Patrick mac Calpuirn o Éireann, Patron Saint of Ireland
|Also Known As:||"Patricius", "Qatrikias", "Cothraige", "Coithrige", "Pátraic", "Pádraig", "Patrikios", "Patric", "Padric", "Padrig", "St. Patrick", "Saint Patrick"|
|Birthplace:||Banna Venta Berniae or Bannaven Taberniae, Kilpatrick, Scotland, North Ayrshire, United Kingdom|
|Death:||Died in Downpatrick, Ireland, Down, UK|
|Managed by:||Paul Douglas Van Dillen|
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About Patrick mac Calpuirn o Éireann, Patron Saint of Ireland
St. Patrick of Ireland
Saint Patrick (Latin: Sanctus Patricius, Irish: Naomh Pádraig), born in Kilpatrick near Dumbarton in Scotland c. 387 – died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland 17 March, 460/1. He was a Romano-Briton Christian missionary who is the most generally recognised patron saint of Ireland.
Note that academic opinion is split over the issue of whether there was one Patrick or two.
According to a traditional Irish pedigree, he was a descendant of Noah's son Japheth through Magog and Nemhidh. See John O'Hart, Irish Pedigrees: Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation (reprinted 1989), 43, citing "MacFirbis's Genealogies".
- St. Patrick of Ireland
- Dareca verch Calpurnius
Genealogy from On the Life of St. Patrick
"Now Patrick's race was of the Britons of Dumbarton. Calpurn was his father's name, a high priest was he. Otid (Potitus) was the name of his grandfather: he was a deacon. But Conchess was his mother's name: daughter was she of Ochbas: of France was her race, that is, she was a sister of Martin's.
Patrick, then, (was) son of Calpurn, son of Otid, son of Odisse, son of Gorniuth, son of Lubeniuth, son of Mercut, son of Otta, son of Muric, son of Oricc, son of Leo, son of Maximus, son of Ecretus, son of Eresus, son of Felestus, son of Ferinus, son of Brittus, from whom are the Britons.
He had five sisters, namely, Lupait and Tigris and Darerca and Liamain and Richell."
Genealogy from Hymn on the Life of St. Patrick
Succat was his name, it is said; / Who was his father is thus told: / He was son of Calpurn, son of Otidus, / Grandson of Deochain Odissus.
Two authentic letters from him survived, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16 he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked.
By the eighth century he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland. The Irish monastery system evolved after the time of Patrick and the Irish church did not develop the diocesan model that Patrick and the other early missionaries had tried to establish.
Most available details of his life are from later hagiographies from the seventh century onwards, and these are not now accepted without detailed criticism. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster would imply that he lived from 340 to 440, and ministered in what is modern day northern Ireland from 428 onwards. The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty, but on a widespread interpretation he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century. Saint Patrick's Day (17 March) is celebrated both in and outside of Ireland, as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland it is a both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation and outside of Ireland, it can be a celebration of Ireland itself.
Many modern studies of Saint Patrick follow a variant of T. F. O'Rahilly's "Two Patricks" theory. That is to say, many of the traditions later attached to Saint Patrick originally concerned Palladius, who Prosper of Aquitaine's Chronicle says was sent by Pope Celestine I as the first bishop to Irish Christians in 431. Palladius was not the only early cleric in Ireland at this time. Saints Auxilius, Secundinus and Iserninus are associated with early churches in Munster and Leinster. By this reading, Palladius was active in Ireland until the 460s.
Prosper associates Palladius' appointment with the visits of Germanus of Auxerre to Britain to suppress the Pelagian heresy and it has been suggested that Palladius and his colleagues were sent to Ireland to ensure that exiled Pelagians did not establish themselves among the Irish Christians. The appointment of Palladius and his fellow-bishops was not obviously a mission to convert the Irish, but more probably intended to minister to existing Christian communities in Ireland. The sites of churches associated with Palladius and his colleagues are close to royal centres of the period: Secundus is remembered by Dunshaughlin, County Meath, close to the Hill of Tara which is associated with the High King of Ireland; Killashee, County Kildare, close to Naas with links with the Kings of Leinster, is probably named for Auxilius. This activity was limited to the southern half of Ireland, and there is no evidence for them in Ulster or Connacht.
