Some 125 intrepid 3D fans braved tornado warnings to hear Dr. Kevin Shirley’s lecture on Medieval History of Ireland.
His knowledge and his passion brought us a new appreciation of the gift given to the world by the Irish. As Europe fell into the funk of the Dark Ages, Ireland kept the light of civilization burning in its monastic communities. Ireland had no real urban centers so the papal strategy for Christianizing through cathedrals and hierarchy in cities did not work in Ireland. Its clan society elected their chieftains, or kings, who controlled everything, including religion. The kings appointed their relatives to be its abbots and monks who gained great wealth.
The Irish people at large were not well educated, were even ridiculed for their crudeness. Monks
struggled to master Greek and Latin. And well they did.
Meanwhile, in Europe Latin morphed into romance languages like Italian and Spanish. But pure Latin and Greek abounded in the monasteries. Their Rule of Life consisted of prayer, labor and study. They took seriously the scripture, “Thou shalt not appear in my sight empty.”
These diligent scribes copied and illustrated the scriptures magnificently. “Monk” means “alone,” and many of them put themselves in exile called “white martyrdom.” They believed they must leave to bring Christ to other peoples.
They traveled to France, Italy, Denmark and various countries taking with them their culture and their sense of piety. They sowed the seeds of knowledge that were able to burst into bloom and then flower into the Renaissance.
Dr. Shirley touched on the life of St. Patrick, who was captured and forced to live in Ireland as a slave at age 16. It was a tough existence, but Patrick somehow was able to return to his native England. Then God called him in a dream to return to Armaugh for the spreading of the gospel.
In 845, Viking raiders attacked the Irish kings. They brought coinage to Ireland and greatly stimulated Irish trade. In Dublin, the 3D travelers will walk the early Viking presence rediscovered by archeologists during recent urban renewal.
The High King Brian Boru managed to have himself declared Emperor of Ireland which here to fore had been ruled in separate fiefdoms. Unfortunately he had invited the English King Henry II to assist him.
The battle was won, but Brian was assassinated, leaving Ireland great agony with the English overbearance in the centuries that followed. In 1169, the English arrived and made grants of Irish tenant land.
Because of a papal bull the church’s mission in Ireland was “for the implanting of virtue to an ignorant and barbarous people.” Thanks to Dr. Shirley for setting the record straight.