Christianity is and has been the largest religion in Ireland and for a long period of time has been one of the most popular religions around the world. Most denominations of Christianity in Ireland are organized into two parts; the Republic of Ireland[->0] and Northern Ireland[->1]. Current day Ireland has shown that in Northern Ireland most of the population adheres to the Roman Catholic[->2] Church. Ireland is currently under the spiritual leadership of the Pope Benedict XVI[->3]. There are great contributors to the Catholic Church in Ireland to how it came to be which are as followed; Celtic Christianity, Irish monasteries, Missionaries Abroad in Ireland, the Irish Reformation, and the Translation of the Bible into Irish. Without these contributors the Catholic Church in Ireland would be changed dramatically.
Christianity came to Ireland by the early 5th century, and spread through the works of early missionaries such as Palladius[->4], and Saint Patrick[->5]. In fact, Christian worship had reached pagan Ireland around 400 AD, this occurred during the Early Middle Ages[->6], but St Patrick was the most known for spreading Christianity throughout Ireland. There were certain traditions and practices used in both the Irish and British churches, but not in the wider Christian world. These include a unique system for determining the dating of Easter[->7], a style of monastic tonsure[->8], an exceptional system of penance[->9], and the popularity of going into the exile of Christ.
Monasteries were built for monks who wanted permanent communion with God. This helped the spread of Christianity because more people were learning about God and Jesus and often the monks taught some missionaries about Catholicism and they then spread the news about it all over Ireland. Monastic schools[->10] in Ireland became centers of excellence for people from all over Europe. The English came to study and train as missionaries as well in them, and English monks trained in Ireland in order to convert their pagan German relatives on the continent. They would study scriptures and they both make it clear that students often traveled from site to site looking for teachers who had specialized knowledge in worldly subjects as well. During the Dark Ages[->11] in Europe these monasteries served as sanctuary to many of the continents great scholars and theologians. Not everyone was a fan of the Catholic Church though, during the ninth & tenth centuries the Vikings[->12] plundered everything in sight and the monasteries were favorite targets for their treasures of golden religious ornaments that they would steal and then they world burn down the monasteries as well. Archeologists believe that preserving these monasteries are very important to mankind, “The repair and use of an archaeological site for educational[->13] and economic purposes is a guiding principle of the AIA Site Preservation Program. Archaeological sites were a part of the fabric of an ancient community and with proper planning and management they can become an integral part of the modern community as well,” (Saving Irish Sites).
Missionaries from Ireland[->14] to England[->15] and Continental Europe[->16] spread news of learning and scholars from other nations came to Irish monasteries to study. One of the greatest missionaries was St. Patrick but people do not really recognize him as one as much as other things, “Patrick, remembered today as the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland, the teacher who used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and the namesake of annual parades in New York and Boston. What is less well-known is that Patrick was a humble missionary (this saint regularly referred to himself as "a sinner") of enormous courage,” (Cagney 1). The excellence and isolation of these monasteries helped preserve Latin learning during the Early Middle Ages[->17]. The period of art[->18], mainly in the fields of illuminated