Although the evidence for contacts with Gaul is clear, the borrowings from Latin into the Old Irish language show that links with former Roman Britain were many. Saint Iserninus, who appears to be of the generation of Palladius, is thought to have been a Briton, and is associated with the lands of the Uí Cheinnselaig in Leinster. The Palladian mission should not be contrasted with later "British" missions, but forms a part of them.
In his own words
Two Latin letters survive which are generally accepted to have been written by Patrick. These are the Declaration (Latin: Confessio) and the Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus (Latin: Epistola). The Declaration is the more important of the two. In it Patrick gives a short account of his life and his mission.
Patrick was born in Roman Britain at Banna Venta Berniae, a location otherwise unknown. Calpornius, his father, was a deacon, his grandfather Potitus a priest. When he was about sixteen, he was captured and carried off as a slave to Ireland. Patrick worked as a herdsman, remaining a captive for six years. He writes that his faith grew in captivity, and that he prayed daily. After six years he heard a voice telling him that he would soon go home, and then that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he travelled to a port, two hundred miles away he says, where he found a ship and, after various adventures, returned home to his family, now in his early twenties.
Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.
A. B. E. Hood suggests that the Victoricus of Patrick's vision may be identified with Saint Victricius, bishop of Rouen in the late 4th century, who was the only European churchman of the time to advocate or practice conversion of pagans, and who visited Britain in an official capacity in 396.
Much of the Declaration concerns charges made against Patrick by his fellow Christians at a trial. What these charges were, he does not say explicitly, but he writes that he returned the gifts which wealthy women gave him, did not accept payment for baptisms, nor for ordaining priests, and indeed paid for many gifts to kings and judges, and paid for the sons of chiefs to accompany him. It is concluded, therefore, that he was accused of some sort of financial impropriety, and perhaps of having obtained his bishopric in Ireland with personal gain in mind.
From this same evidence, something can be seen of Patrick's mission. He writes that he "baptised thousands of people". He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.
Patrick's position as a foreigner in Ireland was not an easy one. His refusal to accept gifts from kings placed him outside the normal ties of kinship, fosterage and affinity. Legally he was without protection, and he says that he was on one occasion beaten, robbed of all he had, and put in chains, perhaps awaiting execution.
Murchiú's life of Saint Patrick contains a supposed prophecy by the druids which gives an impression of how Patrick and other Christian missionaries were seen by those hostile to them:
Across the sea will come Adze-head, crazed in the head, his cloak with hole for the head, his stick bent in the head. He will chant impieties from a table in the front of his house; all his people will answer: "so be it, so be it."
The second piece of evidence which comes from Patrick's life is the Letter to Coroticus or Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, written after a first remonstrance was received with ridicule and insult. In this, Patrick writes an open letter announcing that he has excommunicated Coroticus because he had taken some of Patrick's converts into slavery while raiding in Ireland. The letter describes the followers of Coroticus as "fellow citizens of the devils" and "associates of the Scots (ie, the Irish of Argyll and northern Ireland) and Apostate Picts". Based largely on an 8th-century gloss, Coroticus is taken to be King Ceretic of Alt Clut. It has been suggested that it was the sending of this letter which provoked the trial which Patrick mentions in the Confession.
According to the latest reconstruction of the old Irish annals, Patrick died in AD 460 on March 17, a date accepted by some modern historians. Prior to the 1940s it was believed without doubt that he died in 420 and thus had lived in the first half of the 5th century. A lecture entitled "The Two Patricks", published in 1942 by T. F. O'Rahilly, caused enormous controversy by proposing that there had been two "Patricks", Palladius and Patrick, and that what we now know of St. Patrick was in fact in part a conscious effort to blend the two into one hagiographic personality. Decades of contention eventually ended with many historians now asserting that Patrick was indeed most likely to have been active in the mid-to-late 5th century.
