Short History of the Orthodox Church of the Culdees
– TABLE OF CONTENTS –
– Short Definition of Culdee –
– The First Century Church –
– Numerous British 1st-5th Century Saints –
– British Israelites –
– Triumphant Christian Israelites –
– Israelite Liturgies –
– Archbishops and Patriarchs –
– Charters of Glastonbury –
– Kings, Queens, Popes, and Heirs –
– The Rights Transferred to the Descendants in Spiritual Anointing –
– Glastonbury Rights to Ban and Set Free –
– Culdees’ Church at Southern California –
– Our Current Primace of the OCC, Dr. Stephen d’Guelph Brunswick –
– Special Note on the Sabbath –
– Appendix –
Short Definition of Culdee.
You can read the Basic Definition of Culdee in the 1911 British Encyclopedia, Volume 7. It conclusively defines the Culdees as “Britain’s earliest priests of God”. The encyclopedia then goes on to defend why that is the most accurate definition of Culdee.
(No one but a non-believer will flat out deny this fundamental definition from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. Please be aware there are hundreds of atheist revisionists with our church in their sights, wishing to cover up these well documented and well proven truths.)
While we also have many very good studies into the hebrew/greek/latin/cymric and other languages that speculate on the meanings of the term in original tounges, that is not the purpose of this article. There are plenty enough good studies about the term Culdee done by expert historians which we need not add to. Several of these scholarly works are included in the appendix of this article. We ask that people no longer try and make the word “Culdee” into a grey area, and so make believe fantasy that never was. For sake of this article on the history of our church, we proceed with this basic definition “Britain’s earliest priests of God”, as taken from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
The First Century Church.
The institution known as the “Church of the Culdees” is widely acknowledged to be the Celtic First Century Church at Glastonbury, together with the other Celtic churches already established by Jeremiah the Prophet in 500BC. We suggest you read for the most conclusive proof available on the topic, our article “Numerous Ancient Manuscripts Confirming St. Joseph (of the Sanhedrin) Founded the British Hebrew Priesthood at Glastonbury in 36AD” article published by our Primace Dr. Stephen Michael d’Guelph Brunswick.
Christ’s Uncle Joseph was a man of authority not only holding political and true sovereign rights, acknowledged by all sides, foreign and internal. He was also, as the leading merchant of Rome’s Tin coming out of Cornwall England, on the established protected trade routes of Rome, no doubt a most worthy caretaker of Christ during His “missing 18 years” (age 12 till 30 as documented in the Bible). All of the many caravans of Gold delivered to Christ (with the Frankincense and Myhrr) brought by the Magi/Wisemen was in his most capable hands for safe keeping. Joseph being the successor to the Davidic Royal kingship on one hand, and the Levitical priesthood on the other, earned him much rights within the Jerusalem government (the Sanhedrin) itself. He had also earned ranks when he was trained in the Roman military, serving together on campaigns with Pilate himself, when he became a Roman “de curio”. The Bible tells us how he could walk in to any rank of Roman officials and throw his weight around.
In the many great ancient books called “the Welsh Genealogies of Saints” it catalogs St Joseph’s descendants as endowing their successors with their Culdean Churches, according to the Hebrew and local English (Biblical) method of inheritance (demonstrating 10 generations).
Numerous British 1st-5th Century Saints.
One of the prides of the Culdees church is our HUNDREDS of well documented Saints which predate the Roman St Augustine’s arrival. Today even the Greek and Russian Orthodox venerate dozens of our First and Second Century Celtic Saints. So many more are venerated by Ireland, Scotland and England, and the rest of the Western Church. The memorial biographies (Hagiographies / Vitas) widely document those of our Saints such as St Aristobulus and St Columbanus, as “CULDEAN” founders of the Church in Western Europe. Download the chapter “Spread of the Culdean Church [in Western Europe] from the book, “History of the Scottish Nation” or The History of The Celtic Church (All Three Volumes): History of Civilization From Pre-historic Times To Medieval Times – FREE PDF. For nearly every generation it has been, and still is acknowledged by historians worldwide that hundreds of British missionaries (Culdean Orthodox Saints) were sent from Britain to convert Western Europe long before Rome sent Augustine to England. (Download PDF From “the Culdee of Glastonbury” 133 British Saints Before Roman Augustine’s arrival – PDF 300 more Irish, Welsh and Scottish Saints are being added in the next release.)
