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and (2), that according to Celtic ideas the right of the Church was not a paramount right over-riding the native law, but that the people had rights over the Church, and the Church rights over the people. There was no ecclesiastical supremacy in the sense in which it is found where the Latin Church and Latin rule prevailed.
The Corus Bescna goes on to define the mutual rights of Church and tribe. This special Celtic feature has been too much ignored. The Celtic Church was not, and never, like the Latin Church, claimed to be national or universal. It claimed no right over the whole country irrespective of its tribal divisions; it was a tribal, and in that sense a national Church. It had specific rights against a specific tribe living in a specific district; but outside the limits of that district or tribe the Church neither possessed nor claimed any rights. On the conversion of a tribe to Christianity a monastic establishment was founded, with the assent of the tribe, on its territory; and this foundation caused the territory of the tribe to be divided into two divisions,-(1), that which belonged to the tribe, the territory of "the tribe of the land"; (2), that which the Church possessed, the territory of "the tribe of the saint". Each of these had duties, the one for the other; each had rights, the one against the other.
The history of these rights, although most interesting, does not fall within the monastic part of the subject. The only point to be noted as to them is that they relate exclusively to-that the Corus Bescna, in fact, deals exclusively with-a monastic Church. The idea of an episcopal Church does not seem to have ever occurred to the mind of the writer.
So far as we can learn, the Celtic churches seem to have been thus founded. When Christianity was introduced into Ireland or Wales, the law as to the Church was founded on the basis of the old tribe law. The alienation of the tribe land could only be made with the
assent of the tribe, and subject to the tribal rights. When a tribe or the chief of a tribe became Christian, probably with the assent of the tribe an ecclesiastical establishment was founded. For this purpose part of the territory of the tribe was made over to the missionary or saint. For instance, in the Irish Life of Columba that Saint is said to have gone to Derry, and seen Aedh, the son of Ainmire, King of Erin. Aedh gave Columba the royal fort. In it Columba settled, and founded a monastic establishment. Thus on the tribe-land, with the consent of the tribe, a new body was established. This new body was called "fine manach" (the tribe of the saint) as opposed to the lay-tribe (the tribe of the land). Some confusion and difficulty are caused by the way in which this expression "tribe of the saint" is used by the old Irish writers. It has at least two distinct meanings,-(1), that mentioned above, the monastic establishment as opposed to the lay tribe; and (2), in settling who was entitled to succeed to the abbacy or headship of a monastic establishment, it meant the lay tribe to which the founder belonged as distinguished from the tribe to which the other inmates of the monastery might belong.
The gift of the land to Columba brings out another feature in Celtic monasticism. The gift was a personal one, for a definite purpose; not, as in later times, a gift to a monastic corporation. The saint was the grantee, not the monastery. The tribe of the land retained rights against the monastery, the right that the monks should keep their order and position, so that proper offerings could be made; the right to have their children educated by the monastery, and the right to succeed to the abbacy in certain contingencies.
As Christianity increased, from the original church of the saint other churches were established. From time to time further grants from the tribe of the land were made to the tribe of the saint, thereby increasing its importance. Against each of these new churches or establishments the tribe of the land retained the same
rights as against the original church. The abbot of the original church exercised rule over all the other churches, just as the lay chief exercised rule over the lay settlements of the tribe. The members of all these different churches had certain rights in the property not only of their own church, but in that of the others as well, and certain rights of succession to the different offices in each.
The Celtic churches were of different kinds or degrees. The original establishment, the great monastic church, was the mother church, the abbot of which was the chief of the tribe of the saint. The next church in order of succession was an annoit church; that is, a church from which the original founder had come, or where he had been educated, or his relics were kept. Then came a dalta church, a church founded by a member of the original community of the founder of the mother church. Next came the compairche church, a church dedicated to, and under the tutelage of, the same saint as the mother church; and lastly the cill church, a smaller church, an offshoot of the original monastic church, but not to be confounded with the cell and the abbey of the Latin Church.
The relationship of these different churches to each other is one of the most interesting and the most difficult subjects connected with the Celtic Church. The relationship was not based on a common religious order nor on a diocesan connection, but on an imaginary kinship that was regarded as something sacred, a breach of which, "desertion from the Church", is the subject in the Irish law of very minute and special rules. In only seven specified cases was desertion, a breach of the tie of kinship, allowed. These seven cases werefailure, crime, famine, landless man, a "Macbuilg" son, learning, pilgrimage.1 In each case minute rules are laid down as to the right of the Church to receive the deserter's property.