While Patrick's own writings contain no dates, they do contain information which can be used to date them. Patrick's quotations from the Acts of the Apostles follow the Vulgate, strongly suggesting that his ecclesiastical conversion did not take place before the early fifth century. Patrick also refers to the Franks as being pagans. Their conversion is dated to the period 496–508.
There is plentiful evidence for a medieval tradition that Patrick had died in 493. An addition to the Annals of Ulster states that in the year 553 (approximately two hundred and fifty years before the addition was made):
I have found this in the Book of Cuanu: The relics of Patrick were placed sixty years after his death in a shrine by Colum Cille. Three splendid halidoms were found in the burial-place: his goblet, the Angel's Gospel, and the Bell of the Testament. This is how the angel distributed the halidoms: the goblet to Dún, the Bell of the Testament to Ard Macha, and the Angel's Gospel to Colum Cille himself. The reason it is called the Angel's Gospel is that Colum Cille received it from the hand of the angel.
The placing of this event in the year 553 indicate a tradition that Patrick's death was 493, or at least in the early years of that decade, and the Annals of Ulster report under 493:
Patrick, arch-apostle, or archbishop and apostle of the Irish, rested on the 16th of the Kalends of April in the 120th year of his age, in the 60th year after he had come to Ireland to baptise the Irish.
This tradition is also seen in an annalistic reference to the death of a saint termed Patrick's disciple, Mochta, who is said to have died in 535.
St. Patrick is said to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, alongside St. Brigid and St. Columba, although this has never been proven. The Battle for the Body of St. Patrick demonstrates the importance of both him as a spiritual leader, and of his body as an object of veneration, in early Christian Ireland. Saint Patrick Visitor Centre is a modern exhibition complex located in Downpatrick and is a permanent interpretative exhibition centre featuring interactive displays on the life and story of Saint Patrick. It provides the only permanent exhibition centre in the world devoted to Saint Patrick.
An early document which is silent concerning Patrick is the letter of Columbanus to Pope Boniface IV of about 613. Columbanus writes that Ireland's Christianity "was first handed to us by you, the successors of the holy apostles", apparently referring to Palladius only, and ignoring Patrick. Writing on the Easter controversy in 632 or 633, Cummian—it is uncertain whether this is the Cummian associated with Clonfert or Cumméne of Iona— does refer to Patrick, calling him our papa, that is pope or primate.
Two works by late seventh-century hagiographers of Patrick have survived. These are the writings of Tírechán, and Vita sancti Patricii of Muirchu moccu Machtheni. Both writers relied upon an earlier work, now lost, the Book of Ultán. This Ultán, probably the same person as Ultan of Ardbraccan, was Tírechán's foster-father. His obituary is given in the Annals of Ulster under the year 657. These works thus date from a century and a half after Patrick's death.
I found four names for Patrick written in the book of Ultán, bishop of the tribe of Conchobar: holy Magonus (that is, "famous"); Succetus (that is, the god of war); Patricius (that is, father of the citizens); Cothirtiacus (because he served four houses of druids).
Muirchu records much the same information, adding that "[h]is mother was named Concessa."
The Patrick portrayed by Tírechán and Muirchu is a martial figure, who contests with druids, overthrows pagan idols, and curses kings and kingdoms. On occasion, their accounts contradict Patrick's own writings: Tírechán states that Patrick accepted gifts from female converts although Patrick himself flatly denies this. However, the emphasis Tírechán and Muirchu placed on female converts, and in particular royal and noble women who became nuns, is thought to be a genuine insight into Patrick's work of conversion. Patrick also worked with the unfree and the poor, encouraging them to vows of monastic chastity. Tírechán's account suggests that many early Patrician churches were combined with nunneries founded by Patrick's noble female converts.
The martial Patrick found in Tírechán and Muirchu, and in later accounts, echoes similar figures found during the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. It may be doubted whether such accounts are an accurate representation of Patrick's time, although such violent events may well have occurred as Christians gained in strength and numbers.
