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The Confessio of St. Patrick -Chapter 2

Chapter 2- Other Chapters 1,2,3,4,5

Section 6

In accordance to the measure of faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my death I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord – so many thousands of people.

And I was not worthy, nor was I such that the Lord should grant this to His servant; that after my misfortunes and so great difficulties, after my captivity, after the lapse of so many years, He should give me so great a grace in behalf of this nation – a blessing which, in my youth, I never expected nor thought of.

But after I came to Ireland – every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed – the love of God and His fear grew stronger and stronger, and my faith increased. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, in snow, ice, and rain, and I felt no injury from it, and there was no sloth in me – as I now see, because the spirit within me was then fervent.

And there one night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: “It is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country.” And again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: “See, your ship is ready.” And it was not near, but at a distance of perhaps two hundred miles, and I had never been there, nor did I know a living soul there.

Section 7

And then I took to flight, and I left the man with whom I had stayed for six years. And I went in the strength of the Lord who directed my way to my good, and I feared nothing until I came to that ship.

And the day that I arrived the ship was set afloat, and I said that I was able to pay for my passage with them. But the captain was not pleased, and with indignation he answered harshly: `It is of no use for you to ask us to go along with us.’ And when I heard this, I left them in order to return to the hut where I was staying. And as I went, I began to pray; and before I finished my prayer, I heard one of them shouting behind me, `Come, hurry, we shall take you on in good faith; make friends with us in whatever way you like.’ And so on that day I refused to suck their breasts for fear of God, but rather hoped they would come to the faith of Jesus Christ, because they were pagans. And thus I had my way with them, and we set sail at once.

Section 8

And after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days we travelled through deserted country. And they lacked food, and hunger overcame them; and the next day the captain said to me: `Tell me, Christian: you say that your God is great and all-powerful; why, then, do you not pray for us? As you can see, we are suffering from hunger; it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see a human being again.’

I said to them full of confidence: `Be truly converted with all your heart to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for Him, that this day He may send you food on your way until you be satisfied; for He has abundance everywhere.’ And, with the help of God, so it came to pass: suddenly a herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and they killed many of them; and there they stopped for two nights and fully recovered their strength, and their hounds received their fill for many of them had grown weak and were half-dead along the way.

Section 9

And from that day they had plenty of food. They also found wild honey, and offered some of it to me, and one of them said: `This we offer in sacrifice.’ Thanks be to God, I tasted none of it.

That same night, when I was asleep, Satan assailed me violently, a thing I shall remember as long as I shall be in this body. And he fell upon me like a huge rock, and I could not stir a limb. But whence came it into my mind, ignorant as I am, to call upon Helias? And meanwhile I saw the sun rise in the sky, and while I was shouting `Helias! Helias’ with all my might, suddenly the splendour of that sun fell on me and immediately freed me of all misery. And I believe that I was sustained by Christ my Lord, and that His Spirit was even then crying out in my behalf, and I hope it will be so on the day of my tribulation, as is written in the Gospel: On that day, the Lord declares, it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaks in you.

And once again, after many years, I fell into captivity. On that first night I stayed with them, I heard a divine message saying to me: `Two months will you be with them.’ And so it came to pass: on the sixtieth night thereafter the Lord delivered me out of their hands.

Also on our way God gave us food and fire and dry weather every day, until, on the tenth day, we met people. As I said above, we travelled twenty-eight days through deserted country, and the night that we met people we had no food left.

Three Dicta Patricii

As recorded in Tírecháns Brief Account.

I had the fear of God as my guide through Gaul and Italy and the islands in the Tyrrhene Sea.
You have gone from this world to paradise, thanks be to God.
Church of the Irish, or rather of the Romans! In order that you may be Christians like the Romans, you must chant in your churches at every hour of prayer that commendable utterance: “Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison.” Let every church that follows me sing “Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison.” Thanks be to God.

