Scotland was England."

Christian before Columba passed away, it And now of Columba himself. Who and
is clear that the existence of so many houses what manner of man was the founder of all
of the
"

family of Columba," dotted over this far-reaching work ? What was the
the land, each with their church, the special power which enabled him in so
monks busied, some in works of agriculture, remarkable a fashion to attach so many
others in preaching, teaching, or study, devoted friends to his person, and to
must have exercised an enormous power mould and shape them after his peculiar

for good in the hitherto barbarous and pattern, for few men appear to have
pagan Scotland. possessed a like power over their fellows ?
All these widespread and ever-growing What, too, were the special gifts which
influences, of course, tended to invest enabled him not only to quicken into new
the mother house of lona, the special life and a purer faith thousands of imper

home of the indefatigable head of this fectly civilised and warlike spirits, brought
vast and scattered family of up under the
"

religious," sinister influences of the wild


with a peculiar sanctity, which it continued paganism of the North ? which enabled him
to preserve long after the death of not only thus to sway the hearts of these
the holy founder. It had reached its heathen Picts, and to dispose them to love
highest point of fame about forty years and aim after nobler ideals than their
when the English king
after his death, of fathers, but also to organise with consum
Northumbria summoned from the cells of mate wisdom this strange powerful Celtic

the lona monastery teachers and mission church ;


it not only the power to
to give
aries who should bring the message of the continue and to grow, but positively to
Cross into the broad lands won by the con become in its turn a missionary pioneer
quering Angle Britain, north of the
in church in other and hostile pagan lands ?
Humber. The mighty work of Aidan the Other fervid and impassioned preachers,
monk, sent forth from lona in the seventh such as St. Francois Xavier, have won their

century (635) into Engle-land a story thousands from heathendom to Christian


hereafter to be told was the splendid ity ;
but too often, when the magic of their
fruit of the lifelong devotion and com presence was removed, and the music of
manding genius of Columba. The Colum- their voices hushed, their heathen converts
ban church first planted in lona, after lost their first love, the fervour of their
wards embraced the whole region north of first cooled, and the net results of
faith

the Firths of Forth and of Clyde, besides such work as Fran$ois Xavier s were very
giving to the Angles of Northumbria, meagre. But with Patrick and Columba,
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [563597-

the Celtic pioneers of true religion, it was possess a life of the Celtic hero and saint
different ;
their work endured, and to one written by a scholar who displayed many
of these, Columba, we Englishmen owe of the true instincts of the faithful bio
in large measure, as we have said, all that grapher, who lived close to his times, who
makes life bright and useful, and even dwelt for long years among scenes made
desirable. sacred by the toils and struggles of Columba.
Round Patrick and his eventful story In the little book of Abbot Adamnan we "

possess materials for a real, life-like picture


of the latter and most interesting period of
Columba s eventful life."

His actual personal appearance a com


paratively rare memory in the case of these

far-back heroes of history is preserved to


us with some details. All testimonies

speak of his tall form, his manly beauty,


the peculiar dignity of his bearing. The
same ancient witnesses dwell, too, on his

sweet and penetrating voice, so sonorous


and winning that his disciples reckoned it
as one of the chief gifts he had received
from the Master he served so faithfully.

Very remarkable was the passionate


devotion to his person of his family of
"

monks," scattered far and wide over Ireland


as well as Scotland ; although a volun
for

tary exile from his loved native country,


he seems never to have given up the
authority over the houses he and his dis
[Photo : Mclsaac &>
Riddle, Oban.
cipleshad originally founded there, certain
MACLEAN S CROSS, IONA.
of which, such as Durrow, were religious

cluster a mass of memories, some true, communities of great importance. This


some purely legendary, but it is impossible devotion was not merely paid to the
out of these to construct any really de illustrioushead and founder of their order,
finite picture of the man himself; every not merely to the winning and eloquent

student, after a careful study of the latest preacher, the famous bard, the unwearied
and most scholarly lives of the great Irish scholar, but to the sympathetic and
saint, must be sensible of this. But in the devoted friend. No trouble or sorrow,
case of Columba, it is different.
Here, too, no care or fear, but he sympathised with
a mass of legendary lore gathers round the and tried to relieve or dispel it. Such
stories as the following were told of him
great and successful servant of God but :
;

besides the legends true and false, we One day at lona, when a dull fog like a
563-597] COLUMBA IN IONA. 73

pall enveloped earth and sea, the brethren monastery after the varied labours con
noticed that of a sudden he burst into nected with the tilling of their barren farm
tears. On being asked the reason, he re and the tending of their scanty flocks and
see my dear monks of Durrow would, as they passed near the
"

plied : I herds, they


at this moment condemned by their abbot master s hut, kneel, hoping to receive his
to exhaust themselves in building the great blessing and perhaps a kind word or two.

Photo : Mclsaac & Riddle, Obatt


IONA CATHEDRAL.

tower of the holy house I see them ;


toil- A beautiful legend arising out of this cus
ng, wet, weary, exhausted !
"

tom of the old man has been preserved.


In his old age we are told how the loved In the last year of his life he was too
abbot now too feeble for those long and feeble to come out and bless his children,
Dainful mission journeys in which in the as his habit had been of late years but the ;

lays of strength his vigour and he monks would pause in the same spot where

lelighted, often undertaken at the great they used to receive the coveted blessing
est possible risk to his life used to sit of their well-loved abbot. One summer
ilone in his little lona hut, which served evening, Baithen, the steward of the
lim as a study-cell, and to write and "

house," who succeeded Columba in the


neditate there and when the younger
;
abbot s chair, asked the brothers if as
nonks returned in the evening-tide to the they lingered on the spot of blessing
74 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [563-597-

they were not sensible of something possessed over men s hearts, the memory
strange and unusual ?
"

Yes," replied of which contributed not a little to the

the oldest of the monks, each day at "

stability of his work and to the perma


this hour, as we pause at the spot we nence of his many religious foundations.
remember so well, floats by us a delicious He owned, it is true, many striking gifts
odour, as though all the flowers of the the stately form, the musical voice, the
wprld were collected here." Baithen, the winning eloquence, the tireless energy,
dearest friend of Columba, ventured to the rare power of organisation and ruling.

explainthe meaning of the odour. It But these things, united though they
was Columba, he told them, who, unable were in Columba s case with a strangely
to move, sent his spirit out from his hut sympathetic and loving nature (a some
to meet and refresh them. what rare combination) would never have
Adamnan specially notices, in that sufficed to win for him that magic key
charming sixth-century picture of the of hearts which was his great source of

life of a great benefactor of the human power and influence, had not his life in

family which he has given us, the won a peculiar and especial way commended
derful variety of his hero powers and s itself to the men
of his age and they were

sympathies. Nothing connected with a not a few, in that stirring age of upheaval

happy, useful life Columba deem out


did and reconstruction who, in good earnest,
side his care and interest and no doubt
;
were "seekers after God."

not a little of his vast influence among We have already mentioned how, in hi;
those wild Pictish tribes, where he laboured dreary cell, he slept on the hard floor
so many weary years, was owing to his help some say on a mat with a stone for his
ful suggestions as to their fishing and farm pillow ;
and
austere arrangement he
this

ing, while his skill in agriculture was doubt never changed, even when old age hac
less instrumental in making their upland lessened his powers of endurance. Bu
fields and poor orchards more fruitful. He his hours of sleep were but few, for he
was, besides this, not only the tender
all would often pass most of the night in pro
and devoted visitor and consoler of the longed prayer,which, we are told,excited not
sick, but in many cases he played success only the wonder and admiration, but even
fully the physician s part. the alarm of his disciples. No morta
Of course Adamnan s story has many frame, they thought, could bear such rest
threads woven into it coloured with the less work as Columba had undertaken
miraculous and supernatural, but these unless refreshed by sleep.
can be gently drawn out without any real "

Let no one follow me," said the abbot


injury to the beautiful and true story of one day in his later life to his disciples
a great self-sacrificing soul, who lived but one, more anxious than the rest,
and worked some thirteen centuries ago. followed his sainted master at a distance
After all, it was the life led by this and watched him standing erect on one of
eminent servant of God which won that those sandy hillocks hard by the se
measureless power he seems to have which wash lona, gazing long at heaven
563-597-] COLUMBA IN IONA. 75

motionless, with hands raised as though threw a little butter into the kettle in
he prayed, and around him the watcher which this miserable food was being
thought he saw a crowd of angels. The cooked.
little hill since then has ever borne the The death of Columba, as told by
name of "

the Angels Hill." Of course we Adamnan, is a noble and touching story


ascribe such visions to over-wrought of the passing of a true saint of God
" "

may
fancy, but they give us some idea of the in the sixth century. He was very feeble,
reverential love, mingled with awe, with and something had told him the hour of
which the founder of our English Chris his release was very close. It was a

tianity inspired his disciples. These de Saturday, and, leaning on Diarmid, the
voted disciples told those who recorded the old man went out to bless the monastery
life of the great saint that, in the closing
granary. The monks last harvest had
years, strange a light celestial seemed been a plentiful one. Looking at two
often to pervade his solitary cell, through great heaps of grain, he said, I see with
"

the little apertures of which this light joy my family, though I must leave them,
was seen shining in the long night hours will not suffer this year from famine."

with extraordinary brilliancy. "

Dear father,"
said his faithful attendant,
Almost incredible instances of self-
"

why do you thus sadden us by speaking


inflicted torture are told, such as remain of your death ?
"

Ah,"
answered the
"

ing plunged in cold water while he recited I will tell you a secret you must
"

abbot, ;

many psalms. A
touching instance of his swear to me to tell no one my words till I
deep and practical sympathy with poverty am gone. To-day is what we call Satur
is related. He was already bent with age, day, the Holy Scriptures call it Sabbath or
when he saw an old woman gathering rest. It will, indeed, be my day of rest
herbs and even nettles. She told him how after my long life of work. Do not weep,
her poverty forbade her all other food. Diarmid, my it is Lord Jesus Christ who
u
"

See,"
he said to his disciples, this poor bids me join Him. This has been revealed
woman, who finds her life still desirable to me by the Lord Himself." But Diarmid
enough to be prolonged upon such terms. wept bitterly. The two went back to the
And we monks, who profess to merit the monastery as they slowly walked, the
;

eternal life of heaven by our severe lives, dying saint grew weary and stopped to
we live in comparative luxury !
"

Going rest. A very ancient cross still marks the


back to his lona he gave orders that cell, scene of the saint s resting-place on this

no other food should be provided for him occasion. As Columba sat and waited for
save the same wild and bitter herbs which a little return of strength, an old white
he had seen the beggar-woman gathering horse, which used day to carry milk every
for her poor meal and the recital goes ;
from the dairy to the monastery, came and
on to say that he reproved his friend and put his head upon his master s breast.
minister, Diarmid, who had been with him The bystanders relate how the poor dumb
long years, when Diarmid, out of pitying animal looked sorrowfully into the dying
love for his master s weakness and old age, master s face. Diarmid wished to drive
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [597-

the creature away, but Columba would Lincoln is a well-known memory of that
not let him. he said, the Creator
"

See,"
"

humble and holy man of God. St. Guthlac

has revealed to the brute who loves me of Crowland possessed, we read, a like strong
what He has hidden from men. He knows fascination for the wild birds of the Fen
of my departure." And then he blessed lands, and there are many other like in

the animal who wished thus to take leave stances.*

of his old master. After the little scene with the old white

DEATH OF COLUMBA.

This strange attachment of brutes and horse, Columba still found strength to
wild creatures to great and devoted saints climb a low hill from whence he over
we come upon not infrequently in old looked the lona monastery. With great
memoirs of their works and days. They solemnity he blessed the sanctuary which
are evidently true records. -These crea he had founded and loved so well, and
tures, whom we often despise, and some at prophesied that the day would come when it
least of us treat with scant consideration, * The secret ofprobably lay in kindness and
it
in their strange instinct, saw in these quietness, for the fact comes out remarkably
same
men their friends. The touch in the lives of Fakir, Buddhist, and Brahman
simple, holy
recluses in India. Almost universally the animals
ing attachment of the great wild swan of the forest treat them with perfect friendship,
(whom no one could tame) to St. Hugo of as testified by many.
597] DEATH OF ST. COLUMBA. 77

would be greatly honoured. He then went Columba made a motion with his hand as-

home, and, weak though he was, quietly though blessing the brethren, who, with
set himself down to his accustomed work their lamps, had gathered quickly round
of transcribing the Scriptures -just then he their father. He recovered for a moment,
was making a copy of the Psalter. He had opened his eyes, and then, as he looked
reached the 33rd Psalm, and when he had round, there came over his countenance an
written down the verse,
"

They that seek expression of gladness and joy, as though,


the Lord shall not want any good says his biographer, he saw a vision of "

thing,"

he stopped suddenly. Baithen (the


"
"

angels, and so died." The beautiful re


steward of lona monastery, and his succes joicing expression remained on his face,,

sor as abbot), said the tired man of God, say the eye-witnesses, even after death.
"

must write what follows


then, sitting
"

;
The Rule of Columba," often quoted,,
"

on his hard couch, he gave a last charge does not seem to have been a formal rule,
to his dear children of lona. The dying corresponding in any respect to the regu
message urgedpeace and charity
that lations left by St. Benedict, but rather a
should ever reign among them. With all simple collection to- of maxims designed
his evident humility, Columba was per guide a solitary who had devoted his life
suaded that he possessed power with God to prayer and meditation apart from his
as His faithful servant, for in his farewell brethren. But, although he left no
charge he promised to intercede formal after his death, for a
"

for them, rule," long


as one who would be near God. period the numerous houses in Scotland
No one. heard Columba speak again. and Ireland founded by him and his im
The voice of the saint was hushed. mediate disciples remained faithful to the
Sanctus conticm t. That same night when rules and customs laid down and pre

the bell called to matins, the dying saint, scribed by him, which do not, however,,
when he heard the first notes ringing out, seem to have differed from the rules and
rose up and managed to reach the monastery customs of the other great monastic com
church before any other of the brothers : munities in Ireland where Columba received
the faithful Diarmid, though, followed him his early training. But the devotion and
closely. The church was dark, or very earnest missionary spirit of their illustrious

dimly lighted in these night services


;
founder gave the "family of Columba" a
the monks brought lights with them.* peculiar force and power, which, as we
Diarmid found Columba prostrate and shall see, eventually accomplished the
speechless before the altar ;
he gently raised entire conversion of the British lands where
the dying abbot, so that his head rested the Angle had conquered and settled,
on his lap. With the help of Diarmid, north of the river Humber. The monks
* This of his many houses for some time bore
is well known to those who have
practice
attended the night services at the Grande Char "
the name of "

The Order of the Fair


treuse," wnere. in the dark church, the gleam of but were
Company" (pulchrce societatis),
the little lamp carried by each of the fathers as
move in one by one to their stalls generally called The family of "

Columb-
they noiselessly
has a weird effect. kill."
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [597-

In all the great articles of belief, Co- the saints, there is no trace in this primitive

lumba, in common with the other famous Celtic Christianity to which England owes
teachers of the great Celtic monastic so much. We find no record of unction
church in Ireland, of the sixth, seventh, of the sick in any form whatever. No
and eighth centuries, followed closely the trace or allusion to the supremacy of the
doctrines of the Catholic church in its see of Rome exists.

best and purest age. As regards minor The remains of Columba were interred

points, we find evidences of confession, in his monastery of lona, which, for two
public rather than private, optional rather hundred years, was looked upon as the

than compulsory, and absolution was usu great Scottish centre of the Celtic church.
penance had been
ally deferred until the Seventy kings and princes were said to

Ion*.

performed. We
find, certainly, traces of have been interred round the sacred grave
the invocation of saints and confidence in of the founder. In 878, to preserve the
their protection. Belief in the real pre hallowed relics from the Danish pirates,
sence existed. Fasting and prayers for the shrine and relics of Columba were
the departed were largely observed in the taken to Ireland. Tradition
says they
churches of the family of Columba," and
"

found a resting-place in the monastery of


what has been related of his terrible Down, where the relics of Patrick and
austerities, and the claim by them (<

to Bridget had found a home. It is,


how
merit the eternal life of heaven," in refer ever, impossible to ascertain what even
ence to the scene with the poor woman, tually became of the sacred remains ; many
show how much the pure doctrine of places, including Durham, claimed to have
the Gospel had been depraved by super a portion of them. The ruins now visible
stitious asceticism even in that early age. in lona are those of a Benedictine abbey,
Of the worship, however, which in later founded on the original site of Columba s
times was paid to the Blessed Virgin and Holy House in 1203.
CHAPTER V.

THE ROMAN MISSION OF AUGUSTINE.

Gregory and the Angle Boys Pope Gregory the Great sends Augustine and forty companions to Britain
Augustine lands at Ebbsfleet in the Isle of Thanet King Ethelbert of
Kent receives him kindly
is baptised, and settles Augustine at Canterbury The famous Letter of Gregory to Augustine-
meets the British
Gregory sends Mellitus. Justus, and Paulinus to join Augustine Augustine
Mellitus consecrated
Bishops in conference and fails to conciliate them His return to Canterbury
Bishop of London and Justus Bishop of Rochester Laurence consecrated Bishop Coadjutor
Augustine s Death.

the very same year, A.D. 597, when thirteenth unbidden guest appeared among
Columba, the Celtic missionary apostle them, an angel, whom, not knowing, he
IN of North Britain Roman monk fed with the other needy ones.
died, a
named Augustine and forty companions, A
story, undoubtedly relates how true",

landed at a place called Ebbsfleet, in the once he severely punished himself when he
Isle of Thanet, on the south-east coast of heard of the death of a poor man who, in
Britain. Augustine came with the hope a time of famine at Rome, had perished
of evangelising the pagan Jutes, who had through want. His thoughtful care and
taken possession of the south-eastern dis munificence on the occasion of one of the
trict of our island. Columba died in June. terrible pestilences, which in this age of
The memorable landing of the Roman war and confusion not infrequently swept
monk had already taken place in the over Europe, had won him boundless popu
month of April. larity. A memory has been preserved a
The coming of these Roman missionaries strange one, certainly, if true of Gregory s
to south-eastern Britain was on this wise. hero-worship of the great emperor Trajan.
A man very famous in the
afterwards So impressed was the loving Roman
"

world s story, named Gregory, in the year abbot with the thought of the justice
575 had founded a monastery dedicated and goodness of this heathen sovereign,
to St. Andrew, on his own estate upon the that he earnestly prayed in St. Peter s

Ccelian Hill, in Rome, and there lived as church that God would even now give
monk and as abbot. This Gregory, who sub Trajan grace to know the name of Christ
sequently became one of the most famous of
*
and be converted." In children this
the long line of illustrious bishops of Rome, famous monk-statesman seems to have
was already remarkable among his fellow- been specially interested, and for a time he
countrymen for his boundless charity and trained the singing boys of St. Andrew
little

works of love. Men still show in Rome in those famous chants which bear his name.
the long marble table where daily he was In memory of this choir-training, in which
wont to feed twelve beggars. On one Gregory delighted, a children s festival was
*
occasion, so runs the beautiful legend, a Dean Memorials of
"

Stanley, Canterbury."
8o THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [577-

held on his day as late as the seventeenth suggested those curious


kindly specu
century. lations respecting the fate of the noble
One day the abbot Gregory chanced to emperor Trajan, that led to his conversa
be passing through the crowded Roman tion with the slave-merchant, in the course

market-place when several newly-arrived of which occurred that curious string of


cargoes of slaves from foreign parts were puns, one following the other, now his
being offered for sale. Among the varied torical, which exhibits the mixture of

"NON ANGLI SED ANGELI."

(From the fainting by Keeley Halsivelfe, ff.f.)

groups of these unhappy ones his eyes fell playfulness, with a deep serious purpose
upon a little knot of boys, distinguished by underlying it, which often relieved in some
their long flaxen hair and fair complexion. sort Gregory s anxieties and his painful

Gregory stopped to look at them ;


his bodily sufferings. What, he asked, was the
well-known fondness for children attracted nationality of those bright, flaxen-haired,
him to the little group. Pity and sorrow fairboys. On being told that they were
u
forthem, so young and helpless, torn away Engles or Angles, Well said," replied th<

from their homes, led him to ask the monk,


"

they are rightly called Angles, for


slave-merchant, probably a Jew, whether they have angels faces. They should be
the children were Christian or Pagan, fellow heirs with the angels in heaven."
and whence they came. It was the same He went on, From what province do they
"

intense feeling of compassion which had come ? He heard they were from Deira,
"
585-J
GREGORY AND THE ANGLE BOYS. 81

the Angle name for the modern Durham and obtained his permission to go as

and Yorkshire. "Well said, "again answered missionary at once to that far country, to

they must be rescued De ird win the inhabitants to the


"
side of Christ.
Gregory ;

Dei (from God s anger)." Once again He started soon with a small band of

he asked, "

Who is the king of Deira ?


"

chosen friends on what seemed a desperate

ST. MARTIN S CHURCH, CANTERBURY.

He was told king ^Ella. "Ah,"


he said, venture ;
but he was so beloved at Rome
stillpunning upon the name, the Alle "

that a furious mob, we read, attacked the


luia must indeed be sung in those far Pope and demanded the instant return of
distant regions." their favourite. Gregory was hastily re
The emotion which the sight of these called before he reached the Alps, and more
captive Angle boys in the slave-market than twelve years passed before the longing
of Rome had waked in the great church desire of his generous heart could be ful
man s heart, was no mere passing feel filled. The abbot of St. Andrews was
ing. He went at once to the Pope, elected Pope in A.D. 590, and after various

F
82 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [597-

schemes had been devised for the con the estuary of the Stour on the one side
version of the great pagan island, as and Pegwell Bay on the other. What
Britain was Gregorythen held to be, are now green hills, were then the waters
despatched from his monastery on the of the sea. The tradition that some im
Coelian forty chosen monks, under the portant landing had taken place there is
of prior Augustine, to the still preserved at the farm, and the field
leadership
distant home of the flaxen-haired boys, which rises immediately on the north side
who, as they stood in the slave-market of is shown as the spot. Here it was that,
Rome, had years before excited his pity according to the story preserved in the
and a determination to convert their Saxon chronicles, Hengist and Horsa had
nation to Christianity. sailed in with their three ships and a band
It was no easy journey in those dis of warriors, who conquered Vortigern ;

turbed, restless times, and the hearts of and here now Augustine came with his
Gregory s missionaries seem to have failed monks, his choristers, and the interpreters
*
them long before they reached the shores they had brought with them from France."

of distant Britain.Augustine even re Interpreters were necessary, for the pagan


turned from Gaul to Rome, begging in Jutes, the masters of Kent, understood no
the name of his company to be released Latin, and their speech what we now
from the perilous mission. But Gregory might Anglo-Saxon Augustine and
call

was firm, and would not hear of any his monks were utterly ignorant of.
drawing back. wrote the Bishop Ethelbert of Kent, to whon
"

Better," King
of Rome in a letter given to Augustine to Augustine at once despatched interpre
be read to the faint-hearted members of ters,was the great-grandson of Eric, soi

the mission, not to begin that good work


"

of Hengist, the first Jute conqueror of th


at all than to give it up after having com south-east of Britain. The Jute king live<

menced it Forward, then, in at Canterbury, a rough-built town erectec


God s name." At last they reached the by the victors on the ruins of an ancien
goal of their long journey, and landed at Roman-British city destroyed by the firs
Ebbsfleet in the Isle of Thanet in the invaders.
month of April, 597 a memorable date Ethelbert was no ordinary man. H
in the making of Christian England ! had obtained a kind of over-lordshi]
The name Ebbe s Fleet or Ebbe s Port among the other Saxon or Engle prince
is
generally derived from a chief in the as far north as the Humber, and undei
following of Hengist, who is said to have the title of Bretwalda exercised a military
landed at the same spot in 449. It is supremacy over a large portion of Britain
still the name of a farmhouse on a strip His wife, queen Bertha, was a Christian
of high ground rising out of Minster She was the daughter of Caribert, king o
Marsh. On
a near approach, you see
"

the Franks at Paris, the grandson of the


at a glance that it must have once been famous Clovis. Bertha became the wife ol
a promontory or headland running out the great Jutish over-king Ethelbert o3

into the sea between the two inlets of * Dean


Stanley.
597-1 ETHELBERT AND AUGUSTINE.
Kent, on the condition that she should be the approach of Augustine. The Italian

perfectly free to observe the practices


of missionary was a man of great stature.
the religion of her fathers, and had brought Chanting a solemn litany with his forty
from her Paris home as chaplain a Gaul monks, a huge silver cross borne before
ish bishop, Luitbrand of Senlis, who re him, together with
great picture of a
mained by her side to his death, not Christ painted and gilded, he approached

very long after the arrival of St. Augus the king, who bade him sit down, and
tine. Queen Bertha was a devoted Chris the interview commenced. Augustine de
tian, and no doubt the extraordinary and livered his solemn message in his own
rapid success of Augustine s mission, which Latin tongue, and the interpreter trans
we have now to notice, was largely owing to lated it into the Anglo-Saxon speech.
fhe gentle but powerful influence of the The heathen king listened to it atten

queen. Indeed, it is more than probable tively, and replied


Fair are your words
:
"

|
that the old interest of Pope Gregory in and promises, but as all this is to me novel
Jthe matter of the conversion of pagan and uncertain, I cannot at once believe
Britain was stimulated by letters he had what you tell me, and give up everything
ireceived from this queen Bertha, who that I and the whole of my race for

evidently for a long time had been anxious so long a time have held sacred. But
that the pagan folk among whom she had because you, strangers, have come from
made her home should adopt the religion far, just to share with us what I see
.she loved so well. clearly you believe to be true and good,
King Ethelbert received the messengers we will do you no harm on the contrary, ;

f Augustine with
kindness, and agreed to we will treat you as our guests, and will
neet them at Ebbsfleet. Indeed, the see that all that
necessary is
you for

tory Augustine had to tell the king was is provided nor shall we in any way
;

o novelty to him many a time he must


;
hinder you from preaching your faith and
lave heard the beautiful story of Chris- winning over as many as possible to your
ianity and its Divine Founder from the religion."

ps of his queen. But with the old Norse- The generous reply of king Ethelbert
nen s dread of charms and spells and to Augustine given by Bede, who is
is

nagical influences, the king stipulated generally well-informed and accurate. As


hat the first interview between himself Dean Stanley acutely observes This :
"

nd the Italian strangers should be held in simple answer seems to contain all that
he open air. is excellent in the English character
The sceneof the meeting between exactly what, under the influence of
ithelbert and Augustine must have been Christianity, has grown up into all our
t once striking and picturesque. The best institutions. There is the natural
utish king and his thanes, surrounded dislike to change, which Englishmen still

y their redoubtable Norsemen warriors, retain ;


there is the willingness at the

tting on the bare ground under the same time to listen favourably to anything
iiade of a great oak tree, waited^ for which comes recommended by the energy
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [597-

and self-devotion of those who urge it ;


land. Queen Bertha had been allowed by
there is the spirit of moderation and her kindly pagan husband to restore one
toleration, and the desire to see fair play, of these old ruined churches, and there, with
which is one of our best gifts, and which I her chaplain, the bishop Luitbrand, and a
hope we shall never lose." few Prankish attendants, had worshipped
Very soon meeting, under
after the among the heathen surroundings of the
the protection of Ethelbert, the band of Jutish court, hoping for better days. But
Roman monks journeyed to Canterbury, the sight of a church in this strange land
the burg or city of the Jutish king. It must have cheered the heart of Augustine
and his monks, as they looked over the
scene of their future labours.
We can picture to ourselves with fair

accuracy what Augustine saw as, for the


firsttime, he looked down from the slop
of the hill where the little church of Berth
stood.* She had called it St. Martin s, afte

the famous saint of her native France


St. Martin of Tours ;
a cherished memor
in the new country
she had adopted. L
the valley below, the monk would see ,

lofty hall, the palace of Ethelbert, th


Jutish king. The hall was a rectangular
high, wooden building, long sides facinj
its

north and south. Shining metal covere<


the roof and glittered in the sun. In th
roof were openings, through which th
smoke from the fires on the hearth withii
ETHELBERT S AND ETHELFRITH S KINGDOMS.
the great hall escaped. Round the roya
hall lay the burg, or village, consisting of

was a poor place in those days, only a scattered wooden houses, which has since
group of wooden huts built round the grown into Canterbury.
royal hall of Ethelbert. The ancient Here and there, amid the Jutish houses
Roman-British city of Durovernum had and gardens, were piles of shapeless ruins
once occupied the site, and in the recital of the ancient Durovernum, and a weird
of the settlement of Augustine we come and shattered Roman wall, still per
upon the mention of the ruins of three fect in many places ;
so strong and mas
or four British churches, telling us of the sive was ^ it, that fire and time had

days when Durovernum was a Christian * Recent


investigations have revealed in the

But was before Hengist ravaged


this west wall of St. Martin s details of Roman work,
city.
for one hundred and
making it nearly certain that this wall, at least,
the country in 449 ;
formed part of the original church worshipped
fifty years the pagan Jute had been in the in by queen Bertha.
597-] AUGUSTINE AT CANTERBURY.
failed to harm it. It was all new and North-folk,who worshipped Thor and
Woden, and of whom such dreadful tales
had been long whispered with hushed
voices, all through the old Roman world
which Augustine knew but they entered
;

the curious Pagan city with heads erect,


with their tall silver cross, and the gold

"THEY ENTERED THE PAGAN CITY WITH HEADS ERECT .... CHANTING THE LITANY."