There are over 3,000 books written on the topic of “British Israelism”, that highlight these facts of the First Century Culdean / British Church.
Some say the Culdees went into hiding. It is true that many “True Orthodox” Dissenter churches(later called Seventh day Baptists) were all formed by high ranking original English Orthodox Clergy in the mid 1600’s. However, the hiding was not for long. Many came to realize that in the present form of the church that they could still follow all the orthodox liturgies, including doing communion of the Saturday 7th day Sabbath. The British church embraced it’s roots as Israel and used the ancient liturgies of Israel. This included not only in the church, but also the Nobility. The Kings and Queens being descendant of King David. The current Queen of England, when she was crowned was proclaimed by the Archbishop to be “Queen of Israel”, when her coronation was syndicated live on international television. That isn’t to say in every generation they weren’t perfect. Even the Israelites when they lived in Jerusalem had many wicked kings who even let the people forget God’s commandments.
Triumphant Christian Israelites.
In the years just after Christ, there became more of a stronger remnant than Israel ever had in the Old Testament. We who are part of His firstfruits have His law as our delight, that the Holy Spirit has written on our hearts. Some may argue still only there was a remnant among the wider true Israel nations of Christendom, that’s no problem, we can also debate the percentages etc. Christ gave us the keys that the heirarchies of Royalty which originally came from true Israel already understood. The structures put in place by Jeremiah the prophet (sometimes mislabled as Druidism) were all more than ready to do as Christ told us to pray “His Kingdom come and be done on earth”. The Church Triumphant has had it’s many days of peril, but while governments come and go, the Church has emerged as victors outliving every Government. Under the House of Joseph promises to have the name Israel together with all its birthrights, we see that only fulfilled in the descended nations of Great Britain and America have had such great Kingdom blessings of providence. This has included having the widest space available for protecting the pure religion, where our Orthodox Hebrew beliefs have been maintained through the ages. Although there has been a general “great falling away” of the rest of the church. We consider those who forgot about His laws to simply be “asleep” and in need of awakening. If they don’t awaken now to be numbered within the “called” “first-fruits” then they will need to stay in the grave an extra 1,000 years till “the second Resurrection”.
Numerous studies can show that throughout the many splits, schisms and governmental interventions, still our true Israelite faith has thrived among the peoples of the remnant Culdees. The kindred peoples known as Culdees are not only Celtic, but span the ranks of Saxon, Norman and Dane (all cousins historically, ie Scots came from “greater Scythia” just as the Saxon). The close kindred connections were maintained although separated by the English channel. Much of France is known as Celtic in origin, just as much of Eastern Europe is documented to hold.
Many can trace their genealogies back to Joseph of Arimathea. Even many in Ireland today trace by DNA their ancestry back to King Neil of Nine hostages, to the original Royal House of Judea of 500BC. As documented in the Welsh Genealogies of Saints you have the physical, not only the spiritual anointings. The spiritual however God also ordained to “seeds” ie the “sons of the prophets” being interchangable with the “sons of Aaron” and “sons (and daughters) of Levi”.
In these ancient celtic lands the physical inheritance was more well maintained together with the spiritual. This is further evident in the Culdees’ succession of Bishops from Saint David of Wales, or of Culdean churches of the original Waldenses(under the Celtic Bishops of Lyon). The Waldensian Bishops of Lyon France claimed succession from the Holy Apostle St John, as did the whole of Asia Minor, that Rome had persecuted for separating to continue observing the original Hebrew festivals. The first Culdees (Bishop Aristobulus, St Joseph Arimathea, and St Philip) had united with them all in the First Century. This is documented in our booklet on the first 500 years of British Saints. These all are shown to have been long holding to the true orthodoxy in the face of extreme persecution. These things come and go, and are often only temporary political matters. You may wish to further learn of this topic, how the remnant have prevailed, in our book on the Holy Orthodox Christian Sabbath on Saturday:
There is a consensus among historians that the early American Pilgrims were “Neo-Culdees”. They were indeed more orthodox than the ones we’ve known the last 50 years. Even the most non-conformist congregationalist churches of early America still used the Orthodox English liturgy (BCP text), and have continued using our Orthodox liturgy until very recently.