Letter To Coroticus

1.    I, Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, resident in Ireland, declare myself to be a bishop. Most assuredly I believe that what I am I have received from God. And so I live among barbarians, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He is witness that this is so. Not that I wished my mouth to utter anything so hard and harsh; but I am forced by the zeal for God; and the truth of Christ has wrung it from me, out of love for my neighbors and sons for whom I gave up my country and parents and my life to the point of death. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though some may despise me.
2.    With my own hand I have written and composed these words, to be given, delivered, and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus; I do not say, to my fellow citizens, or to fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but to fellow citizens of the demons, because of their evil works. Like our enemies, they live in death, allies of the Scots and the apostate Picts. Dripping with blood, they welter in the blood of innocent Christians, whom I have begotten into the number for God and confirmed in Christ!
3.    The day after the newly baptized, anointed with chrism, in white garments (had been slain) – the fragrance was still on their foreheads when they were butchered and slaughtered with the sword by the above-mentioned people – I sent a letter with a holy presbyter whom I had taught from his childhood, clerics accompanying him, asking them to let us have some of the booty, and of the baptized they had made captives. They only jeered at them.
4.    Hence I do not know what to lament more: those who have been slain, or those whom they have taken captive, or those whom the devil has mightily ensnared. Together with him they will be slaves in Hell in an eternal punishment; for who commits sin is a slave and will be called a son of the devil.
5.    Wherefore let every God-fearing man know that they are enemies of me and of Christ my God, for whom I am an ambassador. Parricide! fratricide! ravening wolves that “eat the people of the Lord as they eat bread!” As is said, “the wicked, O Lord, have destroyed Thy law,” which but recently He had excellently and kindly planted in Ireland, and which had established itself by the grace of God.
6.    I make no false claim. I share in the work of those whom He called and predestinated to preach the Gospel amidst grave persecutions unto the end of the earth, even if the enemy shows his jealousy through the tyranny of Coroticus, a man who has no respect for God nor for His priests whom He chose, giving them the highest, divine, and sublime power, that whom “they should bind upon earth should be bound also in Heaven.”
7.    Wherefore, then, I plead with you earnestly, ye holy and humble of heart, it is not permissible to court the favor of such people, nor to take food or drink with them, nor even to accept their alms, until they make reparation to God in hard-ships, through penance, with shedding of tears, and set free the baptized servants of God and handmaids of Christ, for whom He died and was crucified.
8.    “The Most High disapproves the gifts of the wicked … He that offers sacrifice of the goods of the poor, is as one that sacrifices the son in the presence of his lather. The riches, it is written, which he has gathered unjustly, shall be vomited up from his belly; the angel of death drags him away, by the fury of dragons he shall be tormented, the viper’s tongue shall kill him, unquenchable fire devours him.” And so – “woe to those who fill themselves with what is not their own;” or, “What does it profit a man that he gains the whole world, and suffers the loss of his own soul?
9.    It would be too tedious to discuss and set forth everything in detail, to gather from the whole Law testimonies against such greed. Avarice is a deadly sin. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’ s goods.” “Thou shalt not kill.” A murderer cannot be with Christ. “Whosoever hates his brother is accounted a murderer.” Or, “he that loves not his brother abides in death.” How much more guilty is he that has stained his hands with blood of the sons of God whom He has of late purchased in the utmost part of the earth through the call of our littleness!
10.    Did I come to Ireland without God, or according to the flesh? Who compelled me? I am bound by the Spirit not to see any of my kinsfolk. Is it of my own doing that I have holy mercy on the people who once took me captive and made away with the servants and maids of my father’s house? I was freeborn according to the flesh. I am the son of a decurion. But I sold my noble rank. I am neither ashamed nor sorry for the good of others. Thus I am a servant in Christ to a foreign nation for the unspeakable glory of life everlasting which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
11.    And if my own people do not know me, a prophet has no honor in his own country. Perhaps we are not of the same fold and have not one and the same God as Father, as is written: “He that is not with me, is against me, and he that gathers not with me, scatters.” It is not right that one destroys, another builds up. I seek not the things that are mine.
12.    It is not my grace, but God who has given this solicitude into my heart, to be one of His hunters or fishers whom God once foretold would come in the last days.
13.    I am hated. What shall I do, Lord? I am most despised.
Look, Thy sheep around me are tom to pieces and driven away, and that by those robbers, by the orders of the hostile-minded Coroticus. Far from the love of God is a man who hands over Christians to the Picts and Scots. Ravening wolves have devoured the flock of the Lord, which in Ireland was indeed growing splendidly with the greatest care; and the sons and daughters of kings were monks and virgins of Christ – I cannot count their number. Wherefore, be not pleased with the wrong done to the just; even to hell it shall not please.
14.    Who of the saints would not shudder to be merry with such persons or to enjoy a meal with them? They have filled their houses with the spoils of dead Christians, they live on plunder. They do not know, the wretches, that what they offer their friends and sons as food is deadly poison, just as Eve did not understand that it was death she gave to her husband. So are all that do evil: they work death as their eternal punishment.
15.    This is the custom of the Roman Christians of Gaul: they send holy and able men to the Franks and other heathen with so many thousand solidi to ransom baptized captives. You prefer to kill and sell them to a foreign nation that has no knowledge of God. You betray the members of Christ as it were into a brothel. What hope have you in God, or anyone who thinks as you do, or converses with you in words of flattery? God will judge. For Scripture says: “Not only them that do evil are worthy to be condemned, but they also that consent to them.”
16.    I do not know why I should say or speak further about the departed ones of the sons of God, whom the sword has touched all too harshly. For Scripture says: “Weep with them that weep;” and again: “If one member be grieved, let all members grieve with it.” Hence the Church mourns and laments her sons and daughters whom the sword has not yet slain, but who were removed and carried off to faraway lands, where sin abounds openly, grossly, impudently. There people who were freeborn have, been sold, Christians made slaves, and that, too, in the service of the abominable, wicked, and apostate Picts!
17.    Therefore I shall raise my voice in sadness and grief- O you fair and beloved brethren and sons whom I have begotten in Christ, countless of number, what can I do you for? I am not worthy to come to the help of God or men. The wickedness of the wicked hath prevailed over us. We have been made, as it were, strangers. Perhaps they do not believe that we have received one and the same baptism, or have one and the same God as Father. For them it is a disgrace that we are Irish. Have ye not, as is written, one God? Have ye, every one of you, forsaken his neighbor?
18.    Therefore I grieve for you, I grieve, my dearly beloved.
But again, I rejoice within myself. I have not labored for nothing, and my journeying abroad has not been in vain. And if this horrible, unspeakable crime did happen – thanks be to God, you have left the world and have gone to Paradise as baptized faithful. I see you: you have begun to journey where night shall be no more, nor mourning, nor death; but you shall leap like calves loosened from their bonds, and you shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be ashes under your feet.
19.    You then, will reign with the apostles, and prophets, and martyrs. You will take possession of an eternal kingdom, as He Himself testifies, saying: “They shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” “Without are dogs, and sorcerers,… and murderers; and liars and perjurers have their portion in the pool of everlasting fire.” Not without reason does the Apostle say: “Where the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and ungodly transgressor of the law find himself?”
20.    Where, then, will Coroticus with his criminals, rebels against Christ, where will they see themselves, they who distribute baptized women as prizes – for a miserable temporal kingdom, which will pass away in a moment? As a cloud or smoke that is dispersed by the wind, so shall the deceitful wicked perish at the presence of the Lord; but the just shall feast with great constancy with Christ, they shall judge nations, and rule over wicked kings for ever and ever. Amen.
21    I testify before God and His angels that it will be so as He indicated to my ignorance. It is not my words that I have set forth in Latin, but those of God and the apostles and prophets, who have never lied. “He that believes shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned,” God hath spoken.
22.    I ask earnestly that whoever is a willing servant of God be a carrier of this letter, so that on no account it be suppressed or hidden by anyone, but rather be read before all the people, and in the presence of Coroticus himself. May God inspire them sometime to recover their senses for God, repenting, however late, their heinous deeds – murderers of the brethren of the Lord! – and to set free the baptized women whom they took captive, in order that they may deserve to live to God, and be made whole, here and in eternity! Be peace to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Translated by Ludwig Bieler, scanned in and made available electronically by Patrick J. McGuinness, with thanks, June 1997.

Saint Patrick in the Annals of the Four Masters

In the year 1632 four dedicated Irish Scholars came together in a small monastic settlement, to compile and write a history of Ireland from the earliest times to their own days. Their work, The Annals of the Four Masters, remains one of the greatest sources of Irish history.

The Annals of the Four Masters gives interesting, but not necessarily accurate information.

The Age of Christ, 430. (The second year of Laeghaire.)

In this year Pope Celestinus the First sent Palladius to Ireland, to propagate the faith among the Irish, and he landed in the country of Leinster with a company of twelve men. Nathi, son of Garchu, refused to admit him; but, however, he baptized a few persons in Ireland, and three wooden churches were erected by him, namely, Cell Fhine, Teach Na Romhan, and Domhnach Arta.

At Cell Fhine he left his books, and a shrine with the relics of Paul and Peter, and many martyrs besides. He left these four in these churches: Augustinus, Benedictus, Silvester, and Solinus. Palladius, on his returning back to Rome (as he did not receive respect in Ireland), contracted a disease in the country of the Cruithnigh, and died thereof.

