Short History of the Orthodox Church of the Culdees
– TABLE OF CONTENTS –
– Short Definition of Culdee –
– The First Century Church –
– Numerous British 1st-5th Century Saints –
– British Israelites –
– Triumphant Christian Israelites –
– Israelite Liturgies –
– Archbishops and Patriarchs –
– Charters of Glastonbury –
– Kings, Queens, Popes, and Heirs –
– The Rights Transferred to the Descendants in Spiritual Anointing –
– Glastonbury Rights to Ban and Set Free –
– Re-establishment of the Culdees’ Church at Southern California –
– Our Current Primace of the OCC, Abp. Stephen Michael –
– Special Note on the Sabbath –
– Appendix –
Short Definition of Culdee.
You can read the Basic Definition in the 1911 British Encyclopedia, Volume 7. It conclusively defines the Culdees as “Britain’s earliest priests of God”. The encyclopedia then goes on to defend why that is the most accurate definition of Culdee.
No one but a non-believer will tend to argue against this fundamental definition from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
While we also have many very good studies into the hebrew/greek/latin/cymric and other languages that speculate on the meanings of the term in original tounges, that is not the purpose of this article. There are plenty enough good studies about the term Culdee done by expert historians which we need not add to. Several of these scholarly works are included in the appendix of this article. We ask that people no longer try and make the word “Culdee” into a grey area, and so make believe fantasy that never was. For sake of this article on the history of our church, we proceed with this basic definition “Britain’s earliest priests of God”, as taken from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
The First Century Church.
The institution known as the “Church of the Culdees” is widely acknowledged to be the Celtic First Century Church at Glastonbury. It was established by the Great Elder of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea. He was believed to be the richest man in the world, and owned some of Solomon’s ships that were used to travel to America. He was also heir to the Davidic throne, and of Aaronic lineage. In the “Welsh Genealogies of Saints” it catalogs his descendants as endowing their successors with their Culdean Churches, according to the Hebrew and local English method of inheritance.
Numerous British 1st-5th Century Saints.
In official calendars and histories around the world, our British Saints that predated Augustine by 500 years, are venerated. Even in Greece and Russia, these saints are venerated in their biographies as British, Irish, Scottish, and like Columbanus, as “CULDEAN” founders of the Church in Western Europe. Download the chapter “Spread of the Culdean Church [in Western Europe] from the book, “History of the Scottish Nation” or The History of The Celtic Church (All Three Volumes): History of Civilization From Pre-historic Times To Medieval Times – FREE PDF. For nearly every generation it has been, and still is acknowledged by historians worldwide that hundreds of British missionaries (Culdean Orthodox Saints) were sent from Britain to convert Western Europe long before Rome sent Augustine to England. (Download PDF From “the Culdee of Glastonbury” 133 British Saints Before Roman Augustine’s arrival – PDF 300 more Irish, Welsh and Scottish Saints are being added in the next release.)
There are over 3,000 books written on the topic of “British Israelism”, that highlight these facts of the First Century Culdean / British Church.
Some say the Culdees went into hiding. However, we see quite the contrary. The British church embraced it’s roots as Israel and used the ancient liturgies of Israel. This included not only in the church, but also the Nobility. The Kings and Queens being descendant of King David. The current Queen of England, when she was crowned was proclaimed by the Archbishop to be “Queen of Israel”, when her coronation was syndicated live on international television. That isn’t to say in every generation they weren’t perfect. Even the Israelites when they lived in Jerusalem had many wicked kings who even let the people forget God’s commandments.
Triumphant Christian Israelites.
However, after Christ, there became more of a stronger remnant than Israel ever had in the Old Testament. We who are part of His firstfruits have His law as our delight, that the Holy Spirit has written on our hearts. So no longer do people need to teach us the basics, but we know God and seek His will (His word) to be done on earth. The Church Triumphant has had it’s many days of peril, but have emerged as victors outliving every Government, and still having our Orthodox Hebrew beliefs although there is a general “great falling away” of the rest of the church. We consider those who forgot about His laws to simply be “asleep” and in need of awakening. If they don’t awaken now to be in the firstfruits then they will need to stay in the grave an extra 1,000 years till the second Resurrection.
Numerous studies can show that throughout the many splits and schisms from our true Israelite faith, the Culdean church has remained true to the Orthodox Hebrew faith down through the centuries until today. Whether you trace the succession of Bishops from Saint David of Wales, or of Culdean churches of the Waldenses. There were many on the continent, for example the Waldensian Bishops of Lyon France. These all held true to orthodoxy in the face of extreme persecution. These things come and go, and are often only temporary political matters.
