Many do not realize that Christianity in Ireland has a history that precedes the famous Roman Catholic evangelist.
Was the famous evangelist a “greenhorn” after all?
Every year, on March 17, millions of Irish descent—and others who call themselves “Irish for the day” will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The day is celebrated with green—green clothing, green food, green hair and even green beer—to honor what many assume to have been Christianity’s arrival in Ireland.
Yet history shows there is so much more behind the history of Christianity in Ireland—history that shows Patrick, the English-born Roman Catholic missionary, to be a “Johnny come lately” at best.
St. Patrick’s Day was made an official Roman Catholic feast day in the early seventeenth century. However, many today do not realize that the story of Christianity in Ireland precedes Patrick by centuries. Patrick may have had no idea who his ancient ancestors were, nor from where they came. But the celebration in his honor, marking his supposed date of death, would not have been cause for celebration to true Christians already living in Ireland when Patrick arrived—many of whom were descended from his own ancestors!
Nevertheless, history credits Patrick with bringing a nominal form of Christianity to Ireland, where his missionary efforts brought an end to many long-held Irish traditions. He encountered bonfires honoring Irish gods, and adapted them for Easter celebrations. He took a powerful Irish symbol representing the sun and superimposed it onto a cross, creating the “Celtic cross.” He is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, thus making the plant a symbol of the Irish ever since. None of these developments, by the way, are representative of original Christianity.
Many would be surprised to learn that historical sources document the Apostle James visiting Ireland centuries before Patrick, preaching the true gospel as he was taught by his elder half-brother, Jesus of Nazareth. Other historical sources indicate that the apostles Simon Zelotes, Simon Peter, Paul and others also brought the original Christianity of Jesus Christ to Europe’s Western isles in the first century—roughly 400 years before Patrick.
Yet the history of Israelites in the British Isles does not begin there, either. Centuries before the apostles arrived, the tribes of Israel and Judah were carried into captivity by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonian Empire. Interestingly, there are no records of the Israelite captives returning en masse to the Promised Land. They are widely known today as the “Lost Ten Tribes” and many assume they simply disappeared from the historical record.
In fact, however, historical texts and archaeological findings reveal that at least some of these same Israelites resettled in a land south of the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Eventually they migrated north, heading through the gorges of the Caucasus Mountains, into Crimea on the northern shores of the Black Sea. Their route out of Asia and into Europe apparently followed the route of the modern Georgian highway.
Late nineteenth-century Celtic language scholar John Rhys argued that the Celts and the Scythians came from this same area and migrated westward to Europe’s coast. Rhys believed that the names Iberia for Spain and Hibernia for Ireland were connected to a variation of “Hebrew.” Hebrew was the language of the Israelites who were conquered and resettled by the Assyrians—some of the same Israelites who would eventually settle in northwestern Europe and the British Isles. These resettled Israelites were Patrick’s own ancestors—an ironic twist to the tale! Indeed, the truth about the “Lost Ten Tribes” is a key that unlocks much of Bible prophecy, which in turn will open up your understanding of world events—even today’s headline news—as never before.