The Age of Christ, 431. (The third year of Laeghaire.)

Saint Patrick was ordained bishop by the holy Pope, Celestine the First, who ordered him to go to Ireland, to preach and teach faith and piety to the Gaeidhil, and also to baptize them.

The Age of Christ, 432. (The fourth year of Laeghaire.)

Patrick came to Ireland this year, and proceeded to baptize and bless the Irish, men, women, sons, and daughters, except a few who did not consent to receive faith or baptism from him, as his Life relates.

Ath Truim was founded by Patrick, it having been granted by Fedhlim, son of Laeghaire, son of Niall, to God and to him, Loman, and Fortchern. Flann Mainistrech cecinit:

Patrick, Abbot of all Ireland,
son of Calphrann, son of Fotaide,
Son of Deisse,—not fit to be dispraised,
son of Cormac Mor, son of Lebriuth,

Son of Ota, son of Orric the Good,
son of Moric, son of Leo of full success,
Son of Maximus, ’tis not unfit to name him,
son of Encretti, the tall and comely,

Son of Philisti, the best of men,
son of Fereni without a tempest,
Son of Britan, otter of the sea,
from whom the vigorous Britons came;

Cochnias was his modest mother;
Nemthor his native town;
Of Munster not small his share,
which Patrick redeemed from sorrow.
The Age of Christ, 438. (The tenth year of Laeghaire.)

The Seanchus and Feinechus of Ireland were purified and written, the writings and old books of Ireland having been collected and brought to one place, at the request of Saint Patrick. These were the nine supporting props by whom this was done: Laeghaire, i.e. King of Ireland, Corc, and Daire, the three kings; Patrick, Benen, and Cairneach, the three saints; Ross, Dubhthach, and Fearghus, the three antiquaries, as this quatrain testifies:

Laeghaire, Corc, Daire the stern,
Patrick, Benen, Cairneach the just,
Ross, Dubhthach, Fearghus with goodness,
the nine props these of the Seanchus Mor.
The Age of Christ, 447.(The nineteenth year of Laeghaire.)

Secundinus, i.e. Seachnall Mac Ua Baird, the son of Patrick’s sister, Darerca, Bishop of Ard Macha (Armagh), yielded his spirit on the twenty seventh of November, in the seventy fifth year of his age.

The Age of Christ, 448. (The twentieth year of Laeghaire.)

The family of Patrick of the prayers,
who had good Latin,
I remember; no feeble court were they,
their order, and their names.

Sechnall, his bishop without fault;
Mochta after him his priest;
Bishop Erc his sweet spoken Judge;
his champion, Bishop Maccaeirthinn;

Benen, his psalmist;
and Coemhan, his chamberlain;
Sinell his bell ringer,
and Aithcen his true cook;

The priest Mescan, without evil,
his friend and his brewer;
The priest Bescna, sweet his verses,
the chaplain of the son of Alprann.

His three smiths, expert at shaping,
Macecht, Laebhan, and Fortchern.
His three artificers, of great endowment,
Aesbuite, Tairill, and Tasach.

His three embroiderers, not despicable,
Lupaid, Erca, and Cruimthiris.
Odhran, his charioteer, without blemish,
Rodan, son of Braga, his shepherd.

Ippis, Tigris, and Erca,
and Liamhain, with Eibeachta:
For them Patrick excelled in wonders,
for them he was truly miraculous.

Carniuch was the priest that baptized him;
German his tutor, without blemish.
The priest Manach, of great endowment,
was his man for supplying wood.

His sister’s son was Banban, of fame;
Martin his mother’s brother.
Most sapient was the youth
Mochonnoc, his hospitaller.

Cribri and Lasra, of mantles,
beautiful daughters of Gleaghrann.
Macraith the wise, and Erc,—
he prophesied in his three wills.

Brogan, the scribe of his school;
the priest Logha, his helmsman,—
It is not a thing unsung,—
and Machui his true fosterson.

Good the man whose great family they were,
to whom God gave a crosier without sorrow;
Chiefs with whom the bells are heard,
a good family was the family of Patrick.

May the Trinity, which is powerful over all,
distribute to us the boon of great love;
The king who, moved by soft Latin,
redeemed by Patrick’s prayer.
The Age of Christ, 457. (The twenty ninth year of Laeghaire.)

The battle of Ath Dara was fought against the Leinstermen by Laeghaire, son of Niall. Laeghaire was taken in that battle; and Laeghaire took oaths by the Sun and the Wind, and all the elements, to the Leinstermen, that he would never come against them, after setting him at liberty.

Ard Machab [Armagh] was founded by Saint Patrick, it having been granted to him by Daire, son of Finnchadh, son of Eoghan, son of Niallan. Twelve men were appointed by him for building the town. He ordered them, in the first place, to erect an archbishop’s city there, and a church for monks, for nuns, and for the other orders in general, for he perceived that it would be the head and chief of the churches of Ireland in general.

Old Patrick yielded his spirit.

[Old Patrick: Patrick of Glastonbury?]

The Age of Christ, 493. (The fifteenth year of Lughaidh.)

Patrick, son of Calphurn, son of Potaide, archbishop, first primate, and chief apostle of Ireland, whom Pope Celestine the First had sent to preach the Gospel and disseminate religion and piety among the Irish, was the person who separated them from the worship of idols and spectres, who conquered and destroyed the idols which they had for worshipping; who had expelled demons and evil spirits from among them, and brought them from the darkness of sin and vice to the light of faith and good works, and who guided and conducted their souls from the gates of hell (to which they were going), to the gates of the kingdom of heaven.

It was he that baptized and blessed the men, women, sons and daughters of Ireland, with their territories and tribes, both fresh waters and sea inlets. It was by him that many cells, monasteries, and churches were erected throughout Ireland; seven hundred churches was their number. It was by him that bishops, priests, and persons of every dignity were ordained; seven hundred bishops and three thousand priests was their number. He worked so many miracles and wonders, that the human mind is incapable of remembering or recording the amount of good which he did upon earth. When the time of St. Patrick’s death approached, he received the Body of Christ from the hands of the holy Bishop Tassach, in the 122nd year of his age, and resigned his spirit to heaven.

