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Boniface recalls, in the same letter of the year 723, how when he was consecrated at Rome by the Pope, he had sworn on the body of St. Peter not to hold any communion or even personal intercourse with the uncanonical Celtic clergy. In another letter, No. 27, written A.D. 733, Boniface calls them pagans and false Christians, fornicating clergy and pseudo-sacerdotes, unless indeed he here has in mind the so-called Manichean teachers, who do not seem to have been numerous. In yet another letter to the Pope Zachariah, A.D. 744, Boniface complains of the injuries and persecutions suffered by him at the hands of the false priests, adulterated deacons and fornicating clergy, among whom he particularly names two, Aldebert, a Gaul, and Clemens, a Scottus or Irishman.' In connection with the latter he prays the Pope to make an end of the fables of the heretics, of their empty prodigies, of their miracles of the forerunner of Antichrist.
In the Council of Soissons, A.D. 744, Boniface, according to his biographer Willibald, excommunicated and handed over to Satan these two bishops, with the assistance of the most Christian princes of the Franks, Caroloman, and Pippin. It is to be noticed that in this council the decrees of the Eastern Councils were for the first time promulgated in the kingdom of the Franks.
The language of the Romanising clergy in these islands, like their cause, was in the meanwhile identical with
1 So also in Ep. 75 to Zachariah, A.D. 751, in Migne, P. L., lxxxix, col. 777 B. & C.
2 Migne, P. L., lxxxix, 724 A.
3 Ibid., 752 A. Aldebert's teaching is distinguished from that of Clemens, and he appears to have been what Gregory II elsewhere calls a Manichean (Ibid., 502 C.), but really akin to the Montanists or Paulicians of the East. See Migne, P. L., lxxxix, cols. 927, A.B., 752, 939.
Boniface's. Daniel of Winchester, to console him for his difficulties with the Celtic missionaries of the Continent, writes to him as follows (Migne, P.L., lxxxix, 707 B.) :
Of this also I would remind you, my dear friend, that although we are parted by a wide tract of land, and an immense breadth of sea, and though our climates differ widely, yet we are oppressed by just the same mass of troubies as yourself. There is exactly the same activity of Satan here as yonder."
And Gregory the First, in giving to Augustine of Canterbury his commission, indicates that the Celtic Church had no form of right belief or right living.' And in the same year, A.D. 601, he hints plainly to Augustine that Celtic orders were in the opinion of Rome non-existent: "you are the only Bishop in Britain," he writes; and in virtue of his being so Augustine was allowed to consecrate without the assistance of other bishops. Yet Celtic bishops were ever within call, had the Roman party recognised their orders.
St. Aldhelm also, Bishop of Sherburne, in A.D. 705, according to Bede (Hist., v, 18), wrote a marvellous book against the errors of the Britons, "according to which they celebrate the Pascha at the wrong time and carry on many other practices contrary to ecclesiastical purity (i.e., orthodoxy) and peace." Aldhelm acknowledged the purity and strictness of the Celtic coenobial system, but asked what use it was outside the Catholic Church. "Your priests," he wrote to Geruntius of Cornwall, "do not in the least agree with us in the rule of the catholic faith (that is in creed), and by their feuds and verbal combats with us give rise within the Church of Christ (that is within the Romanising party itself) to grave schism and
1 Bede, Hist., i, 29: Recte credendi et bene vivendi formam. "Such a form, says Gregory to Augustine, they shall imbibe from the language and life of your Holiness."
2 Bede, Hist., i, 29.
cruel scandal." A little earlier we read that Pope Vitalian, in A.D. 667, proclaimed his intention of selecting an Archbishop of Canterbury, "who should root out by the will of God all the enemy's tares."
Lastly, Pope Gregory the Third, A.D. 739, particularly warns the Bavarian and Alemannic bishops against the British missionaries, meaning probably, as Haddan & Stubbs point out, Welsh or Cornishmen. "You are," he writes, "to obey Boniface and reject and prohibit gentile rites, and the teaching whether of Brettones when they come, or of false priests and of heretics from whatsoever quarter."
