I think that our own pilgrimage has brought us face to face with these saints of old, not merely because some of us are Celtic by descent, nor that we like hearing the old stories, much like fairy-tales in some ways, but because we have come to feel deeply that these Celtic Monks have something vital to say to the Church today, again facing a dangerous, barbarian world, no less in need of the Gospel than it was 1200 years ago.
Celtic mission in medieval Europe has had such a significant impact on the imagination of people for many reasons.
The Celtic Church was amazing at integrating culture into its faith without compromising their beliefs or traditions. They incorporated pagan symbolism into the uncompromisable sacraments of Christianity to make their faith relatable and accessible to the Pagan population.
They also carried with them a wild spirit. There is something in all of us that finds the idea of getting onto an aeroplane not knowing its destination and seeing where it takes you. That Spirit of adventure was so apparent in the Celtic Christian Monks. They were known to get in a coracle and set sail, letting the wind take them wherever it leads. The believed that wherever the wind took them, was where the Holy Spirit wanted them to go and preach the gospel.
They had creativity at the heart of their worship, displaying some of the worlds finest artwork for the time on some of their most sacred artefacts. We can also attribute the earliest English Hymns to St Caedmon from St. Hilda’s monastery.
I also believe that mankind is constantly longing for community. We long to belong to a family of like-minded people and the Celtic monastic living appeals to so many. They were at the centre of the community. The monastery was the Hospital, the producer of food, the church and the Inn for weary travellers.