John Nankivell, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Walsall, West Midlands, spent over thirty years teaching chemistry and religious studies before retiring as principal of Joseph Chamberlain College in Central Birmingham to take on a full-time ministry.
His first book, Saint Wilfrid, on Wilfrid of York was published in 2002, and he has served as chaplain on a number of occasions to the annual Friends of Orthodoxy on Iona pilgrimage. While Venerable Bede portrays him as an able advocate of the seventh-century universal Church, modern accounts of “Celtic” versus “Roman” Christianity seem far more ready to cast him as a villain.
Of course, the Roman troops themselves were multi-ethnic, and many of them would have retired here.
They would have been pensioned off with land, and married local British women. Alban as early third century, some as mid-third century, some as a victim of the early fourth-century Diocletian persecutions.
RTE: When the Romans withdrew in 410, did Christianity leave with them, or was there a recognizable tradition left? JOHN: Not only were things left, but Christianity was well-established. We don’t know when Christianity arrived here, but it was certainly aided by the fact that this was part of the Roman Empire, and there is no reason to believe that it was very different from any other part of the Roman Empire, or much further behind in its Church development. Alban, the first martyr of Britain, would be one of our earliest known Christians? The weight of scholarly opinion shifts back and forth over the most likely date of Alban’s martyrdom. We also have Julian and Aaron, the martyrs of Caerleon, in what is now south Wales, who are mentioned by Bede as being martyred in the same persecution as St. Some people take the fact of the name Aaron to suggest a Jewish presence here, saying that Christianity may have come through the Jewish communities, as it did in much of the rest of the Roman Empire, but the only evidence for this is the name.
The notion of an Orthodox Celtic Christianity co-existing in pre-schism England alongside a more “continental” model has been embraced by quite a number of Orthodox believers over the past decades.
Who were the original peoples we think of as Celts, and where did they live? JOHN: As I understand it, the term “Celtic” was first used in the eighteenth century to refer to language groups.
There are still many place names referring to Celts in central and western Europe: Gaul itself, Gallia, and the Pays de Galles, the French name for Wales.
The name Gall (Celtic) turns up all through Europe – even today the Turkish football team Galatasaray owes its name to the Galatians.
His homilies on the Gospels stand beside those of St.