On the Life of St. Patrick
(Translated by Whitley Stokes)
Populus qui sedebat in tenebris vidit lucem magnam. The people that sat in darkness beheld a great light. Et sedentibus in regione et in umbra mortis lux orta eis. They that were in the land and in the shadow of death found a light whence came their illumination.
The Holy Spirit, the spirit which is nobler than every spirit, the spirit which inspired both churches of the Old Law and of the New Testament with the grace of wisdom and prophecy, it was that spirit which spake those words through the mouth of the chief prophet Isiah son of Amoz; de cujus laude dicitur quod non tam dicendus esset propheta quam evangelista. To praise him, St. Jerome said that it were meeter to call him an evangelist than a prophet, because of the clearness and the fitness for the New Testament wherewith he told the tidings of Christ. Ita enim universa Christi ecclesiaeque mysteria ad lucidum prosecutus est ut non eum putes de futuro vaticinari sed de praeterito historiam texere. For such was the clearness wherewith he told all the mysteries of Christ and the Holy Church that one would not think that it was a prophecy of things to come he was making, but a declaration of things already foregone after they had been done completely.
Now one of his manifest prophecies is what is here set forth through a narrative of what is past.
Populus qui sedebat in tenebris vidit lucem magnam. The people that sat in darkness beheld a great light. Now the prophet has a parallel passage as far as the place where previously in the same story he said primo tempore allevata terra Zabulon et terra Neptalim, there came with ... of time, great glory and renown to the tribe of Zabulon and to the tribe of Naphtali. Inde dicitur, after these words he said, Populus qui sedebat in tenebris. The people who sat in darkness if [we go] according to history, this was the people
Now one of the splendours which the Sun of righteousness shed upon the world was the splendour, and the flame, the precious stone and shining lamp which enligthened the west of the world, Sanctus Patricius Episcopus, to wit, holy Patrick, high bishop of the west of the world, father of the baptism and belief of the men of Ireland.
Now the day whereon there is told and set forth, in the churches of the Christians, somewhat of his miracles and marvels, and of the parents of whom he was born, and of the earthly stock of the holy Patrick, is the sixteenth of the Kalends of April as to the day of the solar month.
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.
At Nemthur, now, was he born, and (as to) the flagstone on which he was born, when any one commits perjury thereunder, it sheds water as if it were bewailing the false declaration. If his oath is true the stone abides in its proper nature.
Now when the holy Patrick was born, he was brought to be baptized to the blind flat-faced youth named Gornias. But Gornias had not water wherewith he could perform the baptism, so with the infant's hand he made the sign of the cross over the earth, and a wellspring of water brake therefrom. Gornias put the water on his own face, and it healed him at once, and he understood the letters (of the alphabet), though he had never seen them before. Now here at one time God wrought a threefold miracle for Patrick, the wellspring of water from the earth, and his eyesight to the blind youth, and skill in reading aloud the order of baptism without knowing the letters beforehand. Thereafter Patrick was baptized.
The holy Patrick was reared at Nemthur until he was a lad; and overmany to recount and declare are the miracles and marvels that the Lord wrought for him in his childhood and in his boyhood, for the grace of God accompanied him at every age and in every thing that he did. But we will relate a few of the many of them.
Once upon a time came a flood of water into the house wherein was Patrick, and quenched all the fire, and the vessels were afloat. Patrick then went to a dry place which was in the house and dipt his five fingers into the water, and the five drops which trickled from them became sparks of fire, and that fire was kindled in the house, and the water at once ceased to rise, and God's name and Saint Patrick's were magnified through that miracle.
At another time Patrick brought a lapful of pieces of ice and left them on the floor in the presence of his fostermother. ‘We rather need a faggot of withered sticks for fire,’ said his fostermother. Then Patrick put the ice upon the fire, and breathed under it, and it blazed like withered sticks. So God's name and Patrick's were magnified thereby.
At another time a wolf went and carried off a sheep of the flock from Patrick when he was shepherding; and his fostermother rebuked him much for the loss of the sheep. But as Patrick was at the same place the next day, the wolf came and shewed the sheep safe before him, [which thing was a marvel] for up to that time restitution from him was not usual. God's name and Patrick's were magnified therein.
