With just a bare light to guide us

A candle burns in the Roman Catholic Church on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands.

Just after Easter in 337AD, Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus fell ill – he would die within a month. His legacy, as Roman Emperor Constantine, was immense. He established Constantinople , previously Byzantium, as the capital of the eastern Roman Empire and it was a fortress of Christianity for the next thousand years. It is Christianity that is Constantine’s greatest legacy – his decision to relax persecution of Christians with the Edict of Milan in 313 that would ultimately lead to Christianity spreading across the Roman Empire. In 325, he called together the First Council at Nicene, which would provide a unified Christian theology – massgoers today who recite the Nicene Creed are affirming what was agreed 1700 years ago – their belief in ‘one, holy, apostolic God’.
Just a century after the Nicene Council, the son of a Roman prefect was sent from France to be the first Christian bishop of Ireland – Palladius is thought to have arrived in Ireland around 431. His mission overlaps with that of Patrick (and perhaps their history overlap too) – in any case, his mission was successful – the light of Christianity has burned continuously in Ireland ever since.

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