From the fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne – the 'dark ages' – learning, scholarship and culture disappeared from the European continent. The great heritage of Western civilisation – from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish Christian works – would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of the unconquered Ireland.
In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known 'hinge' of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the 'island of saints and scholars', the Ireland of St Patrick and the Book of Kells. Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes labouriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury. With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning. Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilisation, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western civilisation.
Early Irish society is famous for its contribution to religious art, and many of its saints are still renowned for their holiness. What is far less well known is how that culture expressed itself in theological reflection. This book assumes that very Christian culture gives a specific, local slant to its picture of Christianity; one which reflects its particular concerns, background and tradition of teaching. This book's aim is to draw out some features of this 'local theology' as seen in some of the most famous Celtic authors and texts of the first millennium. It examines the theological framework within which St Patrick presented his experience and looks at how the Celtic lands of Ireland and Wales developed a distinctive view of sin, reconciliation and Christian law which they later exported to the rest of western Christianity. It looks at writers like Adomnan of Iona and at Muirchu who reflected on the meaning of the conversion of his people two centuries later. It surveys how they approach liturgy, sacred time and the Last Things. By examining well-known texts such as the Voyage of St Brendan and books such as the Stowe Missal and the Book of Armagh from the fresh standpoint of formal theology, the book brings familiar texts to lie in a new way. While aimed primarily at those interested in Christianity in Celtic lands, Celtic Theology also fills a long-standing gap in the history of early medieval theology in the west.
A Braille (Grade 2 Braille) booklet with the liturgies for the night office of Compline for each day of the week. Can also be purchased in Large Print (18 pt), Giant Print (24pt) and normal print versions.