Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
The Irish Monks of Skellig Michael
If you’ve seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or “The Last Jedi,” you’re familiar with the
planet Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker has isolated himself for many years. In reality, that is an
island in Ireland called Skellig Michael, on which 12 Christian monks established a monastery
over 1,000 years ago. Christian history lover Philip Kosloski found his curiosity piqued by this detail,
so he set out to learn more about the island itself and the monks who inhabited it.
During a “Christopher Closeup” interview, Kosloski explained that for centuries after St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, monasteries were founded throughout the country. “They were inspired in particular by a tradition from Egypt, to go into the desert, dedicating one’s life to God. In Ireland, there are no deserts, but they have a lot of places where it’s really hard to get to.”
That made Skellig Michael a desirable destination. Located about seven miles off Ireland’s coast, the monks saw it “as a great place to get away from the world so they can enter into a greater communion with God.”
Skellig Michael’s terrain made life difficult, but again, the monks found this to be an attractive aspect of the location. Kosloski says, “They embraced the call to fast and to pray, to do these things that intentionally cause suffering to their bodies so they can offer that suffering up to God.”
Interestingly, the monks of Skellig Michael considered themselves warrior monks, a description that could also describe the Jedi of “Star Wars.” Kosloski sees a connection between the two: “It’s providential that the filmmakers chose Skellig Michael to be this place where supposedly was the first Jedi temple. The Jedi, in some ways, teach a doctrine similar to Buddhist teachings. [But] they also were, at least in the eyes of George Lucas, fashioned after warrior monks of early Christianity. What I mean is: the monks in the first two centuries of Christianity saw themselves as waging this spiritual battle – the struggle of temptations but also in the greater spiritual cosmos. The fight of good and evil with angels and demons. So there’s that connection of these monks on Skellig Michael who saw themselves as spiritual warriors – and the Jedi in the Star Wars universe, in a similar way, are these pillars of the galaxy that fight for truth, justice and peace.”
With that kind of background, the monks of Skellig Michael seem to be a rife source for visual storytelling, so Kosloski is taking advantage of his own interest in the island – and that of others as well – by creating a comic book about life there. He assembled a team to work on the first issue, which will be out later this year.
“A lot of people in the Star Wars community love comic books, so this is a perfect bridge between the two worlds,” he says.
Kosloski hopes to take readers deeper into the minds and hearts of these religious who, in their own way, saw themselves as lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness. He concludes, “They saw their lives as doing something greater than themselves. They wanted to wrestle with those demons that are within themselves, but also, in a certain sense, protect the world from the evil outside through their prayers and sacrifices. They didn’t curse or shun the world, but they were doing it as a sacrifice, in honor of union with Christ…to protect the world from those spiritual forces that we don’t usually see.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note FINDING THE COURAGE WITHIN, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org