How Christianity first came to Britain
and did St. Paul ever come to Britain

© 2010 Dylan Stephens

(picture from The history and chronicles of Scotland, Boece, Hector Vol 2)

The analyzing and connecting all of the legends and historical facts

The legend of the native British, the Celts, descending from the Trojans and to Noah

was popularized by Geoffrey of Monmouth turning vague memories into what appeared to be fact by supplying names. Geoffrey was notorious for this. For King Arthur's son Morgan he supplied the names of contemporary kings to Arthur that Gildas ranted about just to fill in the space that was missing in the Landaff Charters.

However, archaeology does show that the Celts did come from a branch of the Indo-European tribes whose hub could have been Troy and when arriving in first half of the 1st millennium BC, they could have migrated from Spain.

The legend of Joseph of Arimathea

can also be eliminated on its surface for it can be shown that the Joseph of Arimathea who asked for the body of Jesus after the crucifixion is the same as James, the brother of Jesus, according to Dr. Barbara Thiering. This James according to Josephus' Jewish Antiquities (20.9) met his death in 62 AD (since it was after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus, yet before Lucceius Albinus took office). James' role was as the head of the Jewish-Christian members of the Christian Church. Having his headquarters in Jerusalem and also following strict Jewish tradition, he would not have been interested in converting the "heathen" Celts.

Besides the whole Glastonbury affair was a hoax having never turned up the bones of Arthur and Guinevere, but rather just the bones an earlier Celtish king and queen. The forged cross in the excavation was even misplaced. (The reason that Arthur's bones are not to be found in Britain is because he retired in disgust after Mordred's betrayal at Camlan and became St. Arthmael of Brittany. See my site: The True King Arthur). BUT like most legends there is always some truth which we will visit in the next section

The most interesting legend is that of Paul's greetings to Timothy
(2 Timothy 4:21) "Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren".
This will be discussed in this section.

Caractacus (Caradog) son of Cybeline (Cynobellinus). (Cybeline (Cynobellinus) mentioned by Suetonius as king in the time of Caligula. Clearly wanting to be famous like Julius Caesar, Caligula had planned to invade Britain. When Cybeline's banished son Adminius came over to his side, Caligula in his madness called off the invasion and bade his soldiers to collect seashells.

Cybeline, according to Dio Cassius, had died by the time that Claudius, his uncle, having replaced Caligula after he was assassinated, launched an invasion of Britain in the summer of 43. (Dio Cassius Roman History Book 60) Apparently Cybeline's defeated son Togodumus also took the name Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus and became a puppet king for Rome (Tacitus Agricola 14). Thus Claudius made a triumphal entry into Colchester the capital of the Catuvellauni.

His brother Caractacus (Caratacus, Welsh:Caradog) escaped to continue the battle by joining the Silures, a powerful tribe in South Wales. He became their leader and in a pitched battle in 50 AD on a well protected hillfort but was defeated in hand-to-hand combat. His wife, his daughter, and brothers were captured, but he escaped. He sought refuge with Queen Cartimandua who was a sub-queen of Rome of the Brigantes. She promptly turned him over to the Romans. He was lead in a procession as a conquered foe with his wife, daughter, and brothers

"Caractacus before the Emperor Claudius at Rome",
18th century print by an unknown artist (British Museum).

When brought to Claudius Caractacus spoke so eloquently thus, '"Had I been as moderate in prosperity as I was great by birth and station, I should have entered your city as a friend, rather than as a captive ; nor would you, Caesar, have disdained to offer peace and alliance to one sprung from illustrious ancestors, and ruling over many nations. My present fate is as glorious to you as it is degrading to me. Horses and men, arms and wealth, have been mine ; is it a strange thing that I am loth to give them up ? And if you Romans must needs lord it over the world, does it follow that all welcome your yoke Were I being delivered to you after having surrendered at once, where had been my name, and where your glory ? Wreak your will on me, and I shall be forgotten : spare my life, and I shall be, for all time, a memorial of your clemency."' Claudius replied by granting a pardon to Caractacus, his wife and brothers.

'Agrippina sat on a conspicuous seat beside him; and when the captives were released from their chains, they paid her the same compliments and thanks as to the Emperor. It was indeed a new thing, unknown in olden times, that a woman should take her seat before the Roman standards; but Agrippina deemed herself partner in an empire won by her own ancestors.' This is a significant comment by Tacitus as it shows the increasing influence of females in Roman society. It was well known that the most significant gains in the days of early Christianity came from the influence of the wives over the husbands, as we shall see in our story.

