The Pictish Nation:15 – Chapter 7 (Cont’d)

Documentary testimony which, thus far, has been comparatively full with regard to the missionaries who went from Candida Casa to Ireland becomes scant with regard to many of the missionaries who, before and after S. Finbar’s time, maintained S. Ninian’s Mission-Churches in the east and north of Pictland of Alba (Scotland). We frequently require to appeal to the face of Scotland for traces of journeys; and when we find ancient Church-sites in the south-west, that is in the Candida Casa district, bearing the names of SS. Ternan, the historical Servanus, Pauldoc (Pawl Hén), Rum map Urbgen, Donnan the Great, Earnoc, Vigean, and Walloc, the foreigner or Welshman, with a score of others not accounted for from the Irish houses; and, again, other ancient Church-sites in the east and north of Pictland bearing the same names; we are confirmed in the knowledge that Candida Casa was the spiritual home and starting-place of these founders. As we have seen, Ternan is recorded as Ab of Candida Casa after S. Ninian the Great and before Nennio ‘the little monk’; S. Donnan is known to have gone from Candida Casa and to have visited S. Ninian’s Churches in the north-east of Pictland, and he and his disciples are known to have founded new Churches in extension of S. Ninian’s work at the various localities where they laboured c. A.D.580.

At the time when S. Donnan, with the unusually large number of ‘fifty-two’ disciples, left Galloway, Candida Casa must have become a rather insecure place to some of the inmates. The Angles, who were pagans, had begun in the sixth century to spread themselves across the island from the North Sea to the coasts of the North Channel and Solway. Their aim was to drive a Teutonic wedge through the heart of the Celts, to separate the Britons of Strath-Clyde from the Britons of what is now Wales; and to force back the Pictsof the east coast to the north of the Tay. S. Kentigern of Glasgow found his fellow-Britons driven into the uplands of Lanarkshire, Galloway, and Cumberland, partly as a result of the aggression of the barbarian Angles, and partly by pressure from Brito-Pictish clans expelled from their own domains by the Angles. These disturbances of the native population and the savagery of the Teutons brought a temporary check to the progress of Christianity. Very likely at this time the documents of Candida Casa were scattered, lost, or destroyed. Some of them survived in thehands of the Angles, because there was an ancient Life of S. Ninian translated into Saxon to which Ailred had access. It was at this time that S. Kentigern was moved to lead a mission southward from Glasgow to preserve the Faith in districts where S. Ninian, or the workers of his house, had long before planted Churches andorganized Communities; and, incidentally, to make some effortto Christianize the pitiless Angles.

By the advance of the Angles, Candida Casawas, at times, surrounded on the land side by unsympathetic foreigners; and cut off for periodsfrom safe communication with its Churches in Pictland. However, the great Pictish communityof S. Comgall the Great at Bangor in Ireland arose to help, and continued to supply a ministry and supervision to the Churches in Pictland which owed their being directly or indirectly toCandida Casa. Although Candida Casa was thus obstructedin its work, it was not overwhelmed by the intrusion of the pagan Angles into Galloway, becausePaulinus, Roman Archbishop of York (c. 627), showed interest in the Church and community of Candida Casa, during his stay at York.

It is important to note this; because VenerableBede who wrote the Life of S. Cudberct (Cuthbert) knew that Cuthbert visited the Picts of Galloway when he was Ab of Mailros (Melrose) shortly after A.D.661. Cuthbert was a pupil of the Celts who had gone over to the Roman Mission, He laboured among the Angles who had been formally ‘converted’ to Christianity by the Roman missionaries a.d. 627, although theCeltic missionaries under Rum map Urbgen, a Briton, had made Christians of the whole Anglian tribe called ‘ Ambrones ‘ at an earlier date. Some of the mediaeval scribes, in ignorance, have transferred this interest in Innis Wytrin, Isle of Whithorn, away from the diocese ofPaulinus to Glastonbury of Somerset. They knew nothing of Glaston of Whithorn apparently.Cuthbert was not only zealous to convert Angles ; but to romanize the Celts who adhered to the methods and usages of the monastic Church of the Britons and Picts. It was in the interests of Rome, therefore, that Cuthbert journeyed to the gates of Candida Casa.