There is a consensus among historians that the Protestant reformers were Neo-Culdees. They were indeed more orthodox than the ones we’ve known the last 50 years. Even the most non-conformist congregationalist church used the English liturgy until very recently.
The present and ancient English liturgy reflects the facts that the Christian nations have always believed they are Israelites. The Hebrew Shama Prayer is used in the oldest of our Culdee Christian liturgies, and is today in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (also used by Roman Catholics) as part of the Eucharist. It is also the oldest prayer that is recited by the Jews (originally from the Great Sanhedrin of 450BC. [That is around the time Jeremiah transplanted much of the priesthood, David’s literal throne (stone of scone), and the remaining heirs of the Judean throne to Ireland]). The English congregations chant the Shama much like Israel did. It is chanted at the Eucharist (also a Hebrew bread feast that Christ pointed to as fulfillment of the shewbread). The shama is typically sung or recited before the Decaloge (or 10 Commandments). Some versions of the liturgy say you can optionally recite the Hebrew Shama text “Hear O Israel.. etc” rather than reciting the full 10 Commandments.
The Saturday Sabbath is also called the day of rest in the “Collect for Saturday”. While most of the Hebrew feasts are already listed in the Book of Common Prayer, the preface says, a Bishop may add or reduce the feasts based on the local needs. Read more on this topic in the sub-chapters on the British Church in the booklet “Honoring the Sabbath in the Orthodox Church”.
Archbishops and Patriarchs.
Archbishop Parker, the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth promised in his letter to Calvin, concerning the proposal of a union among all Protestants, reminding him that the Church of England would “retain her Episcopacy; but not as from Pope Gregory, who sent Augustine the monk hither, but from Joseph of Arimathea.” (Gildas, 1525, also in “The Life and Acts of Archbishop Parker” By John Strype, Published in 1711.) [Note that Gregory was fiercely opposed by Saint Columbanus the Culdee from the Luxeuil Abbey.]
The Patriarch Cyril Lucaris of Constantinople also reached out to the Protestants. He made a confession of faith that was in absolute agreement with the Orthodox Culdees.
There were numerous recognitions within the churches of the world, that they would yield to Glastonbury on points of antiquity and precedence.
At the Synod of Pisa in 1409, Council of Constance in 1417, Synod of Sienna in 1424, and the Council of Basel in 1434. There was reached a consensus that the Churches of France and Spain must yield in points of antiquity and precedence to that of Britain. This was for the sole basis of Glastonbury being the first church of the Hebrew Apostles of Christ.
Charters of Glastonbury.
Numerous Royals, Clergy, Bishops and Archbishops claimed and proved Glastonbury’s rightful status as England’s birthright to exert their independence from Rome, and seniority in spiritual matters of the church. In each case, even Rome and the Vatican had to passively accept Glastonbury’s claim of a higher status that wasn’t even subject to Rome. Not only in numerous Royal charters going back to the first century, but this status was also confirmed and endorsed in about 30 Papal Bulls. Such rights confirmed in the Charters and Papal Bulls were higher than any order of Clergy have ever had, not even the Knights Templar had as many rights/obligations. We will get into some of those living rights in the following chapters.
Kings, Queens, Popes and Heirs.
At the time of the Reformation, the ancient seat of the Culdees (Glastonbury) was destroyed by Henry VIII. Nearly all the monks signed Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy, all but one. There was one Monk who refused to sign, and successfully kept the status alive. His name was John Nott. Only the monks could choose successors and so he was made senior (Lord Prior) and came with two other monks to petition the Queen. He raised formal written petition co-signed by his fellow monks, to make requests of the Queen Elizabeth. John Nott’s petition was acknowledged to be valid and was endorsed by her counsellors. In his petition to the Queen in 1556, he mentions the church belonging to Joseph of Arimathea and his heirs. He stood up for this most ancient church, and offered to maintain the grounds without a salary. He wrote that it would also be passed down to his successors (of the House of Nott). Note: there never was re-established a major house of Monks there at Glastonbury until now. However, at those times without a true church heir, it reverted back to the original charters, the original laws, and those of inheritance under the Culdean practice of the firstborn sons of the priests. Normally it was one who was being trained in the priesthood like “the sons of the prophets”, Levites and sons of Aaron in Israel. So his successors, although not found in the church, was in reality passing to his heirs as it was originally established to be in all Culdean churches. Some quotes on this succession is documented in Jamison’s “Ancient Culdees”, Chapter 2
“..like the priests under the law(Rabbis), they were succeeded by inheritance”
“..in the church of Saint Andrews the Culdees came into the office hereditarily”
“The Culdees of Ireland practiced hereditary succession, the Bishopric of Armagh, could demonstrate fifteen generations.” (Read more. Also read our article “Apostolic Succession” and “Glastonbury Led By Married Hebrew Priests“)
It is also further documented in other works such as the “ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES OF THE CYMRY” OR THE ANCIENT BRITISH CHURCH ITS HISTORY, DOCTRINE, AND RITES” – DOWNLOAD FULL BOOK PDF
Historically many of the Monks were married with children, and they retired there at the Abbey. Some of them were young students getting their early education there. For centuries celibacy was contested against at the Abbey. Like the orthodox priests, it was composed of married clergy.
