The Roots of Irish Wisdom
Learning from Ancient Voices
By Cindy Thomson
The Roots of Irish Wisdom explores not only the influence that Christianity had upon Ireland and her development as a nation, but the Christian influence that Ireland shared with the rest of the world - especially Western Europe.
The Irish fascination with the triad made the idea of the Trinity a well received truth. This also resulted in many facets of Christianity being presented within the aspect of the triad. Due to the isolated nature of Ireland as an island state Christianity flourished there while in the majority of Europe it was stifled during the Dark Ages. This was the Golden Age of Christianity as it was presented directly to the Irish people.
Roots takes a close look at both the saints of Ireland and the traditions that not only promoted the spread of Christianity across the island but helped return it to the people of Europe after the Roman Empire fell to its own instability. Patrick's influence is well known - born in the 4th century he never embraced his Christian upbringing until he was taken as a slave to Ireland. There having lost everything he opened his heart, his, mind and his eyes to all that Christ offered him. But it wasn't until he returned to the land that enslaved him that he shared the message of God to a land ready to hear and embrace the gift of salvation. Patrick's return brought a time of upheaval and chaos as the old pagan ways struggled against this Christian God - a God who was a Trinity. Patrick's influence on the whole of Ireland is honored and celebrated by both Catholics and Protestants.
The second saint Roots looks at is Brigid who lived in the late 5th / early 6th century. Brigid, a woman shrouded in mystery, was known for her giving to the poor. She cared for the refuges who came to Ireland from the instability that was consuming both the Roman Empire and Western Europe - no small feat at the time in which she lived. This giving spirit came from the belief the that the Lord resided within all who were poor. A good deed is never forgotten and this is the legacy of Brigid's life.
Some lesser known saints and their lives and influences as missionaries from Ireland to the rest of Europe are explored. Irish monasteries nurtured the Christian faith - these centers housed and trained thousands who helped spread Christianity from Ireland into the darkened regions of Europe who had fallen under pagan influences with the collapse of Rome. Learning Scripture was of vital importance and these centers were where Scripture was recorded and preserved - the most noted being The Book of Kells. The monasteries were also known for their high crosses - stone crosses which were carved to share the Biblical story with the common person who could not read.
This is a book that packs a great deal of information into a few pages. For those who are interested in either Irish history or Church history this is a fount of information that you'll want to turn to again and again. I was especially intrigued with the accounts of the Book of Kells, the high crosses and prayer. It is amazing how the very isolation that first kept Christianity from Ireland was the very thing that kept its message safe while the rest of Europe fell into the Dark Ages.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.