Ireland were the first to announce the gospel to the
barbarous tribes of the Picts and Finns who inhabited
those cold regions for many centuries past.' A num-
ber of ancient historical authorities and local names,
which endure until this day, plainly prove the presence
of Irish Christians, both clerical and laic, in all those
islands long before the invasions of the pagan North-
In 1611.
These pirates called them Papas, and to their settle-
ments they gave the name of “Papey,” “Papil,” or
some similar appellation.
The learned Pinkerton has clearly proved that the
Papas were Irish priests, who had kept in their distant
homes the costume, the language, and the manner of
life of the clergymen in their native country;” and for
this reason the Northmen gave them the same name,
wherever they found them in the northern archipelagos,
—a name, indeed, foreign to their own language, and
which the Irish themselves had borrowed from the
Latinized tâ7tag, father, as an honorary title wherewith
to address their priests.” The Northmen themselves
have left no room for doubt; they plainly state that
the Papas who were in Iceland at their arrival were
Irish and Christians who refused to dwell any longer
among the heathen new-comers." It seems that even
the laic Irish settlers of the northern islands were des-
ignated by the Scandinavians with the same appella-
tion as their priests, because they were of the same

* Archivio Storico, serie 4, t. xvi. p. 200; alii passim.

* Introductio Histor. Scot., ap. Gravier, p. 15, from Barry, History of the Orkney Islands, p. 115.

* Letronne, p. 92. The German “Pfaffe” and probably the ancient Mexican “Paba” or “Papa” had the same origin ; so also the Rus

sian “Pope,” the Polish “Pop,” the Hungarian “Pap,” and the Finnish “Pappi.”

* The Landnámabók calls them “Kristmir” and “Irskar,” as also Are Frode, in the first chapter of his Islendingabók. See Document XX.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][graphic]

nationality and religion and, like them, wore garments of a white color." We have noticed that already St. Brendan and St. Cormac had preached in the Orkneys,” and here they were undoubtedly followed soon, not only by St. Columba, but also by Irish or Scottish Papas, who founded Christian communities and likely converted all the inhabitants. Birsay is one of the oldest episcopal sees in the northern countries, and its bishops were suffragans of a Scotch metropolis till long after the invasion of the Northmen.” The memory of the ancient Papas is still preserved in the Orkneys by the local names of “Papey,” Papas Island, of the “Papa Vestra” and “Papa Stronsa” Islands, and of the two districts “Paplay” or “Pappley” in the eastern islands Ronaldsey and Mainland.” Fordun, who composed his famous Scotichronicon about the year 1380, speaks of a “Papeya Tertia,” which is not identified now.” We could not defend the opinion according to which St. Brendan dwelt for a considerable length of time in the Shetland group before his American voyage;" but here also the Papas are remembered in the names of three islands,-" Papastore,” “Papalittle,” and “Papa,” and in that of the homestead “Papil.” " If we can believe the legend of St. Brendan, the Saintly voyager visited the Faroe Islands. But in regard to this group we have authentic information from the monk Dicuil, who wrote, in the year 825, his precious work, “De Mensura Orbis Terrae” or The World's Measurement. He says, “There are many other islands in the ocean north of Britain, which, from the British isles, can be reached in two days and nights by sailing in a straight line, with a fair wind and all sails set. An honest religious told me that in two summer days and the intervening night he had made one of them in a four-oared boat. Some of those islands are very small, and all are separated from the others by narrow straits. About one hundred years ago"—that is, in 725—“they were settled by hermits who navigated thither from our Ireland. But, as from the beginning of the world they had always been uninhabited, so are they now, on account of the Northman brigands, deserted by the anchorites; but they are stocked with innumerable sheep and a great variety of marine birds. We never saw these islands mentioned in the writings of any author.” " The same ancient monk has also left us valuable information regarding an island which, being an integral part of our western hemisphere, namely, Iceland,has a claim upon our more special attention. The earliest known movement northward from Britain was that inaugurated by King Arthur about the year 505. The authority on this subject is Geoffroy of Monmouth, who was bishop of St. Asaph in 1152, and of whom Hume * says, “The Bishop of Saint Asaph, who was no poet, may be credited when he states such simple facts as that, about the year 505, King Arthur, after the conquest of Ireland, received the submission of the Orkneys and sailed to Iceland, which he also subdued.” Winsor, who admits the statement, adds that, already before, an occasional wandering pirate or adventurous Dane had glimpsed the Icelandic coast.” Gunlaug and Odd, in the saga of Olaf Tryggvason, assure us that, according to English books, there existed in the eighth and subsequent centuries a regular intercourse between Iceland and England, and the same remark is made in the Introduction to the “Landnámabók” or Register of the Land-grants in Iceland.” We could not positively assert what English books were meant by the Icelandic sagas, but we may readily presume that those of Dicuil and of Bede the Venerable were counted among them. This learned English saint wrote at the commencement of the eighth | century, and states that the island which the books o designate as Thule is situated so far towards the world's

