St - The Legacy of St. Patrick History of Ireland Spring...

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The Legacy of St. Patrick History of Ireland Spring 2009 Kevin McCann
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Considered the Apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick has left a long lasting impression upon us. While many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day worldwide, there are many details of his life that will never be known. Many scholars have debated and still debate various aspects of St. Patrick’s life and legacy. 1 St. Patrick was one of the most influential bishops in Ireland, and though he was the primary source of information about himself, there are many blanks still not filled. There are two known works that Patrick left us with, the Confession, and his letter to the soldiers of Coroticus. Though they are very informative, both are left to interpretation due to Patrick’s style of writing. Unfortunately the secondary sources of information relating to St. Patrick are contradicting, possibly biased, and at worst, even outrageous. 2 Though Patrick may be considered Ireland’s Spiritual Father, he was not even Irish. Born a Briton to a deacon, Calpurnius, who was the son of a priest, Potitus, Patrick spent his early youth living in an estate near the village of Bannaventa Burniae. Sometime before reaching the age of 16 he committed a sin which not only gave him 1 New Catholic Encyclopedia 2 Collet's Holdings, Ltd. Staff, ed., Dictionary of the Middle Ages , (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1987), IX: 462. 2
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much grief, but also caused him trouble much later in life. He never does specify what that sin was. He also declares himself to be quite uneducated. 3 The date St. Patrick was born has been subject to much discussion as well. The number of different dates suggested may even be as great as the number of pagans Patrick converted to Christianity. All that can be said with some degree of certainty is that he was most likely born early in the fifth century. Unfortunately, the same vagaries apply to the dates of his missionary efforts and his death. When Patrick was of the age sixteen, he was taken captive and enslaved along with what he claims to be thousands of others, who like him, had departed from God and were deserving of their fate. While it may be safe to assume Irish raiders enslaved thousands if you considered the total of all their raids, it is highly unlikely the raiders had the manpower or transportation capability to abduct so many at one time. Of much greater likely hood is the possibility that Patrick is exaggerating here. He may have been in a state of shock, or being uneducated as he puts it, unknowing of how many a thousand truly is. On the issue of these supposed thousands being deserving of their fate, it would
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This note was uploaded on 03/04/2011 for the course HIS 241 taught by Professor Walsh during the Spring '09 term at Delaware County CC.

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St - The Legacy of St. Patrick History of Ireland Spring...

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