ABSTRACT

Eighth-century Irish monasticism had adjusted itself to the world in a way which some sixth- and early seventh-century ascetics would have condemned. Columbanus, who had absolutely forbidden sexual relations to any man in orders, would have taken no lenient view of lapses; his autocratic concept of the abbot’s authority would hardly have admitted the arrangements between abbots and monks for which the Synodus Hibernensis legislates; his austere standards of behaviour for monks were not consistent with lay intrusion. Yet ascetic practices were never completely neglected, and towards the end of the eighth century they achieved a powerful revival.