There was a rising of battle, and a cause of dissension in the province contending for the body of Patrick after his death. The Ui Neill and the Oirghialla attempted to bring it to Armagh; the Ulta to keep it with themselves. And the Ui Neill and the Oirghialla came to a certain water, and the river swelled against them so that they were not able to cross it in consequence of the greatness of the flood. When the flood had subsided these hosts united on terms of peace, i.e. the Ui Neill and the Ulta, to bring the body of Patrick with them. It appeared to each of them that each had the body conveying it to their respective territories, so that God separated them in this manner, without a fight or battle. The body of Patrick was afterwards interred at Dun Da Lethglas with great honour and veneration; and during the twelve nights that the religious seniors were watching the body with psalms and hymns, it was not night in Magh Inis or the neighbouring lands, as they thought, but as if it were the full undarkened light of day. Of the year of Patrick’s death was said:

Since Christ was born, a correct enumeration,
Four hundred and fair ninety,
Three years add to these,
Till the death of Patrick, chief Apostle.

The Confessio of St. Patrick -Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Other Chapters 1,2,3,4,5

Section 10

And again after a few years I was in Britain with my people. who received me as their son, and sincerely besought me that now at last, having suffered so many hardships, I should not leave them and go elsewhere.

And there I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter, which were, `The voice of the Irish’; and as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard the voice of those beside the Wood of Foclud, which is near the Western Sea – and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: `We ask thee, holy youth, come and walk among us once more.’

And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I woke up. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them according to their cry.

Section 11

And another night – whether within me, or beside me, I know not, God knows – they called me most unmistakably with words which I heard but could not understand, except that at the end of the speech He spoke thus: `He that has laid down His life for you, it is He that speaks in you’; and so I awoke full of joy.

And again I saw Him praying in me, and I was as it were within my body, and I heard Him above me, that is, over the inward man, and there He prayed mightily with groanings. And all the time I was astonished, and wondered, and thought with myself who it could be that prayed in me. But at the end of the prayer He spoke, saying that He was the Spirit; and so I woke up, and remembered the Apostle saying: The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for; but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express; and again: The Lord our advocate asks for us.

And when I was attacked by a number of my elders who came forth and brought up my sins as an objection to my laborious episcopate, on that day indeed was I struck so that I might have fallen now and for eternity; but the Lord graciously spared the stranger and sojourner for His name and came mightily to my help in this affliction. Verily, not slight was the shame and blame that fell upon me! I ask God that it may not be reckoned to them as sin.

As cause for proceeding against me they found – after thirty years! – a confession I had made before I was a deacon.

Section 12

In the anxiety of my troubled mind I confided to my dearest friend what I had done in my boyhood one day, nay, in one hour, because I was not yet strong. I know not, God knows – whether I was then fifteen years old: and I did not believe in the living God, nor did I so from my childhood, but lived in death and unbelief until I was severely chastised and really humiliated, by hunger and nakedness, and that daily.

On the other hand, I did not go to Ireland of my own accord. not until I had nearly perished; but this was rather for my good, for thus was I purged by the Lord; and He made me fit so that I might be now what was once far from me that I should care and labour for the salvation of others, whereas then I did not even care about myself.

On that day, then, when I was rejected by those referred to and mentioned above, in that night I saw a vision of the night. There was a writing without honour against my face, and at the same time I heard God’s voice saying to me: `We have seen with displeasure the face of Deisignatus’ (thus revealing his name). He did not say, `Thou hast seen.’ but `We have seen.’ as if He included Himself, as He says: Whoever touches you touches the apple of My eye..

Therefore I give Him thanks who hath strengthened me in everything, as He did not frustrate the journey upon which I had decided, and the work which I had learned from Christ my Lord; but I rather felt after this no little strength, and my trust was proved right before God and men.

Section 13

And so I say boldly, my conscience does not blame me now or in the future: God is my witness that I have not lied in the account which I have given you.

But the more am I sorry for my dearest friend that we had to hear what he said. To him I had confided my very soul! And I was told by some of the brethren before that defence – at which I was not present, nor was I in Britain, nor was it suggested by me – that he would stand up for me in my absence. He had even said to me in person: `Look, you should be raised to the rank of bishop!’ – of which I was not worthy. But whence did it come to him afterwards that he let me down before all, good and evil, and publicly, in a matter in which he had favoured me before spontaneously and gladly – and not he alone, but the Lord, who is greater than all?

Enough of this. I must not, however, hide God’s gift which He bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity; because then I earnestly sought Him, and there I found Him, and He saved me from all evil because – so I believe – of His Spirit that dwells in me. Again, boldly said. But God knows it, had this been said to me by a man, I had perhaps remained silent for the love of Christ.

Section 14

Hence, then, I give unwearied thanks to God, who kept me faithful in the day of my temptation, so that today I can confidently offer Him my soul as a living sacrifice – to Christ my Lord, who saved me out of all my troubles. Thus I can say: `Who am I, 0 Lord, and to what hast Thou called me, Thou who didst assist me with such divine power that to-day I constantly exalt and magnify Thy name among the heathens wherever I may be, and not only in good days but also in tribulations?’ So indeed I must accept with equanimity whatever befalls me, be it good or evil, and always give thanks to God, who taught me to trust in Him always without hesitation, and who must have heard my prayer so that I, however ignorant I was, in the last days dared to undertake such a holy and wonderful work – thus imitating somehow those who, as the Lord once foretold, would preach His Gospel for a testimony to all nations before the end of the world. So we have seen it, and so it has been fulfilled: indeed, we are witnesses that the Gospel has been preached unto those parts beyond which there lives nobody.

The Confessio of St. Patrick -Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – Other Chapters 1,2,3,5

Section 15

Now, it would be tedious to give a detailed account of all my labours or even a part of them. Let me tell you briefly how the merciful God often freed me from slavery and from twelve dangers in which my life was at stake – not to mention numerous plots, which I cannot express in words; for I do not want to bore my readers. But God is my witness, who knows all things even before they come to pass, as He used to forewarn even me, poor wretch that I am, of many things by a divine message.

How came I by this wisdom, which was not in me, who neither knew the number of my days nor knew what God was? Whence was given to me afterwards the gift so great, so salutary – to know God and to love Him, although at the price of leaving my country and my parents?

And many gifts were offered to me in sorrow and tears, and I offended the donors, much against the wishes of some of my seniors; but, guided by God, in no way did I agree with them or acquiesce. It was not grace of my own, but God, who is strong in me and resists them all – as He had done when I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, hearing the reproach of my going abroad, and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others.

Section 16

And I am prepared to give even my life, should I be worthy, without hesitation and most gladly for His name, and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord would grant it to me.

