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Palladius

From Academic Kids

This article is about the early Christian bishop, for the Roman writer see Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius

Palladius (fl.408-431; probably died ca457/461) was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick.

It is believed that he is the same Palladius that is earlier described as the deacon of Saint Germain of Auxerre. If this is the case, then he was the son of Exuperantius of Poitiers, of whom the contemporary pagan poet C. Rutilius Namatianus wrote: "Exuperantius now teaches the inhabitants of the Armorican coastal regions to love the restoration of peace; he re-establishes laws, restores freedom, and prevents the masters from being slaves to their own servants." Exuperantius was apparently praefectus praetorio Galliarum ("Praetorian prefect of the Gallic provinces") when killed in an army mutiny at Arles in 424.

Palladius was married and had a young daughter. He is described as a friend and younger kinsman by Rutilius Namatianus, a Gallo-Roman aristocrat. Coming under the influence of Pelagius in Rome, he abandoned his family, and lived as an ascetic in Sicily about 408/409, giving his daughter to a convent on that island. To this period is ascribed his authorship of six Pelagian documents. He seems to have been ordained a priest about 415, presumably after recanting the teachings of Pelagius. Lived in Rome between 418–429, and appears to be the "Deacon Palladius" responsible for urging Pope Celestine I to send Bishop Germain of Auxerre to Britain, where he guided "the Britons back to the catholic faith."

It is a question whether or not it is the same person who, in 431, was sent as first bishop to the Christians of Ireland: "Palladius, having being ordained by Pope Celestine, is sent as first bishop to the Irish believing in Christ." That Palladius is most strongly associated with Leinster, particularly with Clonard, County Meath. His date of death is unknown; however, the Annals of Ulster contain the following references:

  • 457 "Repose of the elder Patrick, as some books state"
  • 461 "Here some record the repose of Patrick"
  • 492 "The Irish state here that Patrick the Archbishop died."
  • 493 "Patrick .. apostle of the Irish, rested on the 16th of the Kalends of April ..."

Thus, it is possible that later writers confused Pallidius and Patrick. If the earlier dates of 457/461 indeed refer to him, then it seems that the actual St Patrick died much later about 492/493. Patrick's mission was largely confined to Ulster and Connacht, while Pallidus seems to have being active in Leinster, particularly in the area around Clonard.

Reference

  • O'Croinin, "Who Was Palladius 'First Bishop of the Irish'?", Peritia, volume 12 (2000), 205-37.nl:Palladius
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