Dmewhat fearsome to the Roman monks, and painted picture of the Christ borne
his strange, rough city of the dreaded before them, chanting the Litany their
86 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [598.

Father Gregory had used when the plague a letter to the Patriarch of Alexandria,

ravaged Rome beseech Thee, O


:
"

We mentions with extreme thankfulness that


Lord, in mercy, that Thy wrath
all Thy more than ten thousand Kentish men
and Thine anger may be removed from received baptism on the Christmas Day
this city, and from Thy Holy House. of that same year.
Alleluia !
"

Thus singing, they entered The influence of the Italian monk must
into the heathen burg. have grown among the pagan Northmen
For a short time after their arrival in settled in Kent with extraordinary rapidity,

Canterbury, they themselves contented for we read that very soon after Augus
with the little church of queen Bertha, St. tine s return from his consecration as
Martin s, as Bede tells us in
"

dwelling," archbishop at Aries, the king gave him


his beautiful summary of their manner of his royal hall
palace or
Canterbury, at

after the
example of the early Church, together with the ruins of another old
"

life,

praying continually, watching and fasting, British church, he himself fixing his

preaching to all they could reach, paying residence at Reculvers on the sea coast.
no heed to worldly matters, as things with The old British church was restored anc
which they had nothing to do, only ac rebuilton a large scale we read it had a;

cepting from those whom they taught just nave and aisle and towers on the north
as much as was absolutely necessary for and south. Two apses were constructec
life, living themselves the life they taught, at the eastern and western end, each with
with hearts ready to suffer every adversity, its altar. The present metropolitan church
ready even to die for that truth which they of England, largely built by archbishop
preached. What need to say any more ? Lanfranc in the eleventh and twelfth cen
Some believed, some were baptised, because turies, the mother church of English
they admired the simplicity of their blame Christianity, arose on the foundation of
less lives and the sweetness of their this church of Augustine. It was the
heavenly teaching."
as it is
now, called Christ church.

The public baptism of king Ethelbert Another ancient British church ju


was not long delayed, and the example of outside the old Roman wall was rebui
the chieftain, as was common among pagan and dedicated to St. Pancras, probably at

people, was followed by crowds of his the suggestion of Pope Gregory, to whom

subjects. the memory of the boy-martyr was espe

Acting upon the directions of Pope cially dear, partly because the family o

Gregory, who watched the progress of the Pancras once owned the ground on th<

mission to Britain with the deepest in where stood the monastery o


Coelian Hill

terest,Augustine, before the close of St. Andrew, of which Gregory had beet
597, applied to the Gallic bishops for abbot, and Augustine prior partly be ;

episcopal consecration. At Aries, arch cause of the memory of the British boys in

bishop Vergilius and other Frankish pre the slave-market at Rome, who had yean
lates formally consecrated him as arch before first turned Gregory s attention tt

bishop of the English. Pope Gregory, in Britain. The famous boy-martyr seemed
6oi.] MELLITUS, JUSTUS, AND PAULINUS.
a fitting dedication for one of the first of monks from Rome brought the answers
churches built by the mission, in the of Gregory to the questions of Augustine,
home of those never-to-be-forgotten slave besides a great store of relics, sacred
children with the flaxen hair. vessels, priestly robes, ornaments for the

Around the Canterbury St. Pancras, altar, and other things necessary to give

Augustine planned and laid the foundation effect to the pomp of religious services.

of that famous abbey which was even Above all, the Roman pontiff sent to

tually to bear his name. This abbey, Britain certain very precious and valuable
which became in after-years one of the manuscripts. Some of these venerable
richest and most revered sanctuaries in books the gift of Gregory were still in

Christendom, subsequently possessed a existence at the era of the dissolution ;


Le-
patrimony which at one time was said land, the learned secretary of Henry VIII.,
to have included 11,860 acres of land. It had seen them, and speaks of them with
was to the abbot of this primitive founda admiration.
tion of Augustine, that Pope Leo IX., in The and discrimination shown by
care

1056, some four and a half centuries later, this greatpope in the selection of fitting
gave the proud privilege of sitting in men, and even of books and sacred furni

general councils in the first place after the ture for the work of a distant mission, tells
abbot of Monte Casino, the mother-house us something of the tireless spirit of
of the great Benedictine order. Gregory, to whom nothing was too great
or too small for his thoughts to dwell
It was in 598, as itwould seem, that upon, if his Master s work was concerned.
Augustine wrote his well-known letter to There a touching passage in one of his
is

lis spiritual father in Rome, detailing all his extant letters, which speaks of the personal
successes among the heathen Jutes, and difficulties under which he constantly
requesting advice respecting certain diffi laboured. was not only the ceaseless
It

culties arising in his work. Some three care of many churches, but acute bodily

years, however, passed before the replies suffering which perplexed and harassed
came to him. They were brought by some this generous and devoted bishop of
carefully-chosen monks who were to assist Rome. His words are worth quoting :

.he Archbishop of the English nearly two he have


" "

in his "For
years," says, "I

arduous task, three of whom became sub- had to keep my bed, suffering such pain
equently illustrious names in the story of from gout, that I could hardly get up for
he Church of England. The first two, three hours on festivals, to celebrate the
Vtellitus and Justus, in their turn suc- solemnities of masses. ... I am compelled
:eeded Augustine as archbishops of Can- soul out of prison.
"

to exclaim, Bring my
erbury, and the third was the famous At the same time Gregory sent Augus
aulinus, of whom we shall have much tine a pall (pallium), a symbol of archi-
o say when we come to speak of the episcopal jurisdiction, which he charged him
jundation work of Christianity in the land only to wear in the celebration of mass.
orth of the Humber. This reinforcement This celebrated vestment appears in the
88 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [601.

time of Gregory to have been richly orna to some metropolitans, or to other pre
mented and the wearer was warned to
;
lates of influence or distinction. In the
guard against self-complacency. This pal time of Gregory the Great it was thus
lium, granted by Gregory to Augustine, variously granted : his language shows that
appears in the arms of the arch-see of Can it was splendid and
terbury. The
simplest form of the pallium somewhat cumbrous.
was worn by Alexandrian bishops in the fifth Although in several

century it seems to have been a simple


;
cases it was an ac
white woollen scarf round the neck. A companiment of me
rich form of this garment became part of tropolitan dignity, it

the imperial attire, and was granted by did not become a ne


ARMS OF SEE OF
emperors as a mark of honour to patri cessary badge of that CANTERBURY.
archs then the popes began, originally in
; dignity until a later
the emperor s name, or by his desire, to stage in the development of papalism.*
allow the use of the pall to certain bishops ;
The whole story of the mission of
to those who represented the Roman see; Augustine his complete subserviency to
;

his old master Gregory; the reproofs, warn

ings, encouragements he received from


the great Roman bishop ;
the elaborate
directions for the parcelling out of the still

pagan England into dioceses, sent to him


from Rome the ; authority peculiar
Augustine was to exercise in Britain but
not in Gaul all mark a great step in the
;

development of the subsequent universal


claim to spiritual dominion, made by the

bishop of the Roman see. They help us


to understandsomething of the bitterness
which underlay the long conflict between
the two great branches of the Western
church the Celtic and the Roman
which was to be fought out in many lands,
but nowhere with more violence than in
England.
It is perfectly clear that neither the
ancient Roman-British church, nor its

survivors in the mountains of Wales, nor


the marvellous offshoot in Ireland, nor the

great missionary organisation in Scotland,


EARLY FORM OF PALLIUM.
the Tomb of Pope Cornelius and St. Cyprian,
knew anything of the supremacy of the
(From a Fresco on
Cemetery ofCallixtus, Rome.) * Professor
Bright.
6oi.J LETTERS OF POPE GREGORY. 89

bishop who ruled in the tradi

tional see of Rome. These strange


claims of a world-wide spiritual
NECNON EX VITA
dominion, which we find Pope A IOANNE DIACONO
Gregory the Great putting forth
in the case of Augustine and the
new England of the sixth and
seventh centuries, and which laid
the foundations of the yet wider
and more lordly supremacy
claimed and exercised by his suc
cessors by men like Gregory
VII. and Innocent III. were
never dreamed of by Patrick,
David, Finnian, or Columba.
But to return to the story of
Augustine in those few eventful
years which succeeded the me
morable landing at Ebbsfleet,
and the rapid conversion of the
Jutish king Ethelbert and the
many thousands of his subjects
dwelling round Canterbury and
Reculvers. In that story, nothing
is more interesting than the
POPE GREGORY, HIS FATHER AND MOTHER.
correspondence between Gregory (From an Edition of the Life of Pope Gregory by John the Deacon,
published in 1615.*)
in Rome and Augustine at
Canterbury. The most important of these The Italian monks thus associated with
letters were sent by the hand of the Augustine s successful mission, besides the
monkish reinforcement to which we have important letters and gifts to the new
referred, which arrived from Rome in the archbishop of the English, brought an
year 601, and which included the sub epistle to the king Ethelbert and his
sequently famous Mellitus, Justus, and queen. In the writing addressed to the
Paulinus. Gregory, with his acute and king,Pope Gregory especially commends
penetrating intellect, after receiving an ac Augustine to him as one trained according
count from his former prior Augustine of his to the monastic rule, full of the knowledge
marvellous and undreamed-of success among of the Scripture, and abounding in good
the pagan Jutes of Kent, was quick to per works in the sight of God ;
he urged
ceive the almost measureless future import
* The original portraits were given by Gregory
ance of a mission which had seemed at first
himself to the monastery of St. Andrew, now the
but a forlorn and somewhat hopeless effort. church of San Gregory, Rome.
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [601.

Ethelbert to listen devoutly to Augustine, Gaul, or in any other, he was to adopt it


faithfully to
accomplish all that he told and use it in his new Church of England."
him adding the curious words, the more are not be
" " "

; Things" said Gregory, to

you listen to what he will tell you on the loved for the sake of places, but places for

part of God, the more will God grant his the sake of things"

prayers to Him on your behalf."


"

It often happens that the first turn

Augustine had propounded various given to the spirit of an institution lasts


momentous questions to the Roman long after its first founder has passed away,
pontiff for hisopinion and advice. The and in channels quite different from those
replies of Gregory were very wise, full which he contemplated and when we ;

of thoughtful consideration, and some of think of what the Church of England is


them might be pondered even in our now, I confess there is a satisfaction in
own day withadvantage. Bede devotes thinking that in this respect, at least, it
several chapters of hisundying history to has in some way fulfilled the wishes of
these interesting and important questions Gregory the Great. There is no church
and replies. One especially deserves to be in the world which has combined such

remembered, which had it been more faith various and opposite advantages from other

might have healed many


fully followed, churches more exclusive than itself none ;

subsequent Augustine had spent


feuds. in which various characters and customs
some time in Gaul, and had there noticed from the opposite parts of the Christian
in church discipline and practice many world could have been able to find such
*
customs very different from what he had shelter and refuge.
seen in Rome. He had doubtless heard Much of Gregory s advice and direction
much of the mighty Celtic church in Ire on other points was couched in the same
land ; something, too, of the network of spirit of adaptation and conciliation. He "

Christian communities in Scotland founded had thought much," wrote this wise bishop
by the saintly Columba, whose death had who ruled the Church of Rome some
taken place only a few days after he had thirteen centuries ago,
"

on the subject,
landed on the Kentish shore. Very differ and he had come to the conclusion that
ent, indeed, were many of the uses of heathen temples were not to be destroyed,
these great and flourishing Christian com but turned wherever possible into Christian
munities from the uses of Roman churches churches ;
that the droves of oxen which

among which Augustine had received his used to be killed in sacrifice were still to
training. What was he to do in his new be killed for feasts for the poor" ;
and he
and rapidly-growing church in the south gives as the reason for such counsels, that
of the island ? The answer of Gregory "for hard and rough minds, it is impossible
was a very wise and noble one, and should to cut away abruptly all their old customs,
be for all time. "Whatever custom," because he who wishes to reach the highest
wrote the sagacious and far-seeing pope, place must ascend by steps and not jumps."
be found really good and pleasing to Very urgent were the Roman prelate s
"

God, whether in the church of Italy or * Dean Stanley.


6oi.] LETTERS OF POPE GREGORY.
warnings against undue elation on the part Pope Gregory, in sketching out the plan
of Augustine, induced by his conspicuous for the organisation of a Christian England
success in his mission above all things, ;
for his disciple and friend, the missionary

spiritual pride must be guarded against. Augustine, had before him apparently the
Gregory s warning, tender and true, has records of the old Roman province of
the gospel mark upon it. He reminds his Britain ;
all that had happened since
dearest brother
"

that Christ once bade


"

the total sweeping away of the old land


the seventy rejoice not in their power over marks, the almost total disappearance of
the spirits, but rather that their names the Roman cities was passed over. In
were written in heaven ;
and then, fearful the Britain of the Romans, London in
of having wounded his great and successful the south, and York in the north, were the

disciple, he adds, with an exquisite tender and Pope Gregory arranged


capital cities,
ness worthy of the apostle Paul, of whom that London and York should be the
Gregory was not an unworthy follower, centres of the church of the island.

have a sure hope that your sins are


"I
Augustine was to
bishop of be the

already forgiven, and that you are a chosen London, with twelve suffragan bishops in
instrument for bringing others to the same the south and as the missionary work
;

mercy." Gregory concludes his beautiful advanced in the north, York was to have
letter with these striking words, well calcu another bishop as metropolitan with twelve
lated to pour deep joy into Augustine s
suffragans likewise, and to possess an equal
heart :
"

If there is joy in heaven over one rank with the bishop metropolitan of

penitent, what must there be over a peni London.


tent nation Let us then all say, Gloria! But London, in the days of Augustine,
in excelsis?
"

was a heathen cluster of dwellings and


But the letters ot the Roman pontiff a centre of little influence, and long years
to the missionary archbishop, written in were to elapse before York regained any
601, after careful and protracted consider thing of its old wealth and importance.
ation of the news of the reception of Much was to happen, many pages of

Christianity once more in that far-away eventful history had to be written, before
u
island, contained more than advice, anything like the great plan sketched out
"

lost

warning, and counsel suitable to the by the master hand of Gregory, was even
temporary exigencies of missionary preach in part carried into effect. As the Roman
ing ; they provided a well-matured plan bishop had, with true prophetic insight,
formoulding the new Christianity of the foreseen, the whole island with extraordin
English people of the great island into an but
"

ary rapidity adopted Christianity ;

ordered form ;
a plan, in fact, for the the zeal, life, and energy of the new
ecclesiastical organisation of the whole English Christianity were concentrated
island. aimed evidently at the establish
It not in the south-east of the great island,
ment of a great church of the Roman not in Kent, round the rapidly rising
obedience. churches and the monastic homes of
It contained, however, one curious error. Canterbury, and the scene of Augustine s
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [601.

successful labours, but in the far north of under his authority, giving as
sacer dotes"*
Britain ;
and that north looked for its a reason for this supremacy thus entrusted,

religious centre, not to Rome, but to the that they (the sacerdotes) may learn by
"

Celtic church of Ireland." The great your (Augustine s) word and by your life
work of
inducing the North-folk, the how they must believe, and how they must
masters of England, to adopt Christianity, live in order to fulfil their office and gain
was carried out, not by the Roman an inheritance in heaven."

Augustine and his band of Italian mis Now it seems inconceivable that Gregory
sion-monks of Canterbury, but by the and Augustine were ignorant of the power
Celtic Aidan and Cuthbert, who were and influence at this time of the ancient
trained in centres utterly unknown to British Church in Wales ;
or of the vast
both Gregory and Augustine; in centres authority and flourishing state of the Celtic
possessing names which, indeed, to those church in Ireland or of Columba s mission
;

ears accustomed to the music of the from lona, so widely extended and, so be
immemorial Latin speech, would have loved in Scotland ;
or of the mighty work
sounded strange and barbarous lona and of the strange and fervid Irish disciple of the

Lindisfarne. great monastery of Bangor in Ulster the


imperious, but saintly, Columban in cen
In the course of this interesting and traland western Europe, whose first great
important correspondence between Augus monastery of Luxeuil, the mother house
tine, the new "archbishop of the English,"
of so many world-famed communities, for
and Gregory, the Pope of Rome, we meet some years had been riveting the atten
with short notices or directions from Rome, tion of all earnest and devout souls who
intended to guide Augustine in his future cared for religious things. That Pope
relations with the remains of the ancient Gregory, with his vast experience and
British Church still existing in Wales and unerring sagacity, knowing, as he must
the West of the island. The references in have well known, the power and life of
question in Bede s history are very short, Celtic Christianity, with a stroke of the pen
but, at the same time, very clear they give, ;
should have thus ignored the existence of
as far as the Roman pontiff could give, the mother Celtic church poor, perhaps,
absolute control to Augustine over that an in wealth, but not in numbers ;
banished
cient church and all its ministers. As for "

to the wild and desolate mountains of


all the bishops of wrote Gregory,
Britain," Wales and Cumberland, but still with its
"

we commit them to your care, that the old organisation, with its bishops, with
unlearned may be taught, the weak its vast monasteries, with its immemorial
strengthened, and the perverse corrected traditions seems positively unthinkable.
by authority." And in the letter which *
Montalembert has been followed in translating
accompanied the gift of the pallium to the sacerdotes as bishops. Some prefer to render the
new word here used by Bede as "priests;" but the
archbishop a yet more comprehensive
same conclusion must be arrived at, whatever
mandate was given to Augustine, placing
rendering be adopted namely, that to Augustine
all bishops in Britain omnes Britannia "

the whole clergy of Britain were to be subject.


602.]
AUGUSTINE AND THE BRITISH BISHOPS. 93

It must, surely, have been an intentional British bishops, which we have next
slight,a carefully-thought-out act, when to relate, were the
beginnings of
first

he formally placed his Italian friend and the long religious feud which distracted

disciple Augustine over all the Celtic the new England of the North-men,
bishops Britain, and, by what seems
in and which, as we shall see, for good
to us a strangely arbitrary command, de or for evil, ended in the triumph of
clared that omnes Britannia sacerdotes
"

Rome and in the discomfiture and

AUST CLIFF.
(Bv permission, from a Photo by Charles P. MacCarthy, Esq.)

(whatever sense we may give to sacer eventual disappearance of the old Celtic

dotes, whether as including all the priests church.


of Britain or simply the British bishops) Very soon after the receipt of his pallium,
should be subject to the Italian archbishop and the letters and directions from Rome,
of the English. It seems all but certain Augustine arranged the memorable meeting
that the great and far-seeing Roman pre with the British bishops of the old church,
late was determined, as far as in him lay, the successors of the men who had taken
to crush the Celtic organisation, and to refuge from the Saxon and Engle conquerors
substitute in its place the Roman order ;
in Wales. We
have the story of the meeting
and that the lofty pretensions advanced told in the bright and interesting pages of
by Augustine in the meeting with the Bede ;
but we must remember that Bede
94 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [602.

was the strong partisan of Rome, was the expected, was unsatisfactory. On the one
earnest opponent of the old Celtic uses, side, Augustine required and obedience
and that, as we shall see, one of the few submission, alleging his commission from
sombre and stained "

memories "

of the the apostolic see ;


on the other, the

saintly monk perhaps the soli


of Jarrow British bishops and leading men of the

tary one occurs in the course of this recital. ancient church were evidently astonished
The place of meeting between the repre at the position of superiority which he
sentatives of the two churches which were assumed. There is absolutely no trace in
then dividing Western Christendom is tra the ancient Celtic church of any acknow

ditionally Aust or Aust Cliff the Cliff of ledgment of the supremacy of the Romish
Augustine a low, reddish cliff overlooking see. Indeed, in that "Life of Columba"

the broad estuary of the river Severn, and by the abbot Adamnan, to which we have
the low green hills of Wales between so frequently referred, and which was
the modern Chepstow and Cardiff. The written in A.D. 692-697, there is no hint

prospect from the Cliff of Augustine is whatever any acknowledgment of the


as to

singularly attractive and suggestive. On supremacy of the Roman see on the part
the one side, inland, the rising ground and of the Celtic church, nor even any allusion
woods slope upwards towards the Downs of at all to Rome or her bishop and Adam- ;

Clifton, and in the far distance the loftier nan emphatically was no blind admirer of
hills of Somerset, the scene of so many Celtic uses, which, in fact, he subsequently

desperate encounters between the North abandoned for the sake of Catholic unity
men and the Britons, but which, when of practice.

Augustine met the British bishops, had They agreed, however, to another and
become the undisputed heritage of the more formal conference, in which the more
West Saxon a portion of that fair kingdom
; important differences between the uses
soon to be known beyond the confines
far of the ancient church and the uses of
of the island as Wessex, the territory of the church Augustine had established in
that royal house from which has sprung Kent might be fully discussed. The second
the Sovereigns of England for more than conference appears to have been held
a thousand years. In front lay the broad shortly after the first. The date of these
blue waters of the Severn, that great meetings was A.D. 602-603. Bede is our
and often stormy estuary which had effec what took place
authority for the report of
tually barred the Northmen from entering at these meetings of Augustine and the

Wales by the south. Fringing the Severn bishops and monks of the ancient British
were the low green hills of Gwent and Church ;
and as Bede, trained rigidly in

distant Morganwg ;
while behind these hills the Roman obedience, was naturally an
of Gwent on the blue-grey horizon, rose a earnest and enthusiastic partisan of the

range of yet higher hills, the outspurs of Roman party, we may be quite sure that
those unstormed fortresses of Wales, as his report omits nothing which could be
yet untrodden by any Northman s foot. construed as favourable to Augustine and
The conference, as might have been his cause.
602.]
AUGUSTINE AND THE BRITISH BISHOPS. 95

The second conference included on the from Pope Gregory to treat the bishops
part of the ancient church seven British and priests as subject to him. With
bishops these were accompanied by many
;
these pretensions there was, of course, no
most learned men, especially from the great chance of any agreement between them.
monastery of Bangor Iscoed. The Monk Augustine proceeded to insist upon three
of Jarrow tells a curious story of an in points being conceded to him :

cident which preceded the meeting, and Easter must be kept by the British
(1)

which probably was founded on fact, for Church at the same time as the Roman
it bears strongly upon the real point of custom had directed. (The difference of

difference between Augustine and the the Celtic use in the reckoning when the
British divines the alleged supremacy Easter feast should be kept, will be dis
of Rome. cussed later.)
The British delegates, sought before (2) The must agree to perform
British
the Conference, as the story relates, the Baptism according to the manner of the
advice of a hermit in much repute for his Roman and Apostolic Church. (What
sanctity and wisdom. They asked the holy this difference consisted in is uncertain.)
man whether he would advise them to (3) They must join with him in preach

change their "uses" for the "uses"


pressed ing the Word of the Lord to their con
upon them by the strange missionary querors the English (Engle and Saxon)
bishop from Rome. The answer was
"

If :
peoples.
he [the stranger] be a man of God, follow The answer they gave to Augustine was
him"
They asked for further information : short and decisive
"

We will do none of
"

How we ascertain if he be a man


shall these things."
Then they added what was
of God ? Our Lord," said the wise man, probably the real reason of their refusal
" "

"

spoke of Himself as meek and lowly in even to consider his points will not
"

We
Augustine, when you have you as archbishop they con
"

heart. If this ;
for

approach him, rises to meet you, then be sidered among themselves, he would "

If

assured that he is a servant of Christ listen not now rise up to receive us courteously,
to him then obediently. If, on the other how much more will he look down on us
hand, he does not rise up to greet you, as not worthy of consideration if we should

but treats you with contempt as inferiors, acknowledge ourselves as subject to his
then show contempt in your turn." The "

authority ? and so the conference ended.