The present and ancient English liturgy reflects the facts that the Christian nations have always believed they are Israelites. The Hebrew Shama Prayer is used in the oldest of our Culdee Christian liturgies, and is today in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (also used by Roman Catholics) as part of the Eucharist. It is also the oldest prayer that is recited by the Jews (originally from the Great Sanhedrin of 450BC. [That is around the time Jeremiah transplanted much of the priesthood, David’s literal throne (stone of scone), and the remaining heirs of the Judean throne to Ireland]). The English congregations chant the Shama much like Israel did. It is chanted at the Eucharist (also a Hebrew bread feast that Christ pointed to as fulfillment of the shewbread). The shama is typically sung or recited before the Decaloge (or 10 Commandments). Some versions of the liturgy say you can optionally recite the Hebrew Shama text “Hear O Israel.. etc” rather than reciting the full 10 Commandments.
The Saturday Sabbath is also called the day of rest in the “Collect for Saturday”. While most of the Hebrew feasts are already listed in the Book of Common Prayer, the preface says, a Bishop may add or reduce the feasts based on the local needs and availability of Ministers. Read more on this topic in the sub-chapters on the British Church in the booklet “Honoring the Sabbath in the Orthodox Church“.
Archbishops and Patriarchs.
Archbishop Parker, the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth promised in his letter to Calvin, concerning the proposal of a union among all Protestants, reminding him that the Church of England would “retain her Episcopacy; but not as from Pope Gregory, who sent Augustine the monk hither, but from Joseph of Arimathea.” (Gildas, 1525, also in “The Life and Acts of Archbishop Parker” By John Strype, Published in 1711.) [Note that Gregory was fiercely opposed by Saint Columbanus the Culdee from the Luxeuil Abbey.]
The Patriarch Cyril Lucaris of Constantinople also reached out to the Orthodox English (also called Dissenters and Protestants). He made a confession of faith that was in absolute agreement with the Orthodox Culdees. It sounded exactly as Calvin agreed. Calvin also followed more the Orthodox liturgy himself, much moreso than those today claiming to be in Calvin descended churches.
There were numerous recognitions within the churches of the world, that they would yield to Glastonbury on points of antiquity and precedence.
At the Synod of Pisa in 1409, Council of Constance in 1417, Synod of Sienna in 1424, and the Council of Basel in 1434. There was reached a consensus that the Churches of France and Spain must yield in points of antiquity and precedence to that of Britain. This was for the sole basis of Glastonbury being the first church of the Hebrew Apostles of Christ.
Charters of Glastonbury.
Numerous Royals, Clergy, Bishops and Archbishops claimed and proved Glastonbury’s rightful status as England’s birthright to exert their independence from Rome, and seniority in spiritual matters of the church. In each case, even Rome and the Vatican had to passively accept Glastonbury’s claim of a higher status that wasn’t even subject to Rome. Not only in numerous Royal charters going back to the first century, but this status was also confirmed and endorsed in about 30 Papal Bulls. Such rights confirmed in the Charters and Papal Bulls were higher than any order of Clergy have ever had, not even the Knights Templar had as many rights/obligations. We will get into some of those living rights in the following chapters.
Kings, Queens, Popes and Heirs.
The Heir of Glastonbury, the Lord Prior John Nott, is not known so well. At the time of the Reformation, the ancient seat of the Culdees (Glastonbury) was destroyed by Henry VIII. Nearly all the monks signed Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy, all but one. There was one Monk who refused to sign, and successfully kept the status alive. His name was John Nott. Only the monks could choose successors and so he was made senior (Lord Prior) and came with two other monks to petition the Queen. He raised formal written petition co-signed by his fellow monks, to make requests of the Queen Elizabeth. John Nott’s petition was acknowledged to be valid and was endorsed by her counsellors. So this was one of may legal recognitions to the Hebrew Culdees practices and tradition back to “Joseph of Arimathea“. The Queen recognized his petition of 1556. In it he maintained that the church belonged to Joseph of Arimathea and his heirs. He stood up for this most ancient church, and offered to maintain the grounds without a salary. He wrote that it would also be passed down to his successors (a Culdean priestly House which is documented back to the earlier Culdean Period of Oxfordshire, where they were Earls, and later had founded a branch of the de Arden family of Warwick).