1 Corus Besena. Rolls Ed., p. 65.
The Corus Bescna' gives very elaborate rules as to the rights of succession of the different churches to the abbacy, the headship of the tribe of the saint. These rules shed such a light upon the position the monastery occupied in the Celtic Church, and how its head was chosen, that they must be referred to at length :
"The Church of the Tribe of the Patron Saint.-That is, the tribe of the patron saint shall succeed to the church as long as there shall be a person fit to be an abbot of the said tribe of the patron saint; even though there should be but a psalm-singer of them, it is he that will obtain the abbacy. Whenever there is not one of that tribe fit to be an abbot, the abbacy is to be given to the tribe to whom the land belongs until a person fit to be an abbot of the tribe of the patron saint shall be qualified: and when he is, the abbacy is to be given to him if he be better than the abbot of the tribe to whom the land belongs, and who has taken it. If he is not better, it is only in his turn he shall succeed. If a person fit to be an abbot has not come of the tribe of the patron saint, or of the tribe to whom the land belongs, the abbacy is to be given to one of the "fine manach" class until a person fit to be an abbot of the tribe of the patron saint, or of the tribe to whom the land belongs, should be qualified; and when there is such a person, the abbacy is to be given to him in case he is better. If a person fit to be an abbot has not come of the tribe of the patron saint, or of the tribe of the grantor of the land, or of the manach class, the annoit church shall receive it in the fourth place, a dalta church shall receive it in the fifth place, a compairche church shall obtain it in the sixth place, a neighbouring cill church shall obtain it in the seventh place.
"If a person fit to be an abbot has not come in any of these seven places, a pilgrim may assume it in the eighth place; and if a person fit to be an abbot has not arisen of the tribe of the patron saint, or of the tribe to which the land belongs, or of the manach class together, while the wealth of the abbacy is with an annoit church, or a dalta church, or a compairche church, or a neighbouring cill church, or a pilgrim, it (the wealth) must be given to the tribe of the patron saint for one of them fit to be an abbot, goes then for nothing. The abbacy shall be taken from them.
"When it is a Church of the Tribe to whom the Land belongs, and a Church of the Tribe of the Patron Saint and of the Tribe
1 Rolls Ed., p. 73.
to whom the Land belongs at the same Time.-That is, the tribe to whom the land belongs succeed to the church, i.e., the tribe of the patron saint and the tribe to whom the land belongs are one and the same tribe in this case, and the patron saint is on his own land.
"The patron saint, the land, the mild monk.
"The annoit church, the dalta church of fine vigour.
"The compairche church and the pilgrim.
"By them is the abbey assumed in their relative order.
"Every one of these who assumes the abbacy, except the tribe of the patron saint, and the tribe to which the land belongs, and the manach class, shall leave all his legacy within, to the church; or according to others, it is the share of the first manach person that is due of each man of them."
After providing for the fine that is to be paid on leaving the head of a cill church, the Corus Bescna
"A Cill Church for the original Tribe to whom the Land belongs. -That is, a cill church which the tribe to whom the land belongs exclusively take possession of; and they (the tribe to whom the land belongs) have the word of the patron saint for taking it, the cill church, or it came to them by prescription, as long as there shall be of them a person fit to be an abbot; and when there is not, it, the abbacy, is to be assumed by the tribe that is next to them that has a person fit to be an abbot, ie, the tribe of a patron saint; and on the part of the tribe of the patron saint security is given that whenever there shall be a person fit to be an abbot of the tribe to which the land belongs, they will restore it (the abbacy) to them.
"But in Case of the Tribe of the Patron Saint not giving Security it does not return back until it comes finally to the Pilgrim.-That is, I stipulate or I make a condition that it shall not return back to the tribe of the patron saint without security until it goes finally to the pilgrim, for the abbacy shall sooner pass to the tribe of the patron saint without security than to the pilgrim with security; and it shall sooner pass to the other tribes, upon their giving security, than to the tribe of the patron saint without security; but it shall sooner pass to the tribe of the patron saint, on their giving security, than to the other tribes on their giving security.
"A Cill Church of Monks.-That is, a cill church of monks which a tribe of monks hold; and the abbacy shall always belong to the monks as long as there shall be a person of them fit
5TH SER., VOL. VIII.