The Antiquities of the Celtic Church

William Blake’s Illustration Joseph of Arimathea Among the Rocks of Albion in its second state after Blake’s 1773 original, engraved circa 1809

The world’s first above-ground church was founded in Britain by Jesus Christ’s uncle Joseph of Arimathea in Glastonbury in AD 37. Those saints in Joseph’s company founded other churches in Western Europe after departing from each other in Marseilles France.

These early Christians followed the same route to Western Europe that the ancient Israelites had sailed centuries before them bringing word of the risen Christ immediately to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

‘The Israelite Origins of Europa: the Phoenicians in the West’

‘Scythian Origins: the Lost Tribes in Iran, the Steppe and Europe’

‘Dardan, Danaan and Dorian Origins: the Mediterranean Migrations of Ancient Israel’

‘The New Covenant with Israel’

Cardinal Caesar Baronius (AD 1538-1609) was a learned historian and librarian to the Vatican. In his Ecclesiastical Annals he identifies those that accompanied Joseph under section AD 35:

“the two Bethany sisters, Mary and Martha – their brother Lazarus – St. Eutropius – St. Salome – St. Cleon – St. Saturninus – St. Mary Magdalene – Marcella (the maid of the Bethany sisters) – St. Maxim (or Maximin) – St. Martial – St. Trophimus (Restitutus, the man who was born blind). Mary the mother of Jesus undoubtedly was not left behind.”

The Cardinal’s Annals quote the Acts of Magdalene for the record of the voyage to Marseilles and the preaching of the Gospel in the south of France by the Bethany family. The original manuscript was compiled by Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mayence (AD 766-856), and a copy is in the Magdalen College Library at Oxford, England. Chapter 37, after listing names of those accompanying Joseph, describes their voyaging:

“Leaving the shores of Asia and favoured by an east wind, they went round about, down the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Europe and Africa, leaving the city of Rome and all the land of Italy to the right. Then happily turning their course to the right, they came near to the city of Marseilles, in the Veinnoise province of the Gauls, where the river Rhone is received by the sea. There, having called upon God, the great King of all the world, they parted; each company going to the province where the Holy Spirit had directed them; presently preaching everywhere, ‘the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following’.”

Eusebius of Caesarea, (AD 260-340), one of the most comprehensive of ecclesiastical historians, wrote of Christ’s disciples in Demonstratio Evangelica, saying that “some have crossed the Ocean and reached the Isles of Britain.”

Tertullian (AD 155-222) wrote in his work Adversus Judaeos that the Celts of Britain, Spain and Gaul had already received and accepted the Gospel in his own time:

“…all the limits of the Spaniards, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons—inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ.”


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