For I am very much God’s debtor, who gave me such grace that many people were reborn in God through me and afterwards confirmed, and that clerics were ordained for them everywhere, for a people just coming to the faith, whom the Lord took from the utmost parts of the earth, as He once had promised through His prophets: To you the gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth and shall say: `How false are the idols that our fathers got for themselves, and there is no profit in them’; and again: `I have set you as a light among the gentiles, that you may be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.’

And there I wish to wait for His promise who surely never deceives, as He promises in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob – as we believe the faithful will come from all the world.

Section 17

For that reason, therefore, we ought to fish well and diligently, as the Lord exhorts in advance and teaches, saying: Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.(Mat 4.19) And again He says through the prophets: Behold, I send many fishers and hunters, says God,(Jeremiah 16:16) and so on. Hence it was most necessary to spread our nets so that a great multitude and throng might be caught for God, and that there be clerics everywhere to baptize and exhort a people in need and want, as the Lord in the Gospel states, exhorts and teaches, saying: Go therefore now, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.(Matthew 28:19-20) And again He says: Go ye therefore into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned.(Mark 16:15-16) And again: This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall come the end.(Matthew 24:14) And so too the Lord announces through the prophet, and says: And it shall come to pass, in the last days, says the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.(Joel 2:28-29) And in Osee, He says: `I will call that which was not my people, my people; … and her that had not obtained mercy, one that hath obtained mercy. And it shall be in the place where it was said: “You are not my people,” there they shall be called the sons of the living God.'(Hosea 1:10,2:23)

Hence, how did it come to pass in Ireland that those who never had a knowledge of God, but until now always worshipped idols and things impure, have now been made a people of the Lord, and are called sons of God?

Section 18

The sons and daughters of the kings of the Irish are seen to be monks and virgins of Christ. Among others, a blessed Irishwoman of noble birth, beautiful, full-grown, whom I had baptized, came to us after some days for a particular reason: she told us that she had received a message from a messenger of God, and he admonished her to be a virgin of Christ and draw near to God. Thanks be to God, on the sixth day after this she most laudably and eagerly chose what all virgins of Christ do. Not that their fathers agree with them: no – they often ever suffer persecution and undeserved reproaches from their parents; and yet their number is ever increasing. How many have been reborn there so as to be of our kind, I do not know – not to mention widows and those who practice continence.

But greatest is the suffering of those women who live in slavery. All the time they have to endure terror and threats. But the Lord gave His grace to many of His maidens; for, though they are forbidden to do so, they follow Him bravely.

Section 19

Wherefore, then, even if I wished to leave them and go to Britain – and how I would have loved to go to my country and my parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it; but I am bound by the Spirit, who gives evidence against me if I do this, telling me that I shall be guilty; and I am afraid of losing the labour which I have begun – nay, not I, but Christ the Lord who bade me come here and stay with them for the rest of my life, if the Lord will, and will guard me from every evil way that I may not sin before Him.

This, I presume, I ought to do, but I do not trust myself as long as I am in this body of death, for strong is he who daily strives to turn me away from the faith and the purity of true religion to which I have devoted myself to the end of my I life to Christ my Lord. But the hostile flesh is ever dragging us unto death, that I is, towards the forbidden satisfaction of one’s desires; and I know that in part I did not lead a perfect life as did the other faithful; but I acknowledge it to my! Lord, and do not blush before Him, because I lie not: from the time I came to know Him in my youth, the love of God and the fear of Him have grown in me, and up to now, thanks to the grace of God, I have kept the faith.

The Confessio of St. Patrick -Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – Other Chapters 2,3,4,5

Section 1

I, Patrick, a sinner, the rudest and the least of all the faithful, and an object of the greatest contempt to many, am the son of Calpornius, a deacon, the son of the late Potitus, a presbyter, of the village Bannavem Taburniæ; he had a country seat [or farm] nearby, and there I was taken captive.

I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God, and I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people – and deservedly so, because we had turned away from God, and had not kept His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.

And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and then turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my low estate, and took pity on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.

Section 2

Hence I cannot be silent – and indeed, I ought not to be – about the many blessings and the large measure of grace which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity; for this only can we give in return to God after having been chastened by Him: to exalt and praise His wonders before every nation under the heaven.

There is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than

God the Father

without beginning,
from whom is all beginning,
Who upholds all things, as we have been taught;
And His Son Jesus Christ,

Whom we acknowledge to have been always with the Father,
Who before the beginning of the world was spiritually present with the Father;
Begotten in an unspeakable manner before all beginning;
By Him are made all things visible and invisible.
He was made man, and,
having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father;
and He has given Him a name which is above every names:
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth,
and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God,
in whom we believe, and whose coming we expect soon to be,
judge of the living and of the dead,
who will render to every man according to his deeds;
And He has poured forth upon us abundantly …
the Holy Spirit,

the gift and pledge of immortality,
who makes those who believe and obey sons of God the Father
and joint heirs with Christ;
Whom we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name.

For He Himself has said through the Prophet:Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. And again He says: It is honourable to reveal and confess the works of God.

Section 3

Although I am imperfect in many things, I nevertheless wish that my brethren and relatives should know what sort of person I am, so that they may understand my heart’s desire.

I know well the testimony of my Lord, who in the Psalm declares:You destroy those that speak lies. And again He says: A lying mouth slays the soul. And the same Lord says in the Gospel: Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

And so I should dread exceedingly, with fear and trembling, this sentence on that day when no one will be able to escape or hide, but we all, without exception, shall have to give an account even of our smallest sins before the judgement-seat of Christ the Lord.

For this reason I had in mind to write, but hesitated until now; I was afraid of exposing myself to the talk of men, because I have not studied like others, who have enjoyed the great advantages of becoming acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures in both ways [i.e. both Greek and Latin], and never had to change the language of their childhood days, but were able to make it still more perfect. I have to translate my thoughts and speech into a foreign language.

Section 4

This can easily be proved from the style of my writing, which betrays how little instruction and training I have had in the art of words; for, so says the Wise Man, “it is through speech that wisdom becomes known, and knowledge through the tongue’s rejoinder”.

But of what help is an excuse, however true, especially if combined with presumption, since now, in my old age, I strive for something that I did not acquire in youth? It was my sins that prevented me from fixing in my mind what before I had barely read through. But who believes me?

To repeat what I started out before, as a youth, nay, almost a beardless boy, I was taken captive, before I knew what to pursue and what to avoid. Hence today I blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of education; for I am unable to tell my story to those versed in the art of concise writing – in such a way, I mean, as my spirit and mind long to do, and so that the sense of my words expresses what I feel.

But if indeed it had been given to me as it was given to others, I would not have been silent because of my desire of thanksgiving; and if perhaps some people think me arrogant for doing so in spite of my lack of knowledge and my slow tongue, it is, after all, written: The stammering tongues shall quickly learn to speak peace.

