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 TaburniƦ; 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.