It is not without interest that Venerable Bede gives no particularsconcerning Cuthbert’s reception at the mother-Church of British missions. His silence is noaccident. Does it mark one of the places in his
manuscript, where, as Bede himself candidly tellsus, he excised historical information at the request of those critics who could tolerate no information about Christian work which preceded the Roman Mission and detracted from its claims? Or is it simply one of the many instances in which a Roman author refrains from due reference to the mother-Church of the Britons and Picts, because the ancient date of its foundationand the wide radius of its missions rendered ridiculous the pretensions to primacy of the growing Church of the Angles, and conflicted with the claims of the See of York to jurisdiction wherever the Angles had penetrated? Cuthbert’s mission was earnest enough; because across thebay from Candida Casa he planted the rival Roman Church of ‘Kirkcudbright,’ where we see a Roman foundation, as distinct from a dedication, with the Saxon ‘Kirk’ attached tothe founder’s name instead of the older Celtic’ It looks an unimportant difference; but it indicates that wherever a romanizing agent succeeded, his centre of influence was a Church in charge of a presbyter in some secular township, instead of the Casa or Cell of an Ab in the midst of a religious ‘family’ with Churches, Schools, places of Retreat, and other peculiar pertinents of the Celtic religious clan.

Some have inferred from Bede’s strangesilence regarding S. Ninian’s establishment that Candida Casa had ceased to exist in Cuthbert’s time; but this was not the case, because c. A.D.785 F. A. Alcuin aided and honoured Candida Casa ‘because of the holy men who had laboured there.’ The truth manifestly is that in Cuthbert’s time the Celtic brethren of Candida Casa had no dealings with the representatives of the Roman Mission, and there is no indication that they had been specially enthusiastic over the kindly patronage of Archbishop PauHnus.However, the steady pressure of the Roman missionaries, reinforced by the civil power of the converted Angles, brought, in course of time,’the desired change to Candida Casa. In the third decade of the eighth century it conformed to Rome. From being the mother-Church of the Britons and Picts it was degraded to be the Church of a local diocese, subordinate to York. Even then, some memory of its former positionadhered to it; because its first monarchic bishop, A.D. 730-735, is called Pechthelm, Protector of the Picts, and its third Roman bishop bears the name Pechtwine, Friend of the Picts.

The Roman Church did not treat Candida Casa with due respect as the years passed by. Complaint has been made by the modern Romanist and Anglican that the Protestant reformers after a.d. 1560 esteemed it not. The Protestant only allowed its walls to decay, and its hallowed stones to sink into the dust to be trodden by irreverent feet; but the Roman innovators from the eighth centuryonwards, although they knew the facts, obscured its true origin and character, misrepresented S. Ninian, its great founder, and his work, in the interests of a foreign Church with monarchic forms of government that suited the barbarous Angle, but proved irksome to the Celt with his democratic clan-life and patriarchal chiefs. Moreover, the prelates of York belittled Candida Casa in the interests of the precedence of that growing metropolis of the Angles ; jus tas, in a later period, the prelates of Glasgow belittled it in the interests of the precedency of the See of Glasgow, although they were not above putting forward the historical priority of Candida Casa when it was necessary for the See of Glasgow to resist the pretensions of the prelates of York to spiritual jurisdiction in Scotland.

Nevertheless, Candida Casa under Roman control did not forget all her ancient daughter-Churches in Pictland with their possessions and interests. About A.D. 1223-7, Candida Casa sent out two of her Canons in the footsteps of her early Celtic missionaries. One was a Celt called Maol-Choluim or Malcolme. His object was to win control for Rome over those Celtic Communities and Churches, some of them founded by S. Ninian, which in the isolated and conservative North still adhered to the old ways, and steadily resisted the innovations of the romanized clergy. Maol-Choluim, probably without a thought of his inconsistency, actually carried with him alleged bones of S. Ninian to re-sanctify Churches which the living Ninian had consecrated. Ferquhar of Ross, a western ‘Celt,who,by his sword, was carving a way to favour with the king and to an earldom in the east, found Maol-Choluim wandering in the vicinity of S. Ninian’s Celtic abbey at Fearn, Edderton, which S. Finbar had visited when he was at Candida Casa, and where Reodatius had been Ab in the eighth century. Ferquhar diplomatically gave his support to Maol-Choluim, and established him at Fearn in the old daughter-house of Candida Casa, which was thus romanized. The recovery of the old house was not followed by peace. The native Celts resented the presence of the romanized intruders. About A.D. 1238-42, in the time of the second Roman abbot, ‘owing to the hostility of the natives,’ the abbey was transported to Nova Farina, the present site, where it remained under the control of Candida Casa until near the Reformation,

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