Although legally John Nott won this, his heirs made a “new Glastonbury” in Connecticut, and the one at England was all but abandoned from the regular Monastic style of ministry. Those of the true faith moved to America and so did much of the anointing(House of Joseph Ephraim now going beneath the brother tribe of Manasseh as was prophesied and fulfilled in Saxon American Israel). So while no true church was reestablished at the old Glastonbury, it went into dormancy while the same Heirs of John Nott established a new Glastonbury, and had continued it’s most core Hebrew traditions. This should be observed in balance of compliance to the Hebrew prescriptivev law that has continually been embraced by the said family, and of the reversion back to the original Glastonbury charters, the original laws, and those of inheritance under the regular Culdean practice of the firstborn sons of the priests. Like “the sons of the prophets”, the succession of priestly duties were not bound only to the lands, but to the ministry wherever it may lead. The offices of succession for this house are several lines of Judah and David, which have covenant to rule and serve the true Saxon-American-Manasseh Israel.
Some quotes on this type of succession is documented in Jamison’s “Ancient Culdees”, Chapter 2
“..like the priests under the law(Rabbis), they were succeeded by inheritance”
“..in the church of Saint Andrews the Culdees came into the office hereditarily”
“The Culdees of Ireland practiced hereditary succession, the Bishopric of Armagh, could demonstrate fifteen generations.” (Read more. Also read our article “Apostolic Succession” and “Glastonbury Led By Married Hebrew Priests“)
It is also further documented in other works such as the “ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES OF THE CYMRY” OR THE ANCIENT BRITISH CHURCH ITS HISTORY, DOCTRINE, AND RITES” – DOWNLOAD FULL BOOK PDF
Historically many of the Orthodox Monks had wives and children, and they retired there at the Glastonbury Abbey. Some of them were young students getting their early education there. Many Kings retired there to become a Monk, leaving their political duties, their wives and children only for visiting, and dedicating all their time to the Culdees’ church. For centuries celibacy was contested against at the Abbey. Like the orthodox priests, it was composed of married clergy. The Benedictine Monks came later, but these were also welcomed among the Culdee institutions.
Our articles on the physical descendants of the Celtic Monastics is well documented. The Hebrew purity laws already were enough of a guard against uncleanness during time of serving in priestly ceremony. This is better described in our article: “Celtic Priests Were Married, Most Abbots Were Married, Many Monks Were Married“.
The Rights Transferred to the Descendants in Spiritual Anointing.
The formal petition of the Glastonbury Cleric John Nott, that was received by the Queen had effectually retained several very important and ancient Culdean legal rights. These rights that originated in the First Century, were re-ratified and confirmed by numerous successive Kings, Clerics and Popes.
So the next in line of succession with the Glastonbury Culdean rights would be an early pioneer of America, who is also a genealogical descendant of Joseph of Arimathea. This family of Nott’s have demonstrated to have not only the physical genealogy (and DNA testing) but the humble and yet powerful spiritual anointing of David, Joseph of Arimathea and the Prophets. This American family of John Nott is very well documented in their leadership roles in America. One of which being the one who decreed as the chief judge at Wethersfield, to draw the lines of the New Glastonbury in 1653 and later order articles of drilling for the militia of Glastonbury. He was the longest serving guard of several consecutive Governors of Connecticut. He was Judge of the said Courthouse at the time and place where it was written the first, and subsequent articles of “Perpetual Confederation” as being “for advancement of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and maintaining the purity of the gospel”, as was adopted by the rest of the colonies as the “one aim” of America’s union, predating the English dominance of involvement in the said “First Constitution of America”(also called “the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut”) drafted at his courthouse.
