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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Were the Irish druids before St Patrick converted them to Catholicism?

Neela Kale Answers:

Prior to the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century, the Irish followed Celtic religious practices that had been in place for thousands of years. Like indigenous religious traditions in many parts of the world, they were focused on the forces of nature. Rituals sought to placate gods who could unleash nature’s destructive forces or ensure favorable conditions for good harvests; celebrations marked the solar cycle of seasons. Irish religious practice was also influenced by Roman religion after the Roman conquest of Britannia in 43 CE. Druids were the religious authorities in this system, seen as intermediaries between humans and the other world – they can analogously be described as priests. What little is known about pre-Christian religion in Ireland comes from Greco-Roman sources and later Christian texts. When St. Patrick and other missionaries began to spread Christianity in Ireland, they discovered that many Christian traditions could be overlaid with the indigenous traditions that they encountered. This brought the graces of Celtic spirituality into the fold of the Christian tradition and led to a gradual, non-violent conversion process in Ireland, in contrast to the intertwined conquest and conversion that took place in some other parts of the world.

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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