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Their vision was initially realised when an independent canonical jurisdiction was established in Britain by Jules Ferrette, who had been consecrated by Ignatius Peter III, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and the East. He commissioned Mar Julius as Patriarchal Legate for Western Europe with the power to erect there an indigenous and autocephalous patriarchate. The hierarchy was thus restored in the person of Julius of Iona. The succession continued with the Richard Williams Morgan, who was consecrated by Mar Julius in 1874. However, British autocephalous churches were not consolidated until bishops of the Old Catholic Church – which rejected Papal supremacy – were established in Britain with the consecration in 1908 of the Reverend Arnold Harris Mathew.
The lines of succession transmitted by Ferrette and Mathew were eventually conferred, in 1944, upon the person of the Rev. H.G. de Willmott Newman who, as Mar Georgius, continued the work of furthering the restoration of the ancient Church, and through him a number of autocephalous bodies dedicated to this end have come into being – among them The Holy Celtic Church.
The Holy Celtic Church is a Sacramental and Trinitarian Christian Church whose beliefs are enshrined in both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. It adheres to the Glastonbury Rite 1984, (a version of Mar Georgius’ Glastonbury Rite revised by Mar Francis), and recommends the New King James Bible for general use. The mission of the Holy Celtic Church is to assist people in the spiritual life, following the commendation of the Lord, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’, and is therefore committed to developing the interior and spiritual life of the soul, with the principal emphasis being upon the interior work of prayer and meditation. To this end the clergy of the Church, all of whom live and work in the community without stipend, have dedicated their lives.
Based in the West Country the membership of the Holy Celtic Church, is few in number and spread throughout the region. It consists of small communities that function under the guidance of their local priests, meeting for worship, group devotions and community matters in private oratories and chapels. The current primate is Bishop Marcus, who succeeded Bishop Francis in 1991. The governance of the Church is administered by a Committee of Synod drawn from members of the Order of Dionysis and Paul, which is a religious order within the Holy Celtic Church.