Much of the detail supplied by Tírechán and Muirchu, in particular the churches established by Patrick, and the monasteries founded by his converts, may relate to the situation in the seventh century, when the churches which claimed ties to Patrick, and in particular Armagh, were expanding their influence throughout Ireland in competition with the church of Kildare. In the same period, Wilfred, Archbishop of York, claimed to speak, as metropolitan archbishop, "for all the northern part of Britain and of Ireland" at a council held in Rome in the time of Pope Agatho, thus claiming jurisdiction over the Irish church.
Other presumed early materials include the Irish annals, which contain records from the Chronicle of Ireland. These sources have conflated Palladius and Patrick. Another early document is the so-called First Synod of Saint Patrick. This is a seventh-century document, once, but no longer, taken as to contain a fifth century original text. It apparently collects the results of several early synods, and represents an era when pagans were still a major force in Ireland. The introduction attributes it to Patrick, Auxilius, and Iserninus, a claim which "cannot be taken at face value."
Pious legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island, though all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes; one suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place, as shown for instance on coins minted in Gaul (see Carnutes), or that it could have referred to beliefs such as Pelagianism, symbolised as “serpents”. Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God' (as opposed to the Arian belief that was popular in Patrick's time).
Some Irish legends involve the Oilliphéist, the Caoránach, and the Copóg Phádraig. During his evangelising journey back to Ireland from his parent's home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood walking stick or staff. He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was evangelising and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.
The 12th century work Acallam na Senórach tells of Patrick being met by two ancient warriors, Caílte mac Rónáin and Oisín, during his evangelical travels. The two were once members of Fionn mac Cumhaill's warrior band the Fianna, and somehow survived to Patrick's time. They traveled with the saint and told him their stories.
Saint Patrick's Bell
The National Museum of Dublin posesses a bell first mentioned, acccording to the Annals of Ulster, in the Book of Cuanu in the year 552. The bell was part of a collection of "relics of Patrick" robbed from his tomb sixty years after his death by Colum Cille to be placed in a shrine. The bell is described as "The Bell of the Testament". The bell is one of three relics described as "precious minna" (extremely valuable items), of which the other two are described as Patrick's goblet and "The Angels Gospel". Cille would seem to be under the direction of an "Angel" for whom he sent the goblet to Down, the bell to Armagh and kept posession of the Angels Gospel for himself. The name Angels Gospel is given to the book because it was supposed that Cille received it from the angels hand. A stir was caused in 1044 when two kings, somehow disputing the bell, went on spates of prisoner taking and cattle theft. The annals make one more apparent reference to the bell when chronicling a death, of 1356, "Solomon Ua Mellain, The Keeper of The Bell of the Testament, protector, rested in Christ." As a mueseum exhibit, the bell is accompanied by a shrine in which it was encased for King Donnel O'Loughlin sometime between 1091 and 1105. The shrine is a sparkling example of fine jewellry. Intricate and delicate celtic design is worked in gold and silver over every surface except where encrusted with large precious stones.
Although today, one or two of the jewels are missing as well as some of the panels of celtic artwork, full apreciation of the workmanship in the shrine is still possible and it is kept, along with Patrick's Bell, in glittering condition by the National Museum as a priceless national treasure. The bell itself is simple in design, hammered into shape with a small handle fixed to the top with rivets. Originally forged from iron, it has since been coated in bronze. The shrine is inscribed with three names, including O'Loughlin's. The rear of the shrine, not intended to be seen, is decorated with crosses while the handle is decorated with, among other work, celtic designs of birds. The bell is accredited with working a miracle in 1044 and having been coated in bronze to sheild it from humans eyes for which it would be too holy. It measures 12.5 x 10cm at the base, 12.8 x 4cm at the shoulder, 16.5cm from base to shoulder, 3.3cm from shoulder to top of handle and weighs 1.7kg.
Patrick's Bell and shrine were featured on RTE's the Late Late Show in March 2008 with part of the 2000 year old Broighter Hoard to mark celebrations for St Patrick's Day.