The Rights Transferred to the Descendants in Spiritual Anointing.
The formal petition of the Glastonbury Cleric John Nott, that was received by the Queen had effectually retained several very important and ancient Culdean legal rights. These rights that originated in the First Century, were re-ratified and confirmed by numerous successive Kings, Clerics and Popes.
So the next in line of succession with the Glastonbury Culdean rights would be an early pioneer of America, who is also a genealogical descendant of Joseph of Arimathea. This family of Nott’s have demonstrated to have this spiritual anointing of David, Joseph of Arimathea and the Prophets. Read about some of the exploits of the Nott Family in America, at the following URL: Imperial Gothian(Odinssons) Exploits in the American Nott Family
Some people believe that the blood makes no difference in character traits of the descendants. The covenants of God to the firstborns, and the many Bible genealogies all being unnecessary. “Honour your father and mother” even less. They say the Saxon Kings always listing their descent from Odin, was just an ignorant practice. May this demonstration put all those lies to rest. Monarchs guarantee the rights of territories to the firstborns in many charters to their heirs perpetually and even “eternally”. So naturally this firstborn line of the Nott(Odinssons) will be one of the better examples of God’s faithfulness to keep His generational covenants.
Why not use this line? President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln were very proud of their own genealogical descents from Odin, and they had this genealogy also widely published.
So the heir that transferred these anointings from Glastonbury was Judge John Nott of Wethersfield Connecticut. He was of Feudal Nobility, with the title of Serjeant(a title of lordship) and from an old kingly line. According to this anointing, he had the priviledge and honor to draw up the borders of the land in America that was called “Glastonbury” in America in the year 1653, as he was not only Judge but was the land surveyor. The records say he also issued the orders for the calling up of the Glastonbury’s militia and governed the training and drilling activities.
It was at his most ancient American court of Wethersfield where he presided, that the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” were written in 1639. This document was called America’s First Constitution, and Connecticut, for this reason is called “the Constitution State”. This first constitution of America failed to mention England or any other worldly power, but that all the power is from Jesus Christ. However, Feudal law was enforced for the regions, where he held the lands. It was before things went back under England and his lands were later limited. It basically defined that our union was “perpetual”, and this text was ratified that said our union is for ONE AIM: “The advancement of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and maintaining the purity of the gospel.” This text was later copied to all the other colonies as the “Articles of Perpetual Confederation” in the early-mid 1600’s.
Glastonbury Rights to Ban and Set Free.
However, with the Queen’s untimely death, historians say that all the efforts were stopped short of reestablishing a true monastic house at Glastonbury. However, it apparently came to fruition in the new City of Glastonbury, founded by the Nott family heir,
+ Judge John Nott, Serjeant(Feudal Lord) of Wethersfield, Who in 1639 chartered to His successors the Perpetual “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut”, with all rights intact, and chartered the creation of the new Glastonbury City in 1653 and raised it’s Militia, and endowed
Our Current Primace of the OCC, His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen Michael.
The inspirational life testimony of ++ Stephen is a larger topic, however here are the main ministry events in the Orthodox Church of the Culdees in as chronological headings only.
His Ministry Chronology
In the year of our Lord, 1990, at the age of 12, +Stephen first came under the tutelage of +Bishop Pastor Leroy Crouch, at the Culdees Church in Garden Grove California, while his Parents were the Landlords of the property.
In the year of our Lord, 2000, after 10 years active as a layman in the Culdean church, and three years of a concentrated study +Stephen was officially anointed and ordained as a Priest and Evangelist by +Bishop Lesley Boyle.
