Monday, April 28, 2008

Sister Fidelma and Ancient Eire-Celtic Whodunnits?

This image is by Belgian Artist Ken Broaders. There are more images on the website linked under the portrait of Fidelm on the right.

Just a short post today as I have more posts in preparation but am very busy at the moment. If you enjoy reading and love the early tales of Celtic Britain, I can recommend this series of books by Peter Beresford Ellis, who writes as Peter Tremayne.He is a well known authority on this period of church history and he has utilised his knowledge of the Brehon law system and seventh century Irish society to create this wonderful concept of an early Nun , sister to the King of Cashel called Fidelma, who is qualified in law and solves crimes. In the very first book, she is shown at the Synod at Whitby where she solves her first murder together with intrepid Saxon Monk Brother Eadulf.

I should stress, that the reason Pope Gregory sent Augustine to England was because after enduring many savage attacks by Saxons as tey tried to conquer Britain, only their superstition and a vigorous campaign by the Welsh (a rude term by the Anglo Saxons who were old Germanic tribes for the original inhabitants-foreigners or 'Romanised Celts'. These kept the English out for many years, but there was such animosity, they refused to evangelise the English. Gregory did not believe there could be peace until they were part of a truly united kingdom.Nothing was happening. Then Gregory sent Augustine and gradually conversions began to happen.The Welsh clergy would not listen to clergy at the arranged meetings, so great was the animosity to the Saxons.Our Lord had left the Church on the Rock of Peter and stressed that there had to be unity in the church of Christ if it prayed together. Augustine simply required that Britain should come into celebrate Easter at the same time of the rest of the church all over the world and a great Synod happened at Whitby.

When the church was in its infancy, of course it did not look as it did 500 years later, but there were also abuses appearing in this culture which needed to be checked. Lack of unity would weaken the church. Fidelma and Eadulf embark on an exciting investigation. You can search Peter Tremayne at Headline Books.They do give an account of the fascinating world of the lost ancient Irish civilisation. The rule of celibacy in the church for priests in the Latin arn of the church only came later and is not a matter of doctrine, but of discipline. Unmarried priests can devote their whole lives to their calling. It is not a matter of doctrine.

An International Sister Fidelma Society has been established with a magazine called The Brehon which is issued three times a year. Details can be obtained by writing to the secretary at 1836 Ashley River Road, Suite 396, Charleston SC 29407-4781,USA . There is also a website at

Having written so much about corresponding Welsh saints at this time, albeit martyrs, it is very interesting to see the kind of lives the women led and the customs of ancient Ireland. I hope you enjoy the books. Absolution by Murder is the one set at the Synod at Whitby and the first one and it is best to read them in order.

My only reservation is that they do buy slightly into the universal church coercing the Celtic churches into submision. These had always been part of the universal church, with the clergy and monarchies forming part of the pilgrimage traditions and many being ordained in Rome .If you have a unified church and it was instituted in a certain way, you had to make sure the church kept to the original teaching of the gospel and gradition of the church.

Will be back soon, when I get up to date after a busy week.

Latest Sister Fidelma mystery is 'Dancing with Demons' investing the murder of Sechnussach, Hig King of Ireland

No comments: