Curriculum Kernewek

Cornwall Agreed Syllabus 2011

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+ Guide to the Arrival of Christianity

Tertullian, a Christian from the Roman province of Carthage, provides the earliest recorded claim of Christianity in Britain in around 200 AD. He wrote (in Latin) that there were 'regions of Britain inaccessible to Rome, but which have yielded to Christ'. His claim is supported by early Christian theologian Origen in around 240AD who wrote (in Greek) that the "power of the Saviour is felt even among those who are divided from our world, in Britain." but that "very many have not yet heard the word of the Gospel."

Some historians argue that the trade routes between the area now known as Cornwall and the eastern Mediterranean enabled tin to be exchanged for oil and wine and were also responsible for the spread of Christianity to the British Isles. Other historians find the similarities between the strict ascetic discipline of Egyptian (later Coptic) monasticism and the monastic culture practised in Cornwall and Ireland sufficient to claim that Christianity spread to what we now know as Cornwall through trading links between Asia Minor or North Africa. The monastic tradition of individuals seeking separation from the world in order to become closer to God is inspired by the practices of Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus and St Paul.

Whoever brought Christianity to Cornwall and wherever they arrived from, Christianity certainly kept arriving: Roman soldiers posted to Britain, monks from Europe and saints from other Celtic lands all stimulated the spread of Christian beliefs and the founding of multiple Christian communities.

Accounts of how Christianity came to Cornwall include:

+ 'Jerusalem', the poem by William Blake (and later anthem with music by Sir Hubert Parry) was inspired by the story of how a young Jesus travelled to Britain with his tin trading uncle, Joseph of Arimathea and visited Glastonbury.

+ the story of how Joseph of Arimathea (an uncle of Jesus) brought Christianity to Britain can be found in the stories of William of Malmesbury (1080-1143 A.D.) who maintained, in his De Antiquitate Glastonie, that Joseph of Arimathea brought the pure Apostolic Gospel to Glastonbury not long after the Resurrection, and Polydore Virgil (1470-1555 A.D.), who recorded that "Britain partly through Joseph of Arimathea... was of all kingdoms the first that received the Gospel."

+ the stories of the saints sometimes credit a particular saint with the introduction of Christianity to Cornwall or a part of Cornwall.