'Mémoires des Antiquaires, * Mémoires des Antiquaires, 1845 1845-49, p. 218, from “Ystoria Nor- –19, pp. 218, 220; Gaffarel, Déwegiae,” an ancient work discov- couv., t. i. p. 268. ered in Scotland in 1849, where we * Beauvois, La Découverte, p. 29. read: “Papae vero propter albas " Supra, p. 21. Westes, quibus ut clerici indueban- * Beauvois, La Découverte, p. 30, tur, vocati sunt; unde in teutonica ref. to P. A. Munch, Geographiske lingua omnes clerici papae dicum- Oplysninger om Orknoeerne, in

tur.” Annaler, 1852; Mémoires des Anti*Supra, pp. 21, 28. quaires, 1845–49, p. 220; Gaffarel, 'Gams, p. 240; Pertz, t. vii. cap. Découv., t. i. p. 268. ccxliii. p. 384.


* Letronne, Dicuil, cap. vii. 3, a diocese from the year 1086 till p. 39. The Faroe Islands formed 1533. (Gams.) * England, i. 38, ed. 1822.

North Pole that a wintry day dwindles to nothing there, o while the night is extremely long, and the reverse takes place in summer.” He also relates that the English at his time used to frequent the Icelandic shores.” o

This record perfectly agrees with the report of Dicuil, who writes: “Jules Solinus says that in Thule, the farthest of the British islands, there is no night when at the summer solstice the sun leaves the sign of Cancer, and likewise no day at the winter solstice." It is now thirty years since the clerics who sojourned in that island from the first of February to the first of

'De Costa, Precolumbian Dis- Historia Olavi Trygvii, parte i. cap. covery, p. 22, n. 1. 110, ap Gravier, p. 20. * Vol. i. p. 60, ref. to MSS. de la * Langebek, t. ii. p. 31, from an Bibliothèque Royale, Paris, 1787, i. Icelandic MS. 462. * Hin forma Lögbók, p. xiv, n. *See Document XX., Islands * Ed. 1646, cap. xxv. p. 302. | Landnámabók, Prologus, p. 11;


August related to me that, not only at the very summer solstice, but also at a late hour of the days immediately before and after, the setting sun hides himself, as it were, behind a low hillock, so that there comes no darkness for even the shortest space of time; but a man can, as in the sunshine, do any work he pleases, were it so much as catching lice on his shirt; and, had they climbed the mountains of the island, the sun might not have become invisible to them at all. . . . They were, therefore, deceived, and they deceived others, those who wrote that the sea was congealed all around; and those, also, who pretended that, from the vernal equinox until the autumnal, there reigned a continuous day without night in that island, and, reciprocally, an uninterrupted night from the autumnal till the vernal equinox; for the clerics landed on it during the cold season, and during their sojourn they had alternate days and nights, save at the time of the solstice. Sailing, however, one day to the north of Thule, they found the sea frozen over.”” Thus do we know that clerics—likely priests—of Great Britain sailed to Iceland in the dead of winter, in the year 795, and remained there for six continuous months. Several authors conclude therefrom that Irish monks first discovered Iceland in that year; but such is not the statement of Dicuil, and both the season and the length of the friars' sojourn clearly intimate that the island was already then settled by Christian people, eager to receive them and to supply their provisions. They evidently were not in search of snow and ice; but, says Letronne,” the Icelandic traditions bear out in a singular manner the opinion that the scope of the clerical voyages was to make a missionary visit to

* See Document XXI. * Pp. 141, 142.

« ElőzőTovább »