Saint Palladius – First Bishop of Ireland

Saint Palladius First Bishop of Ireland

Palladius was known to have been married and have a young daughter and may have come from a noble family of Gaul. He is described as a friend and younger kinsman by Namatianus. He lived in Rome between 418-429, and appears to be the “Deacon Palladius” responsible for urging Pope Celestine I to send the bishop Germanus to Britain, where he guided “the Britons back to the Catholic faith.

According to the ancient Chronicles written by Saint Prosper of Aquitaincein 433AD it is said:

Palladius was consecrated by Pope Celestine, and sent as the first Bishop to the Irish believing in Christ

The definition of the first Bishop has been open for debate. Some believe Christianity was already practised in the southern area of Ireland thanks to St Ailbe of Emly, St Ciaran of Saigir, St Abban of Moyarny, and St Declan of Ardmore.

The arrival of the first Bishop of Ireland

Many people believe Saint Patrick was the first Christian to arrive in Ireland but Palladius, the first Bishop of Ireland, was the first recorded mission. He arrived in Ireland in 431AD coming ashore at Hy-Garchon, now known as Wicklow, where he setup churches, around the territory of Laigin (Lesinter).

After a short while Palladius was banished from Leinster so he set sail going north but unfortunately for Palladius he faced stormy weather at sea that swept him towards Scotland where he landed at the Orkney Islands.

In the Irish illuminated manuscript, The Life of St Patrick, written by Muirchú moccu Machtheni his mission to Ireland is described.

Sent to this island in the cold north in order to convert it. But he was prevented from doing so (by the fact that) nobody can receive anything from the earth unless it be given him from heaven. Neither were these wild and harsh men inclined to accept his teaching nor did he himself wish to spend a long time in a foreign country, but (decided to) return to him who had sent him. On his way back from here, having crossed the first sea and begun his journey by land, he ended his life in the territory of the Britons.

Palladius settled in Scotland and was acknowledged as their First Bishop until he died outside Aberdeen in approx 450AD.

Sources

  • Celtic Theology: Humanity, World, and God in Early Irish Writings By Thomas O’Loughlin
  • History of the Irish Church 400-700 AD by John R. Walsh & Thomas Bradley
  • Pope St Celestine  – catholicireland.net

This article was first published on 26-04-2010 and last modified on 17-10-2015.

About the Author

Brian O’Neill
With a passion for traditional music Brian is never one to miss a good session. When not studying for exams he spends his time playing the bodhrán, something he's be doing since a kid.Brian is a regular contributor and author for YourIrish.com