13. SCOTORUM EPISCOPUS. In the Chronicon
of Prosper Aquitanus, under the consulship of Bassus and Antiochus (A. D. 431), this passage occurs, "Ad Scotos in Christum credentes ordinatur a papa Coelestino Palladius, et primus episcopus mittitur."
In another work of the same writer (Contra Collatorem,
100.21.2), speaking of Coelestine's exertions to repress the doctrines of Pelagius, he says, "Ordinato Scotis episcopo, dum Romanam insulam studet servare Catholicam, fecit etiam barbaram Christianam." (Opera,
col. 363, ed. Paris, 1711.) To these meagre notices, the only ones found in contemporary writers (unless, with some, we refer to the conversion of the Scoti the lines of Prosper De Ingratis,
vss. 330-332), the chroniclers and historians of the middle ages have added a variety of contradictory particulars, so that it is difficult, indeed impossible, to extract the true facts of Palladius' history.
It has been a matter of fierce dispute between the Irish and the Scots, to which of them Palladius was sent; but the usage of the word "Scoti," in Prosper's time, and the distinction drawn by him between "insulam Romanam" and "insulam barbaram," seem to determine the question in favour of the Irish.
This solution leads, however, to another difficulty.
According to Prosper, Palladius converted the Irish, "fecit barbaram (sc. insulam) Christianam ;" while the united testimony of ecclesiastical antiquity ascribes the conversion of Ireland to Patricius (St. Patrick), who was a little later than Palladius.
But possibly the success of Palladius, though far from bearing out the statement of Prosper, may have been greater than subsequent writers, zealous for the honour of St. Patrick, and seeking to exaggerate his success by extenuating that of his predecessors, were willing to allow.
There is another difficulty, arising from an apparent contradiction between the two passages in Prosper, one of which ascribes to Palladius the conversion of the island, while the other describes him as being sent "ad Scotos in Christo credentes ;" but this seeming contradiction may be reconciled by the supposition that Palladius had visited the island and made some converts, before being consecrated and again sent out as their bishop.
This supposition accounts for a circumstance recorded by Prosper, that "Florentio et Dionysio Coss." i.e. in A. D. 429, Palladius, while yet only a deacon, prevailed on Pope Coelestine to send out Germanus of Auxerre [GERMANUS, No. 6.] to step the progress of Pelagianism in Britain: which indicates on the part of Palladius a knowledge of the state of the British islands, and an interest in them, such as a previous visit would be likely to impart.
The various statements of the mediaeval writers have been collected by Usher in his Britannicar. Ecelesiar. Autiq.
c. xvi. p. 799, &c.
See also J. B. Sollerius, De S. Pulladio
in the Acta Sanctor. Jul.
vol. ii. p. 286, &c. Palladius is commemorated as a saint by the Irish Romanists on the 27th Jan.: by those of Scotland on July 6th. His shrine, or reputed shrine, at Fordun, in the Mearns, in Scotland, was regarded before the Reformation with the greatest reverence; and various localities in the neighbourhood are still pointed out as connected with his history. Jocelin, of Furness, a monkish writer of the twelfth century states, in his lite of St. Patrick (Acta Sanctor. Martii,
vol. ii. p. 545; Jelii,
vol. ii. p. 289), that Palladius, disheartened by his little success in Ireland, crossed over into Great Britain, and died in the territory of the Picts; a statement which, supported as it is by the local traditions of Fordun, may be received as containing a portion of truth.
The medieval writers have, in some instances, strangely confounded Palladius, the apostle of the Scoti, with Palladins of lielenopolis; and Trithemnius (De Scriptor. Eccles.
100.133), and even Baronins (Aunal. Evccles.
ad ann. 429.8), who is followed by l'ossevino, make the former to be the author of the Dialogius de Vila Chrysostomi.
Baronies, also, as cribes to him (ihid.) Liber contra Pehlqyiaos, Homiliarum Liber unus,
and Ad Coelestinnm Epistolaru Liber unus,
and other works written in Greek. For these statements he cites the authrity of Trithemius, who however mentions only the Dialogus.
It is probable that the statement rests on the very untrustworthy authority of Bale (Bale, Script. Illustr. Maj Britann.
cent. 14.6; Usher, l.c. ;
Sollerius l.c. ;
vol. xiv. p. 154, &c. p. 737; Fabricius, Bibl. Med. et Infim. Latinit.
vol. v. p. 191.)