Cornish - Religion and Expressive Culture

The Cornish today are largely Wesleyan Methodist, although other denominations are represented among the population as well. But in the rich folklore and customary practices among the people, one can still find references to pre-Christian beliefs of pagan Celtic origin. The process of Christianization, however, began as early as the second century and was well established by around A.D. 600. The Celtic church enjoyed a certain independence from the practice of Anglo-Saxon "coreligionists" until well into the eighth century. Cornwall was not, however, exempt from the religious strife that plagued Britain, and the clash between Catholic and Protestant forces led Cornwall into direct, and ultimately futile, confrontation with the crown in the 1500s. The ultimate triumph of Protestantism in England eventually made itself felt even in this former bastion of Catholicism. Cornish cultural revival efforts have led to a resurgence of interest in, and performance of, the traditional "mystery plays," a Christianera tradition dramatizing the lives of local saints.

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