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the passage above cited, he exclaims: "Words "cannot convey a stronger detestation of "Popery than this testimony of Aldhelm.” This writer is not only aware that the disputes between the Welsh prelates and the Roman missionaries in the sixth century, had no sort of relation with the doctrines and practices which constitute what is now contemptuously termed Popery but he is conscious, that in these very disputes, particularly in what regards the time of keeping Easter, and the obligation of forgiving injuries, he himself is forced to side with the Roman missionaries against the British bishops,
Our critic's next strong objection, like his first, is a mere negation. He refers to a letter written in the name of Pope John, and certain other officers of the Roman Church, to the bishops and priests of Ireland, in which he says there is no mention made of St. Patrick. He ought, however, to have added, that the subject of the letter did not lead to any mention of him, as it barely related to the old question concerning the right time of celebrating Easter, and to the Pelagian heresy, which heresy appeared to be then sprouting up in Ireland*. This letter, or another written a little before it by Pope Honorius, seems to have produced its proper effect, as we are assured by Bede that, about this time, the right and canonical time of keeping
Bede 1. ii. c. 19.
Easter was observed in the southern parts of Ireland, in consequence of "an admonition from "the Apostolical See." Thus much is clear from this letter, and from two former letters of St. Gregory the Great to the bishops of Ireland, that these prelates were in the habit of consulting the Pope for the time being as their spiritual father, and the latter of directing and reprehending them as his spiritual children: so far were they from treating each other as heretics!
After all his boasting, the declared enemy of St. Patrick is forced to confess that all his
stronger evidences," as he calls them, are of a mere "negative nature;" but he expresses his hope that they may gain some "weight by "their accumulation ‡," though they have none when separately taken. It is proper, however, he should learn that nonentity added to nonentity will never make positive being. Uneasy at the awkward situation in which he finds himself after all his vaunting of enlightened criticism and demonstrative proofs, he at once begs the question, by asserting, in various vague and un
"Porro gentes Scotorum quæ in Australibus Hyberniæ in "sulæ partibus morabantur, jamdudum, ad admonitionem Apo. "stolicæ sedis Antistitis, Pascha canonico ritu observare didicerunt.” Bed. 1. iii. c. 3.
+ Vide Epistolam Gregorii "Universis Episcopis per Hyberniam," lib. i. Epistolarum Greg. Ep. 36. Ed. hom. Item. Epist. Greg. "Quirino Episcopo et cæteris Episcopis in Hybernia Catholicis," lib. ix. ep. 61.
Antiq. pp. 62, 64.
supported forms of speech *, that the religion of the ancient Irish was essentially different from that of the English and their Roman instructors, and that this is plain from Bede; lastly, that tho' he cannot discover "who was the preacher of "these new opinions," as he calls them, "so opposite to the Romans†;" yet that certainly it was not St. Patrick, nor any other missionary from Rome. He adds, that the first preachers of Christianity in Ireland must have come from Asiat. I shall take an opportunity, in a subsequent letter which I mean to send you, of recurring to this alledged difference between the ancient Christianity of Ireland and that of Rome, in which I shall particularly enquire what the enemies of St. Patrick would gain for their cause, were it in their power to derive the Christianity of Ireland from the Eastern Church. In the mean time,
Thurles, July 19, 1807.
STILL dissatisfied, as he has rea
son to be, with his success against St. Patrick, Dr. Ledwich returns to the charge, and begins to carp at a number of circumstantial particulars related by the different biographers of our saint, being such, as if proved to be untrue or absurb, would barely affect the accuracy, or judgment of the writers, and not the existence of the saint. However, as I have resolved to give this bold invader of historical truth a full hearing, I will not leave even these his minuter criticisms unanswered.
He objects then to what is related of our saint's being born in Scotland of Christian parents, be"fore that country was evangelized," according to the chronology of Bede*. But first our critic rejects the authority of Bede in toto, as to the different conversions of the inhabitants of these islands, in as much as Bede ascribes these conversions in general to Rome. In the second place, Dr. Ledwich knows that several hagio
* P. 64.
graphers and learned writers place the saint's birth at St. David's, in Pembrokeshire *. Thirdly, he is aware that Kirkpatrick, though now in Scotland, was formerly within the territory of Britain ; and that at all events St. Patrick was of a British, not a Pictish or Scotch family t. Of what consequence then is it to enquire when the Picts and the Scots were converted, since it is demonstratively certain that the Britons were Christians long before St. Patrick's grandfather was born?
Our critic next objects to the circumstance of St. Patrick's having resided amongst the canons of the Lateran Church at Rome, because he tells us, from Onuphrius, that "" Pope Gelasius "was the first who placed canons there, in the year 492 §."He had before objected that Platina, a superficial modern writer, does not speak of St. Patrick in his lives of the Popes, and now he quotes Platina's Commentator, Onuphrius, to prove that there were no clergy to officiate at the head church of the Christian world || in the middle of the fifth century. The
*Probus in Vit. Pat. Gerald. Camb. Topogr. Hib. Stanyhurst, Camden, &c.
+ Usher in Primord.
The saint in his Confession calls himself a British Roman.
Antiq. p. 58.
There is an inscription on its walls to this effect. It was the imperial palace of Constantine, and given by him to Pope Silvester long before the Pontificate of Gelasius. St. Leo had established the regular observances of St. Augustine of Hippo amongst the clergy of this church.