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Ancient Diocese of Sodor and Man

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(SODORENSIS).

The early history of this see is extremely obscure. The Scandinavian diocese, which included Man and the western isles of Scotland (The Southern Hebrides), was called Sodor ( Suor-eyjar ) in contradistinction to Nordr ( Noror-eyjar ) -- the Orkneys and Shetland. It is not known when Man was united with Sodor, but it may have been in the time of Magnus Barefoot (1098). Before that Man seems to have been a distinct see dependent on Dublin. When Man became the head of a separate kingdom, under the suzerainty of Norway, the joint Diocese of Sodor and Man was placed under the Archiepiscopate of Nidaros (Trondhjem) in Norway by Eugenius III (1152), an arrangement which was confirmed by Anastasius IV (1154). From then till 1458 Man remained under Drontheim, when Calixtus III transferred it to York.

The political connection of Man with Norway had been severed in 1266, after which it depended on Scotland till 1334 and finally on England. In the reign of Henry IV the king gave the island to the Stanleys, who thus acquired the patronage of the bishopries, but the bishops never attained the status of spiritual lords of Parliament. The last Catholic bishop was Thomas Stanley, who was appointed during the reign of Mary and was recognized as a bishop till his death in 1568. It is uncertain whether he accepted Elizabeth's changes or enjoyed immunity under the protection of the Stanleys. The cathedral, dedicated to St. Germain, was situated on St. Patrick's Isle and was built in 1245 on the site of an earlier building. It is now in a ruined state. There were only seventeen parishes in the island, all comprised in one archdeaconry. The arms of the see were: upon three ascents, the Virgin Mary standing with her arms distended between two pillars, on the dexter whereof a Church, in base the ancient arms of Man.

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