(probably derived from old Irish ce`le de`, companion of God, rather than Lat. cultores dei, worshipers of God). An ancient monastic order (origin obscure) with settlements in Ireland and Scot. Probably originated in Ireland. Their societies were often formed by 13 mems.: the Abbot, Prior, or Head, and 12 others, on the analogy of Christ and His disciples. St. Moling (founded an abbey at Achad Cainigb called Tech Moling; d. ca. 697) and St. Carthage the Younger (Carthach; Mochuda; est. monasteries at Rahan [or Rathin] and Lismore; d. ca. 637) are called Culdees in early records.
Early Culdees had the marks of anchorites, but gradually became similar to secular canons; probably helped preserve Scot. Christianity bet. the 7th and 12th cents.; later corrupted; superseded by canons* regular; perhaps the last remnants of the Celtic* Ch.; disappear in the 1st part of the 14th c.
W. Reeves, The Culdees of the British Islands, as They Appear in History (Dublin, 1864); T. J. Parry, Culdees, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. J. Hastings, IV (Edinburgh, 1911), 357358.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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