Caractacus who was born around 10 AD could have lived for another 10 or 14 years to 64 AD, corresponding to the time that Peter and Paul were in Rome. Peter was in Rome in 44 AD composing his Gospel of Mark, but was evicted by Claudius in 49 AD since, according to Suetonius, "the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus". Peter returned again probably in 61 AD. Paul came to Rome in AD 60 for his trial of his role in assassinating the high priest Jonathan Annas (event recorded by Josephus in Jewish War). Initially, he was acquitted, but re-tried in 64 AD and executed. Both Peter and Paul were killed in Rome by the emperor Nero in 64 AD after the great fire.

( Illustration below: The burning of Rome; or,
A story of the days of Nero, Alfred John Church (1891))
It is therefore possible that Caractacus' daughter could have taken the name Claudia to honor Claudius. 'On Claudia Rufina'. Book XI, poem LIII by Martial:"Although born among the blue-eyed Britons, how fully has Claudia Rufina the intelligence of the Roman people ! What beauty is hers ! The matrons of Italy might take her for a Roman ; those of Attica for an Athenian. The gods have kindly ordered that she proves fruitful to her revered husband, and that, while yet young, she may hope for sons- in-law and daughters-in-law ! May heaven grant her ever to rejoice in one single husband, and to exult in being the mother of three children."

Claudia Peregrina Rufus married Aulus Pudens, a Roman centurion from Umbria in Italy.

The house of Pudens along with the house of Clement were traditionally known as safe houses for Christian pilgrims in Rome. The house of Pudens is located on the site of the Church of Pudentiana is especially known for housing St. Peter. Although the records of martyrs are often quite muddled, Pudens and Claudia would appear to have had two boys and two girls who were all honored as saints: Novatus and Timotheus, Daughters: Praxedes and Pudentiana. There is no doubt that Pudens was a saint. (Santa_Pudenziana Church)

The Latin poet Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis) was a good friend of Pudens. He was born March 1, c. A.D. 40 in Spain and died c. 103. He was also a friend of the Seneca family and this is extremely important as it ties with St. Paul. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (4 B.C. - A.D. 65) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatis who served as tutor to Nero, and then, when Nero became emperor, as advisor. Eventually he fell out of favor. Nero, turning to other advisors, having suspicions about Seneca. In Roman fashion, Seneca took the honorable way out of his troubles and committed suicide. We know that St. Paul was a friend of Seneca from the Letters of Paul and Seneca), although the Church has tried to suppresses them. So here are the connecting links: Paul with Seneca, Paul with Pudens, Pudens with Martial, Martial with Seneca.

To return again to the Caractacus connection, it must be realized that Britain was not a group of wild barbarians. Their druids certainly were not all just white robed men who worshipped in oak groves taking "mistletoe" in a similar way as their distant cousins from India in the Rig-Veda were taking "soma". These were the priests like the Brahmins, but there were other members of the Druids who were educated in astrology, medicine, science, history, art, and law. It is unfortunate that the druids believed that to write things down made their minds lazy. (How many books do we possess that we do not remember in our libraries!). Those cultures that have no written word are always considered barbarous. Clearly, their inscriptions on jewelry and gravestones show that they knew Etruscan letters and even created their own alphabet, the Ogham Script. When the Romans invaded Angelsey all they did was tear down the school house of the druids and kill defenseless priests. However, once the British were assimilated into Roman culture, the proof of their abilities is shown by such works of art as the "Book of Kells", their mythological stories, and their codes of law; their metallurgy and invention were already world renowned; even their battle strategy was adopted by the Romans who also employed many Celtic cavalry. Being high king of such an advanced civilization would mean that Caractacus would have been able to speak Latin as he proved in his speech. He would also be a celebrity in Rome, which was then becoming more and more cosmopolitan as evidenced by the poetry of Martial.