"

meeting followed," continues Bede s nar But the extraordinary bitterness which
rative Augustine received the British
;
"

the long-drawn-out conflict between the

bishops and the learned monks without two churches the Roman and the Celtic
attempting to rise from his seat." created was sadly demonstrated in the
There is no doubt, when we review closing scene of this memorable conference,
this evidently true story, that Augustine in which Augustine is represented by Bede
determined to assert his pre-eminent as threatening the British Church, if they

dignity as archbishop of the English, and would not join in unity with their brethren
carried out the mandate which he received i.e. with him and the members of his
96 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [602.

Italian mission in preaching to the English the prediction of the holy bishop Augus

peoples with the vengeance death, of tine, though he had himself long before

which, he they would receive at the been taken up into the heavenly kingdom "

said,
hands of the English nation. The com [Augustine died in 605, eight years before
ment of the Monk of Jarrow on this the massacre] u that those perfidious men
scene of the conference is
perhaps the should feel the vengeance of temporal death
saddest bit of writing in his invaluable also, because they had despised the offer

history, and is another of the many proofs of eternal salvation."

how sadly the noblest minds are influenced After the massacre Ethelfrith destroyed
for evil by religious dissensions, especially and sacked the great monastery of Bangor
when human motives, as was too clearly Iscoed. All this, however, happened in
the case here, enter into the grounds of 613, and has only been related here to show
the dispute. Alluding to the prophecy of how, according. to Bede, the prophecy or
pronounced against the British
evil Church curse of Augustine, pronounced against the

by Augustine, Bede adds, all which,


"

British Church for declining to submit to

through the dispensation of the Divine his authority and to aid him in his work,

judgment, fell out just as he had pre received its terrible fulfilment.
dicted ;
"

and then proceeds to relate how


afterwards (in 613) Ethelfrith, the fierce After the rejection of Augustine s over

Engle king of Northumbria, warring against tures to the bishops and monks of the

Brocmael, king of Powys, on the occasion remnant of the British Church in Wales,
of a battle between the Engle host and the he returned to Canterbury and his Jutish
British under the walls of the city now followers in Kent. It must have been

known as Chester, seeing a large body of but a sad home-coming for the Roman
British including
priests, a number of missionary archbishop and his
faithful

monks from the neighbouring monastery companions. Augustine, with all his*
of Bangor Iscoed, standing near the en faults, was no ordinary man, was intense!)

gaging armies, and praying for the success earnest, and was devoted to the cause t(
of the British, gave orders for their mas which he had consecrated his life ;
and
sacre (see p. 1 1 6). Bede says 1,200 of the consciousness of utter failure must have
these monks and priests were there slain, pressed hard upon him as he journeyed
and forgetting for a moment the noble back to Canterbury through that strange,
work of Columba, and the lona mission of unfriendly, desolated Britain, with its pagan
Aidan, and how close and intimate was conquerors just beginning to settle ther
the connection of Columba s and Aidan s selves in the ruined cities and empty homt
mother-church of Ireland with the ancient steads of the vanished people they had take
British church does not hesitate to apply so many weary years to drive out.
to these helpless unarmed victims, whose The first years of Augustine s life n
only crime was that they were praying for Kent had been years of success un
their hapless country, the word nefandce dreamed-of success. From the hour of
(execrable).
"

Thus," he adds, "

was fulfilled landing at Ebbsfleet until that sad meeting


602.] AUGUSTINE AT CANTERBURY. 97

with the bishops and abbots of the old Celtic kindly welcome, and the steady friendship
church of Britain, by the blue waters of of the Christian queen of the Kentish Jutes

"

WE WILL DO NONE OF THESE THINGS 1 "

(p. 95).

the Severn sea in the west, all had gone had won them a patient, ever-friendly hear-
well with him and his companions. The ing. King and queen had set the example,
Jutish king Ethelbert had given them a and the thanes and people followed the
G
98 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [602.

royal lead, and Kent, outwardly at least, strange and powerful Christian Ireland,
accepted the teaching Augustine had to which in the days of Augustine was
give them. Churches were built, monastic already making itself with its missionary
buildings arose, the sacred mysteries of zeal and undoubted learning felt as a
the faith were reverently celebrated, and power beyond the confines of its own
far

the Italian missionary monk had been remote, sea-girt island. But of Rome and
able to report to Rome the conversion her pretensions to supreme power, the
of a heathen people. From headquarters refugees in the west and their powerful
every possible recognition had been friends in Ireland knew nothing. They
received by the successful missionary. The even scoffed at these pretensions, when
Jutish city of Canterbury had been made they heard of them from Augustine, and
the seat of an archbishop. The pallium, the abbots and bishops of the British com
the highest honour bestowed by Rome, munities in the west absolutely refused to
had been conferred on the head of the acknowledge the authority, or to recognise
mission. Valuable books, a store of pre in any way the supremacy, of the Rome-
cious relics, and above all a reinforcement appointed archbishop of the Jutish pagan
of trustedmonks, had been dispatched tribes in the far east of Britain.

by Augustine s friend and master, Pope Of Augustine s want of wisdom in press

Gregory, deservedly known in history as


ing his claims of supremacy, evidently
the Great."
"

All seemed to prosper in hitherto unclaimed, there is no doubt.


that new and dangerous mission to the With all the acknowledged nobleness of
famous, far-distant island which had the man, he was evidently utterly wanting
become the prey of fierce Northern pagan in those supreme graces of Christian char

invaders, and which for so many years the acter which ages have so materially
in all

soul of the earnest and devoted bishop of aided the really great missionary founders
Rome had longed to convert and to claim of churches. His master would never have
as part of his flock. hopelessly alienated those successors of
Then came the visit of the Italian arch a noble line of saintly men like David
bishop of the Jutes to the far west, the and Iltud, Kentigern and Asaph, as did
story of which has been related, and the Augustine. The pretensions of Rome to
utter failure to establish friendly relations a supreme authority would have been
with the monks and bishops of the ancient advanced in a very different spirit by a
British church. Augustine was, no doubt, statesman like Gregory the Great. The
very much amazed to find so powerful firstarchbishop of the English was in
a Christian organisation, where he had many respects a true imitator of St. Paul ;

expected only to neet with a weak, dis ever unsparing of himself, loyal and de
organised company of fugitives. He found voted, earnest and true. But in his deal
a church poor, no doubt, and scattered ; ings with the representatives of the ancient
but strong in memories, faithful to the church of Britain, which surely deserved
traditions of a great past, and closely the most tender and loving, even respectful
united in teaching and practices with that treatment at his hands, he forgot utterly
602-605.] WORK OF AUGUSTINE. 99

St. Paul s grand definition of true Chris on the Coelian Hill at Rome, the sacred
u
tianity, which while it
hopeth all things," house where Augustine had lived as monk,
still
"

beareth all things, endureth all and where Gregory had been abbot, the
things." Rochester church was dedicated to St.

Andrew.
Legendary history has been busy with Ethelbert Augustine s friend among
the three or four years which remained to the North-folk who had conquered Britain
the archbishop of Canterbury. No one
first occupied a high and powerful position
who has made any study of the story of among the mightiest chieftains of the con

Augustine doubts his zeal and earnestness. querors, and his influence extended far
his was shown in the strong pressure beyond the confines of his own actual
e put on his convert Ethelbert to use kingdom of Kent. The districts now
lis influence as over-lord of tribes and occupied by the modern counties of
istricts beyond the limits of his own little Middlesex and Essex seem to have
cingdom of Kent, in favour of Christianity. been very closely attached to the Jutish
efforts, which seem to have been
"hese
king. The East Saxon king Sledda had
onfined to the districts immediately south married Ethelbert s sister Ricula, and
nd north of London (which in the first their son
Saeberht, Ethelbert s nephew,
ears of the seventh century was again rapidly at the beginning of the seventh century

ising into importance), were represented was king of the East Saxon peoples.
y later chroniclers, desirous to magnify The chief city of these parts was London
tie influence of the Roman mission, as in the old days before the coming of

missionary enterprises extending over a the North-folk a flourishing and wealthy

arge portion of the island. Augustine is centre. Its unrivalled position on the banks
>ainted
by these Romanists of a later age of a noble river, and
ready access to
its

s the apostle of all England, not of a the ports of Gaul, had marked it out in
mall portion of it. They tell us of his very early days as an emporium of com
>roceeding
to Dorsetshire and Oxfordshire, merce. Although wrecked and utterly
ven as far north as Ely ;
and do not ruined by the invaders, it rapidly recovered
scruple to tell us of many miracles worked something at least of its ancient
import
the indefatigable, tireless apostle. But
>y ance, and Augustine chose it as the site
hese stories for the most part are utterly of a bishopric. Mellitus, one of the little
What is now known as Kent
>aseless.
group of monks dispatched by Gregory to
nd Surrey no doubt -became Christian ;
assist Augustine in the work, was sent as

and a bishopric was certainly established a missionary bishop to the East Saxons.
it Rochester by king Ethelbert, and He had considerable success, and Saeberht

ustus, the faithful friend and companion encouraged him to build the first St. Paul s
)f
Augustine, was appointed its first in London. We must picture to ourselves,

>ishop.
A
church was built at Hrof s however, a very different London from the
astle on the Medway, the modern Roches- mediaeval city which rapidly grew up. The
er ; and, in memory of the loved monastery London of Saeberht lay entirely to the
IOO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [604.

east ;
on the west of St. Paul s lay mostly sacred foundation of Saeberht the king
waste lands ;
for long after that
day
"

the and Mellitus the bishop, has the abbey


precincts of St. Paul embraced a large been pulled down to make room for a.
around it,
district which stretched almost new and more stately fane. Nothing re
from the river to Newgate, and from near mains now of the church of Saeberht and
the wall as far inland as Cheapside." Mellitus of the seventh century little

Perhaps in imitation of Augustine s work of the abbey of Edward the Confessor of


at Canterbury, Mellitus determined to build the eleventh century. But the work of
a home for a monastic colony apart from Henry III. of the thirteenth century is

S^EBERHT S TOMB, WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

the mother church. Tradition tells us he still with us, and is rightly accounted one
chose a spot amid the waste lands lying of the architectural glories of England.
to the west of St. Paul s. Some two miles A plain and undistinguished tomb, to the
down the river, on a small marshy island south of the altar of the stately abbey, is
formed by an arm of the Thames, a tract still shown as the traditional resting-place

utterly desolate and uninhabited, a site of Saeberht Saxon, the royal


the East
was selected for the new monastery. On founder of the church and monastery.
first

this island of the Thames, which, from the No spot in Europe is hallowed by such
bushes and thickets with which it was memories, or surrounded by a veneration
covered, received the name of Thorney, like that with which Englishmen regard
was probably erected about A.D. 604 the the grey, time-worn House of God th
first West Minster. successor of the West Minster of Sseberh
Twice in the splendid story of the And with good reason. Within its walls
04-] LEGEND OF THE WEST MINSTER. 101

long line of sovereigns have received the for that, on the night preceding the day
crown of England. It has ever been the fixed for the first dedication by king and

favourite last resting-place of our monarchs, bishop, bishop Mellitus in his rude tent on
and of the noblest of our land. Within Thorney waiting
Island, for the day to
the precincts the assembly of the nation dawn which should witness the august and
has ever met; and though well-nigh thirteen solemn service, was warned not to repeat a
storied centuries have passed since its first ceremony already performed by St. Peter

BISHOP DAGAN DISCUSSED WITH LAURENCE THE POINTS OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROMAN AND
CELTIC COMMUNIONS" (/. 106).

solemn consecration, the name of West and a choir of angels. A fisherman related
Minster as the great national sanctuary to the bishop how he ferried a stranger
has lost nothing ofits ancient power with over the Thames in the night hour how ;

the hearts of Englishmen. It belongs to he watched the unknown cross the thres
the proudest and most stately of our hold of the empty church, and, as he
churches, as well as to that mighty palace, passed within the doors, a bright light
the home of our great national Parliament, filled the building. Music such as he had
the model and pattern of all the popular never heard before pealed forth, and clouds
assemblies of Europe. of the sweetest incense filled the air. After
A curious tradition says that it was a time the strange visitant returned, and
never consecrated by mortal ceremonies, bade the fisherman go and tell Mellitus
102 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [605.

what he had seen and heard, and how he great master, the Pope Gregory, who had
whom Christians call St. Peter had himself trained him in the Roman monastery on
consecrated the church which Saeberht the Coelian Hill, and had chosen him to
had built. This strange story has come carry out the mission to the pagan con
down from generation to generation, and querors of Britain the cherished project
is
repeated in different forms in the twelfth- nourished by Gregory during so many
and thirteenth-century Lives of Edward toil-filled years died only two months
the Confessor. before his favourite disciple, the archbishop
In these records, in which the super
all of the English, fell asleep in his Canter
natural is often mingled with plain every bury home. To the last he had watched
day events, it is not difficult to separate over his pupil and follower, advising and

history from legend and the story of the ; encouraging him to the end.
great work of Augustine and his missionary Augustine, aware that he too was dying,
companions Kent and in some districts
in arranged for the anxious matter of his suc
lying north and east of Kent, rests upon cessor, and with his own hands consecratec
evidence clear and undisputed. The cathe Laurence. Laurence had been with him
dral and monastery in Canterbury, the from the day of his landing at Ebbs
first

cathedral of St. Andrew at Rochester, the fleeton the Kentish coast, and had sharec
first church of St. Paul s in London, the with him the joys of his successes, and sym
West Minster of St. Peter on Thorney pathised in the sorrows caused by hi
Dooms or laws of Ethelbert, He, perhaps alone among men
"

Island, the
"

failures.

the Christian king of Kent, the very begin was thoroughly acquainted with Augustine
ning of recorded English legislation, which plans for the future, alone perhaps com
contain important enactments of rights prehended the views of the dead Pope
conceded to the Christian church all this Gregory, in the difficult matter of the
tells us that the work of the Italian mission disputes with the abbots and bishops of the
under Augustine bore not a little solid and ancient British church. This consecration

enduring fruit. That he evangelised the to a succession was a rare, though not an
whole island, or ever preached throughout unknown practice in the ancient Christian
a large portion of it, is
absolutely mythical ;
church.
but that he laid the strong and permanent It was in the month of May, 605,* that
foundations of Christianity in Kent and Augustine died. The body was laid tem
the surrounding districts, is indisputable, porarily outside the still uncompleted
and much of his work has lasted to our monastery church of St. Peter and St. Paul,
own day and time. afterwards known as St. Augustine s Abbey.
With the successful establishment of the Laurence, as had been arranged, succeeded
outlying stations in London and Rochester to his dignities and responsibilities. Eight
Augustine s labours were finished. Worn years later, in the year of our Lord 613,
out and exhausted by his busy and active the abbey church of St. Peter and St. Paul
middle life, the Italian monk felt that was completed, and solemnly consecrated
end was * Some
his near. Curiously enough, his give 604 as the date of the death.
CHARACTER OF AUGUSTINE. 103

by Laurence, the archbishop, in the pre or of the far-seeing statesman, no fair


sence of Ethelbert and his court. There historian would seek to deny. But his
the remains of Augustine were deposited faults such as they were seem owing, in

in the north transept. In the twelfth cen large measure, to his earlier surroundings.
tury they were again removed, and laid He had lived in the comparative seclusion
under the high altar at the east end. Queen of a monastery until he was past middle
who
Bertha, did so much to assist Augustine age and the life of a religious house was
;

when he first landed, and her Prankish not adapted to teach men the difficult
chaplain, Luitbrand, were laid to rest secret of government, or of gaining the
in the same abbey church. After three affection and confidence of others who had
years, in 616, the body of the Kentish been trained in different schools of thought.

king was also laid by the side of his queen. To win over to the ways and discipline of
"

Somewhere in the field around the ruins Rome a church like that which he found

abbey the remains of the


of the once stately in Western Britain a powerful com
four friends Ethelbert and Bertha, Luit munity, learned and earnest, wedded to
brand and Augustine, probably repose, and their own peculiar rites and customs
may possibly be discovered."* handed down to them from an imme
The term great missionary archbishop
" "

morial antiquity; strengthened, too, by


is a well-deserved Augustine title, for is the fact that they and their fathers had
emphatically to be reckoned among the passed through the bitter experiences of
great ones of England. Modern historians, the Anglo-Saxon conquest needed a very
both in our own country and in foreign differentenvoy from the monk Augustine ;

lands, have often loved to describe him as devoted and intensely in earnest, it is
a man of irresolution, and yet obstinate ; true, but at the same time stern, rigid,
as unreasonably puffed up by his early unbending ;
convinced that his ways, the
successes, and then equally unreasonably ways of Gregory and Rome, alone were
his subsequent failures.
dejected by They right ; persuaded that his views, the views
paint him, in his dealings with the ancient of Rome upon all points, unimportant as
British church, as proud and unyielding ;
well as vital, alone were correct ;
that any
as one utterly incapable of seeing any deviation in ritual or practice was sternly
virtue or beauty of character in men who reprehensible that any church not in
;

ventured to disagree with him as even ;


close communion with Rome was heretical,
malevolent and cruel in his denunciation even scarcely deserving the common name
of a church which declined to pay him of Christian.

homage and to obey his orders. understand Augustine s


It is difficult to

That there are shadows resting on the apparent ignorance of the antiquity of the
fair fame of the first archbishop of the British church, or upon what grounds he

English, is undoubted. That he failed on claimed pre-eminence of rank in such an


some momentous occasions to play the part ancient hierarchy but, with our scanty ;

either of thetender and devoted saint, knowledge, it is unfair to condemn the


* Memorials of Canterbury. great missionary for his conduct in such a
"

Stanley s
104 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [605,

crisis of his life, when that conduct was the And the success was well deserved ; for,

result of his life-long training. His failure in spite of dangers and difficulties, he was
to conciliate the ancient British church a ever the earnest and laborious toiler for
failurewhich, in the eyes of so many writers, God ever loyal and devoted, utterly un
;

has cast a deep shadow over his really suc sparing of himself; ever one who, by the
cessful career was only the first scene in example of his self-denying, self-sacrificing

that eventful drama, the unfolding of which life, commended the beautiful religion
must be related as this history advances; which he preached. This was the secret
the drama in which the two great divisions of his success among the Jutish pagans
of the Church of the West contested for of Kent. These simple German warriors,
the mastery. He was only the loyal and from the king downwards, loved him, and
devoted mighty Italian
agent of that accepted with childlike trust the truths he
Church which had sent him forth as its told them of. Augustine was no doubt a
missionary, and cannot be blamed for his preacher of rare power, and a teacher of
unswerving fidelity ;
his only fault lay in surpassing excellence; but the true secret
his want of skill and tact. But apart from of his wonderful success
among the heathen
this disastrous episode, his was a grand German race, some of whose bravest warriors
and noble career, crowned, too, with a he brought to Christ, lay in the power of
success conspicuous as it was deserved. his beautiful example. He lived the life

The success was indeed great and he came to preach.


marked. "

He had converted a typical


English monarch ;
he had baptised multi From the year 605 until 616, when the
tudes of Kentish proselytes ;
he had secured old king Ethelbert died, some tenor eleven
a formal and public acceptance by a years, Christianity under Laurence, the
national assembly of Christian obligations, new archbishop, quietly held its own,
and of the church as an organised institu without making much way outside Kent.
tion ;
he had planted offshoots of the The picture of Laurence s life is
lovingly
Kentish church in London and Rochester ; painted by Bede, who writes how
he had established in Canterbury a centre "Laurence began his archiepiscopate with

for future church extension ;


he had strenuous efforts to extend the foundations

definitely connected the reviving Chris of the church, and took pains to carry up
in Britain with the theological its fabric to the due height
tianity by the frequent
culture and ecclesiastical discipline of the utterance of holy exhortation and the con
continental Western
had, church."* He tinual example of pious conduct."
in a word, deserved the laudation of the The most notable event in this quiet
ancient English Council, which, when period was another futile attempt at union
appointing a day in his honour, described with the Celtic church in the West, and 1

him as having brought to the English an earnest appeal to the Irish Christians,
the knowledge of their heavenly remonstrating with them for the seemingly
"

people
country." unbrotherly conduct of a certain Bishop
* Prof.
Dagan, a monk of the famous monastery
"

Bright, Early English Church."


BURIAL OF KING ETHELBERT (/. io8X
io6 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [605.

of Bangor, in Ulster, and bishop of Inver- dear brethren the Lords Bishops and
Wexford, who had visited him in Abbots Scotland "

daoile in throughout all (the

Canterbury. This bishop, delegated by term Scotland in those days included


the great Irish church, evidently discussed reads as follows "

Ireland) :
Laurentius,
at length with Laurence the points of Mellitus, and Justus, servants of the ser
difference between the Roman and Celtic vants of Gpd. When the Apostolic See

communions, but no agreement was come according to the universal custom which it
to between them. Bede, briefly recount has followed elsewhere sent us to these

ing the results of the conference, does not western countries to preach the faith to
hesitate to characterise the Celtic usages pagan peoples, we came to this island
as
"

the errors of the Britons." From his Britain without possessing any previous
words it is quite clear that there was a knowledge of its inhabitants. Believing
general and agreement in
harmony of use that they all followed the customs of the

doctrine, government, and ritual, between universal Church,we held in great vener
the British church in the western portions ation the piety of the Britons and the
of the island, the Scotch churches mostly Scots [this term includes, as always, the
the foundations of the Irish Columba the Irish] . When we came to know the error
great church in Ireland, and the many we thought the Scots had
of the Britons,

foreign houses scattered over Europe, the been better now that the Bishop
;
but
splendid fruits of the labours of Columban Dagan has been with us, and now that the
and his companions. But, as we have seen Abbot Columbanus has been in Gaul, we
in the case of the policy exercised by Rome know that the Scots differ in nothing in
with reference to the vast Columban mon their practices from the Britons ;
for the

asteries on the Continent, there was no bishop not only refused to partake of our
disposition on the part of Rome to make but even would not so much as
hospitality,
any concessions. The Celtic church eat in our house."

whether at Luxeuil in Burgundy, at This singular letter to the heads of the


Clonard in Ireland, at Bangor in Wales, Irish church, then rapidly becoming
at lona in Scotland must submit to the famous for its learning and devoted piety
ritual and use of Rome ;
must acknow throughout the western world, sets before
ledge her supreme authority, or else be us with marvellous clearness, in a very few
reckoned as a church wedded to error, and words, the attitude of Rome towards the
unworthy of Catholic communion. Celtic churches in Ireland, Scotland, Britain,
To exact this uncompromising obedience and Gaul, and gives us the key to the long
was, no doubt, the burthen of the orders struggle which followed between the Celtic
which archbishop Laurence received from and Roman churches. It seems that Rome
headquarters at Rome. Such, no doubt, before the time of Gregory the Great had
was the substance of his requirements in no conception of the vitality and power |
his with the Irish bishop,
conference of Christianity in the far West apparently ;

Dagan. formal A
epistle of Laurence s, she had thought of the fellow-worshippers

quoted by Bede, addressed to Our very "

in those distant countries as well-nigh


60S-]
ARCHBISHOP LAURENCE. 107

overwhelmed by the pagan bar


flood of Augustine s successor, in the first
years
barians from the North, and that if any of the seventh century, addressed to the
survived that desolating conquest, it was leading men of the Irish communities,
but a poor remnant, few in number and reveals exactly the feeling of Rome, on
without organisation or influence. The the other hand, at this juncture, towards
marvellous work of Columban in Gaul, the the Celtic churches of the West. It

reception of Augustine by the Christian breathes a spirit of intense surprise,


Britons on the banks of the Severn, the burning indignation, and unalterable pur
fast - growing reputation of the Irish pose of maintaining its lordly claims but ;

monastic schools, all came as a revelation it betrays no idea, gives no hint, of mutual
to the Roman church, which, in the re concession.
construction of society in Europe after the The question to be solved was what
collapse of the old empire, dreamed of a form of Christianity would eventually be
universal sovereignty in religious matters. established in Britain ? Save in the
Rome all of a sudden found herself con south-east corner
of the isles, where
fronted with a whole network of churches, Roman Christianity was now firmly rooted,
numerous and organised, inspired with no and on the hills and valleys of wild Wales,
ordinary missionary zeal, and, above all, and part of equally wild Scotland, where
armed with all the resources of learning. the ancient faith had been revived, the
It was indeed a startling phenomenon island was virtually pagan. To whom
which presented itself, this resurrection would the Holy Spirit entrust the blessed
of an older Christianity a Christianity work of evangelising the Saxon and Engle
which claimed an apostolic origin for its conquerors? to the Celtic missionary from
peculiar rites and customs, and which Ireland and lona, or to the Italian monk

absolutely refused even to consider the trained at Rome ?


claim of the See of Rome to a universal, The answer to this question was not
or to a partialsupremacy. The vast given for nigh two centuries. The story
religious communities and the learned of the conversion of these Engles and
schools of Ireland, the pious and devoted Saxons is indeed a marvellous one, and
disciples of Columba of lona, the remnant to us, their children, a story of surpassing
of the ancient British Christians, the interest. As the pages of the history are
numerous and powerful religious houses one by one slowly turned, we shall mark
daily increasingin numbers and power how the two churches toiled after the
on the continent of Europe offshoots of same high end alas never friends, for
!