Sainthood and modern remembrance
March 17, popularly known as St. Patrick's Day, is believed to be his death date and is the date celebrated as his feast day. The day became a feast day in the universal church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding, as a member of the commission for the reform of the Breviary in the early part of the 17th century.
For most of Christianity's first thousand years, canonisations were done on the diocesan or regional level. Relatively soon after the death of people considered to be very holy people, the local Church affirmed that they could be liturgically celebrated as saints. As a result, St. Patrick has never been formally canonised by a Pope; nevertheless, various Christian churches declare that he is a Saint in Heaven (he is in the List of Saints). He is still widely venerated in Ireland and elsewhere today.
St. Patrick is also venerated in the Orthodox Church, especially among English-speaking Orthodox Christians living in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and in North America. There are Orthodox icons dedicated to him.
The Real St. Patrick, Bishop of Ireland
by Fr. Kristopher and Matushka Elizabeth Dowling
The following is paraphrased from St. Fiacc's Hymn of St. Patrick. St. Fiacc, commemorated on October 12th, was a bard before St. Patrick made him a Bishop. Although some modern writers believe that St. Fiacc's Hymn of St. Patrick was written many centuries later; this thought is based on later additions of footnotes following the hymn. However, footnotes in Irish books copied by hand were always added by later copiests; the earlier the book, the more footnotes with Scriptural and other references. Thus, the very well footnoted Hymn of St. Patrick is from a very early source, as is St. Secundinus's Lorica, Hymn on St. Patrick. Whether St. Patrick was one of the group of Priests that travelled to Britain with St. Germanus or not, it is certain from other sources that St. Patrick was a pupil of St. Germanus for a long time, and would have had the same theological foundation. Perhaps modern writers were uncomfortable with the miracles of St. Germanus which occured when he fought the heresy of Pelagius. These miracles are also recorded by St. Bede.
St. Patrick was born in the late Fourth Century. His Father was Calpurnius, a Briton and a Deacon; his mother, Concess, was a Frank and a close relative of St. Martin of Tours. At sixteen years of age, St. Patrick and many others were kidnapped from the family estate near Bannavem Taburniae (some say this was in western Britain, others say it was in Brittany) by the seven vengeful exiled sons of a king of the Britons. This happened after Rome required that all Briton soldiers under Roman authority go to Rome to defend that city from barbarians, leaving Britain without any army or police, as recorded by St. Bede. Many acts of violence and greed were recorded at that time, which St. Bede called a terrible shame in Britain, which had been Christian a long time.
St. Patrick's father was killed; his sister disappeared.
St. Patrick was sold into slavery in Ireland. His life turned from youthful simplicity into a lesson for all of us. He was a slave, but obeyed his master. He would not depart until given leave to do so.
St. Patrick's escape from slavery was accomplished with miracles. He was visited in a dream by an angel in the form of a bird, Victor, the conqueror, who arranged a miraculous escape. Patrick said that he needed his master's permission to go home, but his master required a ransom of gold as large as his head. The angel told Patrick to follow a boar. The boar's rooting turned up the gold which was to ransom him. The angel took him to the seacoast sixty miles in one day to meet a ship, but instead the lord of the port sold Patrick to others. Then the fee, a set of brazen cauldrons, tormented the betrayer and his family. When they were admiring the cauldrons, their hands stuck to the metal. The lord of the port repented, was forgiven by Patrick. He converted to the will of God, ransomed Patrick from the slavers, and sent Patrick home. He was baptized by Patrick later, when St. Patrick returned. St. Patrick had been a slave six years.
Patrick had a dream that he must preach the Gospel to the Irish, but Victor had told him to seek an education first. He found his education under St. Germanus of Auxerre, who lived close to the southern part of Gaul which is next to the Mediterranean sea. (St. Fiacc does not record other miracles. The town of St. Patrice near Tours in France claims that it was visited by St. Patrick in midwinter. He was tired and cold, and the frost-covered thorn tree he slept under burst into soft warm blooms above him. In December every year until the tree was destroyed the "flowers of St. Patrick" bloomed there. French archaeological and agriculture societies testified to the truth of this phenomenon into this century.)
