Just some further information about Irelands Orthodox early Christian past.. as exemplified in sites such as Skellig Michael pictured above...
]By the early Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages because much of Western Europe had become severed from its Orthodox Christian foundations with all the ignorance and superstition that followed, the Irish Church preached an Orthodox Christianity free of Roman legalism and was in effect a provincial form of the Orthodox Christianity in Constantinople. A further divergence lay in Church organization. Although the Irish Church acknowledged the Pope of Rome as the highest dignitary in the Western Patriarchate, it did not accept his judicial authority as the later Roman Church did. This was a position like the present Orthodox view of the Pope as being primus inter pares: first among equals, referring to the shared dignity of the five ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople. The latter, also called New Rome, was in fact raised to a level of honour on an equal level with Old Rome at the Fourth Oecumenical Council in 451.
Загрузить увеличенное изображение. 500 x 333 px. Размер файла 67262 b. Beehive huts on Skellig Michael
Beehive huts on Skellig Michael
A major divergence between Ireland and Rome lay in the former's older, and actually incorrect, method of calculating the date of Easter, in which the Irish Church used a 84-year cycle based on the lunar calendar. In contrast, the Roman Church, like the rest of the Universal Church, used the solar calendar and ensured that Easter never fell on the same day as the Jewish Passover. This aspect would eventually become the main bone of contention between Rome and the Celts, with Rome winning the conflict at the Synod of Whitby held in 664. (To this day the Orthodox Church still calculates the date of Easter according to ancient Universal custom, so that the Non-Orthodox Easter falls one to five weeks before the correct Orthodox Christian Easter).
Different rites were employed by the Irish and Roman churches in the sacraments of baptism and episcopal confirmation. Also in the tonsuring of monks a divergence occurred: while the Roman tonsure involved shaving the top of the head, the Irish shaved across the forehead from ear to ear. These methods were ascribed to St Peter and St John, respectively. Old Irish customs such as storing water for the feast of the Epiphany (6 January) and lighting Easter fires to let them burn throughout the year (for example at Kildare) were also unique. Naturally, on the early Irish crosses Christ is pictured as the conqueror of death rather than as crucified – another parallel with the Universal Orthodox practice of Old Rome and elsewhere, according to which the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ takes precedence over that of His death, with Easter Sunday (Pascha) as the main feast of the Church year. The practice only changed from the late eleventh century on, when heterodoxy began to portray 'the suffering Jesus' in his human nature as a victim, not as the Victor. In addition, the study of Greek was undertaken in Irish monasteries at least until the ninth century, together with that of Latin and Hebrew.
Загрузить увеличенное изображение. 768 x 1024 px. Размер файла 508678 b. View of Small Skellig from Skellig Michael
View of Small Skellig from Skellig Michael
It is interesting to note that in some of the Irish monastic settlements not only monks and nuns were to be found, but also married couples and families. This is a further parallel between Irish and Universal Orthodox practice, with married priests being the norm in the Orthodox Church to this day, without in any way diminishing the vital importance of the monastic vocation in the Church. The very organization of the Irish Church was of a monastic nature, with the abbot or abbess being the highest authority in a given area. This was in contrast to the diocesan structure of the rest of the Church, in which the bishop is the highest authority.
In addition to the monastery at Lйrins that served as an important link between the Irish and Eastern Churches, Poitiers in France was a further conduit of Orthodoxy to the West. This was the final abode of St Hilary (315-367), a bishop who was banished to Phrygia by the unbaptized Emperor Constantine when the saint refused to yield to Constantine's then Arian sympathies. This is rather ironic, for it was the same Emperor who convened the First Oecumenical Council in 325, at which Arianism was condemned as a heresy. Hilary went from Phrygia to Poitiers where he wrote a book dedicated to the ‘Irish bishops'. This implies contact between the Greek-speaking and Irish churches via France during the fourth century already. Early in the 6th century a monastery would be founded at Poitiers by the Irish missionary St Fridolin.
Another affinity that the Irish shared with the Orthodox practice was its own form of the liturgy. Over the centuries the Orthodox Church has maintained a variety of liturgies, all of ancient origin, such as the liturgies of St John Chrysostom, St James the Apostle and St Basil the Great. Evidence of a pre-Roman liturgy of the Irish Church can be found in manuscripts such as the Antiphonary of Bangor, a collection of hymns and prayers dating from around 680. These texts radiate a Christian view of the world that echoes the Psalms in praise of God's creation, as in the writings of the Church Fathers. All of creation is viewed as a vast whole, without the dualism of spirit and matter that would become the dominant post-Patristic medieval Western heterodox cosmology. It is pertinent to note that the metaphysical system expounded by the Irish philosopher John Scottus Eriugena (see further on) would also reflect this awareness of the unity of all creation. This reinforces our view that Irish Christianity was a holistic, Patristic faith.