Celtic -St. Buithe of Monasterboice – 7 December

St. Buithe of Monasterboice

Typical form These high crosses often consisted of separate pieces of stone--a massive block serving as the base, a shaft and ringed cross head which fit into the socket at the base, and a cap (sometimes a miniature house with a gabled roof) from a smaller piece of stone. Some taller crosses used an additional joint just below the ring. The mortice and tenon system, reminiscent of carpentry, was used to join the separate pieces. The ring is a distinctive feature--or the circle intersected cross, and within the arcs are sometimes small rolls. Some art historians believe the rings were introduced as a method of support for the cross arms since the lower sections can provide reinforcement. Others point out that the circle, or wreath, was a symbol of triumph, used in the 4th-5th century in Roman and Early Christian art. The ring would have been difficult to carve; sometimes the ring was left as a solid block. This famous high cross, the so-called Muiredach Cross, is at Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland.

Typical form These high crosses often consisted of separate pieces of stone–a massive block serving as the base, a shaft and ringed cross head which fit into the socket at the base, and a cap (sometimes a miniature house with a gabled roof) from a smaller piece of stone. Some taller crosses used an additional joint just below the ring. The mortice and tenon system, reminiscent of carpentry, was used to join the separate pieces. The ring is a distinctive feature–or the circle intersected cross, and within the arcs are sometimes small rolls. Some art historians believe the rings were introduced as a method of support for the cross arms since the lower sections can provide reinforcement. Others point out that the circle, or wreath, was a symbol of triumph, used in the 4th-5th century in Roman and Early Christian art. The ring would have been difficult to carve; sometimes the ring was left as a solid block. This famous high cross, the so-called Muiredach Cross, is at Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland.

St. Buithe of Monasterboice died in 521; he was a Scot who spent some years in Italy and elsewhere on the continent before returning to Scotland to evangelize the Picts. It is said that Buithe raised the son of King Nectan of the Picts from the dead (or the king himself in some versions). In gratitude the king gave the saint a church– Carbuddo (“Castrum Butthi”), which appears to have taken its name from him (originally Kirkbuddo or the church of Buithe).

About 500 AD, Buithe founded a school at Monasterboice in County Louth, which gained dominance in the 9th and 10th centuries when the Viking raids threatened the great schools of Ireland. This school was known for its sculpture; the Crosses of Monasterboice are world renowned. They incorporate representation of Biblical subjects directly on the Crosses, visual lessons for the faithful and less likely to be destroyed than were books. Two of these crosses, including the Muireadach Cross dating from 923, survive at Monasterboice. Fourteen historical poems of its Abbot Flann (11th century) also survive in old Gaelic books, especially in the “Book of Leinster” (Benedictines, D’Arcy, Healy, Kenney, Montague, Moran, Porter, Simpson, Skene, Stokes).

Source: Celtic and Old English Saints – 7 December


 

Bibliography
  • Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The Book of Saints: A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the Catholic Church Extracted from the Roman and Other Martyrologies.
    NY: Macmillan.
  • D’Arcy, M. R. (1974). The Saints of Ireland.
    Saint Paul, Minnesota: Irish American Cultural Institute.
    [This is probably the most useful book to choose to own on the Irish saints. The author provides a great deal of historical context in which to place the lives of the saints.]
  • Healy, J. (1902). Ireland’s Ancient Schools and Scholars.
    Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker.
  • Kenney, J. F. (1929). Sources for Early History of Ireland, vol. 1, Ecclesiastical.New York: Columbia University Press
  • Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
    Guildford: Billing & Sons.
  • Moran, P. Cardinal. (1879). Irish Saints in Great Britain.
    Dublin: Brown and Nolan
  • Porter, A. K. (1931). The Crosses and Culture of Ireland.
    New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Simpson, W. G. (1934). Celtic Church in Scotland.
    Aberdeen University Studies.
  • Skene, W. F. (1875-80). Celtic Scotland, 3 vols.
    Edinburgh.
  • Stokes, M. (1932). Early Christian Art in Ireland.
    Dublin: Government Publications.
  • Source: Celtic and Old English Saints – 7 December . 2016. Celtic and Old English Saints – 7 December . [ONLINE] Available at: http://celticsaints.org/2016/1207a.html. [Accessed 07 December 2016].
  • Image Irish High Crosses 8th-10th century CE
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