St. Germanus took his pupil to Britain to save that country from the errors of Pelagius. (The error of Pelagius was a belief that we may attain salvation through our own efforts without God's help, as if the image of God in us were completely separated from the help of the Holy Spirit, the grace of the living God. This heresy is seen today in mistaking the Holy Spirit for the whims or emotions of the mob; "zeitgeist" instead of Holy Spirit.) St. Fiacc records the work of St. Patrick in Britain under St. Germanus to show the development of his saintly leadership, but St. Patrick, in his Confessio, does not mention this, perhaps because the focus of his life's work was in Ireland. St. Germanus, with a group of priests that included St. Patrick, travelled through Britain convincing people to turn to God, throwing out the false priests of Pelagius known as snakes. St. Bede records in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People that this was accomplished by great miracles of healing. St. Patrick suggested fasting to turn a city from their heresy, but it would not turn, and at nocturns the third night the earth swallowed the city. Later, the same place that St. Germanus and St. Patrick had fasted with their company became the location that clerics went to fast. St. Patrick, who obeyed God's will, defended reverence for God's grace which is necessary for Salvation.
St. Patrick told St. Germanus that he had often heard the voice of the Irish children calling to him "come St. Patrick and make us saved." St. Germanus said that St. Patrick must go to Pope Celestine (Bishop of Rome from 422 to 432), to be consecrated, because it was proper to do so. But another had been sent to be Bishop of Ireland before him (Bishop Palladius), and St. Patrick had to wait. Bishop Palladius began missions, but he did not live very long.
St. Patrick went to the island of Alanensis in the Mediterranean sea (in the Lerins district, known as St. Honorat near Cannes in France) to pray, and was given Jesus Christ's own staff on Mount Arnum to hold him up. (An engraved stone on the side of the main monastery of the island records that St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, came there to study in the fifth century the sacred sciences in preparation for his mission to Ireland. The staff of Jesus Christ was publicly burned in Dublin in 1538 during the reign of king Henry VIII of England.) In 432, St. Patrick went back to St. Germanus, telling him of the vision and the staff. St. Patrick was then sixty years old. He was sent back to Pope Celestine, who had heard that Palladius had died. The chief consecrator of St. Patrick was Bishop Amatorex of Autissiodorens. Pope Celestine lived only a week after St. Patrick's consecration, and was succeeded by Sixtus III (432-440). Celestine gave St. Patrick relics and many books. At the moment of Patrick's consecration, the Pope also heard the voices of the children calling out: Crebriu and Lesru, two daughters of Glerand, recorded as Saints by St. Fiacc. Patrick later baptized the children. They said out of their mother's womb, "All of Ireland cries unto you." (This cry was to God, not to St. Patrick.)
St. Fiacc does not record the details of what happened at Tara, but this is recorded elsewhere. In 432, Easter coincided with the Druid (pagan) festival. No fire was supposed to be lit but the new lighting of the pagan fire. But St. Patrick lit the Easter fire first. The tradition warned King Laoghaire that if that fire were not stamped out, it would never afterward be extinguished in Erin. The king invited St. Patrick to Tara the next day. St. Patrick was reciting his Breastplate prayer (the "Deer's Cry") on the way from Slane to Tara on Easter Sunday. King Laoghaire had stationed soldiers along the road, expecting to intercept St. Patrick before Tara. The Tripartite Life says, "St. Patrick went with eight young clerics and St. Benen (commemorated November 9th) as a gillie with them, and St. Patrick gave them his blessing before they set out. A cloak of darkness went over them so that not a man of them appeared. Howbeit, the enemy who were waiting to ambush them, saw eight deer going past them, and behind them a fawn with a bundle on its back. That was St. Patrick with his eight, and St. Benen behind them with his tablets on his back." (The Tripartite Life was an eighth century book in three parts to be read in the three day celebration of St. Patrick's Day.)
