Bodkin (Bodekin, Bodikin), Christopher (c.1505–1572), catholic and Church of Ireland archbishop of Tuam, was born in Galway, the son of John Bodkin, mayor of Galway in 1518. Said to have been educated at Oxford, he was provided to the see of Kilmacduagh 3 September 1533 at the request of Henry VIII, and was consecrated in Marseilles on 4 November 1533. Having broken with the pope over his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Henry unilaterally appointed Bodkin to the archdiocese of Tuam 15 February 1537. Bodkin retained the diocese of Kilmacduagh, which he would administer until his death. On 7 October 1538, Pope Paul III appointed Canon Art O'Friel of Raphoe to the archdiocese in opposition to Bodkin. O'Friel had served as the representative in Rome of Manus O'Donnell (qv) and arrived back in Ireland by 23 June 1539. However, Bodkin had the support of the powerful local magnate Ulick Burke (qv), Lord of Clanricard, whereas O'Friel had no links with the area and thus failed to unseat Bodkin.
As archbishop of Tuam, Bodkin claimed the neighbouring diocese of Annaghdown, arguing that this had previously been united with the see of Tuam. The clergy there disputed this claim, and by 1540, the pope having learnt from O'Friel's failure, had appointed a local, John O'More to Annaghdown. After a difficult start O'More established himself successfully in Annaghdown against Bodkin. In 1542, Bodkin grudgingly accepted this reality when he convened a provincial synod in Galway in which he confirmed the quasi-episcopal status of the collegiate church of St Nicholas, Galway, and with that the effective independence of Annaghdown from his nominal jurisdiction.
Bodkin claimed that, through his local influence, he was able to restore Tuam cathedral to religious use – it having previously served as a barracks. However, Tuam remained an unimpressive settlement in a dangerous territory, and Bodkin appears to have spent much of his time in Galway city. As might be expected from someone drawn from the Galway city merchant class, he was strongly supportive of the royal government's efforts to extend its power into the west of Ireland. As a result, he was appointed to a number of royal commissions and attended the 1541–3 parliament in Dublin. However, he was decidedly lukewarm about the crown's promotion of protestantism and, while accepting the royal supremacy, he adhered to the rituals of the old religion. Revealingly, during the reign of Queen Mary (1553–8) he described his previous stance as that of a schismatic, but not a heretic.
Following the re-establishment of catholicism as the state religion in 1553, an inquiry took place at Lambeth Palace on 18 September 1555 to determine whether Bodkin or O'Friel was the rightful archbishop of Tuam. In the event, no decision was made, as O'Friel did not send anyone to represent his case. Afterwards Bodkin came to a private agreement with O'Friel, who resigned his claim. He was also authorised by the papal legal Cardinal Reginald Pole to absolve inhabitants of his diocese for being in schism with the Roman catholic church. On 2 February 1557 Bodkin was present at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, where the lord deputy, the earl of Sussex (qv), attended catholic mass. On 15 February he welcomed Sussex to Galway.
In 1560 Bodkin was in Dublin to attend parliament, where the now protestant government, perhaps doubtful of his loyalties, administered the oath of supremacy to him on 3 February. He took the oath, once more breaking with Rome. In spite of this, he met the apostolic delegate David Wolfe (qv) in autumn 1561, and managed to convince the latter to recommend him to the pope. As a result, at the time of his death both the queen and the pope recognised him as the archbishop of Tuam and Annaghdown, although the pope did appoint a rival bishop to Kilmacduagh in the 1560s.
He was appointed a member of the council of Connacht when the government established the presidency of that province in 1569 and was interpreter for any Irish speakers before the council. In May 1571 he accompanied the lord president of Connacht, Sir Edward Fitton (qv), to Dublin.
Early in Elizabeth's reign Bodkin compiled a list of the benefices of the archdiocese, including the names of all clergy. This document, known as ‘Bodkin's Visitation’, is in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, and was published in H. T. Knox's Notes on the early history of the dioceses of Tuam, Killala and Achonry (Dublin, 1904). Bodkin died at Tuam shortly before 15 August 1572 and was buried in the church of St Nicholas in Galway.