The Celts inhabited North West Scotland, Wales and Ireland. In the 7th Century, one of their missionaries, Aidan, came to Northumbria to introduce Christianity. Over time the pagan kingdoms of north eastern England were converted to Christianity.
The Celts were pragmatic and able to accept Christianity as a way of life. Many features of their approach have resonance with our lives today:-
- They believed as we believe that God is the Creator and He is always overwhelmingly present all around. The Celtic church celebrated grace and nature as good gifts from God and recognised the sacredness of all creation.
- God is present in the “busyness” of life. He is here in the hustle and bustle of our towns and cities and He is to be celebrated here as the Celts celebrated Him in their working lives. We know that they prayed whilst milking the cow, lighting the fire, at a child’s birth or at a loved one’s deathbed. They sung or chanted at the rising and setting of the sun. As a result of this philosophy they saw a thin boundary between the sacred and the secular.
- Like Eastern Orthodox Christians the Celts understood the concept of the Trinity and the mystery of God who is both one in three and three in one. Many of their prayers invoke the “Holy Three”, that is, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- They attached great importance to Mary the mother of Jesus. The mother’s love is at the heart of the Godhead and the sanctity of family and community. Flowing from this emphasis on family life is their mandate for hospitality. They loved and respected art, poetry, great stories and higher learning.