It is useless to contend, as have done many writers over zealous for the good name of the Celtic Church, that the denunciations of the writers whom we have just quoted were inspired by the racial hatred which an Angle felt instinctively for a race which he had wronged. This may perhaps excuse the fierce exultation of Bede, when he relates the treacherous murder of four hundred British monks surprised at their prayers. But it does not explain the attitude of the Popes, who in all their dealings and policy were never motived by racial prejudices. Still less does it explain the rancour with which the Celtic missionaries were pursued all over the Continent, in wide and remote regions whither the petty antagonisms of these islands cannot possibly have found an echo. And if it be further contended that the papal feeling against them was due to the fact that they resisted and denied the authority of the Pope, it may surely be replied that they can only have resisted the Popes, because they rejected the doctrines which he wished to force upon them. Even if we had no further evidence on the point, the passages above adduced
1 Migne, P. L., lxxxix, col. 88: in Catholicae fidei regula secundum scripturae praeceptum minime concordant. H. & S., i, 672.
from the correspondence of the Popes with Boniface would make it almost certain that the real defect in British baptism was the absence of any invocation of the Trinity. For that is the point on which Boniface manifests so extreme, so morbid, an anxiety. Now by good fortune a letter of the Pope Zachariah to Boniface survives, which in the amplest manner confirms this view. It belongs to the year 748,' and is an answer to a letter of Boniface's, which had referred to the same matter. "Your first point, writes Zachariah, "regards the Synod of the province in which you were born and bred, which as far as regards the Angles and Saxons was decided and judged and governed by the first preachers sent from the apostolic seat, to wit by Augustine, Laurentius, Justus, Honorius, and recently in your own times by Theodore."
The date of the Synod here referred to is fixed by the context of the letter, which refers it to the times of the Pope Gregory the first. Therefore Haddan and Stubbs (vol. iii, p. 51) place it in the period 591-603. The province in which Boniface was born and brought up may only mean Great Britain, but more probably refers to the kingdom of Wessex, since Boniface was born at Crediton and educated at Exeter. There is thus a strong antecedent probability that the synod in question was the very one at Augustine's Oak, on which we have already dwelt.
Now Zachariah goes on to tell us something about the decrees passed in this synod, as follows:
'In that synod the following decree and decision was most firmly laid down, and it is recognised to have been demonstrated, that whoever shall have been washed (lotus) without the invocation of
1 Baronius gives this date. For the letter see Migne, P. L., lxxxix, col. 943.
2 Notice how careful Zachariah is to use the word " "dipt," not "baptised," of the imperfect British rite.
the Trinity, shall not be held to have received the sacrament of regeneration. And this is everywhere true, that if anyone has been dipt in the font of baptism without invocation of the Trinity, such an one is not perfect. To be that, he must have been baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Now in the seventh century synods were not got together in order to condemn imaginary errors, and this decree must have been aimed at a practise which really existed in these islands, especially in the western parts of England, where in the year 600 the Celtic Church was as yet the only form of Christian organisation and the sole evangelising agency. It is clear to demonstration that the Celtic bishops and doctors baptised without using the formula, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And the first thing Augustine did, when he reached our shores, was to make it clear to them that he could not act with them nor they with him, unless they conformed on this point.
In the immediate sequel the Pope repeats from Boniface's letter to himself the declarations with regard to the use of the invocation of the Trinity in baptism. made by certain persons whom he does not name, but who in the main agreed with the decisions of the English synod just alluded to. The passage is as follows:
“You have told me in your letter that it is affirmed by certain persons, that the sacrament of baptism is, beyond doubt, actually conferred on anyone who has been dipt in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the Trinity having been invoked according to the Evangelical words in accordance with the rule laid down by the Lord. They affirm that in such case the baptism is so firmly consecrated by the Evangelical words (i.e., Matt. xxviii, 19) that, even though it be a most wicked heretic, or schismatic, or robber, or thief, or adulterer that has so conferred it on a person who besought it of him, nevertheless the baptism so consecrated by the evangelical words is the baptism of Christ. On the other hand, these same persons affirm that even though the minister be a just man, yet if he has not pronounced the Trinity in