As Thomas Cahill tells us, with the introduction of Christianity, many new Christians looked for a kind of “green martyrdom”. Denied the red martyrdom of death by blood, they looked to become a living sacrifice for Christ—to become “a green martyr”. Their willingness is explainable when we understand that within the Irish character are strains of melancholy mixed with wild abandon. (Ah hah, is that where I get it from?) As G.K. Chesterton once said,
For the great Gaels of Ireland,
Are the men that God made mad.
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.
In a previous post we talked about how Celtic women sometimes sought celibacy as a way to dedicate their lives to Christ. Sometimes, they even banded together into communities of virgins. The same was true of men. And when they joined a monastery, they became part of a community of learning and scholarship. The monasteries began with the intent to live in isolation—witness the number of beehive stone huts scattered throughout the Emerald Isle. But these huts, big enough for only a single individual, ended up being clustered in communities of monks. (Read more.)Share