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The Celtic Saints

The Celtic saints referred to themselves as "Peregrinari Pro Christ" (pilgrims for Christ) and called their peregrinations the "White Martyrdom".

White, because their blood was not shed (though that could and did happen), and martyrdom, because they had to leave Ireland, their beloved home. The saints' belief was that the spiritual journey of our lives demands both outward and inward wandering, often not knowing where God will lead.

In the early centuries of the first millenium the western world was awash in war and chaos, and civilization seemed to retreat to the distant environs of Byzantium far, far away.

Yet, a small trickle of simply robed men of the west appeared, first two Britons, Ninian going to Galloway in southern Scotland, and then Patrick returning to northern Ireland. From Ireland the trickle grew, sending men like Columba, Aidan, Brendan, Columban, and many more.

With dusty feet and a few companions, these Celtic saints walked the paths of Scotland, northern England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and as far away as Iceland, ministering to the poor, establishing monasteries, spreading education, preserving knowledge, and being Christ in this world.

Buy Books about the Celtic Saints
Sun Dancing
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Sun Dancing: Life in a medieval Irish monastery and how Celtic spirituality influenced the world
by Geoffrey Moorhouse

In an unusual blend of fiction and history, Moorhouse tells the story of the Irish monks of Skellig Michael - located in the isolated, rocky Skellig Islands - who for centuries braved the rigors of their climate for the sake of common cause in keeping their focus on God and their mission to educate, preserve, and teach. A fascinating look at the evolution of Irish monastic life and Celtic Christianity.
Celtic Saints
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Celtic Saints: Passionate Wanderers
by Elizabeth Rees, illustrated by Margaret Rees

Rees engagingly tells the stories of many well-known and lesser known Celtic saints, English, Irish, Scots and Welsh, while taking us on a spiritual tour of the sacred places at which they lived and worked.
Celtic Fire
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Celtic Fire: The Passionate Religious Vision of Ancient Britain and Ireland
by Robert Van de Weyer

Van de Weyer has compiled and edited a selection of readings from the early Celtic saints with biographical introductions. A good, readable overview of their thought and life.
Wisdom of the Celtic Saints
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Wisdom of the Celtic Saints
by Edward C. Sellner, illustrated by Susan McLean-Keeney

Sellner provides an outstanding introduction to the unique emphases of Celtic Christianity, followed by chapters on about 20 of the Celtic saints, featuring exerpts from their writings and the writings of others, and illustrating how their lives and teachings demonstrate these tenets of the faith. A lovely book.
Holy Companions
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Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints
by Mary C. Earle, Sylvia Maddox

The Celtic tradition continues to captivate readers. Centuries old, it seems to speak to the modern world with a fresh voice. In Holy Companions, readers are invited to get to know and journey with eighteen Celtic saints. The authors have provided a theme inspired by each saint, along with a brief biography, a reflection on what the saint's life and words may mean to us today, and some spiritual exercises and practices that grow out of that life and work. Written accessibly, this is an excellent book for individual exploration or group study.
Glendalough : A Celtic Pilgrimage
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Glendalough: A Celtic Pilgrimage
by Michael Rodgers and Marcus Losack

One of the most popular pilgrimage (and tourist) stops in Ireland, Glendalough was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Rodgers and Losack have written a history of Glendalough and a guide to its environs steeped in their love for and understanding of Celtic Christianity. Definitely a book to buy if you are planning to visit, or even if you're not.
Soulfaring : Celtic Pilgrimages Then and Now
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Soulfaring: Celtic Pilgrimages Then and Now
by Cintra Pemberton

Sister Pemberton has led pilgrimages for many years. In this beautiful and inspiring book, she first explores the history of pilgrimage from early Celtic times to the present day. She then takes us on a spiritual tour of 15 holy sites in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, complete with her personal meditations for each site.
Confession of Saint Patrick
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The Confession of Saint Patrick and Letter to Coroticus
by St. Patrick, translated by John Skinner

St. Patrick's autobiography, written in the 5th century, along with a fiery letter of admonition written to Christian Roman soldiers. Forward by John O'Donohue. Nothing can compare to the picture of Patrick we receive through reading his own words.
Cry of the Deer
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The Cry of the Deer
by David Adam,
illustrated by Jenny Pearson and Peter Dingle

The Cry of the Deer (also known as The Lorica or St. Patrick's Breastplate) is an incredibly beautiful hymn attributed to Saint Patrick. In this lovingly illustrated book, Celtic poet and Vicar of the Holy Isle (Lindisfarne), David Adam, provides lengthy meditations on this timeless hymn.