Columban s world-renowned monastery of their ways of working lay far, far apart. The
Luxeuil looked upon the claim of Rome Celtic churchmen strove to lead the pagan
and her mighty pontiffs to a universal Northmen to Christ and life with the
religious sovereignty as a novel thing ; weapons of a passionate earnestness and
as ausurpation to be resisted to the of a tender restless energy which, wielded
bitter end. by saintly men of the type of Aidan and
The letter of Laurence the archbishop, Cuthbert, Columban and Gall, were simply
io8 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [616.

irresistible. The Roman churchmen,


splen country was fast waning. Eadbald, his
didly represented by Wilfrid and Bede, son and heir, was no Christian, and his
Theodore and Aldhelm, for the same high lifewas irregular and his example evil ;

ends used arms forged in a different work and when he came to the throne, many of
shop. Their weapons were changeless law, the Jutish people of Kent threw off even

perfect order, unswerving obedience, an the profession of Christianity.


iron discipline. These arms in a different In London things were even worse.
way were equally successful. Before the King Sasberht, Ethelbert s nephew, who
two centuries whose story is next to be told had loved the teaching of Mellitus, and
had run their course, the great work was had built, as we have seen, the St. Paul s
finished, and heathen Britain had become and probably the West Minster, was also
Christian England the great barbaric dead ;
and his three sons, who succeeded
island which Western Europe looked on him as chiefs of the East Saxon people,
with mingled wonder and admiration. cared nothing for the new doctrines, and
The two rival communions the Celtic worshipped the old gods of their fathers.
and the Roman may be fairly said to One day they were watching bishop
have contributed equally to bring about Mellitus administering, in one or other
this great result,though the spoils of the of the new churches of St. Paul s or the
blessed victory all remained with Rome. West Minster, the Communion to the
Men soon forget the vanquished and only ;
faithful. The Saxon princes were angry
u
on that day when the Books are opened because he passed them by. Why,"

before the Throne, and all is revealed, will said they to the bishop, "

do you not offer

the true work of the forgotten Celtic us the white bread which you used to give
church in the matter of the conversion to our father, Sasberht, and which you
of Britain be really known. Some of us still give to the people in your church ?
"

even dare to think that, in the summing The fearless servant of God replied to the
up on the day of the great Assize, the princes: "If
you will be washed in that
first as men count first will be found laver in which your father
of salvation
to be last, and the last first ! was washed, you also may partake of the
holy bread of which he partook but if ;

King Ethelbert of Kent died in the year you despise the laver of life, you may not
6 1 6, and was laid by the side of his queen receive the Bread of Life." This they re
in Augustine s monastic church outside the fused to do, but insisted upon partaking of
walls of Canterbury. Before the death of the sacred oblation. Mellitus still resisted.
the old king, however, clouds seemed to be Then the princes, enraged at what they
gathering over the fortunes of Christianity considered his obstinacy, ordered Mellitus
in Kent. The acknowledged supremacy and his companions to quit the East Saxon
of king Ethelbert over the neighbouring country.
pagans was gradually passing away, and Justus and the church of Rochester
his influence ever used in favour of were overwhelmed by the same storm.
the faith in London and the Essex A wave of pagan reaction passed over all
6x6.] DESPAIR OF LAURENCE. 109

the south-east of England. There was Augustine, Ethelbert, and Bertha were
no home for the fugitives of London and laid. As he prayed, sleepcame on him ;

Rochester in Canterbury. There, too, and as he slept, in a dream he saw St.


the new King Eadbald was hostile to Peter standing by him, bitterly reproach

Christianity. His manner of life made ing him for his cowardice in forsaking the
him hate the presence, and dread the flock of God entrusted to his charge ;
in

ST. MARY S, DOVER CASTLE.

sad reproaches and earnest reminders leaving them to the wolves, instead of
of Laurence and the Canterbury monks. braving death Bede, who
for their sake.

Friendless now, and in danger of their tells the story, adds that Peter scourged
St.

Mellitus and Justus fled to the neigh


lives, the faint-hearted archbishop with pitiless

bouring coast of Gaul. Laurence also, severity.


persuaded that all was over for the Chris In the morning Laurence sought the
tian cause in Kent, prepared to follow pagan king Eadbald, telling him of his
them. The night before his flight he strange dream, and pointing to the scars
spent in the now completed church of and wounds inflicted by his ghostly visi
St. Peter and Paul, where the remains of tant the night before. The king s heart
IIO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [620.

was touched, so runs the legend he listened;


Great. Indeed, the area of its influence
to his father s old instructor, and de had been vastly reduced in this period.

termined to become the friend, not the The Christian settlement in London, which

foe, of the men who had dwelt so long seemed in the first years of the
century
among his people, and who had taught to promise such happy results, had been
them so many and
such beautiful things. swept away ;
to the north of the city the
Eadbald became himself a devoted Chris missionaries of the religion of Jesus had
tian, and, as far as Kent was concerned, made no way. The East Saxon nation
the religion of the Crucified became more was still pagan. Even Rochester, under
firmly rooted than ever. The Canterbury the influence of Christian Kent, scarcely
settlement was never seriously threatened tolerated a Christian church or mission ;

again, and it continued its quiet, blessed and on one occasion, as we have seen, the
work unhindered among the Jutish people. bishop and his companions were forced to
The two fugitive bishops, Mellitus and fly for their lives. In Canterbury, owing
Justus, returned from Gaul the influence
;
to the influence of the king, who, how
of king Eadbald restored Justus to the ever, began his reign as a pagan, bitterly
church of Rochester, which still continued hostile to the Christian church, the foun
to be a centre of earnest work. But his dations of Augustine held their own, but

power was about any


insufficient to bring they seemed to have made but little way
change in London and in the East Saxon in the hearts of the surrounding peoples.

territory. We
must picture St. Paul s and All efforts, too, at union with the rem
the West Minster lying for years un- nant of the ancient British church in the
tenanted by priest or worshipper possibly west had signally failed, and no friendly
even profaned by the wild worship of relations of the Canterbury Roman mission
Woden and the gods of the north. with the flourishing church in Ireland had
There is little to record for many years been established. Indeed, all attempts of
in the story of the church of Canterbury. Rome to convert the Northmen con
Laurence died three years after his dream, querors of Britain, which had been crowned
king Eadbald ever remaining his staunch during the first few years which followed
friend. In succession his faithful friends the landing of Augustine in Kent with
followed him as archbishop Mellitus first, such splendid success, seemed doomed to
then Justus ;
and in the year 627 the last failure. After some thirty years of work,
of the old companions of Augustine, Honor- only a little corner in the south-east of
ius, took his place as the fifth of the arch Britain had received Christianity, and even
bishops of the see, hereafter to become this solitary fortress of the faith was gravely
so famous. menaced by the numerous hostile pagan
Thus nearly a quarter of a century had influences which surrounded it.

passed since Augustine had fallen asleep, The was acknowledged and sor
failure
and during that long period no further rowfully commented on by Pope Boniface
progress had been made by the Italian V., in a formal letter to Justus, bishop of
mission sent to Britain by Gregory the Rochester, on the occasion of his transla-
625-]
CHRISTIANITY IN KENT. in
tion to the arch-see of Canterbury on the daughter Eanswith founded a religious
death of Mellitus. The Roman pontiff society,probably close to the site now
sent the new archbishop the pall, and occupied by the well-known and beautiful
authorised him to consecrate single-handed parish church. The name of the Jutish
a new bishop for Rochester. This letter princess held in grateful
is still
memory at
of Boniface V. to Justus was written in Folkestone as the local saint.
A.D. 624, and specially alludes to the dis But more important far to the records of

appointment the expectations which*


of the royal house of Ethelbert was a marriage
had been based upon the early successes which took place about the year 625, only
of Augustine in Kent. The Pope, while a few months after the receipt by arch

dwelling on these baffled hopes, consoled bishop Justus of Boniface s letter accom
the archbishop by telling him that what panying his pall. Edwin, the English
had been done was a pledge that in due king of Northumbria, asked for the hand
time all would be done ;
that the slow pro in marriage of Ethelburga, king Eadbald s

gress was a trial of patience and endur sister, daughter of Ethelbert and
the
ance ;
the trial, said the wise Pope, should Bertha. Ethelburga was known in her
be borne in faith, and with a humble con family as Tatta the darling." Edwin,
"

fidence that the work in Kent would of whom more presently, -was rapidly
secure in time the extension of Christianity advancing to that position of fame and
among the neighbouring peoples. Such power among the conquerors which he
brave and loving words were indeed sorely subsequently reached but the once pagan ;

needed by the little Christian colony in Eadbald, now devoted to the faith, abso
south-east Britain, for at the period when lutely refused to give his sister to a

Boniface V. wrote to the new archbishop heathen. Edwin repeated his petition,
Justus the outlook was but a sombre one. promising that if Ethelburga married him,
One or two events connected with these she and her attendants should retain full

early days of Kentish Christianity are note liberty to worship according to the tenets

worthy. Among the works carried out of their faith. The Northumbrian s
prayer
when Eadbald was king, we have one still was granted, and the daughter of Ethel
with us that most venerable church of bert left for her northern home accom
St. Mary, in the precincts of the Castle panied by Paulinus, one of the three who
of Dover, attached to the old Roman had been sent from Rome with Justus in
Lighthouse Tower, built of lava and the year 60 1, to strengthen the original
pumice-stone, the ballast of some Italian company of Augustine. Before Paulinus
ship trading to Dover in the second or leftwith Ethelburga, he was consecrated
third century. At Folkestone Eadbald s by Justus to the episcopate.
CHAPTER VI.

THE STRUGGLE OF CHRISTIANITY IN NORTHERN, MIDLAND, AND EASTERN ENGLAND.

German Origin of the Northern InvadersJutes, Engles, and Saxons Preponderance of the Engles
JElla of Deira Ethelfrid the Ravager banishes ^Ella s Son Edwin Edwin at the Court of Redwald
in East Anglia Paulinus the Bishop Defeat and Death of Ethelfrid and Restoration of Edwin
Extent of his Power Marriage with Ethelburga His Conversion by Paulinus Council of
Edwin s Thanes at Godmundham Recognition of Christianity Its Limited Extension Paulinus
and his Career The Pagan Champion Penda of Mercia His Alliance with Cad wallon Defeat
and Death of Edwin, and Departure of Paulinus and the Widowed Queen.

r 1 \HE central scene of the story of us, without indulging in the fervid and
the rise of Christianity among exaggerated estimate of Newman, the age
the North-folk who had conquered is one of surpassing interest. It is the

Britain, will now be removed from Kent period to which the making of our English
to the northern district of the island. But Christianity belongs.
it will make
the story more vivid and lifelike In the last half of the fifth century, when
if something of an outline be drawn of the the flood of barbarians broke in upon the

general position of the North-folk in Britain various provinces of the Roman empire,
at the beginning of the seventh century. Britain was invaded and overrun and finally
It is curious to mark how differently conquered by successive bands of warriors,
eminent writers view an event or a series mainly drawn from a Low-German branch
of events in history. One dwells upon a of the great Teutonic family who dwelt in

battle, a siege, a royal marriage, as the the north of Germany, and in that penin

turning-point in a nation s history. Another sula we now call Sleswick, which separates
passes these by, as trivial events scarcely the Baltic from the northern seas. Their
deserving the baldest mention. The im country, roughly speaking, was that broad
portance or insignificance of an event de district on the banks of the Elbe, the Ems,

pends upon the stand-point occupied by and the Rhine (eastern bank). These
the chronicler. In the eyes of Milton German tribes, who chose Britain for the
the history of the Saxon princes is nothing scene of their venture, are known as the
more than the scuffling of kites and
"

Jutes, the Engles or Angles, and the Saxons.


crows." Cardinal Newman, on the other They were loosely knit together by the
hand, proudly points to
"

the sixty saints ties of a common blood, common speech,


and the hundred confessors who were common social and political institutions,,
trained in royal palaces of Saxon kings for and a common religion.
the Kalendar of the Blessed." How vast "

The old home of the Jutes, who arrived


a chasm," writes a third and no less dis first on our shores about A.D. 449, was that
tinguished author, "yawns between these peninsula still called after them Jtitland,
two conceptions of the same era !
"

To which runs from the shores of North


449-] JUTES, ENGLES, AND SAXONS.
Germany into the Baltic and North Seas. which lay between the Elbe and the Ems,
They were near kinsmen of the race settled and across theEms as far as the east bank
on the opposite Scandinavian coast and of the Rhine. They were a number of
the Danish Isles. Their settlement and kindred tribesdrawn together into one
their early history in Kent have been briefly great people known under the general
described. Kent, part of Surrey, and sub name of Saxon. In our island they were
sequently the Isle of Wight, represented classed under two great divisions the East

DEPARTURE OF ENGLE INVADERS FOR BRITAIN.

the whole of their conquests in Britain. Saxons and West Saxons. The East Saxons
Their period of supremacy was short, and overran Middlesex, part of Surrey, and
coincided with the reign of that Ethelbert Essex. Their influence in Britain was
who welcomed Augustine. After his death never predominant, and they were before
the Jutes exercised comparatively little long absorbed by, or at least subject to the
influence in the island outside their own over-lordship of, their near kinsmen, the

kingdom of Kent, which was eventually West Saxons, or of the powerful and more
absorbed into the territory acquired by the numerous Engles. The West Saxons, con
larger and more powerful kindred tribe tinually reinforced by fresh bands of their
known as the West Saxons. countrymen, during a long period of years
The Saxons came from the wide district kept slowly advancing and gradually con-
H
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [547-

quering the whole of the south of Britain, home originally was on the middle Elbe,
from the borders of Jutish Kent as far as in the country which lies around the com

Devonshire. Their kingdom eventually paratively modern city of Magdeburg.


was roughly co-extensive with Sussex, Some of these Engles those probably with
Hampshire, Berkshire, Wilts, Dorset, whom Britain had most to do dwelt in
Gloucester, Worcester, Warwick, and the lower part of the peninsula between

Shropshire. Later the over-lordship of the Baltic and North Sea immediately to

MAP SHOWING THE ORIGIN OF SAXONS, ENGLES, AND JUTES.

their western and some of their midland the south of Jutland, and in the part of
districts passed into the hands at least for North Germany now known as Lower
a season of the Engles. Their supremacy Hanover and Oldenburg. The whole of
in the island, and indeed the influence to these northern Engles seem to have prac
which they were entitled by their great tically deserted their old home for the;

numbers and the wide extent of their con pleasanter and more fertile plains and
quests, was for a very long time delayed valleys of Britain. In this they differed

by internal disputes and by wranglings from their J\atish and Saxon kinsmen
among their own tribal chieftains. many whom remained
of in their country.

The third of the great divisions of the Some 200 years after their landing in
first

North-folk who conquered and settled in Britain, the district whence the northern
Britain were the Engles or Angles. Their Engles came, was still desolate and bare of
S47-]
THE ENGLES.
inhabitants. This wholesale migration of the harassed Britons by the ominous name
an entire people accounts for the vast of
"

Flame-Bearer." Ida s conquests in


numbers of the Engles,* who in the course North Britain were known as Bernicia.
of successive arrivals spread over so large Bernicia stretched over a wide extent of
a portion of our island. They conquered country, reaching from the Forth to the
and eventually settled in Norfolk, Suffolk, Tees. The original British dwellers in
Lincoln, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumber these parts were driven to the fastnesses

land, and the Midland districts of Britain. of Cumberland and Westmorland, where
In the Midlands they were generally known they long maintained themselves. Ida, like
as Mercians, or Men of the Marches, the other kingly Engle and Saxon chief
because they occupied the long line of tains, claimed to descend direct from the god

country bordering on the mountains of the Woden ;


nine generations only were said

west, where the remnant of the conquered to have lived between the Engle Flame-
Britons had found a refuge. Those of Bearer and his divine ancestor.
them who settled in the north and east Eleven years later than Ida the Flame-
were called Bernicians and Deirans, from Bearer, the history of the southern Engles
the sections they inhabited in the vast dis of Deira begins, in the person of ylla,
trict of Northumbria. It is these Engles, another child of the divine Woden race.
who 200 years after the first coming of
for Deira, which was occupied by the men of
the North-folk exercised, as we shall see, a -/Ella, lay immediately to the south of

general supremacy among the conquering Ida s and included well-nigh the
Bernicia,
tribes. It is they who have given to the whole of Yorkshire, and much of Lan
whole island their name now honoured or cashire and Cheshire. It was this ^Ella of

feared by the whole world of ENGLAND. Deira of whom Gregory the Great heard
The story of the conversion of England in the slave market of Rome, when he
is bound up with the fortunes of
closely looked with pity on the fair-haired Engle
the Engles in Northumbria and it will ; boys, and made that curious string of puns
be seen that what the Roman mission of on the words :
yElla, Deira, and Angles
Augustine in Kent had failed to accomplish, (Engles).
was eventually carried out by men who lived South, again, of the Engle kingdom of
under the shadow of that great throne which Deira, more hordes of these Engles, under
was set up in Yorkshire and Northumber other chieftains, overran all the central
land by the ruling Engle dynasty.
parts of Britain. As time went on, these
Midland Engles grouped themselves to
We first hear of these Engles in North gether, and, under the name of Mercians,
Britain in the year 547, when a number of established powerful kingdom, which
a

invading bands belonging to these people stretched over the centre of Britain, reach
agreed together to choose for their king ing from the territories of the Engles in
one of their chieftains, Ida, known among Deira, or Yorkshire, to the settlements of
* It seems convenient henceforth to adopt this the West Saxons in the southern parts
form of the word. of the island. But for the present our
u6 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [593-

interest is mainly centred upon the Ethelfrid, who succeeded to the lord
northern Engles of Bernicia and Deira. ship of this great territory (A.D. 593),
We
know few details of the terrible con married the daughter of -/Ella, and
quest of this part of Britain. Fragments thus was the brother-in-law of the
of burned cities here and there remain to exiled Edwin. He was a typical heathen
tellthe awful story. As in the south of the Engle king. Bede tells us how he
island in the case of the Saxons, so in the
"

wasted the race of the Britons more than


north and Midlands, the Engles spared none. any chieftain of the Engles had done; for
The cities were sacked and destroyed ;
the in none drove out or subdued so many of the
habitants of city and country were well-nigh natives, or won so much of their lands for

all slain, or driven out as homeless exiles. Engle settlement." Merciless in his be

Then followed a period of quarrelling and haviour to his own kith and kin, merciless

SJTUUU
EARLY ENGLISH WRITING ( from a. MS.).

desperate fighting among the conquerors, to the conquered Britons, he nevertheless


the scuffling of
"

kites and crows "

we raised his country to great honour, and


have spoken of. King Ethelfrid of Bernicia may be said to have been the founder of
(A.D. 592), known even among his wild the greatness of Northumbria.
and savage countrymen as the Ravager,"
"

It was this great pagan warrior who, in

stands out with some prominence in that the course of his never-ending wars, besieged
iron age of ceaseless, cruel warfare. His the famous city of Deira now Chester.
father Ethelric had, on the death of yElla, The dwellers in Chester, armed with the
taken forcible possession of Deira, and had courage of despair, risked a battle with the
driven away his son Edwin into exile and ; conquering Engles. Just before the engage
Ethelfrid the Ravager had succeeded to the ment began, king Ethelfrid saw standing

lordship of all the broad lands north of the at a distance a great company of monks from
Humber North-humber-land. We shall ths neighbouring monastery of Bangor
hear much of this exiled prince Edwin he ; Iscoed, who, after a three days had
fast,

plays a great part later in the story of the come out of their sacred home to pray^

spread of Christianity among the Engle for the safety of the famous British city.

peoples. Bangor Iscoed was one of those vast Celtic


593-]
KING ETHELFRID OF BERNICIA.
monastic establishments of which we have monks and priests.
"

If, said the stern

already spoken. It contained 2,000 monks ; Engle, "they


are crying to their god
of these one-half came out to pray for against us, then they are fighting with us
the success of their fellow-countrymen. by curses, though not with arms." Then

ETHELFRID WATCHED THE WILD GESTURES OF THE UNARMED MONKS/

Ethelfrid, watching the wild gestures and he bade his warriors fall at once upon
listening to the piteous cries of the un them ;
of the 1,000 monks
Bangor only of

armed, strangely-clad monks, as they fifty escaped the bloody slaughter which
prayed their prayers and sang their hymns followed. The monastery, with all its

with impassioned earnestness, asked who literary and priceless treasures, was burned
and what this curious company were. He and sacked, and the hapless dwellers in it
was told they were only unarmed Christian were hunted down probably few escaped
;
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [617.

to tell the awful story of the fate of their of war and invasion, if his wishes were not
famous prayer -home. Chester, too, the complied with. At length the East Anglian
fair city known as the proud northern king was gained over, probably terrified by
"

City of the before the con


Legions," fell the threats of the powerful and unscrupu

quering Engle, and was sacked and utterly lous Engle king. Redwald s purpose to slay
destroyed. or to give up the exile came to the ears of
The pagan king, in the midst of his career a trusted friend of Edwin s, who one night
of conquest, dreaded his exiled brother-in- called his friend from his chamber, and,
law Edwin alluded to above and de leading him out of the palace, told him of

termined to compass his death. Edwin the plot against his life or his liberty, and
had found a shelter and a home far away offered to guide him to a hiding-place
from East Anglia, at
his native Deira, in where he would be safe. Edwin refused to
the court of Redwald, the friend of Ethel- fly, replying he
was the friend of Redwald,
bert, the Christian king of Kent. Redwald a great king, and if he must needs die, he
was half a Christian, half a pagan : would rather die by his hand than by the
Ethelbert had persuaded him to be bap hands of some unknown person. For,"
"

tised, but his people in the eastern he added, where should I be safe ? I
"

counties still loved their old gods ;


so have been so long now a fugitive. My
Redwald contented himself with placing enemies are everywhere." His friend left
an altar to Christ by the side of the altar him. was night and very dark, and the
It

of Woden. At the court of Redwald at unhappy prince sat down on a stone bench
that time dwelt Paulinus, the Roman outside the palace, and sorrowfully thought

missionary, Augustine s companion ;


it over his hard fate :
utterly friendless and
was for him a hopeless mission though, in forlorn, surrounded by ruthless enemies,
that land so devoted to the gods of the his misfortunes were greater than he could
North. The work there had to be done bear. While musing thus, a stranger came
by another than Paulinus, who seems to to him and courteously asked why he
have been generally unknown and un was sitting there alone in the darkness,
noticed in that heathen county. A strange when all others were sleeping. Edwin
chance happened, however, which gave wonderingly asked him, why he troubled
him an influence over the exiled Edwin, himself about him. The stranger replied,
which afterwards he used with wonderful (<

I am acquainted with you, and your fear


success. and bitter sorrows are all known to me
The sleepless jealousy of Ethelfrid the Now tell me what reward you will giv
Ravager pursued Edwin in his distant the man who will persuade Redwald t
place of exile. Thrice did the powerful be your faithful friend, and not your be
Northumbrian king send to Redwald, trayer."
Edwin replied that he woul
offering great sums of money for the life indeed bestow on such a man all it was i

of his brother-in-law.Each time he in hispower to give. The unknown strange


creased the offers and the bribes went
;
went on, u What if I ventured to tell you
accompanied with threats of vengeance, of a splendid future lying before you, o:
6I7-]
STORY OF KING EDWIN. 119

your enemies being defeated, of yourself the country which now drove them out
restored to a power greater than any ever with ignominy, and the two last named,

possessed by your kingly ancestors ? Will Oswald and Oswiu names now utterly
you promise in days to come, if these things forgotten by most men in their days were
come true, implicitly to follow my counsel reckoned among the noblest and greatest
and advice in the gravest matters which sovereigns of their age.
affectyour life and salvation ?
"

Edwin The history of Edwin s reign is eventful

promised, and the unknown then laid his and picturesque. His high descent and ,

hand upon his head, saying to him, Re


"

his close connection with the house oi

member your solemn undertaking, when Ethelfrid caused him to be accepted with
this sign be shall
given to you," and out any opposition by all the northern
with these words he disappeared in the Engles. The misfortunes of his earlier
darkness. years had given a tinge of sadness and
That night prince Edwin learnt that sympathy to his character, which, while
the queen had induced Redwald to give it diminished nothing of the dash and
up all idea of harming him, persuading her energy possessed by his predecessor,
husband that it was unworthy of a king to Ethelfrid the Ravager, softened the
sell his friend for gold, or to sacrifice him cruelty and vindictiveness of this early
for fear of a neighbour.
powerful The Engle chieftain
though;
continued he
East Anglian sovereign more than kept the war with the remnant of the British,
his word. He did not wait for Ethelfrid driving them from their last stronghold
to accomplish his threat, but marched with in Deira (Yorkshire). His kingdom grew
a strong force to meet him. The two in extentand power ;
it reached from the

Engle kings Redwald and Ethelfrid, and Forth to the Solent and tradition ascribes
;

their hosts metTrent Valley, and


in the to him the building of the great Scottish
the battle was fought on the banks of the capital of Edinburgh (Edwin s Burg). The
Idle. The Northumbrians were taken by city of York became his chief residence,

surprise the East Anglian was completely


;
and something of the ancient glories of a
victorious, and Ethelfrid was slain. A Roman emperor belonged to the great
line of an old Northern song preserves Engle chieftain as he passed through
the memory of that fatal encounter, which his broad dominions. Men say how a
had so marked an influence on the Chris great standard of gold and purple floated
tian story of England
"

Foul ran Idle with before him, while a feather tuft attached
the blood of Englishmen." The imme to a spear was the ensign of his lordship
diate result of the battle of the Idle was over the greater part of Britain. Gradually
the elevation of Edwin to the North under his rule the din and confusion and
umbrian throne. The sons of the slain terror of the ceaseless wars of conquest
Ethelfrid in their turn were driven from seemed to be stilled, and over most of
their country by their uncle Edwin ;
the war- weary, harassed island, with what
but three of them Eanfred, Oswald, and Bede terms "the empire of the English
Oswiu in after days became kings of and the Roman majesty,"
came back for
I2O THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [626.

a season something of the hush of the Paulinus, of whom we have heard already
Roman as sent by Gregory to join Augustine the
long-lost peace.
Then came the beautiful episode of the same Paulinus whom we met with in East

great pagan king s marriage with the Anglia at the court of Redwald should
beloved Christian princess of Kent, the
form part of Ethelburga s suite in her new

daughter of Ethelbert, the dead Augus


home at York.
tine s friend whose pet The marriage of Edwin and Ethelburga
Ethelburga
name of Tatta (the darling) seems to tell was a happy one, but an untoward event
us something of the quiet influence she soon threatened to bring that happiness
to an end. Jealousy on the part of a
West-Saxon king who bore the barbarous-
sounding name of Cwichelm, stirred up
by the sight of the ever-growing power of
the Engle sovereign, prompted an attempt

upon the life of Edwin. A trusty and


determined messenger of Cwichelm brought
a message from his master to Edwin on
the Easter day of the year 626. While

speaking to the king he drew out a


poisoned dagger, and tried to stab the
listening Edwin. A devoted servant

(whose name, Lilla, has been preserved)


threw himself between his master and
the would-be assassin, and received the

deadly thrust in his stead but so violent


;

was the blow that the point of the dagger


reached Edwin through the pierced body

EDWIN S SUPREMACY.
of his faithful follower. The king s wound
was, however, slight, and he soon re

exercised at her brother s Kentish court. covered. That night Ethelburga s daughter
There was the usual demur at the union Eanfleda was born. In grateful memory
of a Christian girl with a pagan warrior ;
of his escape, and for the love of Ethel
the same difficulty presented itself in the burga, theEngle sovereign resolved to
case of the daughter, as it had some years renounce his idols and the worship of the
before in the case of the mother, when the old Northern gods, and gave the new
heathen king Ethelbert wooed Bertha, the born princess Eanfleda to Paulinus that
Christian Prankish princess. The difficulty he might, according to the further custom
was then got over by the permission to bring which had already engrafted itself upon
a Christian priest from Paris to Canter the monastic system, and in later ages not

bury, the queen s new home. So now, unfrequently produced unhappy results,
as we have seen, it was arranged that consecrate her to Christ. This Eanfleda
62 7 .] PAULINUS AND EDWIN. 121

afterwards became a power in Christian pagan worship of the Northern people, he


Northumbria. hesitated long before becoming a Christian.
Paulinus now became an intimate asso- One day, as he was alone and thinking

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PAGE FROM A COPY (vi. OR VII. CENT.) OF AUGUSTINE S WRITINGS, CONTAINING


PORTION OF A LETTER TO PAULINUS (Paris Bibl. Nat.).

date of the king, who talked much with over the story of Christianity, its many
him about Jesus and the Christian faith ;
wondrous promises and blessed teaching,
but though he had renounced the old Paulinus came to him and quietly laid his
122 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [627.

hand upon the king s head, asking him for him who had served them so long and
ifhe remembered the sign, and prayed faithfully. were surely better, if the
It

him to embrace the faith of Jesus. Then new doctrines were found to be of a more
Edwin called to mind the memorable practical nature, to adopt them without
evening when he sat in the chill dark delay. The old faith, as far as Coifi

ness, on the stone bench outside Redwald s had had experience of it, was a useless
royal hall in East Anglia, all alone
and religion.

sorrowful, waiting for death ;


and how Another chieftain used a different and
an unknown stranger had come to him a nobler line of argument. The faith of
as he sat and thought, and foretold his their fathers gave them no information

future greatness ;
and had given him this as to the mysterious past of men, and
solemn sign. He recognised at once by the threw no light on the still more mysterious
ever-remembered sign that the unknown and hidden future. His words were

stranger of that dark night outside Red strangely beautiful and eloquent, and the
wald s hall was the same Paulinus. He striking simile he used has come down
called to mind also the promise made in the long stream of ages to us. This wise
his hour of sorrow and perplexity, and thane* likened the life of man to the
flinging himself at Paulinus feet, said flight of a storm-driven bird through one
he would indeed become a Christian. of those halls where the tired warriors, war
The Engle king at once summoned a worn and hungry, used to meet in -the

great council of his chiefs to his royal home hours of the long winter evenings to rest

at Godmundham, near Market Weighton,


*
In A. S. spelt thegn, but the modern form,
some twenty-three miles from York, consecrated by Shakespeare and Scott, probably
and asked them for their opinion of the
gives the pronunciation. The original meaning of
was a memorable the word Thegn was a warlike man, and testifies
" "

worship of Christ. It
distinctly to the origin of the rank in military ser
meeting, this assembly of the chiefs of the vice. But it was used also of a freeman who had
great Engle race, when the solemn ques acquired a certain considerable estate in law, who
tion was put to them should they re then became Thegn-worthy. The name of Thegn
covers the whole class which after the Conquest
nounce the old gods of the North, the
appears under the name of knights, with the same
gods of their fathers, the gods of war and qualification in law, and nearly the same obliga
tions. It also carried so much of nobility as is
revelry, for the gentle faith professed by
implied in hereditary privilege for instance, men
the people whom they had driven out might be called Thegns even when they held no
of the land ? land but they did not acquire the privilege by
;

descent until they had reached a third generation


Curiously enough, the most eloquent from the founder of the family dignity. Under the
advocate of Christianity was Coin, the name of Thegn were also included various grades
chief priest of the gods of the North ! The of dignity. The highest, the class of king s Thegns,
were his body-guard, his nearest and most constant
priest related his own
experiences. No one
counsellors. A post among them was soon coveted
of the Engle people, he said, had served and won by the greatest and noblest. Thegnhood
these supposed gods more zealously than contained within itself the germ of feudalism as
known among the Normans. Compare Stubbs,
he, Coifi, had done in his past life but to ;
"Constitutional vi. and Green,
History," chap. ;

little purpose, for they had done nothing of


"

Making England," chap. iv.


