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justice to the important points of antiquarian research which it treats of. For the present, then,
I remain, &c.
Cashel, July 25, 1807.
desperaté a cause as that of proving the religion of St. Patrick and his converts not to have been the Catholic, no wonder Archbishop Usher, with all his talents, should have failed in it; no wonder his adversary Fitzsimons, having the works of the fathers at his elbow, should have gained so decided a victory over him, and that the perusal of their respective writings should have determined the Archbishop's descendant, the Rev. James Usher, to become a Catholic, as I have related in one of my first letters to you. Soon after this controversy, it became the fashion with protestant disputants, following in this the famous Chillingworth, to make light of the
ancient doctors and councils of the Church, and to appeal to the scriptures alone in every religious controversy; or rather, as the fact is, to that meaning which every man chooses to put upon the scriptures. The most important, however, of Usher's objections, remains to be examined: he denies that St. Patrick and his disciples acknowledged the Pope's spiritual supremacy. If this be true, undoubtedly their religion was not Catholic; for it is their union with the successor of St. Peter, as their visible head here upon earth, which does and ever has kept the members of the great Catholic or Universal Church, spread as it is all over the Universe, in one faith and one communion.
Admitting, as Usher does, that St. Patrick received his orders and his commission to preach to the Irish from the See of Rome, no less than St. Palladius, St. Ninyan, and St. Augustine, the respective apostles of the Scots, Picts, and English; admitting also, that St. Patrick afterwards undertook a journey thither in the year 461, to give an account of the success of his embassy, it is unaccountable that the prelate should deny our saint to have acknowledged any general superintendency in the Roman Pontiff. On this subject, at least, he cannot pretend to fortify himself with the example and authority of the British, English, French, or other western churches, nor even with the example and authosity of those in Asia and the other eastern regiThe British bishops had assisted at the
great council of Arles and the general council of Sardica, in both of which, more particularly in the latter, the superior jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome was recognized *. On no one occasion did the British or Welsh bishops deny the supremacy of the See of Rome, though in their first conference with St. Augustine they refused to admit him as their archbishopt: a resolution, however, which they did not adhere to. With respect to the Irish church, though free from the destruction of its records by the Danes, we have but few monuments of it during several ages, yet it is evident that its prelates continued to be subject to the Pope, and to apply to him as their superior on all matters of consequence. We have two letters of St. Gregory the Great to the bishops of Ireland, written by him in answer to questions which they had proposed to him upon various ecclesiastical subjects§. Near fifty years after this, we find the Irish prelates, priests, and
* Restitutus, Bishop of London, Eborius of York, and Adelphius Colonia Londinensium (perhaps Maldon), assisted at the council of Arles A. D. 314, which council sent its acts to Pope Silvester, desiring that he would cause them to be every where observed. In the ecumenical or general council of Sardica, at which our British Bishop, Restitutus, again assisted, the right of appeals to the Bishop of Rome in causes of great importance, from all parts of the Church, was acknowledged. Can. iii. and Can. vii.
† Bede Hist. 1. ii. c. 2.
We learn from Usher himself, that both St. Theliau and St. Ou. doceus, successive bishops of Llandaff, came to Canterbury to be consecrated by St. Augustine. Usher in Indice. Chronolog. Had they persisted in refusing submission to the See of Canterbury, this would not prove they denied the Pope's supremacy.
§ St. Greg. Regist. Epist. Lib. ii. Ep. 36. Lib. ix. Ep. 61.
abbots, consulting Pope Severinus upon the old subject, the right time of keeping Easter; to whom an answer, written with the tenderness, and at the same time with the authority of a father, was returned, in the name of his successor, Pope John*. Indeed, Cummianus, a cotemporary writer, in his Life of Abbot Segenius, speaking of certain envoys sent by the Irish prelates about this time to the Apostolic See, says: "We deputed
some persons of tried prudence and humility "to Rome, like children to their mothert." It is not improbable that these deputies were the abbot Lasrean, with his companions, who, to the number of fifty persons, about this period went to Rome, where Lasrean was ordained bishop, and ordered back to Ireland with legatine jurisdiction t.
You will recollect, Sir, what number of learned and devout Irish scholars, during the several ages in question, spread themselves over our island, and the whole continent of Europe, not excepting Italy itself, as I have shewn in one of my former letters to you. Now can it be supposed that these would have been hospitably received, and placed at the head of monasteries and colleges, as they generally were, if they had differed from the great body of Christians in any essential point, particularly in the leading
*Bede l. ii. c. 19.
† Usher in Sylog. Epist. Hib.
Usher in Indice. Chronol.
one regarding the Pope's supremacy? Common sense revolts at the idea. But, says Dr. Ledwich, who on this point makes common cause with Usher: we have proofs that one of the most celebrated Irish scholars and saints of his age, the Abbot Columbanus, "charged Pope "Boniface III. with heresy, and suspected his "Church to be in error.In another letter he "entreated to be permitted to retain his national 66 customs. But clerical, resentment is not
soon appeased: our missioner was expelled his abbey: after which he returned to Bobbio, in Italy, and erected a monastery there *." In this account of the matter in question Dr. Ledwich is guilty of more numerous and gross errors than those were which Columbanus fell into. The latter, being shut up in his monastic solitude, had been totally misinformed concerning the famous question of the Three Chapters, and of the Second Council of Constantinople, in which this had been decided, as likewise concerning the conduct of the deceased Pope Vigilius, who, he had been led to believe, encouraged Nestorianism. Hence he exhorted the reigning Pope to clear himself and his see from these imputations, by a clear exposition of his faith-an advice perfectly consistent with the submission due from an inferior to his superior. So far, however, from breaking communion with the Church of Rome, or ac
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