Glastonbury Rights to Ban and Set Free.
The historians have concluded that with the Queen’s untimely death, that all the efforts were stopped short of reestablishing a true monastic house at Glastonbury.
However these spiritual and secular rights that belong to the Culdees of Glastonbury has continued as per the original prescriptive laws concerning them. These go back to the laws of the Bible, which the heirs have perpetually remained as their authority in all of these matters wherever they may go.
These very spiritual rights have continued with many signs of confirmation down to the American colonies of Israelite providence and destiny of Manasseh to overtake his brother tribe Ephraim as Jacob defined it as a rotating preeminence between the two. It has indeed come to fruition in both the founding of the new Confederate America, and in the founding of the New City of Glastonbury (as it says “through prosperity, the cities of God will be spread abroad” Zech 1:17).
Cleric John Nott of Glastonbury was just a vessel, and Judge John Nott of Wethersfield was just another servant in this overall greater tribal subject of the Celto-Saxon peoples.
This Celto Saxon line is also held by the descendants of John Nott. The Pedigrees are available to those interested. The legal blood inheritance is traced to our current Primace who holds many lines of Culdees (including of the O’Neils, the MacGregors, and many more, all traced noble to the 10th generation). All traced to the Primace Dr. Stephen Michael d’Guelph Brunswick Nott.
Our Current Primace of the OCC, Dr. Stephen MK Brunswick.
The inspirational life testimony of ++ Stephen is a larger topic, however here are the main ministry events in the Orthodox Church of the Culdees in as chronological headings only.
It should be most noted his succession was not only confirmed ecclesiastically and electoral, but also of spiritual, intellectual, theological, social cultural, and also of legally being the physical firstborn heir (of not only the older feudal law but also of other successions) as literal heir-at-law in multiple branches of the Glastonbury church of Iona and of Glastonbury church entities. His main male line of inheritance built the first Glastonbury assembly in America, and held title to the original Glastonbury lands. His Brunswick family’s first marriage in America was to the McNeil-McGregor (Iona region Royals of Scotland ie Dal Riata) and on the other side of the family the McRoys of “Red Branch” Knights of Ireland.
His Ministry Chronology
In the year of our Lord, 1990, at the age of 12, +Stephen first came under the tutelage of +Bishop Pastor Leroy Crouch, at the Culdees Church in Garden Grove California, while his Parents were the Landlords of the property.
In the year of our Lord, 2000, after 10 years active as a layman in the Culdees’ church at Orange(Restoration Ministries), and three years of a concentrated study +Stephen was officially anointed and ordained as a Priest and Evangelist by +Bishop Lesley Boyle.
In the year of our Lord, 2003, +Stephen became a Chaplain for several local community organizations, performing weddings, baptisms, and communion.
In the year of our Lord, 2003, He was made Manager of the Celts Roots Bookshop, owned by Dr. Warren Johnson. From 2002 +Stephen was recognized as a Scholar by Dr. Johnson and other board members of the American Institute of Theology who published his works on Exegetical Theology into the advanced courseware of the Western Division seminary. Served as a regular lecturer and Honorary Professor.
In the year of our Lord, 2003, +Bishop Wesley Perkins and +Bishop Lesley Boyle consecrated Stephen as a Bishop of the church, having oversight of multiple assemblies throughout Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
In the year of our Lord, 2007, +Stephen was asked to start a Culdean Mission (and Abbey) at the South of the Netherlands. His various priestly services ministering at churches in Holland, Europe and the UK were were promoted by various ministries. Several newsletters, including Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant magazines highlighted his “2010 Pilgrimage Crusade” to “Reclaim the Ecclesiastical Rights of Glastonbury”, and his successful ministering in several congregations as a “visiting Abbot”. The abbice became obsolete by 2012.
In the year of our Lord, 2009, +Bishop Wesley Perkins and +Bishop Lesley Boyle ordained +Bishop Stephen as Bishop at the Netherlands, and jointly signed a letter of reference for his eventual election as Archbishop for the BENELUX jurisdiction. Ordination Certificate was also received.