How much more should we earnestly strive to do this, we, who are, so Scripture says, a letter of Christ for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth, and, though not an eloquent one, yet…written in your hearts, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God!

Section 5

And, again, the Spirit witnesses that even farming was ordained by the Most High. Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, incapable to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me, and raised me up, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity – benefits beyond men’s conception.

But wherefore, do you wonder, o great and small who fear God? And you rhetoricians of the Gauls, who know not the Lord? Listen and pore over this. Who was it that roused up me, fool that I am, from the midst of those who in the eyes of men are wise, and expert in law, and powerful in word and in everything? And He inspired me – me, the outcast of this world – before others, to be the man (if only I could!) who, with fear and reverence and without blame, should faithfully serve the people to whom the love of Christ conveyed and gave me for the duration of my life, if I should be worthy; yes indeed, to serve them humbly and sincerely.

Saint Patrick FAQ

Writings of Saint Patrick

Two genuine writings of Saint Patrick are in existence today. These writings have become public only during the 19th century.

One is “The Confession”, an autobiography of Saint Patrick near the end of his life. Another is “A letter to Coroticus”, containing a fierce complaint against Coroticus who had raided a number of Patrick’s converts.

Other Early Writings

A third writing, not from Patrick’s hand, but closely connected with him, is “The Hymn,” written in ancient Irish, and also known as “The Breastplate”. Another old hymn on St Patrick is written by a certain Secundinus. All we know historically and accurately must come from these sources!

There are three sayings attributed to Saint Patrick, but scholars doubt whether any or all are really from Patrick. An other interesting source about Saint Patrick comes to us from the 17th century: the Annals of the Four Masters, an important history book compiled from may sources.

From Patrick’s own words he comes across as a man of simple steady faith, humble, hard-working and courageous. He possessed a deep love of God and never lost his sense of amazement at his calling to convert Ireland.

It is only later, starting in the seventh century, that many of the legends of St. Patrick begin to flower. Politics, of course, enters the story of Patrick. When the O’Neills, who controlled Tara in the seventh century, wanted the king of Tara to be the High King, St. Patrick’s legendary but not historical connection to Tara was promoted. When Malachi of Armagh wanted to increase the powers of bishops, he starts to conform the Irish Church to the practices of Rome and promotes St Patrick (who is reputedly buried near Armagh), claiming his authority from “additional” traditions around St. Patrick.

What About The Snakes?

It is a folk tale that Patrick drove the snakes off the “Emerald Isle.” The absence of snakes in Ireland is already mentioned in the third century by the Roman Solinius. Snakes being commonly associated with Satan, sin and evil since the Garden of Eden, this tale may have arisen as a metaphor of his single-handed effort to drive the idol-worshiping Druid cult out of Ireland.

St. Patrick’s popularity stimulated the creativity of the seanachies: St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Trinity (this is a seventh century innovation); St. Patrick has Jesus’ assurance that Jesus will judge the Irish and that Patrick will sit with Him (also seventh century).

The historical and legendary St. Patrick have had a real impact. Pilgrims still walk up to the top of Croagh Patrick, some barefoot, saying the Stations of the Cross; the devout go on a three-day silent retreat to Station Island in Loch Derg at St. Patrick’s Purgatory; and on March 17 in honour of St. Patrick, everyone is Irish. All these traditions are late(r) inventions, and have nothing to do with the historical Patrick

When was Patrick born?

Patrick was born about the end of the 4th century. We cannot determine the date of his birth or death any more certain.

However, tradition has him born in the year 385.

The Annals of the Four Master have him die (on March 17th) 493, being 122 years old. They thought that Patrick must have been born in the year 371.

What was the extend of his ministry?

His mission was during the years 432-461. During his 29 years as a missionary, it is said that Patrick baptized over 120,000 Irishmen, and established at least 300 churches (the Four Annals say 600 Churches) in which the Saviour God was owned, the Word of God was preached and the triune God was worshiped.

Was Patrick Irish?

It is a myth that Patrick was Irish. He was a Briton, born in Bannavem Taburniæ according to his Confession, (although it could have been spelled as Bannaventa Berniae) but we do not know where that is, except that it must have been on the west coast of Britain.

At 16, he was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave to a Druid chieftain in Ireland. While herding pigs, he had much time to ponder the many Bible verses his Christian father taught him. They led him to trust Christ as his Saviour. In his Confessions he wrote, “At 16 … in a strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes and I was converted.”

During his six years of slavery, he was known as “Holy Boy” because he was always praying and talking about his Saviour. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” He alluded to this verse in his Confessions when he wrote, “Whatever happens to me, whether pleasant or distasteful, I accept, giving thanks to God who never disappoints.”

Is Patrick A Saint?

That Patrick is a saint is no myth, although he has never been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. When the Roman Catholic Church established the first list of Saints (the first official saint was Ulrich canonized in 993), Patrick was already on it.

But is that how one becomes a saint? According to the Bible, sainthood is not attained by what others think of us, but by who we own as our Saviour. At least six New Testament epistles are addressed directly “to the saints.” The authors were not writing to dead people, but to all those who believe this: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8).

Patrick did not become a saint because of his good deeds in Ireland, but because of what he came to believe while still a slave boy in that country. After his salvation, he was called by God to return to Ireland, “to dwell in the midst of barbarians … for the love of God.” He went, not to obtain salvation, but because he was already saved and wanted to share his faith out of love for his Saviour.

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick means Patrick’s Mountain, the holiest mountain in Ireland, it’s on coast of Mayo in the west. Sometime around 800 AD the name of Patrick was imposed on Croagh Patrick – a Christianization of an old pagan festival. The pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick takes place on the last Sunday (Reek Sunday) in July. In pre-Christian times, that was when there was a great harvest festival in honour of the god Lug.

Secundinus’s Hymn of St. Patrick

Teacher of the Irish


Hear all ye who love God, the holy merits
Of the Bishop Patrick, a man blessed in Christ;
How, on account of his good actions, he is likened unto the angels,
And for his perfect life, is counted equal to the Apostles.

2 Cor. xi. 5.

He keepeth the commandments of the blessed Christ in all things,
His works shine brightly before men,
Who follow his holy and admirable example,
Whence also they glorify the Lord his Father which is in heaven.

John xiv. 15; Matt. v. 16.

Steadfast in the fear of the Lord, and immovable in faith;
On whom, as on Peter, the Church is built;
Who received his Apostleship from God.
The gates of hell shall not prevail against him.

