Synod of Whitby
The Christianizing of Britain begun by St. Augustine in A.D. 597 was carried on with varying success throughout the seventh century. One great hindrance to progress lay in the fact that in Northumbria the missionary impulse was largely Scottish (i.e. Irish ) in origin, having come through St. Aidan from Iona. In certain matters of external discipline, notably the observance of Easter, the English and Celtic traditions did not agree. Thus when the Northumbrian King Oswy and his household were keeping Easter, his queen, who had been brought up in the south under the Roman system, was still fasting. The consequent inconvenience and discord must have been extreme. In 664 a fortunate opportunity occurred of debating the matter, and a conference took place at the monastery of St. Hilda at Whitby or Streanoeshalch. King Oswy with Bishops Colman and Chad represented the Celtic tradition; Alchfrid, son of Oswy, and Bishops Wilfrid and Agilbert that of Rome. A full account of the conference is given by Bede and a shorter one by Eddius. Both agree as to the facts that Colman appealed to the practice of St. John, Wilfrid to St. Peter and to the council of Nicaea, and that the matter was finally settled by Oswy's determination not to offend St. Peter. "I dare not longer", he said, "contradict the decrees of him who keeps the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven, lest he should refuse me admission". This decision involved more than a mere matter of discipline. The real question decided at Whitby was not so much whether the church in England should use a particular paschal cycle, (see EASTER CONTROVERSY ) as "whether she should link her fortunes with those of the declining and loosely compacted Irish Church, or with the rising power and growing organization of Rome ". The solution arrived at was one of great moment, and, though the Celtic Churches did not at once follow the example thus set, the paschal controversy in the West may be said to have ended with the Synod of Whitby.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online