In the year of our Lord, 2010, +Stephen Michael became Lord Prior of Glastonbury, in consideration after great performance of the Glastonbury book items in the ministry bookshop, and recognition of hereditary relations to the last Royally approved wardens of Glastonbury. After long ministry service, this rank was confirmed by the Culdean (including Scottish and Irish) Clerics at Glastonbury. This was the year the Catholic church stopped doing processions at Glastonbury. To fill in, right on time, +Stephen led a banner procession to the Tor, prayers of consecration was administered. A film crew from Galatia films kept a record for a possible future documentary. Installment of the church banner at the Tor was photographed and published in several newsletters. A meeting of about 30 persons applauded at this event that was called “reclaiming Glastonbury”. These meetings were also photographed and published.
In the year of our Lord, 2013, the Archbishop of Berlin, and the Chancellor of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, and other Bishops, recognized the status of the Culdean church, our seniority, Celtic precedence among Western Churches and full autonomy. They also gave permission for us to minister to their churches. This was an official letter of recognition and communion between the OCC and AOCC, with a reference of our good cooperation in ministry for more than five years.
In the year of our Lord, 2015, +Stephen was consecrated as Primace (Lead Bishop/Archbishop) by three Archbishops. The Archbishop of Berlin, +Peter Becker (primary consecrating Bishop) and the Archbishop +Blake Allan Hammacher (assisting Bishop), did canonically consecrate +Stephen as Archbishop of the AOCC Archdiocese of the Netherlands and lowlands (Benelux) with the conditions of full autonomy of the Orthodox Culdean Church. The assisting Archbishop +Ambrose von Sievers, Catacomb Church of True Orthodox Christians, provided a certificate of reintegration with the Orthodox Church, and formally recognized +Archbishop(or Primace) Stephen Michael d’Guelph Brunswick, of the Culdee’s church, and (titular) Archbishop of Glastonbury.
The day of the consecration was met with various wonders and miracles as a sign it was ordained by God. Interested parties may inquire for the various proof.
Semi-annually +Stephen meets with Glastonbury Clerics and others involved in ministry to the local people (and pilgrims). Some work full time in ministry, some in music, some in performing the Divine liturgies, and others in writing and distributing literature part time.
In the year of our Lord, 2017, +Stephen was awarded a Doctorate of Theology from Saint Peter & Paul College and University Instituti Sancti Pauli. He may use in His style His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen d’Guelph Brunswick, DT (Within the OCC He is called Primace without extra titles, and externally shortens it to Reverend for unity within other modern international churches that are all considered part of Christ’s one body. Whether you wish to address him as “sir” for his Royal and Imperial inheritance, or the higher titles of “The Rev Dr” or Reverend is also fine and acceptable as brothers should be working with the least amount of obstacles).
Herein are several of the priestly lines that are recognized in Orthodox circles of Christendom (East and West). These lines connect in direct succession down from the Holy Apostles, in a consecration ceremony of anointing and the laying on of hands. http://orthodoxchurch.nl/2020/04/lines-of-apostolic-succession-of-prince-archbishop-dr-stephen-m-dguelph-brunswick-primace-occ/
As a visiting Bishop to a foreign jurisdiction it is customary that a reconsecration is performed, to confirm the validity of the sacraments within those congregations.
While some believe these consecrations are not necessary, several Universities worldwide consider these as a requirement for anyone acting in priestly service. The English church, and many other churches that are not under Rome’s structure, decided to retain the Episcopal succession. This covers all international recognitions, as it says the English church has “retained it’s Episcopacy, but not as from Pope Gregory, who sent Augustine the monk hither, but from Joseph of Arimathea”. This is together with a wider re-establishment and recognition within the Eastern Orthodox Church (The True Orthodox Church, that escaped the Bolshevik massacres by living in the catacombs, AKA Catacomb church. In agreement with the canons of the original Russian church, to keep Sabbath on Saturday.)