The wizards before St. Patrick's time (Druids) predicted that an adze head would come over wild sea, his mantle hole-headed (vestments tailored with an opening for the head, not cloth wrapped as the Druids did), his staff crook-headed (Jesus Christ's Pastoral staff, not straight as the Druid's staves), his table in the anterior part of his house (an altar), and all his household (the church) will always answer, "Amen. Amen." They told the king that they would not hide the truth from him, that the posterity of this man would remain until doomsday, because he is the herald of the Prince of Peace.
St. Patrick was called by the Lord and sent to Ireland. He taught that the Trinity is ever with us to sustain us, even when all is misery. He knew firsthand. He taught that God loves us, despite the buffetings of the world.
St. Patrick was diligent until the day he died. He dispelled iniquity. He preached, he baptized, he prayed, he constantly praised God with Psalms, he sang one hundred Psalms every night, he slept on bare flagstone with a wet quilt about him, and his pillow was a pillar stone. He preached for three-score years (including the time before his consecration as bishop when he was a Priest under St. Germanus). St. Secundinus records in his hymn that St. Patrick bore the stigmata of Christ in his righteous flesh.
The folk of Ireland used to worship "si-de" (spirits). They did not believe the true Godhead of the true Trinity. But when St. Patrick was finished, all Ireland believed in the Holy Trinity, believed in Jesus Christ, did not follow nature spirits, and the court at Tara was replaced by the court of Christ at Armagh. In the Confessio, St. Patrick said that he was God's debtor for the great grace of baptism given to so many thousands, for the people reborn in God and then confirmed, and clerics ordained for them everywhere. "Not wishing to bore his readers," St. Patrick gives only a small mention of persecution even unto bonds, twelve dangers to his life, and numerous plots against him. For example, St. Odran, a charioteer for St. Patrick (commemorated February 9th) was warned of danger and pretended weariness, so St. Patrick took the reigns, and Odran in the place of honor was killed with a lance meant for St. Patrick.
When St. Patrick became ill, he decided to go to Armagh. He was met by an angel, who took him to see Victor, and Victor, speaking to him out of rushing fire, said, "Primacy to Armagh; to Christ render thanks. Unto heaven thou shalt go soon. Thy prayers have been granted: the hymn thou hast chosen in thy lifetime shall be a protecting corslet to all. Those men of Ireland that are with thee on the day of doom shall go to judgment."
One of the clergy, Tassach (commemorated April 14), remained with him and gave him Communion. St. Fiacc recalls Joshua: if the sun should stay still in the sky for the death of the wicked, how much more appropriate it should be for brightness to shine at the death of saints. Ireland's clerics came to wake St. Patrick from every road; the sound of the chanting (of angels) had prostrated them. They said that the place was overrun with singing birds: as Victor had appeared as a bird, they thought the winged angels were birds. St. Patrick's soul had separated from his body after pains. God's angels on the first night were waiting upon it without ceasing. When he departed, he went to the other St. Patrick (of Glastonbury, called "old Patrick" commemorated August 24th), because St. Patrick, son of Calpurnius, had promised old Patrick that they should go to heaven together. It is said that from the eighteenth of March to the twentythird of August, to the end of the first month of Autumn, St. Patrick was with angels about him awaiting old Patrick, and together they rose to Jesus, Mary's Son.
St. Fiacc said, "St. Patrick, without sign of vainglory, meditated much good. To be in the service of Mary's Son, it was a pious circumstance wherein he was born."
(Much later in the twelfth century, King Henry II of England, after his part in the death of St. Thomas Beckett, received permission from the Pope to take over Ireland, which had by that time sent its monks to educate all of Europe. The Irish monks read Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and other languages. Henry II ruled that no Irish were allowed to attend a seminary. All Irish monasteries in Europe were taken away, mistaking the term Scot which meant the Irish from the north, with Scotland. After that, all of Europe fell into an age of illiteracy which lasted until the Renaissance.)
Mary Ryan D'Arcy notes in, The Saints of Ireland, that, although the staff of Jesus Christ was burned, the hand bell of Saint Patrick and a reliquary box still exist.