In the year of our Lord, 2003, +Stephen became a Chaplain for several local community organizations, performing weddings, baptisms, and communion.
In the year of our Lord, 2003, He was made Manager of the Celts Roots Bookshop, owned by Dr. Warren Johnson. From 2002 +Stephen was recognized as a Scholar by Dr. Johnson and other board members of the American Institute of Theology who published his works on Exegetical Theology into the advanced courseware of the Western Division seminary. Served as a regular lecturer and Honorary Professor.
In the year of our Lord, 2003, +Bishop Wesley Perkins and +Bishop Lesley Boyle consecrated Stephen as a Bishop of the church, having oversight of multiple assemblies throughout Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
In the year of our Lord, 2007, +Stephen was asked to start a Culdean Mission (and Abbey) at the South of the Netherlands. His various priestly services ministering at churches in Holland, Europe and the UK were were promoted by various ministries. Several newsletters, including Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant magazines highlighted his “2010 Pilgrimage Crusade” to “Reclaim the Ecclesiastical Rights of Glastonbury”, and his successful ministering in several congregations as a “visiting Abbot”. The abbice became obsolete by 2012.
In the year of our Lord, 2009, +Bishop Wesley Perkins and +Bishop Lesley Boyle ordained +Bishop Stephen as Bishop at the Netherlands, and jointly signed a letter of reference for his eventual election as Archbishop for the BENELUX jurisdiction. Ordination Certificate was also received.
In the year of our Lord, 2010, +Stephen Michael became Lord Prior of Glastonbury, in consideration after great performance of the Glastonbury book items in the ministry bookshop, and recognition of hereditary relations to the last Royally approved wardens of Glastonbury. After long ministry service, this rank was confirmed by the Culdean (including Scottish and Irish) Clerics at Glastonbury. This was the year the Catholic church stopped doing processions at Glastonbury. To fill in, right on time, +Stephen led a banner procession to the Tor, prayers of consecration was administered. A film crew from Galatia films kept a record for a possible future documentary. Installment of the church banner at the Tor was photographed and published in several newsletters. A meeting of about 30 persons applauded at this event that was called “reclaiming Glastonbury”. These meetings were also photographed and published.
In the year of our Lord, 2013, the Archbishop of Berlin, and the Chancellor of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, and other Bishops, recognized the status of the Culdean church, our seniority, Celtic precedence among Western Churches and full autonomy. They also gave permission for us to minister to their churches. This was an official letter of recognition and communion between the OCC and AOCC, with a reference of our good cooperation in ministry for more than five years.
In the year of our Lord, 2015, +Stephen was consecrated as Archbishop by three Archbishops. The Archbishop of Berlin, +Peter Becker (primary consecrating Bishop) and the Archbishop +Blake Allan Hammacher (assisting Bishop), did canonically consecrate +Stephen as Archbishop of the AOCC Archdiocese of the Netherlands and lowlands (Benelux) with the conditions of full autonomy of the Orthodox Culdean Church. The assisting Archbishop +Ambrose von Sievers, Catacomb Church of True Orthodox Christians, provided a certificate of reintegration with the Orthodox Church, and formally recognized +Archbishop Stephen Michael to be the Primace of the Culdee’s church, and (titular) Archbishop of Glastonbury.
The day of the consecration was met with various wonders and miracles as a sign it was ordained by God. Interested parties may inquire for the various proof.
Semi-annually +Stephen meets with Glastonbury Clerics and others involved in ministry to the local people (and pilgrims) for at least 200 days per year at Glastonbury.
In the year of our Lord, 2017, +Stephen was awarded a Doctorate of Theology from Saint Peter & Paul College and University Instituti Sancti Pauli. He may use in His style His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen Michael Nott-Brunswick, DT (Within the OCC He is called Primace without extra titles, and externally shortens it to Reverend for unity within other modern international churches that are all considered part of Christ’s one body).
Herein are several of the priestly lines that are recognized in Orthodox circles of Christendom (East and West). These lines connect in direct succession down from the Holy Apostles, in a consecration ceremony of anointing and the laying on of hands.
As a visiting Bishop to a foreign jurisdiction it is customary that a reconsecration is performed, to confirm the validity of the sacraments within those congregations.