[Special Note on the Sabbath:The Apostles’ Didascalia has been considered canonical in most of the Orthodox world, and in it the Sabbath is Saturday and it is called a day of rest and worship. In the Stoglav, an official manuscript of the Russian Orthodox Church, dated in the year 1556, and containing materials from the Moscow Council during the reign of Ivan IV (1531-1584), has a chapter on the Sabbath:
“By the Authority of Peter and Paul, we command to the people to work during the week. But on Subota (Sabbath) and on Nedelja (Sunday) let them worship in the Church and pray, and let them learn something for the sake of good faith. The Subota is the image of the whole creation, while the Nedelja is the day of the resurrection.” Read more in the book published by His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen Michael, “Honouring the Sabbath in the Orthodox Church“.]
+ Stephen Michael (Nott-Brunswick) was consecrated on February 7th, 2015 as Archbishop of Glastonbury and Primace of the Culdees’ Church by three Orthodox Archbishops of valid apostolic succession in right standing within our communion.
The obscurity of the origin of the Culdich (Anglicized Culdees) has led many writers to assume that their name was derived from their life and work. The interpretations ‘Cultores Dei’ (Worshippers of God) and ‘Gille De’ (Servants of God) are ingenious but do not go far to solve the problem. Culdich is still in use among some of the Gael, of Cultores Dei and Gille De they know nothing.(1)
‘From its antiquity called, by way of distinction, “Ealde Chirche”, that is the Old Church of wattlework at first, savoured somewhat of heavenly sanctity, even from its very foundation, and exhaled it all over the country, claiming superior reverence, though the structure was mean. Hence, here assembled whole tribes of the lower orders, thronging every path; hence assembled the opulent, divested of their pomp; hence it became the crowded residence of the religious and the literary. For, as we have heard from men of elder times, here Gildas, an historian, neither unlearned nor inelegant, captivated by the sanctity of the place, took up his abode for a series of years. This Church, then, is certainly the oldest I am acquainted with in England, and from this circumstance derives its name. Moreover there are documents of no small credit, which have been discovered in certain places, to the following effect: No other hands than those of the disciples of Christ erected the Church at Glastonbury …. for if Phillip the Apostle reached to the Gauls, as Freculphus relates in the fourth chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he also planted the word on the hither side of the channel.'(19)
The Culdees who dwelt on Iona and professed the rule of Columba, were Christianized Druids, mingling with their faith a large element of the ancient Druidic cultus. . . . But all their power they ascribed to Christ – Christ is my Druid, said Columba.'(18)
To a people whose sense of future existence was so absorbing that its presentiment was almost too deeply felt by them, the preaching of Jesus and the Resurrection would appeal with irresistible force. There was no violent divorce between the new teaching and that of their own Druids, nor were they called upon so much to reverse their ancient faith to lay it down for a fuller and more perfect revelation.
Well has the Swedish poet, Tegner, in ‘Frithiofs Saga’, pictured the glimmerings of the dawn of Gospel day, when he described the old priest as prophesying
‘All hail, ye generations yet unborn
Than us far happier; ye shall one day drink
That cup of consolation, and behold
The torch of Truth illuminate the world,
Yet do not us despise; for we have sought
With earnest zeal and unaverted eye,
To catch one ray of that ethereal light,
Alfader still is one, and still the same;
But many are his messengers Divine.’
2. Trias Thaumaturga, p.156b.
3. Freculphus apud Godwin, p.10. See Hist. Lit.,II,18.
4. Baronius add. ann. 306. Vatican MSS. Nova Legenda.
5. Domesday Survey Fol., p.449.
6. See Epistolae ad Gregorium Papam.
7. See Joseph of Arimathea, by Rev.L.Smithett Lewis.
8. Concilia, Vol.I, p.9.
9. Malmes., ‘History of the Kings,’ pp.19,20.
10.G.Smith, ‘Religion of Ancient Britain,’ Chap. II, p.37.
11.Morgan, ‘St.Paul in Britain,’ p.73.
12.Nath. Bacon, ‘Laws and Government of England,’ p.3.
13.Baronius ad Ann 459, ex. Actis Marcelli.
14.Moncaeus Atrebas, ‘In Syntagma,’ p.38.
15.Nennius(ed.Giles), p.164. Book of Llandau, pp.26,68,289.
