Like Irish Celtic Christianity, but perhaps in a much smaller and more modest way, Cornwall was the home of a pre-Roman, distinctly Celtic Christianity well in advance of the coming of official Roman Christianity in AD 664.

Christianity is thought to have originally come to Britain with Roman soldiers in the 2nd or 3rd century, prior to the acceptance of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in AD 313; but given that the Celtic church of the Galatians was established in the first few years of the early church, the letter to the Galatians being estimated at around 40-50 AD, it may well have been carried via trade much earlier (the unlikely legend of Joseph of Arimathea’s visit to Cornwall is beginning to look perhaps more plausible as modern archaeology turns up evidence of early trade and communication between the continental and insular Celtic tribes).

Gildas (a 6th century British historian) said the Gospel came to Britain in the last year of Tiberias; that is, in AD 37!

One of the earliest known missionaries to Cornwall was St Gwinear. He is thought to have been a pupil of the Irish Saint Patrick, who landed in the Hayle area from Ireland and who became the first Cornish martyr. Saint Piran and Saint Petroc were also active in Cornwall in the 4th century.

Celtic Christianity has a number of distinctive features which include a lack of authoritarianism, a reverence for all of creation as sacred, continual prayer, blessing and thankfulness, and the ‘Anam Chara’ – soul friend: one to one mentorship/ discipleship.

Celtic distinctives also included a differing system for the calculation of Easter, and primitive monasticism – that is, living together in community and ministering to the wider community from the ‘community centre’.

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