627-]
WORK OF PAULINUS. 123

and carouse. The speaker depicted the deeper I searched for truth in it the less I
warm, chamber, and contrasted the
fire-lit found in it. Now I see truth shining out
comfort of the hearth-fire round which the clear in the new teaching. Come, let us

guests were gathered, with the cold wind at once destroy these useless temples
and icy rain-storm without. Suddenly he and altars and burn Then, calling
them."

described the coming in of a bird attracted for a horse and arms, which it was not

by the light and warmth within the bird, ;


lawful for a priest to bear, he rode straight

he said, flew through the door, and, tarry to the door of the temple hard by the hall

ing a few pleasant moments in the shelter of assembly at Godmundham, and hurled

of the fire-lit hall, went forth again and his spear right into the idol-house, and
was lost in the darkness of the cold night bade his companions fire it. The result
without. "

Such,"
said the Engle thane, of this scene was the general adoption of
"

appears to me to be the life of man we :


Christianity by the Engle king and his
see it just for a moment, for a moment it counsellors.

enjoys light and warmth ;


but of all that This happened early in the year 627.

goes before that moment, and also of all But this royal recognition of the faith "
"

that follows after, we know absolutely was a very different thing among the
nothing. If the new faith can teach us German Engles, from what we read of
anything which will throw light upon that among the Celtic peoples of Ireland. There,
dread secret of the unknown past and of when the king and his chieftains became
the hidden future, surely we should be Christians, their example was largely, if

wise men to adopt it." not universally, followed by the people.


"

But if this pale Paulinas In Northumbria it was widely different.


Have somewhat more to tell, No general conversion followed Edwin s
Some news of whence and whither
baptism no large body of monks and
And where the soul may dwell, ;

If in that outer darkness missionaries ever seems to have gathered


The sun of hope may shine, round Paulinus no building of churches,
;

He makes life worth the living,


* no erection of a group of monastic huts,
I take his God for mine."

sheltering their crowds of devotees, is


then suggested that Paulinus, well
Coifi
related in any of the Northumbrian stories.
known in the court of Edwin as the
At the bidding Edwin a little wooden
of
queen s friend and adviser, should tell
church arose in York and when Paulinus
;

them about his religion and his God.


was formally established as bishop in that
The Roman complied with the monk
city of many august memories, the king
suggestion, and appears to have spoken
began a large church in stone, square in
well and wisely, for Coifi, the pagan high
form, around the little primitive sanctuary
priest, rose after him and boldly spoke his ofwood where the Roman monk baptised
opinion. "For a long time," he said, "I

him. The stone church, the ancient York


have been convinced of the hollowness of
Cathedral, long enclosed as a sacred relic
all that we have been worshipping ;
the
the first little oratory of wood where
* Paulinus ministered.
Palgrave s
"

Vision of England."
124 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [627633.

Save poor oratory of York, how


this who laboured on, long after Paulinus had

ever, no church arose in Edwin s days left the scene of his six years well-nigh
between the Forth and Tees. In spite fruitless toil. Why was he so solitary ?

of later eulogies on the work of Paulinus, Why always alone ? Sent originally to Kent
the historian is compelled to con to be a helper and counsellor of Augustine,
clude that the earnest Italian made but we fail to hear of him as one of the faithful

way among the Engle subjects of


little band who were loved and trusted by the
Edwin and yet he was indefatigable. first archbishop of the English. Laurence
During the six years which followed was ever at Augustine s side in life and
Edwin s baptism we hear of his constant in death. Justus and Mellitus were his
journeyings from north to south, across trusted and loved suffragans, then his suc
desolate moorlands, through inhospitable cessors. Where was Paulinus ?
Evidently
wolds preaching, praying, teaching. Here never one of the familiar inner circle. We
and there we find dim traces of his noble catch sight of him, a dim and misty per
toil and restless labours. We hear of him sonality, at Redwald s court in Ease Anglia,
even as far south as Nottinghamshire. In where Edwin lived then as a hunted exile.

Leicestershire, tradition ascribes to him Then he reappears at Canterbury, and is

and his converts the building on the hill sent away again to the far north as the
of Lincoln, the humble predecessor of that confessor-bishop of the Princess Ethel-
proud Minster, now one of the glories of burga, when she became Edwin s queen
England and in that first little church
;
in Northumbria. Then for two or three
of Lincoln Paulinus is said to have conse years we almost lose sight of him, till

crated Honorius, fourth successor of Augus he reappears as the confidential friend of

tine in the archbishopric of Canterbury. king Edwin in 627, and is the principal
When Pope Honorius sent the pall to his figure in the famous assembly at God-
namesake, the fifth archbishop of Canter mundham, where Edwin and his thanes

bury, he also sent the same vestment, dis and idol-priest accepted Christianity. Then
tinctive of the highest rank in the hier he plays the part of the un
for six years

archy, to Paulinus, thus signifying his wish wearied missionary preacher and teacher
that York should be the seat of a northern in the northern districts. But he rallied

arch-see. But the pall arrived from to his side no friends, no associates ; alone, or
Rome too late for Paulinus ;
he had left well-nigh alone, he preaches, baptises, toils

York and Northumbria for ever before it early and late, organising nothing, arranging
arrived. nothing and when the great catastrophe
;

These years were the great years of


six overwhelms Edwin in Northumbria, he
one of the most striking personages of this hurriedly flees the scene of his restless life,

eventful age. There is much in Paulinus and quietly settles down at Rochester.
to admire, something to deplore, and Verily a strange, inexplicable man yet ;

not a little that puzzles his biographer. he impressed all who came in contact with

Strange to say, we hear of no companions him with a sense of power, earnestness,


of his labour save one, the Deacon James, and even enthusiasm. Bede, who must
627-633] WORK OF PAULINUS. 125

have known many of his contemporaries, bones have now rested for more than
admires him with an ungrudging admira twelve hundred years far away from his

tion, and even gives us a vivid picture of beloved Northumbria, in the precincts of
his personal appearance, which was well the home of his later years the cathedral
remembered in Northumbria long after he church of St. Andrew, Rochester.

DEATH OF EDWIN AT HATFIELD.

passed away. All men who had received The six years of Paulinus work and of
baptism at his hands recalled with reverent his influence with Edwin stirred up, how
and loving tenderness the venerable and ever, another spirit. Edwin, who had
awe-inspiring teacher, with his lofty and hesitated for years before he renounced the

stooping form, his black hair, his aquiline gods of the north, after the Godmundham
nose, his emaciated but winning face. His assembly of 627, adopted the religion of
126 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [633-

Christ with real earnestness ; so, as we utterly defeated and driven out of their
have seen, outwardly at least, did many of original homes, still existed in the western
his thanes and chieftains. But the bulk district of Britain in considerable numbers,
of his Engle subjects remained attached to and were knit together by a burning
the old altars of Woden and Thor. The hatred of theirconquerors. Penda, the
only Christians were those comparatively Engle Mercian, took advantage of this
few in number who were moved by the unextinguishable hate. He allied himself

personal enthusiasm of Paulinus and his with their most powerful and able chief
rare associates. A spirit of enthusiasm the king Cadwallon and with him deter
for the old Norsemen s faith, a determined mined to compass the fate of king Edwin.

opposition to the new religion of the king, The strange and unnatural union between
was excited among the Engle peoples who the British Christian king Cadwallon and
extended over the north and east and" the Mercian heathen Penda was too power
midlands of Britain, and who after all, ful a combination for Edwin successfully to
save in Northumbria, were only knit to cope with. In a bloody battle fought at
the Northumbrian king by comparatively Hatfield, in south-east Yorkshire, in the
slender ties. year 633, the whole army of Edwin was
The Middle Engles, or Mercians, as destroyed or dispersed, and the king him
they were termed, were at this junc self was slain. Northumbria was harried
ture ruled over by a chieftain of rare by the victorious confederates, and suffered
ability and power, who was only too ready terribly from the invasion which followed
to repudiate the over-lordship of Edwin, the rout of Hatfield. The fierce cruelty

the Northumbrian Engle. This mighty of Cadwallon was especially remembered


chieftain, or king as he styled himself, ruled in after years. With him and his Britons

over the various Middle Engle peoples. it was a war of vengeance. "

He spared,"

His name Penda has come down to us said a later chronicler, "

neither women
as the name of the great champion of the nor children, raging for a long time through
old heathen religion of the Northmen. For the country, resolving that he should be the

thirty years this Penda held Christianity in man to exterminate the whole Engle race
check in the island, and his acknowledged within the bounds of Britain."
"

To this

abilities and success a long period


for day,"
writes Bede, "

that year is looked


rendered it doubtful whether Christ or upon as unhappy and hateful to all good
Woden would be eventually acknowledged men."

as the god of the English peoples. Un What now became of the newly planted

scrupulous, cruel, and vindictive, yet withal Christianity in haplessNorthumbria ? The


possessing all the qualities of a born leader results of the work of Paulinus, great and
ofmen, Penda was at once an able general earnest though it was, seem to have been
and a consummate statesman one, too, superficial. With the death of Edwin and so
who possessed the powerful secret of at many of his thanes, Christianity virtually

tracting great masses of men to himself. disappeared. Paulinus saw the head of his
The ancient British race also, although friend and patron brought to York, where
633-] ETHELBURGA. 127

it was buried in the unfinished church of Canterbury road. The antiquary s patient
St. Peterthe headless body of the king
: search in Lyminge has discovered in late

was recovered, and afterwards interred at years considerable remains of Ethelburga s


Whitby. The Roman missionary s courage church and monastery, and a modern tablet
failed. Considering the cause of Chris built in the wall of the ancient church

tianity in Northumbria lost, he escaped to reminds the passing stranger that the re
the sea-coast with the widowed queen mains of Ethelbert s daughter and Edwin s
Ethelburga and her son and daughter, took widowed queen rest beneath his feet.
ship, and arrived safely in Kent. He carried
A neighbouring common is still called
with him a golden cross and chalice.
"

Tatta s Leas," thus preserving, after all


The golden was long shown ig
chalice these many hundred years (twelve centuries),
the church of Canterbury. the memory of the darling," the petted
"

This was the melancholy end of and beloved princess of the court of Ethel-
Paulinus active career. In Kent he ac bert and Bertha the queen of Edwin the
;

cepted from Honorius the archbishop the first Christian Engle, who for many years
bishopric of Rochester, where, as we was supreme ruler of almost all Britain;
have he quietly ended his days.
seen, the widow who fled well-nigh friendless
Ethelburga, the widowed queen, founded from the scene of her power and splen
a convent at Lyminge, on the high ground, dour; the quiet, sad-eyed abbess of the
seven miles from Folkestone, on the holy house in the hills above Folkestone.

Photo : Chester Vaugfian,


Acton, W,
CHAPTER VII.

THE COMING OF AIDAN.


Oswald the Saint-King of Northumbria His Training at lona Victory over the Britons and Death of
Cadwallon His Power and Influence His Part in the Evangelisation of England Failure
of the Roman Mission Contrasted with Oswald s Success His Application to lona Failure of
Gorman and Mission of Aidan Lindisfarne or Holy Isle Success of the Celtic Missionaries
Anecdotes of Aidan His Teaching Its Enduring Results tested by adversity His Death
Legends connected with it, and Traditional Effect upon St. Cuthbert Missionary Power of the
Celtic Church Its Probable Causes.

the melancholy year A.D. 633-634, cessor of his kinsman Edwin. In after
which followed the catastrophe of was Oswald who was honoured
IN Hatfield and the death of Edwin,
days, it this
the Christian he
throughout England
Eanfrid, the son of Ethelfrid the Ravager, helped to make, as Saint Oswald. He
who was slain at the battle of the river was a Christian in the true sense. He
Idle, and Osric, a nephew of ^Ella, both believed in Christ with all the passionate
near kinsmen of Edwin, were chosen by fervour of one long trained by devoted and
the Engle thanes as joint kings of earnest teachers of the faith. During the
Northumbria. Eanfrid and Osric during years of exile which followed the defeat
their short reign were pagans, and and death of his father Ethelfrid, he had
determined enemies of Christianity, which been sheltered in that truest home of Celtic
apparently had vanished altogether from Christianity, the monastery of lona, off the

the kingdom of the dead Edwin. Cad west Scottish coast. The story of that
wallon, the British king, flushed with strange community of devoted Irish saints
his victory at Hatfield, had made himself has been already told. The spirit of its
master of York, and threatened the great and beloved founder, long after his
very existence of the Engle dominion in death, brooded over the holy house of lona,
the north. Within the year both the and a succession of saintly abbots and

Engle heathen princes perished Eanfrid : devoted monks carried on the work of
fell in battle, and Osric was assassinated Columba. Simple, self-denying scholars,
by Cadwallon s orders. But the ill-fortune they lived their prayer-filled lives in their
which had all along pursued the British rough wattled huts on that dreary, sea-
through the long weary wars with the in washed island, imitating as far as they knew
vaders, soon put an end to the short-lived the austere but beautiful example of their

triumph of Cadwallon. founder. Some played the part of tireless


A younger brother of Eanfrid, Oswald, missionaries ;
some just tilled the poor
another of the sons of Ethelfrid the Scottish soil around them
some fished in ;

Ravager, succeeded to the throne of the stormy Atlantic waters more worked ;

the dismayed and disorganised Engles of as patient scholars but all were men of
;

Northumbria, and proved a worthy suc prayer. In the world though not of the
OSWALD ERECTING THE CROSS (A 130).
130 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [635-

world, in spite of their errors and mistaken dreamed a strange dream he thought he ;

ideal of life, they were, in their utter self- saw the tall form of the beloved founder of
renunciation, amongst the closest followers lona the Columba of whom he had heard
of the Son of Man whom the world has ever so much while he lived with the lona
seen. Here, among these men, tender and monks covering with his mantle well-
true, all ardent and devoted servants of nigh the whole Engle camp and, as he ;

Christ, Oswald, the homeless and landless gazed, he thought he heard Columba s
Engle prince, received his first impressions voice, bidding him "

be strong and play


of Christianity. He, like so many of his the man to-day, for I am with thee." In
noble race, was a patriot in the word s the deep dark dawn of the early morning
highest sense. He loved his Engle people Oswald framed a rough -hewn wooden
may we not for a moment use the word cross, which he and his faithful few fixed
which soon came into common use ? his firmly in the ground ;
and then he prayed,
English people with a deep love, and be the wondering Engles round him kneeling
lieved in their great destiny; but the Engles prayed a fervid, passionate lona prayer
of whose splendid future he loved to dream, to the one true and living God, to help
must be Christian Engles. Their God him and his in this their supreme moment
must be a nobler Being than the Woden of need. With the prayer still
trembling
from whom he sprang the Woden whose on his lips, he charged with his Engles,
armour was dyed with blood. The Engle home. No doubt the Briton s host, fol
of the future must worship the white sin lowing their sad invariable custom, had
less Christ. spent the night in wild carousing. Pale "

From lona the young Oswald was sum mead had been their drink,"
as their own
moned by the pagan thanes, when his patriot bard, with bitter scorn, had often
brother, Eanfrid, fell before Cadwallon and sung,
"

the golden mead had been their


the Briton s
conquering army. It was but a poison."
At
events, the charge of
all

poor and desolate Northumbria that Oswald Oswald was irresistible. Heavy with sleep,
was called to rule over, but he quietly paralysed with the effects of the feasting
gathered round him a small but gallant of the night before, the British ranks of
band of Engles. He was a born leader of Cadwallon gave way. The experience of
men, and he inspired his little army with many a battle was renewed this time, with
his own high courage and splendid daring. even more than the usual result. The
His Engle warriors were all pagans, save a Northmen triumphed. Cadwallon s army,
little knot of Christian friends who had
surprised by the sudden and fierce attack,
followed him from lona. With these he fled in disorder ;
and the British king,
took the field atonce against the British hero of a hundred bloody fights, was slain.

force under the dreaded Cadwallon a Thescene of the battle, Bede, writing
more numerous than his own.
force far scarcely a hundred years after, tells us was
It was near Hexham, in the year 635, called the Heavenfield. Our chronicler
that the Briton and the Engle met. The evidently thought it was so named before
night before the battle king Oswald the battle a presage of what was after-
635-1
OSWALD, SAINT AND KING.
wards to happen ;
more probably,
far lona, the well - known biographer of

the striking circumstances which accom Columba, who wrote in the year 692,
panied the famous victory were the positively styles Oswald Emperor of the
"

occasion of the name. The dream of whole of Britain."


Oswald, the setting up of the huge wooden But his great work consisted in the
cross, the passionate prayer which pre foundation stones, which he laid so well of
ceded the Engle onslaught, suggested the the English Christianity of the future. It
name by which this decisive victory has was not only his mere determination to tell

ever been known ;


decisive in truth, for it his people the story of Christianity, but
cleared Northumbria from the British
invading army, leaving Oswald at liberty
to reorganise the shattered dominions of
the dead Edwin ; decisive, also, in that
this was the last rally of the British.

Their strength was now exhausted, and


henceforth all they attempted was a
stubborn defence of the wild hills and up
lands of the west, their last refuge from
the storm of Saxon and Engle conquest.
The reign of Oswald lasted scarcely eight
years, but the years were eventful years.
He did more toward the making of our
Christian England than, perhaps, any
sovereign who has since sat on the English
throne. He was, as we have seen, a brave and
skilful general. His power was recognised,
and his over-lordship acknowledged, as

completely as was his predecessor


s, Edwin OSWALD S DOMINIONS.
in the northern districts of Britain and the

lowlands of Scotland. Even the Midland his conception of how and by whom that

Engles, including all the broad dominions story should be told, so as to reach the
known as Mercia, yielded to the powerful Engle heart, which is his especial title to

Northumbrian monarch a nominal sub honour. Forty years had now passed
mission. No chieftain of the Northmen since Augustine landed in Kent, but no
who came before him possessed the power real way had been made in the con
and authority of Oswald. Chroniclers version to Christianity of the Northern
of his own day and time, and their words conquerors. The Italian missionaries had
have been repeated since, saw in him, failed, as we have
seen, make any to

indeed, a faint likeness of those Roman permanent impression upon London and
emperors who for a season had made the East Saxons of Essex, or upon the
Britain their abode. Adamnan, abbot of Engles of East Anglia to the north of
132 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [635-

London. There is no record of any fact that before Augustine s arrival the
attempt having been made, nor is there Kentish queen Bertha was a Christian,

any trace of their presence, among the trained in the schools of Italy and Rome ;

South Saxons in Sussex, although these and that during her lifetime her great
districts had been invaded by ^Ella as influence and authority were successfully

early as in 477, and for more than a exerted in favour of Augustine and his
hundred years, when Augustine landed, companions.

Pkoto : M. Auty, Tynemouth.


HOLY ISLAND.

Sussex had been purely a Saxon district. It was from no apparent lack of zeal,
In the north of the island Paulinus inde or perseverance, or ability, that those
fatigable work, and failure, have already devoted men met with such a scant
been related.
Only Kent had the Roman
in measure of success ;
save that their pre
mission been really successful. Kent may tensions to a supreme authority in matters
be said to have been Christian throughout of government and ritual wrecked their
when Oswald became king of Northumbria efforts to bring about a union with the
in the year 634 ;
and
Canterbury several
at fugitives of the ancient British church.
foundations of considerable influence ex They seem to have conducted their work
isted, including a monastery, a library, and among the pagan Engles and Saxons with
schools. This solitary conspicuous success prudence, tact, and earnestness. Some
was probably in large degree owing to the deeper cause for their failure must be
635-] OSWALD, SAINT AND KING. 133

sought for. It may be that a contempt the Roman missionaries, weighed with the
for Italy and the South, which not un- Northmen conquerors in their dislike of,

naturally existed among the Northmen or rather, perhaps, apathetic reception


conquerors, influenced the invaders of of, these missionaries. At all events, the

ST. MATTHEW, FROM THE LINDI^FARNE (OR DURHAM) GOSPEL BOOK : circ. A.D. 7OO.
{British Museum).