16.Morgan’s ‘British Cymry.’
17.Ussher (ed.1639), pp.5,7,20.
18.’The Mysteries of Britain,’ pp.62,64,65.
19.Dudley Wright, ‘Druidism,’ p.12.
20.Holinshed, ‘Chronicles,’ p.23.
21.’De Demostratione Evangelii,’ Lib. III.
22.’Adv.Judaeos,’ Chap. VII. Def. Fidei, p.179.
23.Origen, ‘Hom. VI in Lucae.’
24.’Hom. in Isaiah,’ Chap. LIV and Epist. XIII ad Paulinum.
25.’Ad Psalm,’ CXLV, III.
26.Chrysostom, ‘Orat O Theo Xristos.’
27.’De Excidio Britanniae,’ Sect. 8, p.25.
28.’Concilia,’ fol., p.1.
30.Sabell. Enno, Lib. VII, Chap. V.
31.King’s ‘Vale Royal,’ Bk. II, p.25.
32.Topograph. Hibern Distinct. III, Cap. XXIX.
from the subchapter “the Culdees”:
The title, “Christian”, is claimed to have originated at
Antioch, following the enthusiastic reception given to the
disciples who fled there in A.D. 36. It is nearer to the truth
that the inhabitants of this ancient city referred to the
converts as “Little Christs”, and, “Little men of Christ”. These
labels are by no means the correct interpretation of the name
“Christian”. The word is a composite of Greek and Hebrew.
“Christ” is the Greek word meaning “consecrated”, and “ian” is
from the Hebrew word “am”, meaning a person, or people.
Therefore, the true meaning of the word “Christian” is
Early ecclesiastics and historians definitely state that the
word is of British origin. Philologists also support its claim to
British invention; created by the British priesthood, among whom
the Christian movement gained its first and strongest impetus.
Substantiation is found in the statement by Sabellus, A.D. 250,
who wrote: “The word Christian was spoken for the first time in
Britain, by those who first received The Word, from the Disciples
It is interesting to note that the Bethany group who landed
in Britain, was never referred to by the British priesthood as
Christians, nor even later when the name was in common usage.
They were called “Culdees”, as were the other disciples who later
followed the Josephian mission into Britain.
There are two interpretations given to the word “Culdee”, or
“Culdich”, both words purely of the Celto–British language, the
first meaning “certain strangers”, and the other as explained by
Lewis Spence, who states that “Culdee” is derived from
“Ceile-De”, meaning, “servant of the Lord”. In either case the
meaning is appropriate.
This title, applied to Joseph of Arimathea and his
companions, clearly indicates that they were considered as more
than ordinary strangers. The name sets them apart as somebody
special. In this case, since they arrived in Britain on a special
mission with a special message, we can fairly accept the title
meant to identify them as “certain strangers, servants of the
In the ancient British Triads, Joseph and his twelve
companions are all referred to as Culdees, as also are Paul,
Peter, Lazarus, Simon Zelotes, Aristobulus and others. This is
important. The name was not known outside Britain and therefore
could only have been assigned to those who actually had dwelt
among the British Cymri. The name was never applied to any
disciple not associated with the early British missions. Even
though Gaul was Celtic, the name was never employed there. In
later years the name Culdee took on an added significance,
emphasizing the fact that the Culdee Christian Church was the
original Church of Christ on earth. It became a title applied to
the church, and to its High Priests, persisting for centuries in
parts of Britain, after the name had died out elsewhere in favour
of the more popular name, Christian. Culdees are recorded in
church documents as officiating at St. Peter’s, York, until A.D.
936. And, according to the Rev. Raine, the Canons of York were
called Culdees as late as the reign of Henry II. In Ireland a
whole county was named Culdee, declared with emphasis when
reference was heard at a court hearing in the seventeenth
century, as to its laws. The name Culdee, and Culdich, clung
tenaciously to the Scottish Church, and its prelates, much longer
Cambell writes in “Reullura”:
The pure Culdees
were Alby’s [Albion] earliest priests of God,
ere yet an island of her seas,
by foot of Saxon monk was trod.