The Stowe Missal and Early Irish Theology


The Stowe Missal is a rare witness to early Irish theology and liturgy. It is named for the library where it was discovered in Stowe House, Buckinghamshire. Analysis of the well worn, 67 page vellum book and its contents date it to between 792 and 811/2. Given that the litany mentions St Maelruain (d. 792), founder of Tallaght, but not Eochaid his successor, who was also listed as a saint in early litanies, there is a good possibility that it was written at Tallaght in Ireland. O’Loughlin mentions that the Stowe Missel was therefore written around the time the Celi De movement began around Tallaght (near modern Dublin).

O’Loughlin notes that the theology of the Stowe Missal reflects the paramount importance of community over individuality. There is a tangible continuity between the living community and those who have gone on, between the church militant, church expectant, and church triumphant. The…

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