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Culdees (kəldēzˈ) [key] [Irish, = servants of God], ancient monks of Ireland and Scotland, appearing after the 8th cent. Little is known of their origin, and their relationship to the monks of the Celtic Church, e.g., at Iona, is unclear. They were originally anchorites, but by the time of the reforms of St. Malachy (12th cent.) they had become secular canons living in community. They gained a reputation for extreme laxness. The last Culdee community, at Armagh, was disbanded in 1541.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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