|THE CONFESSION of|
ST. PATRICK (Part 2)
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
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 their voice, they were those beside the Wood of
Voclut, which is near the Western Sea, and thus did they cry out as with
one mouth: `We ask thee, boy, 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
And another night, whether within me, or beside me, I know not, God
knoweth, they called me most unmistakably with words which I heard but
could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer He spoke thus:
`He that has laid down His life for thee, it is He that speaketh in thee';
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 helpeth the infirmities of our
prayer. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit
Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings, which cannot be expressed
in words; and again: The Lord our advocate asketh for us.
And when I was attacked by a number of my seniors who came forth and brought
up my sins against 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. 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
knoweth, 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 sayeth: He who toucheth you toucheth as it
were 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.
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
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 dwelleth 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
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.
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; and, should I be worthy, I am prepared to give even my life 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 Thee 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 Thee
as a light among the gentiles, that Thou mayest 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.
For that reason, therefore, we ought to fish well and diligently, as the
Lord exhorts in advance and teaches, saying: Come ye after me, and I will
make you to be fishers of men. And again He says through the prophets:
Behold, I send many fishers and hunters, saith God, 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: Going 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. And again He says:
Go ye therefore into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every
creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be condemned. 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. And so too the Lord announces through the prophet,
and says: And it shall come to pass, in the last days, saith 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. And in Osee, He
saith: `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.'
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, that
the sons and daughters of the kings of the Irish are seen to be monks and
virgins of Christ?
Part 3: The Confession of St. Patrick
Return to: Sources of British History
Translated from the Latin by Ludwig Bieler
Prime Ministers |
© 2002 Britannia.com