Another factor, which will be shown to be true later on, is that in the time of King Arthur there existed a Christian college, Cor Tewdws, founded by St. Iltud in Llantwit Major, Glamorgan, Wales. (Glamorgan is a later name for some of the territory of the Silures, named after King Arthur's son Morgan.) This college was world famous. Since it is in the center of the territory of the Silures, the area that Caractacus fought for, it is clear that this was the first place where Christianity would have begun in Britain. It was easy for the people of the Silures to accept Christianity because they would have heard that the daughter of Caractacus was a Christian. Since Claudia's children were all saints, they must have ventured back to the land of their ancestors. When Constantine declared Christianity to be the religion of the Roman Empire in 313 AD, it is clear that he open the floodgates of saints in Glamorgan who ushered in the Age of the Celtic Saints that was in full bloom in the time of King Arthur. The most illustrious saints such as St. Patrick, St. David, and St Samson began their schooling at Llantwit Major.

You can imagine in what awe Caractacus' daughter Claudia would be and how many suitors she would have. Being quite overwhelmed, she would have relied on the prominent women of Rome to advise her. At this time, Jewish-Christianity (preferably in the Christian form i.e. not requiring all the formality of Jewish customs like circumcision) was the rage. An excerpt from the Acts of Peter XXXIV shows how Peter is being blamed interfering with the "availability" of wives and widows of Rome: 'And a certain woman which was exceeding beautiful, the wife of Albinus, Caesar's friend, by name Xanthippe, came, she also, unto Peter, with the rest of the matrons, and withdrew herself, she also, from Albinus. He therefore being mad, and loving Xanthippe, and marvelling that she would not sleep even upon the same bed with him, raged like a wild beast and would have dispatched Peter; for he knew that he was the cause of her separating from his bed. Many other women also, loving the word of chastity, separated themselves from their husbands, because they desired them to worship God in sobriety and cleanness.' There are many more stories like this in the apocrypha concerning St. Philip and St. Thomas, usually it is this reason and not the reason of religion that is paramount in their arrest.

Then there is the situation of Pomponia Graecina, told by Tacitus, of how she was accused of practicing "foreign superstition" in A.D. 57. Her trial according to tradition was before her husband, Aulus Plautius, who acquitted her. This "foreign superstition" is believed to be Christianity because a Christian inscription of a later date contains the name Pomponia. Also, her behavior of wearing "mourning clothes" after the execution of her kinswoman Julia Drusi Caesaris by Claudius and Messalina in 43 AD, in defiance of the emperor, would be a good cover up for practicing as a Christian nun. Since her husband was, after all, Aulus Plautius the one who defeated Caractacus in Britain, he and Caractacus would have shared a mutual respect. It would make sense that Pomponia would take Claudia under her wing and convert her to Christianity. When Claudia married Pudens, she would convert him.

To see how all the pieces fit together here is an item from During his stay in Rome, Caractacus and his family resided at the Palatium Britannicum (The Palace of the Britain) which became world famous as a Christian sanctuary in Rome. Later, the Palatuim Britannicum was called "Titulus", or "Hospitium Apostolorum" - then "St. Pudentiana" after Pudens, which is the name that it continues to retain until this day. Adjacent to the palace were baths known subsequently as "Thermae Timothinae" and "Thermae Novatianae." The palace and the grounds were bequeathed by Timotheus to the Church at Rome. And these were the only buildings of any magnitude possessed by the Roman Church till the reign of Constantine.

Many interpreters have discarding the connection of Pudens and Claudia in 2 Timothy 4:21 because Linus is between Pudens and Claudia. There is actually documentation from Constitutions of the Holy Apostles - Book VII Section IV that states 'Of the church of Rome, Linus the son of Claudia was the first, ordained by Paul'. This would remove the difficulty and make Linus the son of Caractacus the second Pope after St. Peter! However, it would appear that Clement is really the second Pope after Peter from Tertullian's statement and St. Jerome's consensus of "the Latins" therefore with Linus being perhaps just a bishop under him so it could be considered as a possibility. In the Elucidations of Fabian he states that 'in the Neronian persecution Linus seems to have suffered with St. Paul" In any case it might just be Paul's Jewish traditional thinking that places men first.

It is quite possible that Clement can be identified with Titus Flavius Clemens, a distinguished Roman of the imperial Flavian family. This Titus Flavius Clemens was in 95 A.D. accused of treason or impiety by Domitian, his cousin, owing, according to Dio Cassius, to his Jewish proclivities. He was put to death and his wife, Domitilla, was banished to the isle of Pandataria (95). There is no proof that he was really a Christian, but one of the oldest catacombs in Rome is supposed to have belonged to Domitilla, and certainly was connected with this family. The story is that when there were five days left until the edict against Jews and Christians would be voted on by the Senate, Clemens' wife Flavia Domitilla convinced him to commit suicide in order to postpone the Senate vote, in hopes that God would bring a miracle in the extra time. Since Clemens was the Roman Consul, if he were to die, another Consul would have to be elected before the Senate could pass any decisions. It took a long time to elect a new Consul, so this was a way to help save the Jews and Christians. The next day Clemens went to Emperor Domitian and told him that he had become Jewish. That same day Domitian appeared in the Senate to accuse the Consul Flavius Clemens of apostasy to Judaism. Clemens did not deny the charge; he was unanimously condemned to death. In the next year Domitian was assassinated by Nerva who would become the next emperor of Rome. He was assisted by Clemens' servant Stephanus.