1 Cor. xv. 58.; Gal. i. 1; Matt. xvi. 18

The Lord chose him to teach the barbarous nations,
To fish (for men) with the nets of doctrine,
To draw believers from the world unto grace,
That they might follow the Lord to the heavenly seat.

Matt. iv. 19.

He trades with the choice Gospel talents of Christ,
Which he puts out at usury amongst the Hiberbian nations.
Destined hereafter, along with Christ, to possess the joy of the heavenly kingdom,
As a recompense for this labour.

Matt.xxv. 14-30; John xiv. 3

A faithful minister and distinguished messenger of God,
He shows to the good an apostolic example and pattern;
Who preaches to the people of God, as well by deeds as by words,
So that by good works he may provoke those to imitation, whom he does not convert by his words.

1 Tim. iv. 6,12.

He has glory with Christ, and honour in this world,
Being venerated by all as the angel of God;
Whom God sent, even as Paul , to be an Apostle to the Gentiles,
To guide men unto the kingdom of God.

2 Tim i. 11; Gal i. 1.

Humble, through fear of God, both in spirit and behaviour,
Upon whom on account of his good actions rests the Spirit of the Lord:
Who beareth in his righteous flesh the marks of Christ,
In whose cross alone he glories and sustains himself.

Gal vi. 14-17.

He diligently feedeth believers with heavenly food,
Lest those who are seen with Christ should faint by the way:
To whom he distributes the words of the Gospel like the loaves
In whose hands they are multiplied like the manna.

Matt. xv. 32; Exod. xvi 14-18,; John vi.11.

Who, through the love of God, keepeth his flesh pure,
Having prepared it to be a temple for the Holy Spirit,
By whom it is constantly possessed with good motions;
And who offers up his body a living sacrifice, well-pleasing to the Lord.

John iii. 3; 1 Cor vi.19; Rom xii. 1.

He isa great and burning evangelical light of the world,
Set upon a candlestick, shining unto the whole world;
A strong city of the king, set upon a hill,
In which is much store of the riches of the Lord.

John v. 35; Matt. v. 14,15.

He shall be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven
Who fulfils, by good works, what he teaches in his holy discourses.
He goes before with a good example, and a pattern to the faithful;
And in a pure heart has faith towards God.

Matt xviii. 1-3; 1 Tim iii. 9; iv. 12.

He boldly preaches the name of the Lord to the Gentiles,
To whom he gives the eternal grace of the laver of salvation;
For whose offences he daily prays to God;
For whom also he offers up sacrifices worthy of God.

Acts ix. 29, Jas. v. 16; Phil iv. 18; Heb. xiii. 15,16.

He despises all the glory of the world, in comparison with the Divine law,
Counting all things as but chaff, compared with Christ’s table;
Nor is he disturbed by the violence of the thunder of this world;
But rejoices in tribulation when he suffers for Christ.

Phil. iii. 8; Acts v. 41.

A good and faithful shepherd of the Gospel-flock,
Chosen by God, to watch the people of God,
And to feed, with Divine doctrines, the nation;
For which, after the example of Christ, he is giving his life.

John x. 14; xv. 13; xxi. 15.

Whom the Saviour advanced for his merits, to be a Bishop,
That he might exhort the clergy in the heavenly warfare;
To whom he distributes the bread from heaven, along with garments,
Which is fulfilled in his divine and holy discourses.

1 Tim. i. 18; John vi. 11; Matt. xxii. 11.

A messenger of the king, inviting believers to the marriage,
Who is arrayed in the wedding garment;
Who draws the heavenly wine in heavenly vessels,
Pledging the people of God in the spiritual cup.

Matt. xxii. 2.

He finds in the sacred volume a sacred treasure,
Which he purchases with his holy and perfect merits.
He discerns also the Godheadof the Saviour in the flesh.
He is named Israel, beholding God in his spirit.

Matt. xiii. 44; Gen. xxxii.28, 30.

A faithful witness of God in the Catholic doctrine.
Whose words are seasoned with the Divine oracles..
So that they are not corrupted, like human flesh, and eaten of worms;
But are salted with a heavenly savour for the sacrifices.

Mark ix 48-50; Col. iv. 6.

A true and excellent cultivator of the Gospel field,
Whose seeds are seen to be the Gospels of Christ,
Which he sows from his divine mouth in the ears of the wise,
And tills their hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit.

Matt. xiii. 1-9; Mark iv. 14.

Christ chose him to be his vicar on the earth,
Who liberates captives from a two-fold bondage;
And of the many whom he has redeemed from the bondage of men,
Releases numberless persons from the dominion of the devil.

Isai. lxi. 1; John viii. 31.

He sings Hymns, with the Apocalypse, and the Psalms of God,
On which he discourses, for the edification of the people of God;
Which Scripture he believes, in the Trinity of the sacred Name,
And teaches the One substance in Three Persons.

Rom. xv. 4.

Girt with the girdle of the Lord, by day and night,
He prays without ceasing to the Lord God,
Receiving the reward of which great labour,
He shall reign with the Holy Apostles over Israel.

Isaiah xi. 5; Eph. vi. 14; 1 Thes. v. 17; Matt. xix. 28.
Translated by Dr. Graves, Lord Bishop of Limerick, 1853. As published in “The Epistles & Hymn of Saint Patrick”, by Thomas Olden, Dublin, 1876.


Secundinus, in Irish known as Sechnall, was according to the “Leabhar Breac” (9th century) the son of Patrick’s sister Liamania. He assisted Patrick in his missionary labours, and resided in Dunshauglin, which derives its name from him (Domhnach-Sechnaill, the Church of Sechnall)

The translation is by Dr. Graves, Lord Bishop of Limerick, Ireland, 1853. He was the first to translate this Hymn in english. The translation and the notes are taken from “The Epistles & Hymn of Saint Patrick” by Thomas Olden, Dublin 1876. Note that the abbreviation (G) indicates a note by the original translater, Dr. Graves, no abbeviation indicates a note by the editor, Thomas Olden.


Patricii. “Patrick, i.e. nomen graidh le Romanu, i.e. the name of an order among the Romans,” (G); meaning the Patrician Order.


Beati Christi … mandata. The Book of Hymns reads beata – i.e., the blessed commandments of Christ.


