Ortha nan Gaidheal


IT is known that a form of baptism prevailed among the Celts previous to the introduction of Christianity, as forms of baptism prevail among pagan people now. Whenever possible the Celtic Church christianized existing ceremonies and days of special observance, grafting the new on the old, as at a later day Augustine did in southern Britain. Immediately after its birth the nurse or other person present drops three drops of water on the forehead of the child. The first drop is in the name of the Father, representing wisdom; the second drop is in the name of the Son, representing peace; the third drop is in the name of the Spirit, representing purity. If the child be a male the name 'Maol-domhnuich,' if a female the name 'Griadach,' is applied to it temporarily. 'Maol-domhnuich' means tonsured of the Lord, and 'Griadach' is rendered Gertrude. When the child is ecclesiastically baptized - generally at the end of eight days - the temporary is superseded by the permanent name. This lay baptism is recognised by the Presbyterian, the Anglican; the Latin, and the Greek Churches. If the child were not thus baptized it would need to be carefully guarded lest the fairies should spirit it away before the ecclesiastical baptism took place, when their power over it ceased. The lay baptism also ensured that in the event of death the child should be buried in consecrated ground.

Niall MacFhionnlaigh, A' Chiste Ghàidhlig, a chuir na teacsaichean seo gu léir bho Carmina Gadelica air an làrach-lìn aig Sabhal Mór Ostaig ann an 1995
2001-04-09 CPD