While some believe these consecrations are not necessary, several Universities worldwide consider these as a requirement for anyone acting in priestly service. The English church, and many other churches that are not under Rome’s structure, decided to retain the Episcopal succession. This covers all international recognitions, as it says the English church has “retained it’s Episcopacy, but not as from Pope Gregory, who sent Augustine the monk hither, but from Joseph of Arimathea”. This is together with a wider re-establishment and recognition within the Eastern Orthodox Church (The True Orthodox Church, that escaped the Bolshevik massacres by living in the catacombs, AKA Catacomb church. In agreement with the canons of the original Russian church, to keep Sabbath on Saturday.)
[Special Note on the Sabbath:The Apostles’ Didascalia has been considered canonical in most of the Orthodox world, and in it the Sabbath is Saturday and it is called a day of rest and worship. In the Stoglav, an official manuscript of the Russian Orthodox Church, dated in the year 1556, and containing materials from the Moscow Council during the reign of Ivan IV (1531-1584), has a chapter on the Sabbath:
“By the Authority of Peter and Paul, we command to the people to work during the week. But on Subota (Sabbath) and on Nedelja (Sunday) let them worship in the Church and pray, and let them learn something for the sake of good faith. The Subota is the image of the whole creation, while the Nedelja is the day of the resurrection.” Read more in the book published by His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen Michael, “Honouring the Sabbath in the Orthodox Church“.]
+ Stephen Michael (Nott-Brunswick) was consecrated on February 7th, 2015 as Archbishop of Glastonbury, Primace of the Culdees’ Church by three Orthodox Archbishops of valid apostolic succesion in right standing within our communion.
Download the PDF to view the full lines of the consecrating Archbishops for the Apostolic Succesion of ++ Archbishop Stephen Michael – click here for the PDF
The obscurity of the origin of the Culdich (Anglicized Culdees) has led many writers to assume that their name was derived from their life and work. The interpretations ‘Cultores Dei’ (Worshippers of God) and ‘Gille De’ (Servants of God) are ingenious but do not go far to solve the problem. Culdich is still in use among some of the Gael, of Cultores Dei and Gille De they know nothing.(1)
‘From its antiquity called, by way of distinction, “Ealde Chirche”, that is the Old Church of wattlework at first, savoured somewhat of heavenly sanctity, even from its very foundation, and exhaled it all over the country, claiming superior reverence, though the structure was mean. Hence, here assembled whole tribes of the lower orders, thronging every path; hence assembled the opulent, divested of their pomp; hence it became the crowded residence of the religious and the literary. For, as we have heard from men of elder times, here Gildas, an historian, neither unlearned nor inelegant, captivated by the sanctity of the place, took up his abode for a series of years. This Church, then, is certainly the oldest I am acquainted with in England, and from this circumstance derives its name. Moreover there are documents of no small credit, which have been discovered in certain places, to the following effect: No other hands than those of the disciples of Christ erected the Church at Glastonbury …. for if Phillip the Apostle reached to the Gauls, as Freculphus relates in the fourth chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he also planted the word on the hither side of the channel.'(19)
The Culdees who dwelt on Iona and professed the rule of Columba, were Christianized Druids, mingling with their faith a large element of the ancient Druidic cultus. . . . But all their power they ascribed to Christ – Christ is my Druid, said Columba.'(18)
To a people whose sense of future existence was so absorbing that its presentiment was almost too deeply felt by them, the preaching of Jesus and the Resurrection would appeal with irresistible force. There was no violent divorce between the new teaching and that of their own Druids, nor were they called upon so much to reverse their ancient faith to lay it down for a fuller and more perfect revelation.
Well has the Swedish poet, Tegner, in ‘Frithiofs Saga’, pictured the glimmerings of the dawn of Gospel day, when he described the old priest as prophesying
‘All hail, ye generations yet unborn
Than us far happier; ye shall one day drink
That cup of consolation, and behold
The torch of Truth illuminate the world,
Yet do not us despise; for we have sought
With earnest zeal and unaverted eye,
To catch one ray of that ethereal light,
Alfader still is one, and still the same;
But many are his messengers Divine.’
2. Trias Thaumaturga, p.156b.
3. Freculphus apud Godwin, p.10. See Hist. Lit.,II,18.
4. Baronius add. ann. 306. Vatican MSS. Nova Legenda.
5. Domesday Survey Fol., p.449.
6. See Epistolae ad Gregorium Papam.
7. See Joseph of Arimathea, by Rev.L.Smithett Lewis.
8. Concilia, Vol.I, p.9.
9. Malmes., ‘History of the Kings,’ pp.19,20.
10.G.Smith, ‘Religion of Ancient Britain,’ Chap. II, p.37.
