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home across the North Sea. I shall presently point out that Bede's allegation that the Britons would not join with him in preaching the word among the Angli must either be dismissed as incredible or subjected to a very different interpretation. However, even if we put aside the words of Egbert, what shall we say of the fact that St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 670, in his Penitentiary (ii, 9), expressly orders Scotti and Brettones to be rebaptised? "Not only," so he writes, "shall those Priests who have been ordained by the Bishops of the Scotti (that is the Irish) and of the Brettones have hands laid on them afresh by a Catholic Bishop, not only shall the churches consecrated by their Bishops be reconsecrated, but to the members of these Irish and British churches. the Chrism and Eucharist shall be refused, even though they ask for it, unless they have beforehand confessed their willingness to join us in the unity of the Church." "And likewise," adds this writer in conclusion, "those who belong to this race, or anyone who has felt a doubt about his baptism, shall be baptised." The intention of this last proviso is clear. Members of the Irish and British churches were anyhow to be re-baptised, if they were known to have been dipped by a British or Irish Bishop. And more than this, if a man even had a doubt about the catholicity of the Priest who had baptised him, he was to undergo the rite afresh. Now it is a commonplace of Church History, that the Popes from the first recognised as valid the baptism of heretics, so long as they were correct in the form and matter of their baptism. It was therefore a very extreme measure for Theodore, the successor of Augustine in the see of Canterbury, to ignore the British baptism. It was tantamount to a denial on his part that the British and Irish were Christians at all.
Let us then examine and find out what was considered
by the Popes of the seventh and eighth centuries to be the essential thing and sine qua non in baptism. And having found out what it was, let us further examine contemporary writers and see whether they do not make it plain that it was the want of this very thing in British baptism that rendered it invalid.
Now the Papacy was met by just the same difficulties in Northern Europe during the eighth century, as in England during the seventh. It was not so much that it had to cope with a vigorous paganism, for the older cults were in that age nearly everywhere extinct or fast waning, save perhaps in the recesses of the land of the Frisii. The real problem was how to reduce to conformity with Rome the Christianity which before that age Irish and British missionaries had planted, and were still watering, in Lower Frisia, in Old Saxony, in Thuringia, among the Bavarians and the Franks. These missionaries, by their patient efforts, had done all the rough work of evangelisation, but they were not in communion with Rome. How was Rome to grasp their heritage?
Now Winifred, or Boniface, as he was afterwards called, was from about the year 715 till the year 754 engaged in executing for the Popes, in the countries just named, the same task which Augustine had been sent a century earlier to these islands to achieve, the task, namely, of effacing the last traces of a decaying paganism and of reforming, as the Pope euphemistically put it, the religion implanted by the Celtic missionaries. In the correspondence of Boniface then, as we might expect, the question of what is valid baptism is often touched upon and proposed to successive Popes for settlement. It is as often declared by them, when so interrogated, that the sine qua non of baptism is the invocation of the Trinity in all its three persons. Nothing else is essential, but the omission of
this invocation, the neglect to mention all three persons of the Trinity, utterly invalidates the rite.
Boniface was a native of Crediton, in Devonshire, and received his training at Exeter among papal Christians before he passed across the North Sea to his great life work on the continent, whither he must have carried scruples, susceptibilities, and prejudices formed and acquired in the west of England. Now it is remarkable how morbidly anxious he is about the very aspect of sound baptism on which I have just touched. Thus, in 744, when he had become papal legate for the whole of Germany, he writes to the Pope Zachariah to know how he should proceed in regard to a certain Bavarian priest who, through ignorance of the Latin language, had in baptising sundry persons used the formula, "Baptizo te in nomine patria et filia et spiritu sancta." In his zeal for sound baptism, Boniface, instead of waiting for the Pope's decision, took the extreme step of rebaptising the persons over whom this formula had been used. The Pope
answers' that herein he was wrong, for that the baptising priest had but unintentionally mangled the Latin language, and had introduced no error or heresy.
The next Pope, Stephen, returns a similar answer in the year 754 to certain of the inmates of a British Uniat monastery at Carisiacum on the Isar. They had propounded the question, whether the baptisms of a presbyter were valid, who was not sure that the bishop who had ordained or blessed him was orthodox, that is to say Papal and not Celtic. The Pope replied that the baptism was valid, if duly conferred in the name of the Trinity, and added that even a layman's baptism so conferred in cases of
1 See Migne, P. L., tom. 89, col. 929 C.
2 S. Stephani Papae II, Ep. 18 in Migne, P. L., 89, cols. 1026, 1027.
necessity was good. In reply to the further question, if a baptism, in which wine instead of water was used, was also valid, the same Pope answers, yes, if the Trinity was invoked. Another decision of the same Pope bears still more upon the problem we are examining of what constituted the invalidity of the Celtic baptism. For the case is laid before him of a presbyter who not only in baptising had neglected to use the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Psalms, but also could not adduce evidence to prove that the Bishop who had consecrated him was orthodox. "Let this presbyter, answers Pope Stephen, be deprived and incarcerated in a monastery. But let his baptisms be held good, provided always the persons were baptised in the name of the Trinity." And a crucial decision of the same sort is contained in a letter of the Pope Gregory' the Second, written to Boniface in A.D. 726, in answer to various queries:" You have informed me," writes this Pope, "that certain persons have been baptized by adulterous and unworthy priests without their having been interrogated about the symbol or creed. In such cases you shall adhere to the ancient custom of the church, which is that one who has been baptised in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, must on no account be rebaptised, for the gift of grace is not received in the name of the baptiser, but in the name of the Trinity."
The term adulterous, here used of the priest who neglected to use the orthodox creed, of course means no more than heretical; and in that age it was a comparatively mild and gentle epithet to apply to one who rejected the authority of the Pope.
It in no way detracts from the utility for my argument of these instances, which might be multiplied, that Boni
1 S. Gregorii Papae II, Ep. xiv, in Migne, P. L., 89, col. 524.
face was working in Germany, whereas the Celtic Church with which we are concerned was in these islands. For the latter part of this objection is not true. The Celtic Church ramified all over the Continent, and Boniface's letters prove that its bishops and missionaries, with their imperfect teaching, confronted him wherever he turned. "The reformation of the Christian religion" was the Pope's own description' of Boniface's task, and it meant the capturing for Rome of the converts that the Celts had everywhere made, and the forcing upon them of doctrines more up to date than those of the earlier missionaries. Witness Boniface's own description of these Celtic missionaries in his letter 12 addressed to Daniel, Bishop of Winchester::
They are false priests and hypocrites, who are fighting against God and are lost to themselves, and seduce the people by their many stumbling blocks and divers errors, saying to the people, in the words of the prophet, peace, peace, and there is not peace. And the seed of the word which has been derived from the bosom of the church catholic and apostolic, and has been intrusted to us, and which we are eager to sow however little, they strive to oversow with their weeds and to suffocate or turn into grass of a pestiferous sort. And what we plant they will not water, that it may increase: but are eager to pluck it out and cause it to wither away, offering instead of it to the people, and teaching to them, new sects and errors of various kind."
It is apparent from this letter that the Celtic clergy only wished for peace in their flocks, and that the arrogance of the Pope's legate alone disturbed it. It is also clear that his dogmatic narrowness was not acceptable to the people, and this was doubly bitter to Boniface. A letter of Pope Zachariah to him survives, in which the latter point is more explicitly brought out.
1 Hincmarus in Ep. Sen. Opusc. 44, cap. 20, in Migne, P. L., 89, col. 691 D. 2 In Migue, P. L., 89, col. 700.