Clementine Literature, Clement is shown to to be the younger brother of the twins James and John and connected to a royal family. In the letter Rufinus, Presbyter of Aquileia to Bishop Gaudentius." which is prefaced to the Clementine Recognitions and which he translated of the Greek (the Greek has been lost.) (Rufinus of Aquileia (340-410) was a friend of Jerome, and, like Jerome, he departed from Italy to live in the East. For many years he lived in monasteries in Egypt and in Palestine, acquiring the learning of the Eastern churches. Towards the end of his life he returned to Italy and occupied himself in translating works of the earlier Greek Fathers into Latin. Aquileia was an early Jewish settlement in the northeast corner of Italy on the Adriatic Sea and would have become a large Christian community.) Rufinus says, "Now of this we have heard this explanation, that Linus and Cletus were indeed bishops in the city of Rome before Clement, but during the lifetime of Peter : that is, that they undertook the care of the episcopate, and that he fulfilled the office of apostleship; as is found also to have been the case at Caesarea, where, when he himself was present, he yet had Zacchaeus, ordained by himself, as bishop. And in this way both statements will appear to be true, both that these bishops are reckoned before Clement, and yet that Clement received the teacher's seat on the death of Peter".

As to Clement's claim to have been chosen by Peter on his deathbed, it is contained in the Epistle of Clement to James, which was contained in the Epitome (containing extracts of the Clementine Homilies and to which are added extracts from the letter of Clement to James, from the 'Martyrium of Clement' by Simeon Metaphrastes): "But about that time, when he (Peter) was about to die, the brethren being assembled together, he suddenly seized my hand, and rose up, and said in presence of the church : 'Hear me, brethren and fellow-servants. Since, as I have been taught by the Lord and Teacher Jesus Christ, whose apostle I am, the day of my death is approaching, I lay hands upon this Clement as your bishop ; and to him I entrust my chair of discourse, even to him who has journeyed with me from the beginning to the end, and thus has heard all my homilies — who, in a word, having had a share in all my trials, has been found stedfast in the faith ; whom I have found, above all others, pious, philanthropic, pure, learned, chaste, good, upright, large-hearted, and striving generously to bear the ingratitude of some of the catechumens (pre-initiates). Wherefore I communicate to him the power of binding and loosing, so that with respect to everything which he shall ordain in the earth, it shall be decreed in the heavens.'" There are two major "Epistles of Clement". 1st Clement is one of the oldest Christian documents outside of the New Testament canon.

Now we can return to the Joseph of Arimathea legend. The British chieftain Arviragus, mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who is said to have given the land for Glastonbury church is related to Caractacus and is possibly his nephew. He probably held out for awhile against the Romans at Cadbury Hill in Somerset near Glastonbury. (Since his name can possibly be turned into Arthur, we now have the reason why many historians have believed this fort belonged to King Arthur, but this 'Arthur" is 400 years too early!) He, like his father Togodumus, surrendered to Claudius' general Vespasian, and accepted Rome as his overlord. (Polydore Vergil, Anglica Historia (1555 version) II.2).

Given the persecutions of Nero, it is quite possible that the unassuming and quiet second son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (born March 44 AD), according to Dr Barbara Thiering, could have gone to Britain (the far reaches of the Empire) to stay with relatives of Caractacus and Claudia. It is quite possible that his name might be Joseph, like his uncle Joseph (James), with "Arimathea" being a title as it was for Jesus' brother James. He would have certainly be accompanied by the sons of Pudens and Claudia, therefore founding the first church in Britain: Glastonbury church.

As to Paul visiting Britain, we perhaps will never know for sure, but chances are that he only visited Spain which is where he wanted to go. However, his influence was certainly felt in Britain via Claudia and Pudens and their children. This paved the way for the Age of Saints in Britain.

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