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It is generally believed that St Patrick brought the Christian Faith to Ireland, his traditional title being Apostle of the Irish.Without wishing to diminish St Patrick’s importance in any way, it is relevant to point out that in 431 St Palladius was sent to Ireland by St Celestine I Pope of Rome, as the first bishop of the Emerald Isle, with the task of administering the sacraments ‘to the Irish who professed Christ’.

At the top were the druids, bards, lawmen and doctors, while the slaves at the base of the system had no rights.

As remarked by historian David Ross, the concept of territorial dioceses could not function in such a social system.

In contrast, the Roman Church, like the rest of the Universal Church, used the solar calendar and ensured that Easter never fell on the same day as the Jewish Passover.

This aspect would eventually become the main bone of contention between Rome and the Celts, with Rome winning the conflict at the Synod of Whitby held in 664.

Each had to be converted separately and each had to have its own Church structure, with priests and bishops effectively replacing the druids.

Eventually five provincial kingdoms arose in the place of this hotchpotch of petty rulers: Munster in the south of the island, Leinster and Meath in the east, Connaught in the west, and Ulster in the north.

Through the dedication and perseverance of St Patrick and his successors, Ireland became a bastion of Christianity.

As a matter of fact, the Irish Church was to remain faithful to Orthodox Christianity for several centuries to come, while the rest of the Western Church, especially from the late eighth century, began increasingly to deviate from the ancient Orthodox Christian Faith.

It is likely that St Patrick received his spiritual instruction in the south of France, at the monastery of Lérins.

This great institution was founded by St Honoratus in 375, upon his return from Greece where he had become familiar with Orthodox Christian monasticism.

It seems likely that St Patrick was also sent to Ireland to combat the Pelagian heresy, the Irish Church being suspected of Pelagian tendencies at the time.

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