Super quem aedificatur ut Petrum ecclesia. The reading in the Book of Hyms is Petrus, and the meaning then would be “on whom the Church, like Peter, is built.” The commentary is as follows :- “When it is said, Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, It is interpreted, Peter acknowledging [Christ.] Matt. xvi. 16; whosoever therefore desires to enter into the kingdom of heaven must acknowledge God by faith like Peter” (G) According to this note, Peter is addressed, not in his personal, but in his representative capacity, as a “confessor of Christ,” and thus others, share his privilege. The Church, in fact, is “built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone,” (Eph. ii. 20,) and St. Patrick, according to the author, as another Apostle, takes his place with St. Peter and the rest. In a certain sense, as the note seems to intimate, all Christians partake of the honour as “living stones,” 1 Peter ii. 5.

Cujusque apostolatum a Deo sortitus est, or “the Apostleship of which (i.e. the Church) he received from God.” “Cujusque, i.e. Ecclesiae,” Todd, Book of Hymns; but this seems doubtful. Here as in the Confessio, he ascribes his coming to Ireland to a divine call.


Barbaras, “i.e. foreign, because foreign to the Roman language.” (G) Ireland never having formed part of the Roman Empire, and not speaking the Latin language.


The talents of Christ mentioned in the Gospel.

Cum Christo. As the Lord says in the Gospel, “Where the carcas is there will the eagles be gathered together;” as if he said distinctly, “Where Christ in the flesh shall be, there shall the just be also, and thus shall they be always in heaven with Him.” (G)

Navati hujus laboris. The reading in the B. of H. is navigii, that is “the voyage of the Church;” here “the sea is the present world; the ship is the Church; the pilot is the preacher (forectlaid) who brings her to the port of life; the port that is perpetual. (G)


Ut Paulum. “As Paul was sent to the Gentiles, so Patrick was sent to the nations of the Scoti (Irish)” (G) Here there is evident reference toSt. Paul’s description of himself as “an Apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father,” Gal. i. 1.


Dapibus – “of his preaching.” (G) There is in this verse a double reference; to the manna in the wilderness, and to our Lord’s miracles. On the accuracy of this description there can be no doubt, as the writer, from his intimate association with St. Patrick, must have been familiar with this preaching.


Lumen. “Lux is the element itself – lumen what issues from the lux; that is, the brightness.” (G) The meaning of this note, probably, is that St. Patrick shone with a light derived from Christ, and thus was only in a secondary sense a light of the worls.

Civitas. St. Patrick, not the Church, is here compared to a fortified city of a king, set on a hill, which, with all its treasure, is the king’s property. “The fruitful hill is Christ. (G)


In the legendary account of the origin of this hymn, it is said that St. Patrick, when he heard the hymn recited, not knowing at the time to whom it referred, the first verse having been omitted, objected to this word; but an explanation was offered that greatest was put for great. The gloss explains it by peroptimus, the very greaest.


Hostias; “that is, spiritual sacrifices.” (G) “Sacerdotium sanctum offerre spirituales hostias.” – 1 Pet. ii. 5. Vulgate.


Mensam. This line in the Book of Hymns is, “Que cuncta ad cujus mensam estimat cisciliam. The Irish note interprets mensam “mensuram,” i.e., measure; and then the passage will run, “He despises all the glory of the world in comparison with the Divine law, measured by which he also estimates all things as chaff.”

Patitur. “He suffers for Christ, who denies himself and takes up his cross daily.” (G)


“He is a good shepherd who is like Christ, who says, I am the Good Shepherd, and lay down my life for my sheep.” (G) Confess. chap iv., secs. 16, 24

“As the Apostles says, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” – Rom. ix. 3. (G)


The allusion would seem to be to the marriage feast, Mat. xxii.; but the gloss quotes Luke xii. 36, “Be ye like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh they may unto him immediately.”

“The wine of the doctrine of the Gospel.” (G)


This refers to an interpretation mentioned by St. Jerome, in which Israel was said to mean, vir aut mens videns Deum, “the person or mind seeing God;” but the true meaning is, “a Prince with God.”


“Catholic means universal.” (G) We have here the primitive meaning of the word Catholic, as explained by Vincentius of Lerins, (Introduction, p. 33, note,) and as used by the Church of Ireland at the present day. Thus in the Prayer for all Conditions of Men, the words are – “We pray for the good estate of the Catholic Church, that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth.” In the Litany, “That it may please thee to rule and govern thy Holy Church Universal in the right way,” and again in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” The Church of Rome wishes to be called the Catholic Church, but this is equivalent to saying that a particular Church is universal, which is a contradiction. It is sufficient to say that the claim is been rejected by the great Eastern Church, and all Reformed Churches, in other words, by the greatest and most civilized nations of the world. Here was the place for some mention of Rome; but there is none, either in text or commentary.

Vermibus; “that is, of knowledge.” (G) The meaning appears to be, that his words will be found so perfectly in accord with Holy Scripture, that no learning will detect any error.

Ad victimam. In order that they may prove an acceptable offering.


Vicarium means a “steward, or taxgatherer, or successor, (comorba) for this is what Jerome says in his Epistle concerning the ranks of Romans, that the vicar is the man who is instead of the count (comes) over the city, until the count or comes returns from the king,” (G.) Thus here the king is God, the comes is Christ, the vicar is Patrick; but there is no such passage as that quoted, in the genuine works of Jerome. The reader will note that in Irish estimations St. Patrick was a vicar of Christ.

See Epistle to Coroticus.


Tractat. This is explained “imluadid, i.e., he puts in motion, announces, publishes.” (G) This line appears also in the Hymn of Fiace. “Hymns and the Apocalypse, the Three-fifties (Psalms) he used to sing them;” and in the note here, the Hymns are explained to mean the Te Deum, or, this of Secundinus. The exact meaning of tractat is, ‘he handles or treats of.’

Credit. “It is a great thing that he believes the law of th sacred name, which is the Trinity,” (G) It has been remarked as strange that there is no mention of the Arian Controversy in St. Patrick’s works, but the manner in which the Divinity of Christ is dwelt on, and the sequent mention of the Trinity, appears to refer to it indirectly


“Augustinus says, If every day one observes fixed times if practising [prayer,] he prays without ceasing.” (G)

Sanctis. Another reading is sanctus, i.e., “He shall reign with the Apostles, a saint over Israel,” “that is, over those souls who see God,” (G) The meaning appears to be that St. Patrick holds a ranck equal to that of our Lord’s twelve Apostles, and shall hereafter enjoy the same priviledges. We have already seen that he is assigned the same position by the author as St. Peter and St. Paul. A later tradition of the Irish was that he should “judge the Scoti [Irish] at the day of judgment, as the Apostles were to judge Israel.” This is founded on a legend given by Probus in his Life of St. Patrick, and is only referred to here as illustrating the strong Nationality of the Irish Chruch, which indeed is everywhere apparent throughout its early history.