Britain these of the conversion of the


against preachers conquerors of Britain
faith of Christ. No doubt these fearless was reserved for another school of teachers
Northmen cherished some respect for the altogether.
Britons who so stoutly and gallantly re The Engle king of Northumbria, after
sisted to the death their conquest; and his decisive victory at the Heavenfield
not improbably the intense dislike of (635), became the dominant power in the
the remnant of the British Christians to island. Oswald was one of those rare souls
134 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [635-

who on the throne united the qualities of His first desire after restoring peace
a great king with those of a great saint. and quiet kingdom, was to make
in his

Among those kings who were in some the peoples of his broad realms Christians.
sense saints, but who in kingly qualities His thoughts at once turned to the old
were sadly deficient, Henry VI. is a loved home of lona, at that time, in the
notable example while in that rarer class
;
first half of the seventh century, in its

in which the true king and the genuine fullstrength and prosperity, the memory
saint are combined, king Alfred of England of Columba still green, and the enthusiasm
and St. Louis of France are conspicuous for true learning and missionary work as
instances. Oswald the Northumbrian, less yet undimmed in that great home of prayer.
known to the everyday student of history, Oswald sent to the monastery of Columba
ranks with these last true great ones ;
for a missionary bishop, who should or

indeed, in respectssome we owe to him a ganise and direct the Christian campaign
greater debt than even to the kingly Alfred, among his Engle peoples. Seghine, the fifth
loved of men, for Oswald must be regarded abbot in succession, to Columba, was then
as the first maker of Christian England. ruling over the great lona community and
It has been well said, that in Oswald a the many daughter-houses of Columba s
new conception of kingship began to blend famous foundation. The first choice of
itself with that of the warlike glory of lona seems to have been an unfortunate
his ancestors, the reckless and gallant sea- one. The monk Gorman, who was chosen
kings. Bede, whose picture of this hero- as missionary bishop whose name in an
saint possesses a singular charm, tells us uncertain tradition has been preserved to

how,
"

by reason of his constant habit us made but little way among Oswald s
of praying giving or thanks to the pagan subjects, and soon returned to his
Lord, he was wont, when he sat, to hold monastery, throwing up his difficult and
his hands
upturned upon his knees."
responsible charge. Nothing,"
"

he is said

During the long early exile which preceded to have declared in a council of the elders
his summons to the throne of his people, of his house, "could be made of the
his training and education among the Engles ; they were a race of untamable
monks of lona had given him that strong savages ;
their spirit was stubborn, even
love of religion which in after time coloured barbarous."

all works and days. Although a great


his As the fathers of Columba s house at
general and able strategist, and at the same length discussed the thorny question of
time a wise and patient ruler, his life was as the Engle mission, one of the monks,
devout as if he lived in the cloister ;
and Aidan, of whose early life we know
frequently half the night was spent by nothing, rose and spoke thus before his
this ancient Engle king in prayer. It is no brethren to the disheartened missionary :

wonder that such a rare soul possessed the "

It seems, my brother," he said,


"

your
key of hearts, and during his too short reign judgment of these ignorant peoples is too
attracted a general enthusiasm, reverence, hard. Your teaching has been too severe j

and love. you have expected too much at first ; you


635-1 THE COMING OF AIDAN. 135

have not, according to the apostolic York, in the southern part 01 Oswald s

counsel, offered them the milk of gentle


first wide dominion York, with ;
its imme
doctrine, so as by degrees to lead them to morial tradition, with its half-finished
the understanding and practice of more church, well-nigh, with the exception of
advanced and deeper commands." Aidan s James the Deacon s little church at
words strongly impressed his brother monks. Catterick, the only spot in the north
All at once turned to him, as the fittest where a few Christians
kept just still

of their number to undertake the difficult burning a feeble lamp of religious life.
work. He accepted the mission without He chose as his home, as the seat of the
delay ;
and receiving consecration as a bishopric of his vast diocese, where well-
bishop, betook himself to king Oswald in nigh all were pagans, a little barren island
Northumbria in the summer of the year to the north of the Tyne and Wear, some
635, just ten years after Paulinus had ten miles from Berwick on the Tweed.
arrived in the north with Edwin s queen Its utter solitude constituted its charm in
Ethelburga. the eyes of the Celtic monk. It was some
Of Paulinus mission, when Aidan came, two miles /from the mainland, from which
there were no visible traces in Northum at low water it could be reached on foot ;

bria neither churches nor schools, nor a only the sorriest crops
treeless, featureless ;

single Christian community. The whole could ever be raised on its barren soil ;

county was pagan the very footprints of


; constantly swept over by the cold, damp,
Paulinus had been obliterated before the North Sea winds. Perhaps its dreary like
lona teacher took up the work. Indeed ness to his own passionately loved lona,

Bede, whose sympathies were certainly where Columba had founded his famous
ever with Rome and her teachers, tells prayer-centre, influenced Aidan s choice of
us that in Bernicia, the northern part of Lindisfarne, known in after days as the Holy
the Northumbrian kingdom, until the Isle. From
melancholy spot Aidan
this
Cross was planted by Oswald just before and his companions, as they looked towards
the fight with Cadwallon in the Heaven- the south, could see the huge tower of
field, no one had ever seen a church, or Bamborough, built by the founder of Os
an altar, or any emblem of the Christian wald s dynasty, king Ida Bamborough,
faith. In the southern parts of the realm so well known later inmediaeval story as
of Oswald, it is probable,
however, that Joyeuse Garde
"

and in the far distance,


";

the mission of Paulinus was not completely with evening tide the lights of Oswald s
forgotten indeed, James the Deacon, the
;
favourite castle could be discerned, gleam

only companion of Paulinus whose name ing over the North Sea waves.
is
preserved, apparently never ceased from But it was probably only at rare inter
his quiet but noble work in the great missionary rested in
Catterick, a vals that

township in the Deira province. his desolate sea-washed home, for his
Aidan chose a strange home for himself labourson the mainland were incessant.
in that heathen land in which he hoped Something in Aidan s character and spirit
to plant his Master s faith. He passed by seems to have mightily touched the wild
136 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [650.

pagan Engles of the north, and to have when he wrote them down were still fresh

won them to listen reverently to his story and vivid in men s minds. It was far on
of the Cross and Redemption. Eloquence, in Aidan s career.
successor, king Oswald s

of course, in no small degree was his; but it Oswin, pained at seeing the loved old man
was not his eloquence which alone attracted ever performing his ceaseless rounds on
the rough Northumbrian Engle ;
it was foot,persuaded the devoted missionary to
his tender, sympathetic, self-sacrificing self accept from him a horse. The king chose
which touched them. Bede, who had his best steed, and gave it
splendidly
no love for Celtic monks, exhausts his caparisoned to Aidan, and for a time he

vocabulary when he writes of this Aidan ;


used it but being, as
;
Bede picturesquely
when he him, the father and the worshipper
"

tells us of his surpassing gentle calls

ness, piety, and self-restraint. The highest of the poor," one day when he met a man
and the lowest, the man-at-arms and the in deep poverty who asked for alms, Aidan
poorest peasant, the king and the slave, dismounted from his horse, and gave it all
went and knelt down with passionate devo harnessed as it was to the poor man. That
tion at the feet of the Celtic missionary. day Aidan dined with the king, who had
Those Celtic evangelists possessed in a been told of his guest s reckless gift of his
strange degree, never possessed since, the horse and trappings. As they sat at meat

magic key of hearts. In all lands their together, the king said Lord Bishop, :
"

terrible austerities, their life-long asceticism, why did you give the horse I specially

their deep, intense sympathy with men, chose for your use to that beggar-man ?
and with those very passions and vices Had I not many a horse of less value, and
which they cursed with awful curses, but other goods I could have given you for
at the same time wept over with the alms ? Why
did you give that special
bitterest tears ;
all this won impulsive one away ? " "

O king," replied the saint,


men in that wild and lawless time, is a horse, which is after all
"

only the son


often enough wearied and stricken with of a mare, dearer to you than the man, who
the sore stress and struggle of that iron is the son of God ? "

And the king was


age of tumult and excess. Teachers like silent, and
thought over the words of
Aidan and Columba could see beauty in Aidan, what they signified, and what he
the fiercest and most cruel barbarian, and meant to teach him. After a time Oswin
had the rare power of evoking that spirit took off his sword, and throwing himself
of tenderness and love which ever lurks at the saint s feet, begged his pardon for

even in the darkest and most abandoned his words of remonstrance. "

Never more
hearts. shall I regret anything of mine that you
One of Bede s stories of this strange, give to the children of God." Then,
great man well illustrates the boundless singularly enough, at the kind and loving
character of his charities and his utter dis words of the Northumbrian king, the

regard of himself ;
and Bede, we must re bishop became very sad, and was noticed
member, was born about twenty-two years weeping. A companion of Aidan s in the

afterAidan s death, so that such stories royal hall asked his master the reason of
MAY THIS HAND NEVER PERISH!" (/. 139).
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [635651-
"

his great sadness. Aidan answered in the successor at Lindisfarne, a name of rare
Celtic tongue, which the king and his power in the north, was one of those who
thanes spoke not I know now the king had been with Aidan from the beginning.
"

will not live long never until now have


; Daily recruits came to him from the vast
I seen a monarch so humble. The nation is Irish monasteries. Monasteries and schools
not worthy of such a prince." And, alas ! were built under Aidan s direction in
his prophetic words were soon verified. various parts of Oswald s dominions, and

Though his monk biographer delights to the Engles, as a people, crowded to hear

give us, in his own graphic, picturesque the universally loved and admired Celtic

way, such curious instances as the scene 01 apostle and his followers. A network of
the giving away the king s horse above Christian fortresses by degrees covered the
related, of Aidan
passionate love for the
s land. The south and North
of Scotland

poor and destitute, the sorrowful and un umberland, Durham, Yorkshire, and even
cared-for, these rare scenes by no means farther afield, were becoming under these

fairly represent Aidan s really beautiful powerful influences rapidly Christian. King
life. He was eminently practical in his Oswald and the royal example seems to
usual ways of working, leaving nothing to have been largely followed by the Engle
chance or passing emotion. His charm of thanes endowed these numerous rising
manner, his zeal and devoted piety, his schools and monasteries with profuse gifts

great learning, attracted many scholars and of lands and property of various descrip
earnest and skilful missionaries, teachers, tions.

and preachers from Ireland, which at that We possess many details of the private life
time we know was the great centre of the led by this eminent saint of God. In the
learning and religious enterprise of west midst of his restless, work-filled hours of
ern Europe. His relations with the famous preaching, teaching, organising, he never
house of lona, close to the scenes of his neglected the constant habit of study.
labours, were most intimate. He began This intense love of learning was one of

by gathering round him a small band of the great characteristic features of Celtic

youths of rare and especial promise ;


monasticism. As a rule, Aidan, in his
several of these, by their splendid work in perpetual mission journeys through the
later amply
life, justified his choice of them, length and breadth of king Oswald s realm,
and showed how far-seeing in human travelled on foot. This habit of walk
character was this true apostle of the ing gave him facilities for entering into

north. conversation with all sorts and conditions

Among these loved pupils of his early of men. While they walked it was the
days were Chad and his brother Cedd, habit of Aidan and his companions tc
the unwearied evangelists of East and meditate on texts of Scripture or to recite
Middle England and Wilfrid, the most
;
Psalms ; they never might be idle.

famous, perhaps, of the northern church With two Northumbrian kings


of the

men, to whom Rome and her school in the famous missionary bishop was on ten
after years owed so much. Eata, too, his of affectionate intimacy, and occasionally,
635651-] WORK OF ST. AIDAN. 139

when he was at his Lindisfarne home, he As regards the teaching of Aidan and
would dine with the king, with whom the lona and Irish missionaries, in all real
the neighbouring fortress of Bamborough, was absolutely identical with
essentials this

built by king Ida, was ever a favourite the doctrine taught at Rome when Gregory

royal residence. Aidan had a church and the Great was pope, or at Canterbury
a bed-chamber hard by Bamborough. On when Augustine ruled as archbishop. The
these occasions, after sitting a short time differences between the Celtic and Roman
at table, Aidan would rise and retire in schools which were as time went on so
order to read with his brethren, or to sadly accentuated, and eventually caused,
" "

pray. Once, it was on a certain Easter or at least were used as pretexts for, the

Sunday, Aidan was with the king as he bitter dissensions between Celtic and Roman
dined. Among the German races these Christianity were after all trivial, and
invitations to the royal table were signs principally consisted in the date appointed
of the most marked distinction. silver A for keeping the solemn Easter Feast, and in
dish, filled with delicacies, was placed the curious difference in the tonsure of
before the king ; just then the officer to the monk and priest. Mass, for this was the
whom the charge of the royal alms was usual name by which the great service of
entrusted entered the dining-hall, and the Church was known,* was celebrated
told the king how a crowd of destitute with probably more in accordance
rites

folk were outside beseeching the king s with what is termed the Gallican than the
alms. King Oswald immediately gave Roman use ;
but the essentials of the
orders that the food, and the silver dish sacred service were absolutely the same,
which contained it, the latter broken in and the language used to express the
pieces, should be divided among these mysteries of the Eucharist was as familiar
poor folk. As the king stretched out his to the disciples of lona or Lindisfarne as
hand to give the order, Aidan seized it to the churchmen of Italy and Gaul. We
and cried, May this hand never perish
"

!
"

read in the beautiful biography of Columba,


Like other remarkable sayings of the saint, composed by Adamnan, abbot of lona,
his words were prophetic. One short within years of the death of Aidan, a
fifty

year after this royal feast at Bamborough, description of Columba s standing before "

Oswald was slain in the fatal fight at the altar and consecrating the sacred obla
Maserfield. The hand was severed from tion." At lona, in Columba s time, there
the mutilated body, and picked up on was however, a daily celebration, and
not,
the battle-field. It was subsequently en at Lindisfarne, at the close of the seventh
shrined in a silver casket and placed in century, Mass was only celebrated on
St. Peter s church, Bamborough and ; Sundays. No traces whatever as yet
Bede says, in day, it was still there
his appear in these Celtic churches of any
undecayed. Tradition loves to assert that worship of or special devotion towards the
this hand, preserved as a precious relic of
*
The full signification and derivation of this
the saint-king, remained undecayed for
term "on the word Mass,"
given in Excursus B,
is
centuries. at the end of the volume.
140 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [651-

Virgin Mary. This remarkable cannot cult northern provinces between the Humber
be said, either, to have formed part of and the Forth, were divided, as we shall
Roman teaching in these early centuries. see, between Oswald s brother Oswiu and
The conventual rule laid down for his kinsman Oswin. Oswin ruled over the
the professed by the southern portion, Deira, including York
" "

religious great
Irish houses, by Columban at Luxeuil, by shire playing, however, little more than
;

Columba at lona, and Aidan at Lindis- the part of an under-king to Penda. But
farne, was most severe much more so than ; during this sad time the Christianity of
the rule of Benedict, which eventually, Aidan and Oswald remained the dominant
probably by reason of gentler precepts, its religion of Deira, and, watched over by
gradually supplanted it on this island, as Aidan, kept steadily winning its way.
well as on the continent of Europe. Of The Celtic missionary bishop was ten
the dress which Aidan habitually wore derly attached to this Oswin, and the
we some curious details in Bede s
possess friendship between them was ever un
history. While on his missionary journeys broken. Indeed Oswin, though not a
he wore sandals, and a thick woollen cu- "

great statesman or soldier like Oswald, or


or cloak
culla,"
in winter these garments
;
his kinsman who ruled in the north, was
were thicker, and a tunic was added. The evidently a most lovable prince. The
front of his head showed the Irish ample picture of his character has been reckoned
tonsure ; behind, the long hair flowed as one of Bede s best and most lifelike

down. portraits. In person he was tall and hand


The labours of Aidan in the north of some, affable in speech and courteous in
England lasted sixteen years eight years ;
behaviour to all sorts and conditions of
with Oswald at his right hand Oswald men, generally beloved and admired ;
from
his dearest friend, the magnificent king of many a distant province men of the noblest

Northumbria, the Emperor," as he has


"

birth came and asked to be thanes in the


been styled, of Britain, certainly the over hall of Oswin of Deira. His deep and un
lord of the largest and richest portion of ostentatious piety and fervent love for the
the island ;
and eight years after Oswald s doctrines of Christ, made him especially
defeat and death at the hands of the precious in the eyes of the saintly Aidan.
heathen Mercian, Penda, at Maserfield His premature death was a most melan
(Oswestry). The last eight years was, choly one ;
he was assassinated by the
perhaps, the more remarkable period, for orders of his jealous kinsman Oswiu, who
it was a period of stress and storm, of afterwards attained the loftiest position in
sorrow and desolation; and during this sad the island.

period of trial the work of Aidan stood. The foul murder of his beloved friend
The foundations of Christianity had been and monarch broke the saintly Aidan s
laid by him too strongly for persecution, heart. He was an old man, and the terrible

troubles, and the sword to uproot, or even news of the assassination of his king brought
to harm them. The attenuated and en on an illness which the worn-out old
feebled empire of Oswald, reduced to the labourer for God had not strength to fight
DEATH OF ST. AIDAN. 141

against. Only twelve days after his friend That night so runs the story of Bede,

king Oswin s death the fatal sickness seized who wrote only a little more than fifty years
Aidan, who was staying in a village under after Aidan s death a shepherd boy, whose

the shadow of the royal castle of Barn- name in after years rang through Europe,
borough, hard by his holy house of Lin- was watching his sheep among the pastures
disfarne. The dying Aidan was too weak of Lammermoor ;
on a sudden he saw a
to be moved. His faithful friends, we read, long stream of light flashing through the

BAMROROUGH CASTLE.
(By permission of Charles P. MacCarthy, Esq.)

laid him on the ground, and erected a darkness of the night,* and in that dazzling
rough tent to shield him from the winds. trail of splendour imagined that he beheld a

Close by him was a little wooden church. crowd of heavenly beings descending to the
Men say that as he was dying he leant against earth. As he watched he saw them quickly
its buttress at the west end, and there, with reascend, and with them a spirit of sur
his head resting on the house of prayer passing brightness, whom they apparently
which he had built years ago in Oswald s had fetched from the earth. He roused his
lifetime, gave up his pure soul to God. companion shepherds, and related to them
The date has been preserved ;
it was the what he had seen. While we sleep," he
"

3ist of August, 651. The day of his death said,


"

we never think of the holy angels


is
fitly designated in the Calendar
"

The who never slumber. So to-night while I


rest of Aidan *
Qui es Aidant.
"

Probably a stream of meteors.


142 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [651-

was awake and watching, I saw a great Celtic speech, with which king Oswald was
company of these bright spirits
carrying perfectly acquainted, owing to his long
from earth to heaven the spirit of some residence during the years of his exile

holy man, who now is gazing at the glories at lona.

of the heavenly mansions and of Christ Great and eminent though Oswald of
the King." The next day the news came Northumbria was, he would have been
to Lammermoor that Aidan, the saint forgotten among the many kings and chiefs
of Lindisfarne, had entered into his rest. of that confused age of war and conquest,

Bede adds that it was this strange vision of had it not been for the undying work of
"

the passing of Aidan


"

which induced the his friend and adviser, Aidan. Who now,
shepherd boy, Cuthbert, to enter upon that save a few Anglo-Saxon students, cares to
tireless career of devotion, toil, and prayer remember such names as Penda of Mercia
which in after years so powerfully in or Edwin of Northumbria ? And yet these
fluenced the life of that eventful age which Northmen in their day ruled over a realm
witnessed the building up the Church of as great, and exercised an influence as far-

our fathers. whose name is still


reaching as did Oswald,
Aidan was interred in his own holy treasured and honoured in our national
house of Lindisfarne. Thirteen years later, annals, after some 1,250 years, as one of

when bishop Colman, his successor, after the chief makers of our England.
the Council of Whitby left Lindisfarne To Oswald belongs the supreme merit
for ever, he took with him to lona some of having discerned the strange and mighty
of the bones of Aidan. In 875 the rest power of the Celtic church. There was
of his remains were placed in the coffin of naturally an antipathy on the part of the
St. Cuthbert, when the Danes threatened Engle and Saxon princes, even when they
the safety of Lindisfarne, and they accom were irresistibly drawn to the story of
panied the relics of Cuthbert in their Christianity, to take as their guides and
long wanderings. as the teachers of their peoples men who
In tracing Aidan s later career, we have belonged to the proscribed and hated Celtic
anticipated somewhat. King Oswald s event race, whom they had driven out of the
ful reign lasted scarcely eight years. Until fairest parts of Britain. That Oswald rose
Aidan acquired perfect familiarity with the superior to national antipathy, and
this

Engle dialect, it seems to have been no placed himself and his nation unreservedly

unusual thing for the king to be present in the hands of the hated Celt, will ever be his

at Aidan s impassioned discourses on the title to honour in England. The immediate


Christian faith, and with his own result of this we have seen in the rapid
lips to change
render in "

English
"

to the great officers which, after the


coming of Aidan and his
of his court, his earls and thanes, the companions, passed over Northumbria. It

burning, eloquent words of his friend was all accomplished in eight short years ;

and teacher, the apostle of his people ;


but the work, rapidly though it was carried
Aidan during the earlier part of his through, was an enduring one, and the work
ministry preferring to speak in the soft done by Aidan and his lona friends has
65 -]
SECRET OF THE CELTIC TEACHERS. 143

endured the testing stress of time and it can only be at best a happy guess. The
The Christianity of the Engles sources of their marvellous success must ever
change.
the Englishmen was an accomplished remain hidden, for the Celtic church as

fact before Oswald s death, which happened represented so faithfully by the two great
only eight years after the coming
of Aidan. missionaries, Columba of lona and Colum-
The secret of the marvellous and endur ban of Luxeuil ; by Gall in Switzerland ;

ing success of the lona Celtic teachers of by Aidan in Northumbria by the


;

Christianity among the North-folk, and the abbots and teachers of such mighty com

comparative failure of Rome among the munities as Moville and Bangor in Ireland
self-same peoples, can only be partially has completely disappeared.

guessed. Rome remains among us the ; Celtic man of God, the missionary
The
sources of her enduring strength and appa of the type of Columba and Aidan, exer

rently undying power, also her weaknesses cised evidently a peculiar fascination over
and faults, are all before us to-day. She the child-like minds of the North-folk, fresh
has changed but little, save perhaps that from their wild, uncultured life among the
her policy has accentuated her weaknesses fiords of Scandinavia and the forests of

and faults since the days of Ethelbert of northern Germany. These half-savage
Kent and Edwin of Northumbria. Augus North-folk, though often cruel and vengeful,
tine and Paulinus, under other names, are often swayed hither and thither by fatal

with us still. Pope Gregory the Great s passions, were in many ways generous
successor, strangely little altered, issues and noble they were simple, untaught
;

his wise or foolish decrees from the same children, waiting for someone to lead them
imperial centre. Changeless in the midst and guide them into the better way.
of change, deathless when all around seems On these untutored hearts the cold and

dying, Rome lives on as it did aforetime, calculating, highly cultured Italians, austere
now then a mighty,
as if not the mightiest, and pure, but often self-seeking and proud,
power in our world. To argue, then, on made but little impression. The stateliness

the causes which were at work in the of their worship, their splendid organisa
seventh century and which only allowed tion, their love for order and obedience,
Rome a partial success, is easy : for Rome, failed to touch the Northman s heart.
little changed, is with us now. The beauty of holiness had to be pre
But to speak with anything like absolute sented in another form, before these un
certainty of the causes which led to the taught children of the North for they
strange, the perfect, the enduring success were little more could recognise its power
of the Celt in the person of Aidan and and desirableness.
the lona men, in the evangelisation of the Just what Augustine and Paulinus and
Engles the Englishmen is another their followers lacked, Columba and
matter. It is it must remain one of Aidan and the Celtic school of teachers
the secrets of history. may guess We ; possessed. The ineffable and tireless
and though probably our guess may be a tenderness, the deep and wide human
happy one, may even touch the truth, yet sympathy of the Irish and Scottish
144 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [651-

preachers, at once found the hearts or In addition to the mighty effect produced

Engle and Saxon. That mighty, tender by these rare gifts and graces, the king,
love kindled by the love of the Crucified, the chieftain, the thane, as they grew in
which burned in the hearts of men like knowledge and experience, became con
Aidan,* a love which flowed over the sciousthat these devoted and earnest,
souls of men to all that the Crucified these self-denying and generous men, were
made beasts of the field and birds of the no mere enthusiastic talkers, but possessed
air a love which kinship and
claimed vast stores of learning and knowledge that ;

brotherhood with all things created, a love their homes in Ireland and Scotland were
which understood and chose to share the world-renowned centres of learning, whither
lot of the poor, the weak, the wretched ;
resorted crowds of disciples, even from
this it was which comforted so many those far Southern seats of wealth and
stricken souls with boundless sympathy.
its culture which were the object at once of
Their awful severity towards all wrong the cupidity and wonder of all Northmen.
doing, their terrible sternness, alternated It seems to us sad that this wonderful

with this deep tenderness in its number Celtic Christianity should so soon have
took the impressionable
less forms, literally
disappeared, giving place to another form
hearts of these North-folk by storm; and of our Master s religion in which the old
the conquest of hearts was completed by Celtic fervour and passionate enthusiasm
the contrast which the Celtic preachers was wanting. For so it was to be and
presented in their own lives, coloured with doubtless it was well. Yet while in the
rigid asceticism, prolonged fasting, cruel long roll of
great churchmen many names
penances, countless vigils, long night occur to us names such as Boniface,
watches, ceaseless prayer. The Celtic Alcuin, Dunstan, Anselm, Bernard, Fran
missionaries would have naught to do with cis, Dominic which in different lands
land or gold or honours. They wanted have played a more or less noble part in
nothing, asked for nothing, but the hearts the world s history, and shown themselves
of the men of war, to they told whom in various ways
"

lovers of men,"
none
the story which they accepted themselves since the Celtic men of God seem to have
with a passionate belief the story of the possessed in equal degree that key to
cross and the passion of the Christ, and His human hearts which Columba, Aidan, and
blessed work of redemption among men. their disciples used to such good purpose
* Dean Church. and such wonderful effect.
DORCHESTER ABBEY. Photo: H. W. Taunt, Oxford.

CHAPTER VIII.

WORK OF THE CELTIC MISSIONARIES IN ENGLAND.

