ABSTRACT

By the eighth century the church held a firmly established place in society. The legal value of her clergy had been fixed, her learning accepted, the rights due to her from the people and her reciprocal obligations towards them had been laid down. The detailed rulings on these matters are to be found in the secular law tracts and in the ecclesiastical canons, in particular the Canones Hibernenses and the canons of the Synodus Hibernensis contained in the Collectio. Patrick’s own fifth-century writings show us an apostolic church; in Vinnian, Columbanus, Columcille, and Cummean we are overtaken by the ascetics in the church; in the seventh- and eighth-century laws we setde down with the establishment.