The Celtic Church emerged in the fifth and sixth centuries when Christianity began to spread to the Celtic-speaking regions. Saint Patrick, who is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity, played a significant role in its early development.
The Celtic Church had a strong monastic tradition. Monasteries became centers of learning, spiritual guidance, and community life. Monastic communities, led by abbots or abbesses, played a crucial role in preserving and spreading Christian teachings.
One of the primary distinctions between the Celtic Church and the Roman Catholic Church was its relative independence from the authority of the Pope and the centralized structures of the Roman Church. The Celtic Church followed its own customs and practices. It had its distinctive tonsure (a distinctive haircut for clergy) and clerical dress, which differed from the Roman tonsure and attire.
One of the most significant differences between the Celtic Church and the Roman Catholic Church was the date for celebrating Easter. The Celtic Church followed an older method of calculating Easter, known as the Quartodeciman method, which led to disagreements with the Roman Church. This difference was eventually resolved at the Syond of Whitby in 664, when the Roman method for calculating Easter was adopted in Celtic regions.
The Celtic Church was known for its distinctive artistic style, particularly seen in the design of Celtic crosses and illuminated manuscripts. These artistic expressions reflected a unique blend of Christian and Celtic artistic influences.
Over time, the Celtic Church faced challenges, including pressure from the Roman Catholic Church to conform to Roman practises and customs. By the High Middle Ages, the Celtic Church was gradually integrated into the Roman Catholic Church, and many of its traditions and practices were assimilated.
Celts | The Legend of King Arthur