11.Morgan, ‘St.Paul in Britain,’ p.73.
12.Nath. Bacon, ‘Laws and Government of England,’ p.3.
13.Baronius ad Ann 459, ex. Actis Marcelli.
14.Moncaeus Atrebas, ‘In Syntagma,’ p.38.
15.Nennius(ed.Giles), p.164. Book of Llandau, pp.26,68,289.
16.Morgan’s ‘British Cymry.’
17.Ussher (ed.1639), pp.5,7,20.
18.’The Mysteries of Britain,’ pp.62,64,65.
19.Dudley Wright, ‘Druidism,’ p.12.
20.Holinshed, ‘Chronicles,’ p.23.
21.’De Demostratione Evangelii,’ Lib. III.
22.’Adv.Judaeos,’ Chap. VII. Def. Fidei, p.179.
23.Origen, ‘Hom. VI in Lucae.’
24.’Hom. in Isaiah,’ Chap. LIV and Epist. XIII ad Paulinum.
25.’Ad Psalm,’ CXLV, III.
26.Chrysostom, ‘Orat O Theo Xristos.’
27.’De Excidio Britanniae,’ Sect. 8, p.25.
28.’Concilia,’ fol., p.1.
30.Sabell. Enno, Lib. VII, Chap. V.
31.King’s ‘Vale Royal,’ Bk. II, p.25.
32.Topograph. Hibern Distinct. III, Cap. XXIX.
from the subchapter “the Culdees”:
The title, “Christian”, is claimed to have originated at
Antioch, following the enthusiastic reception given to the
disciples who fled there in A.D. 36. It is nearer to the truth
that the inhabitants of this ancient city referred to the
converts as “Little Christs”, and, “Little men of Christ”. These
labels are by no means the correct interpretation of the name
“Christian”. The word is a composite of Greek and Hebrew.
“Christ” is the Greek word meaning “consecrated”, and “ian” is
from the Hebrew word “am”, meaning a person, or people.
Therefore, the true meaning of the word “Christian” is
Early ecclesiastics and historians definitely state that the
word is of British origin. Philologists also support its claim to
British invention; created by the British priesthood, among whom
the Christian movement gained its first and strongest impetus.
Substantiation is found in the statement by Sabellus, A.D. 250,
who wrote: “The word Christian was spoken for the first time in
Britain, by those who first received The Word, from the Disciples
It is interesting to note that the Bethany group who landed
in Britain, was never referred to by the British priesthood as
Christians, nor even later when the name was in common usage.
They were called “Culdees”, as were the other disciples who later
followed the Josephian mission into Britain.
There are two interpretations given to the word “Culdee”, or
“Culdich”, both words purely of the Celto–British language, the
first meaning “certain strangers”, and the other as explained by
Lewis Spence, who states that “Culdee” is derived from
“Ceile-De”, meaning, “servant of the Lord”. In either case the
meaning is appropriate.
This title, applied to Joseph of Arimathea and his
companions, clearly indicates that they were considered as more
than ordinary strangers. The name sets them apart as somebody
special. In this case, since they arrived in Britain on a special
mission with a special message, we can fairly accept the title
meant to identify them as “certain strangers, servants of the
In the ancient British Triads, Joseph and his twelve
companions are all referred to as Culdees, as also are Paul,
Peter, Lazarus, Simon Zelotes, Aristobulus and others. This is
important. The name was not known outside Britain and therefore
could only have been assigned to those who actually had dwelt
among the British Cymri. The name was never applied to any
disciple not associated with the early British missions. Even
though Gaul was Celtic, the name was never employed there. In
later years the name Culdee took on an added significance,
emphasizing the fact that the Culdee Christian Church was the
original Church of Christ on earth. It became a title applied to
the church, and to its High Priests, persisting for centuries in
parts of Britain, after the name had died out elsewhere in favour
of the more popular name, Christian. Culdees are recorded in
church documents as officiating at St. Peter’s, York, until A.D.
936. And, according to the Rev. Raine, the Canons of York were
called Culdees as late as the reign of Henry II. In Ireland a
whole county was named Culdee, declared with emphasis when
reference was heard at a court hearing in the seventeenth
century, as to its laws. The name Culdee, and Culdich, clung
tenaciously to the Scottish Church, and its prelates, much longer
Cambell writes in “Reullura”:
The pure Culdees
were Alby’s [Albion] earliest priests of God,
ere yet an island of her seas,
by foot of Saxon monk was trod.