Wessex Influence of Oswald s Marriage upon the King of Wessex Bishop Birinus King Sigebert of
East Anglia Slow Progress of Christianity, and Fresh Impulse again given by Celtic Preachers
Fursey His Poetic Visions, and their Influence upon the Doctrine of Purgatory Gradual Spread
of Christianity in East Anglia In Spite of Defeat by Penda Mercia under Penda The Christian
and Pagan Champions meet Death of Oswald Reverence for his Memory in England Defeat
and Death of Penda The East Saxons Their Evangelisation also due to Celtic Missionaries
after Roman Failure Cedd Summary of the Evangelistic Work of the Roman and Celtic
Missionaries.

historian ever loves to linger information of that great division of the

THE over the


and to put
life of a favourite hero,
off the recital of the
island known as Wessex, and her early

story of conquest and settlement. Wessex,


day when the grave closed over one the country of the West Saxons, ex
whom for a time his pen has clothed tended from the Thames to the Severn,
with flesh and blood. Before telling from the little kingdom of Kent to the
of that dread day which finished all too mountains of Wales, where the Britons
soon the life and reign of Oswald, just a had entrenched themselves and for a ;

few lines must be devoted to his marriage, .


long period after its complete conquest
which, as far as we can see through the by the Northmen exercised comparatively
mists of an age which possesses only scant little influence in Britain, owing to the

records of this portion of his life s story, perpetual dissensions and bloody wars
had far-reaching consequences. Bede, our among its own especial tribal chiefs and
unerring guide for this
period, well-nigh kings. During much of this dark period it

us here. He evidently had no detailed


fails remained pagan ;
no Christian influences
J
146 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [634-

seem to have penetrated into what is now was broken by the dissensions which arose
known as Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, between rival chiefs of the royal line of

Somerset, Wilts, and Gloucestershire, Cerdic. These prevented this powerful


which roughly made up that broad tract and widely extended from exercising
tribe
of England then known as Wessex. the influence in Britain which their num
Montalembert s words on the brighter bers and the vast extent of the country
day which at last dawned on this part appropriated by them, generally known
of England deserve to be quoted. In as Wessex, would naturally have given

tensely Roman, more or less opposed to to the West Saxons. Successively, Kent,
every Christian influence which had not East Anglia, and then, to a still greater
its source in Rome, he yet writes as follows degree, Northumbria, we have seen oc
of Wessex :
"

From the cloister of Lindis- cupying the principal place and exercising
farne, and the heart of those districts in a general supremacy in the island ;
but
which the popularity of ascetic pontiffs Wessex never during this period came to
such as Aidan, and martyr kings such as the front.
Oswald and Oswin, took day by day a In the reign of Oswald (634), a king
deeper root, Northumbrian Christianity of the Odin-descended line of Cerdic,
spread over the southern kingdoms. . . .
Cynegils, was recognised by his fellow
What is distinctly visible is the influence Saxon tribesmen as king over a large
of Celtic priests and missionaries, every portion at least of Wessex. About this
where replacing or seconding the Roman time, Bede tells us how a missionary
missionaries, and reaching districts which named Birinus, about whose nationality
their predecessors had never been able to and previous history nothing is known,
enter. The stream of the divine word under a commission from Pope Honorius
thus extended itself from north to south, I.,landed in Hampshire, with the view of
and its slow but certain course reached in sowing the seed of life in districts of
succession the peoples of the Heptarchy.
all Britain where no Christian preacher had
Life and light infused themselves through as yet penetrated. Birinus found Hamp
all, and everywhere, along with the im shire entirely pagan, and remained in these

maculate sacrifice, the hymns of a people parts. King Cynegils consented to receive
freed from the yoke of idolatry rose to baptism. Oswald, the saint-king of North
wards the living God." * He then describes umbria, appears, however, to have exercised
what he called the progress of the Celtic considerable influence in the matter of this

monks, trained in the school of the great conversion of the king of Wessex. Prob

Columba, into the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms ably to extend the Northumbrian power
south of the ffumber. in the south of the island, Oswald asked
For some two centuries after the early for and obtained the hand of the daughter
settlements of the West Saxons in the of Cynegils of Wessex in marriage. The
south of the island, the strength of Wessex great Northumbrian came south, and
before his marriage witnessed the baptism
"Monks of the West." of his future father-in-law, the Wessex
633-1
CHRISTIANITY IN WESSEX 147

king, at a place named Dorchester, near Wessex king. But Christianity, in spite
the modern Abingdon, a few miles from of all the labours of Birinus, made but a
Oxford". Oswald and Cynegils settled feeble lodgment at first in this part of
Birinus as bishop at Dorchester, where the Britain ;
for Kenwald, the son and successor
ancient abbey church of St. Peter and St. of Cynegils, was a pagan, and only after a
Paul occupies the traditional spot which period of exile into which the army of the
witnessed the meeting of Oswald and his heathen Penda of Mercia had driven him,
father-in-law, and the solemn baptism of did he renounce the worship of Woden.
the latter, the king of Wessex, from whom This Kenwald was reinstated as king in
the present Royal House of England is 648, and then Christianity made a fresh
lineally descended. start in Wessex, owing to the fervid
From Dorchester as his centre, Birinus preaching of a Celtic missionary from Ire
went up and down among the West Saxons, land, a Frank named Agilbert, who became
preaching and baptising, "calling many in the year 650 the bishop of the West
people to the Lord," in Bede s quaint lan Saxon peoples.
guage, building and consecrating churches, These few bare facts are all that is

and in the end was laid to rest in this same known of Christianity in that great portion
Dorchester. But Bede only gives us this <
of our island which lay between Kent and
bare summary of ,his work no detailed
;
the Severn, in the first half of the seventh
information was procurable in his day not ; century. We
thus gather that only a very
a single feature of his successes or failures, partial conversion of the pagan conquerors
save the baptism of Cynegils under the took place, and that what little was done
influence of Oswald, is known to us. The was mainly owing to Oswald s influence

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle just mentions the in the first place, while subsequently the
fact that in the year 636 king Cwichelm, work was taken up by missionaries from
son of Cynegils, was baptised at Dorches the Celtic church in Ireland.

ter, and how in 639 Birinus baptised king

Cuthred, a son of Cwichelm, at the same Engle or Angle tribes occupied the eastern
place. counties of Britain, who were closely allied
Any direct commission from Pope by Engles of Northum
tribal ties to the

Honorius to Birinus seems a little doubtful, bria on the north, and to the Engles of
for no communication between Birinus and Mercia on the west. The supremacy over
Canterbury, the headquarters of the Roman the extensive tract of the island usually

mission, seems ever to have existed. This spoken of as East Anglia, after the death
would surely have been the case had of the East Engle king, Redwald, who in

Birinus been commissioned by Rome, as his lifetime an acknowledged


exercised
Rome and Canterbury were in constant supremacy over the Mercian Engles, was
communication. It is more probable that constantly a matter of dispute between the
the attempt to Christianise Wessex was Engle kings of Northumbria and Mercia,
the direct work of Oswald of Northumbria, who in turn claimed the over-lordship of

after his alliance with the daughter of the East Anglia.


148 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [633-

Wehave already noticed Redwald s un of the island. This Irish monk, whose name
usual procedure in the question of religion, was Fursey, was assisted by several com
and how he set up an altar to Christ by panions, his kinsmen and pupils. They
the side of the altars of Woden and Thor. came to East Anglia about A.D. 633. The
Edwin s exile and
This was in the days of usual enthusiasm for the new faith was
Paulinus residence at Redwald s court, kindled by this Irishman and his fellow-
about the year 617. Under Edwin and missionaries, and the rapid conversion of
Northumbrian influence, Redwald s son the eastern Engles was largely due to
and successor, Eorpwald, became a Christian their work and example. Their head
convert, but he failed to carry his East quarters were fixed on the site of the

Engle people with him in his adoption or modern Burgh Castle in Suffolk, where
Christianity, and by a domestic conspiracy their community was endowed by king

he was killedin 628. His half-brother Sigebert s bounty with a large estate, sur
Sigebert became king in his room. Sige- rounded with woods and near to the sea.
bert had long been an exile from his Here the Irish monk erected a great
country, and had resided in Gaul. During monastery, which was soon afterwards,
his sojourn the Franks, Sigebert
among according to Bede, adorned with more
had become an earnest Christian convert, stately buildings and further endowed.
and had devoted himself to letters. He is This great religious house became the
known as Sigebert the Learned. On his centre and mother-house of various other
return to East Anglia, in 630-631, he monastic foundations in the eastern
was accompanied by a devoted and earnest counties great houses of prayer and
Burgundian bishop named Felix, who learning which revered Fursey as their
received much assistance from Canterbury founder. They were mostly double com
and its flourishing monastic schools. Bede munities of monks and nuns, according to
writes of this Felix as "

a pious cultivator the Celtic usage. Fursey subsequentl;


of the spiritual field,"
and speaking of his retired from East
Anglia, apparent!
episcopate of seventeen years as a time hopelessly dispirited at the success of the
full of happiness for the Christian cause, heathen Penda of Mercia. hear We
dwells on the good omen of his name, him, however, again in Gaul, where he
"Felix."
Sigebert settled this Felix at founded the monastery of Lagny, a small
Dunwich, a city now swept away by the town on the Marne, a few miles north of
encroachment of the North Sea. Paris. He died in the year 650. In Gaul
The king and the bishop made some his name is venerated as one of that

progress in Christianising the Engles of


"

goodly fellowship
"

which took up and


the eastern counties. But the great im developed the vast, many-sided work of
pulse towards their conversion was given that noblest of the noble band of Irish

by the arrival of one of those devoted missionaries the saintly Columban.


Celtic missionaries from Ireland, whose The close of king Sigebert s career was
enthusiasm was the principal agent in the remarkable. He was the first example
conversion of the North-folk in most parts among the Anglo-Saxons of a king aban-
633-1
CHRISTIANITY IN EAST ANGLIA. 149

doning his great position as a sovereign chiefs, aware of the old skill in war of their

and entering the cloister. But his end cloistered king, Sigebert, appealed to his

was not that peaceful quiet one of which he patriotism, and induced him to leave his
dreamed. That defender of the old pagan cell and to lead their army against the

"THE KING-MONK FELL IN THE ROUT OF HIS OLD EAST ANGLIAN SUBJECTS."

I religion of theNorthmen, Penda king of dreaded Penda and the Mercian host. He
I
Mercia, whose restless ambition and deter- arm himself with his old sword,
refused to
I mined opposition to Christianity had made but with a wooden staff he guided the
I him so long a terror to Northumbria, was campaign. It was, however, in vain to
I resolved to bring his East Anglian kins- strive with the more numerous and
I men under his rule he invaded and harried
; powerful Mercian forces, and the king-
I the eastern counties. The East Anglian monk, with his staff in his hand, fell
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [633-

in the rout of his old East Anglian angelic guides bade him look back upon
subjects. the world he had left, and there he saw a

Fursey (Fursseus), the Irish


missionary mighty fire. They told him it was the fire

monk, is celebrated, however, among the which would consume the world, the fire

famous early makers of Christian England which would try every man according to
for something more than a successful the merits of his work. In this awful fire

career among a heathen people as a fervid Fursey was allowed to see the tormented
teacher of the better way. The stranger "

souls of men of men who were under

on the dank marshy shores of the oozy chastisement, yet not lost. Being after
Yare, contemplating the lichen-encrusted wards restored to the body, for the rest of
ruins of the Roman his life he bore upon his shoulder and jaw
camp, Burgh Castle or
Gariononum, scarcely supposes that those the mark of the fire which he had felt in

grey walls once enclosed the cell of an


his disembodied the flesh showing
soul,

anchorite destined to exercise a mighty what the soul had suffered. Bede con
influence upon the dogma and genius of cludes his curious recital, of which we have
Roman Christendom. This was the Mile only given a brief summary, with these
sian Scot Fursaeus (Fursey), who, received vivid words An ancient brother of our
"

in East Anglia by king Sigebert, there monastery [he is


speaking of Jarrow] is still

became enwrapped in the trances which living who is wontto declare that a very
disclosed the secrets of the world beyond sincere and religious man told him that he
the grave. . . . Fursasus kindled the had seen Fursey himself in the province of
spark which occasioned the first
. . . the East Angles, and heard these visions
of the metrical compositions, from whose from his mouth, adding that, though it
combinations centuries later the Divina was most sharp winter weather and
in the

Commedia of Dante arose."* a hard frost, and the man was sitting in a
To the account of this vision, or rather thin garment when he related it, yet he
visions, for hewhat took place in
relates sweated as if he had been in the greatest

two of these remarkable trances, Bede heat of summer, either through excessive
devoted one of the longest chapters in the fear or spiritual consolation."

third book of his history. He was thought The visions by Bede of the
related

worthy, said our great Anglo-Saxon chron Irish Fursey, deservedlyhonoured as trie:
icler, to see a vision from God from even ; Apostle of East Anglia, have been dwelt
ing the cock crowed he was permitted
till upon at some length here, not because of
to see a choir of angels, and to hear the their literary interest as being the first of

praises which are sung in heaven ;


he saw similar pieces which suggested the great
not only the joys of the blessed, but the poem of Dante, but because it was the first
conflicts of evil spirits for the souls of men recorded legend of those dreams of the
who had departed this life. In his trance, night dreamed by Celtic and Saxon recluses,
when he had been lifted up on high, his which instigated the members of monastic
communities, founded in this period mainly
* s "Normandy and Celtic (Irish) monks in different parts of
Palgrave England." by
633] THE VISIONS OF FURSEY.
Europe, to agree upon periodical com parts altogether. King Anna was a devout

memorations enabling them to join in Christian, and he is remarkable in the


common prayer for the repose of the dead Christian story of England chiefly for the
under chastisement, but not lost." The
"

splendid zeal for monasticism shown by


earliest community which seems to have the princesses of his house. We shall

work
practised this of faith and charity meet them and their works later on.
were the monks of St. Gall, that great Anna, who was little more than an under-
Swiss religious house founded by the well- king in the supremacy of Penda of Mercia,
known companion of Columba, St. Gall,
the contemporary and probably the friend
BRITAIN.
of Fursey. The Feast of All Souls, formally
A.D. 642-655.
instituted in the eleventh century, and the
mediaeval developments of the doctrine of

Purgatory, which was fraught with such


momentous consequences in the story of
the Reformation, may fairly be referred to
those strange visions of the night,* of which
the dream of the Irishman Fursey was
the earliest and the most remarkable.
After the crushing defeat and the death
of Sigebert, a kinsman of the slain monk-
king was chosen as the East Anglian king ;

he possessed the singular name of Anna.


As an independent Engle power East Anglia
had ceased to But the quiet in
exist.

fluence of Dunwich, and the


Felix at

strange magnetic power of Fursey and his PENDA S DOMINIONS.


companion, had laid the foundations of
Christianity in the eastern counties too perished in one of Penda s ceaseless raids

firmly to be uprooted by a Mercian harry in the year 654.

ing, however cruel and devastating and ;

paganism gradually faded away in these Mercia may be understood generally to


include the Midland counties of England.
* We
have already recorded the terrible austerities
of these devoted Celtic monks, who carried the
Its conquerors belonged to the Engle stock.
practice of fasting to the extent of actual semi-
It embraced roughly all the country that
starvation, which too often left them a helpless lies between the Thames, the Humber, and
prey to the pestilences so common in those days.
the Severn. But under its supremacy were
Modern medical science has established that such
a statebodily inanition frequently causes
of included large districts mainly inhabited
semi-delirious visions of the mind and it is of ;
by West Saxon tribes, notably in the
interest to trace, as we may perhaps legitimately
south-west parts of Mercia. The exact date
do, the rise of an error to the ascetic excesses of
these saints of the early ages. of the earlier conquests of the Engles in
152 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [626-653.

the Midlands is uncertain. It was not champion of the old Northmen s religion
until the accession of the famous Penda, in the island. The prop and sword of
"

in 626, that Mercia became a formidable heathenism, as he has been styled, his name
power in the island, and entered into com was long a terror to the inmates of cell
petition with Northumbria for the over- and minster in every Christianised district.
lordship of the widely extended Engle There is a sort of weird grandeur in the
career of one who in his time slew five

kings, and who seemed as irresistible as


*
destiny."

For the first half of the eventful seventh

century, while Christianity was gradually


making progress with rapidity in York
shire and in the district north of the
Humber, slowly in the southern and
western counties, fitfully in the eastern

portion of the island the whole of the


Midlands remained pagan. No missionary
preacher during period appears to
this
have penetrated into the broad lands ruled
over by the iron hand of the heathen
Penda. Only in the last years of the old

pagan warrior do we discern any signs of


change. His son, Peada, whom he had
associated with himself in the government,
and who, appointed by his father, was
reigning about the middle of the century
over the Middle Engles as under-king,
wished to marry the daughter of the
ST. CUTHBERT, WITH HEAD OF OSWALD. Christian king of Northumbria, and, mainly
(St. Mary s, Oxford.)
for love of the princess Alchfleda, adopted
tribes. Penda was already fifty years of age the faith of the Northumbrian royal house.
when he became His predecessors
king. This marriage eventually led to the intrc
Crida and Wibba, were kings in Mercia duction of Christianity into the Midlam
before him, but acknowledged the over- the great division of Britain known
lordship, first of Ethelred of Kent, and Mercia. Peada brought the Princess Alch
afterwards of Redwald of East Anglia. fleda into Penda s realm in the
year 653.
Penda was evidently a man of no ordinary We now return again to Northumbriz
genius ;
he seems to have welded the the home of real life and energy in
various Engle tribes of the Midlands into one new in and to its
Christianity Britain,
powerful kingdom, and for thirty years noble sovereign, king Oswald. The short
from 626 to to 655 was the representative * Prof.
Bright.
626-653.] OSWALD AND PENDA. 153

digression which has interrupted the had adopted the new religion of Christ as
narrative of the great work of Aidan of preached with fervour and enthusiasm
Lindisfarne, Oswald
s friend, was necessary by Aidan Penda and the Middle and
;

in order that the progress of the religion Western Engles clung with bitter despera
of the Cross in the other great Engle and tion to the gods of their forefathers.
Saxon kingdoms in the island might be Penda preferred Woden to Christ, and

Photo : A. H. Pitcher; Gloucester.


ST. OSWALD S PRIORY, GLOUCESTER.

related, and the influence which North- constituted himself the champion of the
umbria exercised in this work of conver war-god of the pagan Norsemen.
sion understood^ Oswald
beneficent reign
s The immediate cause of dispute which
of eight years was prematurely brought to led to the fatal war seems to have been the
a close owing to the bitter jealousy for supremacy over East Anglia, which was
supremacy between the Northumbrian and coveted alike by Oswald and Penda. The
Mercian divisions of the great Engle two Engle kings, both in their several
family. As far we can see into that remote ways so famous in the annals of this

age, these jealousies were accentuated by age, met in deadly combat at Maserfield
the religious inclinations of the rival in the year 642 ;
the scene of the battle is

houses. Oswald and the Northern Engles a disputed point. It is generally supposed
154 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [642.

that the modern town of Oswestry the head of St. Oswald in his arms.
marks the scene of Oswald s defeat About thirty years after the fight at Maser-
and death, and the familiar name of field,Osthryd, a queen of the Mercians,
Oswestry Oswald s tree still commemor wife to a son and successor of Penda, king
ates the beloved Christian hero. The Ethelred, removed the bones of her uncle
Northumbrian king was outnumbered, and, presumably the rest of the hero s
hemmed in by armed foes, fell, fighting remains to the great Lincolnshire abbey
valiantly to the last. Bede lovingly dwells of Bardney.
on the beautiful tradition which relates A romantic story is related by Bede
how Oswald died praying for his soldiers in reference to these sainted relics. When
falling round him. His last words were : the waggon containing the venerable bones
"

May God save their souls." of the great king, sent by queen Osthryd,
When
the mutilated body of the dead arrived at Bardney, the monks, still
king was brought to Pen da, the savage actuated by the old Mercian jealousy of

worshipper of Woden decreed its further the Northumbrian sovereign, refused to


dismemberment. The head and hands receive the remains ;
the waggon with its

were struck off and fixed on stakes, and sacred charge was left outside the monastery
thus exposed for a whole year, till his gates. That night the monks saw a pillar
brother Oswiu rescued the sad remains. of light blazing above the waggon, visible
The hero s head was then carried to to all the country-side. In the morning,
Lindisfarne and reverently interred by struck by the heavenly portent, they
Aidan there ;
the hands one of them, the eagerly opened their doors, washed the
right hand, it will be remembered, had bones with all reverence, placed them in a

been blessed by St. Aidan after the per loculus, or chest, and hung over the chest
formance of an extraordinary charitable the gold and purple banner of the
act were enshrined in a silver casket and Northumbrian king, which the days of in

placed in St. Peter s church on the hispower and grandeur had been carried
summit of the rock of Bamborough. The before Oswald.
"

blessed
"

hand, according to a widespread The hallowed body was not, how


tradition, remained for centuries white and ever, allowed to rest in peace, for in 909
uncorrupted. The head of the saint-king St. Oswald s remains, or at least the
was disinterred u
in the year 875, and placed Bardney portion of them, were brought
"

within the coffin of St. Cuthbert. William by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred, lady
of Malmesbury relates how in Durham of the Mercians, to Gloucester, where
Cathedral the tomb of St. Cuthbert was she built a small priory to the memory of
opened, and the head of Oswald, king and Oswald. Traditionally Oswald now sleeps
martyr, was found between the saint-bishop s where Ethelfleda laid him, beneath tht

arms. Hence the common representation shadow of the proud cathedral


of St. Oswald, as, for instance, on the north Gloucester. The
spot at Oswestry where
side of the steeple of St. Mary s, Oxford, the king to whom the introduction of
where St. Cuthbert is represented as holding Celtic Christianity in Britain is mainly
642651-] OSWALD S DEFEAT AND DEATH. 155

owing was reported to have fallen, was East Anglia and the whole of the centre

long the object of many a pious pilgrim ot the island was now directly under the

age and the grass stained with his blood


;
Mercian sway. The power of Kent and
was reputed to be greener and fairer than itsJutish king was insignificant. Wessex

any other grass. was not united and for the time Northum-
;

All this may seem childish all this bria, from the Humber to the Forth, was
reverence exaggerated we may wonder ; apparently at the mercy of the pagan
now at the number of churches and abbeys victor of the Maserfield. It seemed at
named after Oswald ;
the respect and first as though the cause of Christianity in
regard for long years paid to his name in Britain was doomed, now that its great
distant foreign lands may excite our won defender was defeated and slain, now that
der. age was the age of the
But this the formidable champion of the gods of
childhood of the great English people as ;
the old Northmen had triumphed so sig

yet they were untutored, uncultured, in nally. Even the diminished kingdom of
some respects unspoiled. To the Engle in Northumbria split into two parts ;
the
the days of Oswald and Aidan, Christianity northern division, the old realm of
was indeed a revelation with the fresh bloom Bernicia, and much of the Scottish low
of God s heaven on it, before it vanished lands accepting Oswiu, the brother of the
under the touch of men s hands. They slain Oswald, as king ;
the southern
saw miracle and sign and portent in the portion of Deira, which included York
everyday processes of Nature. They felt shire, choosing as its sovereign Oswin, a
the Christ of whom Aidan and Oswald told kinsman of the fallen Oswald, one of the
them, around them, about them, ever near old royal stock of Deira. The new king
them, and they honoured and loved the was great-nephew of ^Ella, the original

king who gave them Aidan and the beauti conqueror of Deira, his father being Osric,
ful faith of Christ with a passionate, perhaps the pagan king who had reigned for one
with an unreasoning, devotion. But can disastrous year after the fall of Edwin at

we find fault with them and their cult of Hatfield. Over this southern portion of
their saintly hero -king ? Such hero- the once - powerful
kingdom of Oswald^
worship surely refines and elevates the Penda exercised for some years the
people who pay it and we, in a different
; supreme authority, Oswin being little
way perhaps from them, shall do well to more than his under-king. The north,,
treasure with a reverent regard the where the Mercian authority was never ac
memory of this man, one of the greatest knowledged, year by year Penda harassed
of the makers of England the memory of by continual and desolating forays. This
the man whom Bede well and truly calls state of things continued for about eight
the loved of But, strange to
"

God."
years (from 642 to 651-2).
The immediate result ot the battle of say, Oswald s distracted realm clung all the

the Maserfield (Oswestry) and the death of while firmly to the teaching of the Cross-
the hero-king Oswald, was the supremacy This was, no doubt, largely owing to the
of Penda, king of Mercia, in Britain. presence and unwearied enthusiasm of
1 56 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [651-

Aidan, who was the personal friend and decisive battle went against him. The
loved teacher of Oswin, one of the two words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
in their sharp, stern language tell the
sovereigns.
At the end of these eight years, Oswiu, story of the
great pagan rout tersely
the king of the northern portion of but In the year 655 king
effectively.
"

Oswald s kingdom, who eventually restored Oswy (Oswiu) slew king Penda at Win-
the fallen grandeur and power of North- widfield [Winwaed was a small river near

umbria, treacherously assassinated (651) Leeds] and thirty men of royal race with

Oswin of Deira, Aidan s friend, and again him, and some of them were kings, and
united the northern and southern provinces. the Mercians became Christians and . . .

Already, in the picture of Aidan s life, this Peada (the Christian), the son of Penda,
dark crime has been alluded to, and the succeeded to the kingdom of the Mer
death of the broken-hearted Aidan as the A
verse of an old battle-song of
cians."

immediate consequence has been related. the conquerors has been preserved to us
This murder of the popular and well-loved
"

In the river Winwaed is avenged the slaughter of


Deiran king Oswin, the one dark spot
is
Anna,
in the brilliant and useful career of Oswiu. The slaughter of the Kings Sigberht and
No apologist has been found for the Ecgrice,
*
The slaughter of the Kings Oswald and Edwin."
northern king here, although historians
love to dwell on the splendour and use It was during the
last four or five years of

fulness of the subsequent career of this Penda reign that a permanent Christian
s

Oswiu. settlement was established in Essex and


The union of Northumbria and the great Middlesex among the Northmen conquerors
abilities of itsking gradually restored the known as East Saxons. It is strange that
old influence of the Northern Engles in East the great capital of the world-wide empire
Anglia. was to put an end to this fast-
It afterwards to be won by these Saxon and

growing influence of the Northern Engles, Engle peoples, whose early fortunes and
that king Penda determined to strike a slow conversion to Christianity in our
decisive blow, which should crush the rising island we have been relating London,
power of Oswiu and Northumbria. But fellwithin the limits of the territory of
it was Penda s last effort. The heathen the most undistinguished of the North
warrior was growing very old. His son and men invaders. The East Saxon in his

under-king, Peada, had married Oswiu s narrow territory, well-nigh entirely hem
daughter, the princess Alchfleda, and had med in by Jute and Engle, never in this
embraced Christianity. The pagan influence early story of England played an influenti<
in the heart of the Mercian country was thus part. In the
blush of his early suc
first

undermined. Nevertheless Penda s array cesses, Augustine, with the aid of his faithful
which he led against the Northern Engles *
Anna, Sigberht (Sigebert) and Ecgrice were
was a formidable one Christian Kings of East Anglia Oswald and Edwin
thirty mighty ;

were the two well-known Northumbrian monarchs,


earldomen and thanes rallied round the
who fell before Penda at the battles of Hatfield and
doughty champion of Woden. But the the Maserfield.
CELTIC MISSIONARY PREACHING.
J58 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [653-

friend Ethelbert, the Jutish king of Kent, It has been related how in the last years
established Mellitus as missionary bishop of Penda, the pagan Mercian conqueror,
in Essex and Middlesex, and this early his son Peada loved a Christian princess,

preacher of the faith fixed upon the re Alchfleda, daughter of the great Northum
stored and growing city of London as the brian Oswiu. Partly, no doubt, for her
seat of his bishopric and the centre of his sake, Peada became a Christian, and deter
work. The story of the foundation and mined to introduce his new faith into those

first building of St. Paul s and the West South-Engle districts in which lay Bedford
Minster, has been told. But dark days and the Trent. From his father-in-law s
for Christianity came quickly on in these land, on the advice of Finan, the successor
parts, and the Christian teachers were of Aidan at Lindisfarne, four missionaries

rudely driven away by the people and were chosen to assist Peada s work. One
chiefs, who preferred the old faith of their of these, Cedd, an Engle, a monk of Lindis
Norsemen ancestors to the new teaching. farne, was a man of singular vigour and
Mellitus fled, and the Christian colony tireless enthusiasm, and upon him the
large or small, we possess no records which choice of Oswiu fell when, about a year

throw any light upon its numbers or its later, the East Saxon king Sigebert applied
influence was dispersed. We ask in vain for a missionary teacher to reconvert his

what became of the primitive St. Paul s people. This king Sigebert, known in
u
and the West Minster for some thirty-;
the Chronicles as the good," had con
six years a cloud ofimpenetrable darkness tracted a deep friendship and admiration
restsover the Christian story of Essex and for the great Engle king Oswiu, and used
Middlesex. to visit him in the north. It was Oswiu
Once more we find the Engle north of the who persuaded Sigebert to become a
island busied about this distant province, Christian, and the story relates how this
by a people of a different
colonised, too, East Saxon king and Penda s son Peada
stock by Saxons. It seems strange that were baptised together in the north some
no record is preserved of any attempts where about A.D. 653. The Christian rite
made to re-sow the seeds of the faith in was performed by Finan of Lindisfarne
these eastern districts on the part of the at a royal residence of Oswiu, named At
"

neighbouring, Christian Kent, during all the Wall,"


near the old Roman wall
these years ;
no record exists of any Severus, close to Newcastle.
effort to pick up the dropped threads of Cedd was subsequently consecrated

Augustine s work. There seems to have bishop at Lindisfarne, and set about his
been a lack of missionary zeal in the work with ardour. His labours of evangel
Roman church of Canterbury, after its isation were crowned with the success
first ardour in the days of Augustine had which usually seems to have attends
been spent. these early Celtic teachers for Cedd, ;

The evangelisation of Essex and Middle though an Engle born, was a monk of
sex about the middle of this century Lindisfarne, and had been trained carefully
(the seventh) came about in this \vise. in the spirit of the famous schools of lona
6 5 4-] CEDD S WORK IN ESSEX. 159

and Ireland. ~We hear of him ordaining disease. Thirty of his East Saxon disciples,
numerous priests and deacons to assist monks of one of his Essex foundations,
him in preaching and baptising of his ; hearing of their loved master s death,
founding many churches and monasteries. made all haste to Lastingham ; they
The centres of bishop Cedd s activity were would at least be near his grave. They
Tilaburg, the modern Tilbury on the soon rejoined him ;
for only a few days
Thames, and a place now destroyed by after their arrival at his favourite Yorkshire
the sea, called Ythanceaster, probably the
Roman Othonas. Singularly enough,
London, the old site of Mellitus see, is

never mentioned in Cedd s successful work


in Essex and Middlesex.
Cedd was in the habit of betaking him
self when he could to his old home in the

north, no doubt to gather from Finan


and other fathers of Lindisfarne, who had
known the saintly Aidan, fresh stores of

courage and enthusiasm for his hard and


difficult task. In one of these visits he
received a noble grant of land from Ethel-

wald, a sub-king of Oswiu, upon which


he founded the subsequently famous
monastery of Lastingham, between York
and Whitby (or Streonashalch) under the
Pickering hills.

The close of this suqcessful missionary s


OSWIU AND PEADA.
lifegives one some idea of the passionate
love he and men of like spirit with himself
monastery, the whole thirty were swept
were able to breathe into their disciples away by the same dire disease.
and pupils. It was years after, apparently This same yellow plague of which Cedd
when, on one of his visits to his
in 664, died was especially fatal in the district
home of Lastingham and the north, the round the mouth of the Thames, and a
"

Yellow Pest,"
so called from the ghastly great pagan reaction passed over the
yellow hue which came over the bodies of country where Cedd had preached with so
its victims one of those fierce and deso much power and success. King, thane,
lating diseases which in that day used to and people rivalled each other to restore

rage at not infrequent intervals over the fallen altar of the offended Woden,
Europe was slaying its thousands in hoping thus to ward off the fatal contagion
Britain and Ireland. The missionary bishop which they regarded as the punishment of
just come to Lastingham, wearied with his the angry gods of the North. But the
never-ending work, fell an easy victim to the pagan reaction seems to have been but
160 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [656.

temporary, for the work of Cedd had been the dwell-


"

monastery of Medeshamstede,
real, and those districts where he had ing-place in the meadows," the monastery
laboured and taught were Christian at heart, afterwards known through
the length and
In Mercia, after the death of Penda, his breadth of Christian England as Peter-

BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW (LINDISFARNE GOSPEL BOOK).

son Peada was continued as under-king borough. A


mysterious crime, however,
to the victorious Oswiu, his father-in-law, perpetrated the same year, cut short
One of Lindisfarne companions of
the the career of Peada, the Christian son
Cedd, Diuma, an Irish Celt, was consecrated of Penda. He was murdered, the sad
as Mercian bishop and Peada, Diuma,
; story said, owing to the intrigues of his

and Oswiu together founded, in 656, the wife Alchfleda, Oswiu s daughter.
6S9-]
WULFHERE OF MERCIA. 161

REMAINS OF A CROSS AT WINWICK.


(Commemorating, according to Tradition, the Buttle of the Maserfield.)

For about three years after the defeat power and influence greater even than
and death of Penda, the supremacy of it had enjoyed under the heathen Penda.

Oswiu and Northumbria was generally Wulfhere, however, was an earnest

acknowledged by the Mercian Engles ;


Christian like Peada, and in his long
as long as Peada, the son of Penda who reign Christianity gradually became the
had embraced Christianity when he mar religion of Mercia.
ried Alchfleda, the daughter of Oswiu The Northumbrian Engles seem to
lived, the rule of Northumbria was un have quietly acquiesced in this assertion
disputed throughout of Mercian inde
the Mercian peoples. pendence ;
and now
But Peada, Oswiu s for a long period it

son-in-law, died three seems to have been


years after the battle generally accepted as a
of Winwaed and in
; permanent settlement
A.D. 659 the Mercian among the conquerors

Engles openly revolted, that Britain should be


drove King Oswiu s divided into three great
thanes from the land, and independent divi
and raised Wulfhere, a sions Northumbria^
younger son of Penda, including Yorkshire, in
who had been kept in the north Mercza, ;

concealment by the including East Anglia,


three principal Mercian in the midland coun

chiefs, to the throne of ties ;


and Wessex, after
his father. Wulfhere a time including Kent,

proved a most able in the southern and


ruler, and under his western counties of
Mercia END OF AN ARM OF THE WINWICK CROSS.
government the conquered island.
(Conjectured to depict the Death oj
rapidly obtained a St. Oswald.) Thus the north and
K
102 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [655-

midlands two independent kingdoms They were all trained in Ireland, in lona,
were permanently appropriated by the or in Lindisfarne. Their names are trea
Engles, the south and west by the Saxons. sured still in that fair list of saintly men
The whole people became known as the the makers of Christian England. The first
Engle or Anglo-Saxons. Eventually the was that monk, Diuma, whom Prince
Irish

conquerors of the north and midlands gave Peada brought from Northumberland at
their name to the great nation on whose the time of his marriage with Aichfleda,
broad empire the sun never sets Engle- King Oswiu s daughter. When Diuma
Land England. died he was followed by another Irishman,
But although Wulfhere, the son of Penda, Cellach, who was reckoned among the
re-established the independence and re disciples of Columba, coming as he did from
stored the power of the Mercian rule over Columba s famous house of lona. After
the centre of the island, the Christian work some time of restless labour in Mercia,
accomplished by Oswiu during the short he resigned his high office and returned
period of his supremacy in Mercia was to the solemn peace of his loved lona. The
never undone. The great Engle chief, third bishop of Mercia was Trumhere, an
like Oswald and others of the Woden- Engle by who was consecrated in
birth,
*
descended race of Northumbrian kings, the year 659. The fourth in succession
was intensely in earnest : his teachers, was Jaruman, who succeeded him in 662,
trained in the schools of lona and Lindis- who was followed by Chad, who for some
farne, did theirwork thoroughly, and their time had ruled the northern church at

royal pupils believed in Jesus Christ with York Chad, whom we shall meet again
an intense earnestness. With splendid as bishop of Northumbria.
devotion did these warrior princes, when Our sketch has been simply a few
once convinced of the truth of the story rough outlines, for generally an impene
of the Cross, assist with hand and brain the trable mist hangs over the early period
efforts of the Celtic preachers of the faith. of the story of the Mercian Engles, and of
Aided by his son-in-law, Peada (Penda s the East and West Saxons Bede, our ;

son), Oswiu, during three years of his guide, giving us but few details of the
Mercian rule, did his part in laying the southern and midland kingdoms. But
foundation of Christianity in the midland through the mist and the confusion we
counties. see enough to assure us ^
that all the
The first five bishops of Mercia succeeded Christianity of the Northmen conquerors
each other in tolerably quick succession. of Mid and Southern Britain came from
* The names of "

Woden and Odin "

are in
Northumbrian missionary preachers that ;

popular speech interchangeable for instance, Mon- ; the centre of Northumbrian religious life
talembert traces the royal Northumbrian genealogy
was Lindisfarne, that little rocky island
to
"

Odin." Green styles Woden the common


" "

of the whole conquering people, the ancestor off the coast between Bamborough and
god
of its kings. Sharon Turner says "

Odin and the modern Berwick that Lindisfarne;

Woden "

are obviously the same character. The


looked to lona and its network of Scottish
Saxon Chronicle gives "

Woden "

as the common
royal ancestor. communities as its guide and religious
655-]
THE FAITH ESTABLISHED IN ENGLAND. 163

centre ;
and that beyond lona it looked gradually made themselves centres whence
to the flourishing Celtic church in Ireland the new faith was taught. Kent, we know,
as its spiritual mother church. had received it at an earlier date and in
After the battle of the
Winwaed, in 655, a different form, but Kentish influence was
had been won by Oswiu, the Northum little felt outside the comparatively narrow
brian king, all real resistance on the part limits of
the Jutish kingdom. Sussex,
of the supporters of the old gods of the from various causes, remained the longest
Northmen was over and done. Between outside the pale of Christian influences.
the Firth of Forth and the Humber, Thus, for sixty years after the island
Christianity was already a power. North had been won, and the pagan Saxon and
umbrian missionaries had made a firm Engle firmly established, the work of

lodgment among the Engle peoples of Christianising the conquerors had been
East Anglia, and the East Saxons of carried on by Augustine and his monks in
Essex and Middlesex. Among the Mer one corner only of the island by Celtic;

cian Engles of the Midland counties missionary monks with far greater success
under Peada, the Christian son of Penda, in the North and East, in the Midlands,

the new preached by Lindisfarne


faith and the West. After these sixty years
teachers had been for some time steadily a new Christian influence
sprang up,
making its way, in spite of the disfavour of which the historian must take account of.
the great heathen Penda and when Penda
;
Before the defeat of Penda at Winwaed,
was whole of
slain in the great battle, the in 655, we hear little or nothing
the Mercian peoples and their king became saving in an indirect way of the influ
rapidly Christian. In Wessex, including ence of women in the spread of the new
all the southern and western counties, faith among the Northmen conquerors of
the progress was slower but it was still
;
Britain. But that influence now became
a progress, and Northumbrian teachers very important.

.. "".;

RUINS OF LINDISFARNE PRIORY, HOLY ISLAND.


CHAPTER IX.

HILDA S HOLY HOUSE AT WHITBY.

Influence of Christianity upon the Position of Women Marked Devotion of Women to Religion amongst
the Anglo-Saxons Their Influence Hilda and her Ancestry Her House at Streoneshalch or
Whitby A Double Monastery Its Power and Influence in England Other Similar Communities
Hildas Successor, the Princess Elfleda Whitby the Birthplace of English Poetry Csedmon
Legend of the Origin of his Gift of Song His Religious Poems, Life, and Death His Successors
Early Saxon Poems Traces of Female Influence in them Cult of the Virgin traceable to the
same cause.

the first days of Christianity Mercia, Wessex, and Kent, show in the
the believers, women occu case of each dynasty how the first conquer
FROM among
a new in ing chief traced his descent from Woden.
pied position society.
The words and teachings of the Master That princesses of these royal houses, thus
had accomplished this ;
and from the invested in the eyes of their subjects with

morning of the Resurrection we find a peculiar and especial grandeur, should


them the active and intelligent, the devote themselves with a lifelong self-

daring and tireless assistants of the apostles sacrifice to the service of the religion
and leaders of the new faith. In the story of the conquered people, should immure
of Christianity, nowhere has the influence themselves in communities wholly devoted
of women been so marked, perhaps, as in to prayer and study, voluntarily giving up
England, in the century which followed the all that makes life ordinarily attractive and
re-introduction of the faith, when the pleasant, no doubt exercised a most power
northern conquerors gradually accepted ful influence among these Northern settlers
the religion of Jesus, and adopted it in in our island in favour of the new religion,

place of the old worship of the war-loving and materially contributed to the rapid
gods of the north. In Britain more than spread of Christianity in the seventh and
in any other country during this age of eighth centuries of our era.
construction, of building up of the religion Without hesitation these holy women,
of Jesus, we find women of all classes and not a few of whom were selected as abbesses

orders, of the highest and of the humblest, and prioresses of the communities they
devoting themselves and their whole lives elected to join, were accorded a peculiar
to what they believed to be the service of influence and authority in the state. Their
God and His Christ. power rivalled, if it did not exceed,
The royal houses of the several Saxon, power possessed by the most veneratt
Engle, and Jutish tribes were ever regarded and respected abbots and bishops. They
by their followers with peculiar respect ranked with these prelates, and were
and reverence, as the direct descendants of consulted on terms of equality by the
their gods. The genealogies of the ruling kings and thanes of their people. We
families of Northumbria, Deira, East Anglia, find these abbesses even taking part in
6 5 7-68o.] THE ABBESS HILDA OF WHITBY. 165

the deliberations of important national notice of her beneficent career :


Hilda, the

assemblies, and affixing their signatures to abbess of Whitby, known in her long day
the charters granted in such national of work among her grateful countrymen
gatherings. For instance, the 23rd article as "the Mother."

of the
"

dooms "

or laws of Ina, the king She belonged to the old race of Deiran

of Wessex, about A.D. 690, sets in certain kings, being the great-grand-daughter of

Photo. H. Pitcher, Gloucester.


OSRIC S TOMB, GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL.

points not only abbots, but abbesses, on ^Ella, and the grand-niece of Edwin,
the same level with kings and the greatest the Northumbrian king ;
and as the

personages of the country. royal lines of Ida and ^Ella, the kings
Among the crowd of saintly women of Northumbria and Deira, were closely
who did so much, and who exercised so connected by marriages, Hilda was the
vast an influence on the religious life of near relative of the reigning Northumbrian
the time in these early days, when Christ sovereign, Oswiu. Her genealogy, and that
ianity was winning way among its the of her sister, Hereswitha, queen of East
Northmen conquerors, one stands especi Anglia, mother of the famous Etheldreda
ally prominent, and deserves a special of Ely, is as follows :.
166 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [656.

A.D. 557588. JElla.. First King of Deira (Yorkshire).


I

Unnamed.

Died A.D. 616. Hereric=Bregeswida (an unknown personage).


I I

A.D. 614 680. Hilda. Hereswitha, sister of Hilda, Queen of East Anglia,
Foundress and first Abbess of afterwards a nun of Chelles (Gaul).
Whitby (Streoneshalch).

Died A.D. 679. Etheldreda, wife of Egfrid, King of North- Sexburga,


umbria, afterwards Foundress and first second Abbess of Ely
Abbess of Ely. (Queen of Kent).

In her early youth Hilda was baptised by In Northumbria an important commu


Paulinus, the companion of Augustine, some- nity of women had already been founded a
while bishop of York, with her granduncle short time previously at Hartlepool. The
Edwin, the king, at York but Paulinus ;
abbess of this house, Heiu, resigned her
does not appear to have exercised any in post, and by the desire of Aidan she was
fluence over her, for during her whole career replaced by Hilda, who for some years
her sympathies were evidently with the ruled over the Hartlepool nunnery, which
Celtic church. Bede tells us that for the first is
generally reckoned as the earliest among
thirty-three years of her life she lived very the Engles of these religious homes for

noblyamong her family and fellow-citizens. women. King Oswiu, after the victory
Her widowed sister, Hereswitha, Queen of of Winwaed, gave as a thank-offering a
East Anglia, had betaken herself to Chelles rich gift of lands for the establishment of
in Gaul, in the Marne country, one of those another community. This was the occasion
monasteries for women which in the seventh of the foundation of the famous house of j

century were rapidly springing up in dif Whitby, the ancient name of which was
ferent parts of the continent of Europe. Streoneshalch, at the mouth of the river
Hilda longed to join her sister at Chelles.* Esk in Yorkshire. Of this community
But St. Aidan, who was then working with Hilda became the first abbess. The name
intense zeal and great power in the north,
"

Streoneshalch puzzles the scholar.


"

Bede
was determined that such a personality as gives its meaning as sinus far "

i"
("the

the princess Hilda should not be lost to his bay of the lighthouse ").
Modern scholar
beloved Northumbria The great Celtic ship throws doubt on this old explanation,
teacher recognised thus early what a mighty and explains the term as an Anglian expres
influence for good among her countrymen sion signifying the "

cliff or craig of a settler


still
largely Pagan such a woman might named Streon."

be. He was her guide and friend, and On the loftyoverlooking the Esk as
cliff

induced her to give up her purpose of it empties itself into the sea, Hilda erected a

becoming a nun with her sister at Chelles. church, and monastic buildings for her nui
around it. But the stately and romantic
*
Theexact date of Hereswitha becoming a nun
ruins of the abbey of Whitby, which crown
at Chelles is uncertain. Some believe she took
the veil before her husband s death. the lofty hill now covered with the red-tiled
_J
o
o
D-
cc
<

->

> Z
UJ
QQ 1
03 >

<i
657680.] THE ABBEY OF WHITBY UNDER HILDA. 167

houses, the delight of modern colourists, life had been established there. Among a

belong to an age much later than Hilda s crowd of students, at least five of the more
house five or six centuries later, at least. renowned bishops who occupy a great place
We must picture to ourselves the first in the story of the church in the next
church of the famous Engle monastery of half century, received their education,
A.D. 657 as a rude wooden structure, framed or at all events much of their early
of split trunks of trees adjusted side by instruction, at
Whitby. One important
smooth wall
side so as to give a partially Church Council was held within its walls.
within, with thatch of straw of rushes, and Thither often resorted for counsel from
side-lights only partially secured by a light the wise abbess and the inmates of the
lattice of split wood. Grouped round the religious house, kings and queens, saintly
rude church were dwellings for the abbess bishops, famous teachers from all parts of
and her nuns and the servants of the the island. It became also a favourite

house, including a large hall and kitchen, place of sepulture. Thither the remains
and further away still from the church a of Edwin, the first Christian king of

group of buildings, or rather huts, where Northumbria, were eventually translated.


the monks for Hilda s house was a double There, too, king Oswiu was laid, and prob
monastery who belonged to the same ably his queen Eanfleda.
community, had their habitation. Long before the great abbess died, doubt
The broad lands round the monastery less the first rude church we have pictured

were cultivated by the inmates. Forges, on the hill of Whitby gave place to a
barns, farm buildings of all kinds and various statelier more enduring structure.
and
dimensions, roughly and rudely con
all Northumbrians who had travelled to Rome,
structed, alternated with writing and study and who had seen the beautiful churches
chambers, made up the religious house of Italy, and their elaborate adornments,

presided over by the abbess Hilda. The men like Wilfrid and Benedict Biscop in
was singularly picturesque. The hill of
site the lifetime of Hilda, brought back with

Whitby, on the summit of which was built them new and nobler ideas of architecture
the church and monastery, is some 300 feet and the ornamentation of sacred buildings.
above the sea. On one side is a broad Years before she passed away, the noble
view of the stormy North Sea so familiar church of the monastery of Ripon had
to the Engle on the other, the eye
;
been erected, and in the last years of her
wanders over uplands, valleys, and vast lifethe yet more magnificent pile was
Yorkshire moors. fast rising of Hexham, which was long
Over this rude house of prayer and regarded as the most stately church on
labour and study, overlooking sea and moor- this side the Alps. We hear of stone
and, Hilda, the Engle princess, ruled some masons and other artificers being brought
twenty-three years (657-680). Before she from Gaul to assist in these works of
sassed away her monastery had become a building and adorning. The crafts of
real power in the land ;
a famous school for glass-making and glazing the windows of
the training of both sexes for the monastic the new stone churches, skill in gold
i68 THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [65?

embroidery, the art of gold chasing on the In the west, by the waters of the Severn,
sacred rood, on the chalice, and even on the in the beautiful West Saxon country, Osric,

gorgeous bindings of missals, were intro another offshoot of the royal race of Ida,
duced about this time into Northumbria. who in after-days wore the Northumbrian
The rude wattled buildings, the low-pitched crown, a near kinsman of Hilda, established
huts after the pattern of lona and Lindis- a similar double community for his sister

farne, gradually disappeared, and gave place Kyneburga, which grew into the famous
to stately and more enduring piles. So we abbey and monastery of Gloucester.
may well think of the greatest and most Osric, viceroy and afterwards king, sleeps
famous of the northern homes of prayer, still in the place of honour by the high
the foundation of Hilda, presenting indeed altar, unforgotten, though some 1,200 years
a very different appearance during the have passed, in that glorious cathedral of

latter years of her life. Not improbably Gloucester, which time


replaced his
in

within the sacred enclosure on the hill sisterKyneburga abbey church.


s Similar
of Whitby, before the year 680, when double monasteries for monks and nuns,
she died, there were several churches modelled after the pattern of Hilda s
belonging to the vast community beneath house on the hill of Whitby, arose at
her rule. Barking, at Repton, at Wimborne (at

was a scene of extraordinary activity


It Wimborne the nuns numbered 500), and
and diligence, this holy house of Whitby in other places, where the lady abbess was

under Hilda ;
not only a retreat for world- the acknowledged superior of the whole
wearied men and women, and conscience- community of monks as well as of nuns.
stricken sinners anxious to make their In all these cases the two sexes were

peace with God, but a seminary of eccle rigidly kept apart. These singular double
learning and discipline, in which
siastical communities, Celtic in origin, flourished
a succession of able devoted men and with extraordinary success until their active
women were reared, who received the missionary work was completed, and Christ
inspiration which fitted them for their ianity was firmly established in the length
life s work from the great teacher Hilda. and breadth of the land.

Religious houses modelled on Whitby, Bede, who, with his strong feelings in
double houses of monks and nuns, arose favour of Roman usages, must have dis
not only in Northumbria, but in all parts liked intensely the weight which, during
of the island. In the desolate Fen country, the long and bitter disputes between the
in the heart of that wilderness of shallow Roman and Celtic forms of Christianity, the
waters and reedy islets, whose only in influence and teaching of Hilda naturally
habitants were flocks of screaming wild gave to the Celtic party, ungrudgingly bears
fowl, Etheldreda, somewhile queen of the testimony to the noble life and work of the
Northumbrians, founded the monastery for great abbess. He writes how she taught
"

monks and nuns, on that little hill over the spirit of observance of righteousness,
looking the never-ending fens, where in piety, chastity, and other virtues, but, most
after-days arose the proud minster of Ely. of all, of peace and love ;
how she lived
IN THE GUEST-HALL (p. i
7l ).
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. [6607.13.

example of the primitive church


after the ;
was her child, her companion, her con
how she obliged those who were under fidant and when Hilda passed to her rest
;

her rule to exercise themselves so dili in the bosom of God, she became her
successor and abbess of the great monastery.
gently in the reading of the Holy Scriptures
and in works of righteousness, that many Very nobly she carried on the Mother s
could be easily found there who were fit work, and the fame of Whitby as a school
for the ministry of the Church, to serve at of all that was good and pure and noble,
the altar." It was at Whitby, under her allthrough the period of her long rule
and her successor, Elfleda, that Tatfrid remained undiminished through the length
and Oftfor, bishops of Mercian Wor and breadth of the land. Elfleda, princess
cester ;
that Bosa, John of Beverley, and and abbess, died in 713.
the younger Wilfrid, bishop of York, and Strange to say, after Elfleda s death we
yEtla, bishop of Dorchester in Oxford possess no records of Hilda s house. If any
shire,were trained, with many another of existed, they were destroyed a hundred
the notable and devoted makers of Christ and fifty years later, in 867 or 870, when
ian England. Hither flocked the richest we know the Danes wrecked the great
and the poorest of the Northumbrians in ; monastery. For some 207 years after its
her house were neither riches nor poverty ;
ruin by the Danes, the once famed reli
all was common, as in the far-back golden gious house lay desolate. In William Rums
days of the first Jerusalem church. But reign, just before the year noo, in that

under the wise though austere rule of great church building age that age of
-

the saintly abbess the sternest discipline expiation for the bitter wrongs done in the
existed from every dweller in that city or
: Norman conquest the abbey of Hilda was
saints the most unswerving obedience was rebuilt and the monastery refounded, this
exacted. time for monks only. The contemporary
After the abbess herself, the most notable record of the time of Rufus relates how,
of the dwellers in the Whitby monastery after the havoc and ruin wrought by the

was the young girl Elfleda, the daughter savage Danish invaders in the ninth cen
of Oswiu, the king of the land. The prin tury, after two centuries of utter neglect,
cess, whenthe victory of Winwaed was aftertwo hundred years of winter storms
won, was just a year old and her father,
;
and frosts, so massive and enduring had
after the custom of which we have already been the early work, that forty shelterless
had an example, as a thank-offering dedi altars and oratories were still remaining,
cated her to the conventual life, entrust to show how vast had been the extent of
ing the baby princess to his kinswoman the monastery in the days of the old Engle
Hilda. Hilda accepted the charge, and kings, when Hilda and her successors had
from that day Elfleda never left her side. lived and prayed and worked on that
She was with her at Hartlepool she ac ; wind-swept hill of Whitby.
companied her to Whitby. During the
long years of Hilda s rule there, Elfleda We have dwelt at some length on the
shared her spiritual mother s cares. She story of the great Engle monastery of the
660-670.] C^DMON THE SONG-MAN OF WHITBY. 171

seventh century : on its work and influence without much difficulty reproduce the
in Christianising the England of the scene in the vast hall : its long hearth, in
Northern invaders. It was a notable in which blazing were piled up the roof fires ;

stance of the influence of these great homes with openings through which the smoke
of prayer but by no means a solitary
; escaped the raised benches at one end for
;

example. The new England of the any royal or noble guest, so frequently, we
northern invader had many another ; know, resident for a long or short period
some of the same and power, others
size in Hilda s house the long line of tables ;

much smaller and of less importance. But running down the hall for the less-distin

this famous house of Hilda possesses guished visitors. For their amusement
in the many-coloured story of England in the long winter evenings, one or other
another title to honour :
Whitby was the would recite some stirring patriotic lay r
undoubted birthplace of English poetry. as had been the immemorial custom
The story of the birth of English song, among the forefathers of the Engle con
told by Bede with accustomed charm,
his querors in their great halls, in Scotland
and with his usual admixture of that super and Denmark or would chaunt to the ;

natural element which the devout mind of harp some deed or achievement worked
this earnest, simple soul saw in every event for the love of Christ.

ful scene in history, is so beautiful and real, As the evening passed on, this one of the
and in itsmain aspects so transparently monastery officers, who was in charge of
true, that as one of our great teachers the stables of the community, where the
has told us it should be the first lesson horses of the many visitors were cared for
u while
taught to every child ;
for em fearing lest in his turn he should be

pires die, poetry lives on, and the story summoned to sing left the guest -hall,
of English song in this land is the fore as we have related, and betook himself to
most of all English stories." his stables. When his duties were dis

was somewhere probably between the


It charged, Caedmon