At another time Patrick went along with his fosterfather to a meeting of the Britons. When they came to the meeting the
On a time his fostermother was unthankful to him because he brought no honey from the combs as the little boys of the hamlet were wont to bring to their mothers. Patrick fills a vessel out of the stream that was nearest to him, and he blessed the water, and it was turned to honey, and he gave it to his fostermother, so that she had it for relics, and it used to cure every disease and every illness.
Once upon a time there died the son of a certain woman, who used to help his (Patrick's) fostermother in milking her kine. So the fosteress said to her ‘Bring with thee thy (dead) son into the cowshed this day, as thou wert used to bring him every day,’ and thus it was done. Now as the women were milking, and the dead child on the floor of the byre, his fosteress gave new milk to Patrick, and said to him ‘Call to thee thy comrade that he as well as thou may drink it.’ Patrick said ‘ Come, my comrade, that we may drink it together,’ and at Patrick's call the boy arose at once from death, and then they both drank it equally together.
At another time as Patrick and his sister Lupait were herding sheep, the lambs came, as was their wont, suddenly to their mothers. When Patrick and his sister saw that, they ran swiftly to separate the lambs, and the girl fell down, and her head struck against a stone, so that death was near her. Patrick came to her without delay, and made the sign of the cross over the wound so that it healed without any disease therefrom.
Once upon a time Patrick's fostermother went to milk a cow, and he went to drink a draught of new milk. The cow goes mad in the byre. A devil entered into her so that she killed five other kine. Great sadness was upon his fostermother for the destruction of the kine, and she told him to bring them to life. Thereafter he brought the (dead) kine to life and the mad cow he cures.
At another time the king's steward ordered Patrick's fostermother to cleanse the hearth of the palace at Dumbarton. So Patrick came with his fostermother on the way to cleanse the hearth. Then the angel came to Patrick and said to him ‘make prayer, and this work will not be needed of thee.’ So Patrick prayed, and the
At another time the king's steward went to demand curds and butter of Patrick's fostermother, and naught had she could give for the tribute. Then of the snow Patrick made the curds and the butter, and they were taken from him to the king. Now when those things were shewn to the king, they changed into their own nature. After that, the king always forgave the tribute to Patrick, so God's name and Patrick's were magnified through that miracle.
But the number of miracles and of wonders which Patrick in his childhood wrought in those lands, it is not possible for any one to enumerate or relate them.
Now this was the cause of Patrick's coming to Ireland. Seven sons of Sechtmad, to wit, seven sons of the King of Britain, were in exile. They wrought rapine in the land of Britain, and Ulstermen were along with them, and so they brought Patrick in captivity to Ireland, and his two sisters Tigris and Lupait, and they sold Patrick to Míliucc maccu Buain, that is, to the King of Dalaraide, and to his three brothers, and they sold his two sisters in Conaille Muirthemne, and nothing was well known of them, (that is) and no one of them knew into what land another was sold.
Now Patrick served the king and his three brothers, wherefore there was given unto him the name of Cothraige, that is, the slave of four persons. Now four names had he, to wit, Succet, his name from his parents: Cothraige, when he served the four persons: Magonius (i.e.magis agens, his name with Germanus: Patricius (that is, "father of citizens") his name with Peter's successor, Celestinus.
Now when Míliucc saw that Patrick was a faithful slave, he bought him from the other three that he might serve him alone. And he served him to the end of seven years after the custom of the Hebrews, and what was committed unto him was the herding of swine in the wilderness of Sliab Mis.
Howbeit, Victor an angel, used to come to speak unto him, and to teach him as to performing devotion, that is, one
Now the time of Patrick's release from bondage drew nigh, for the heathen were wont to free their slaves in the seventh year. As Míliucc could not think how (else) he could detain Patrick, he bought a bondmaid and wedded her to Patrick. On the bridalnight, when they were put into a house apart, then Patrick preached to the bondmaid, and they spent the whole night in prayer. On the next morning Patrick beheld the white scar on the bondmaid's face, and he asked of her the cause of the scar. Said the bondmaid, ‘when I was in Nemtur in Britain, I fell, and my head struck against a stone, so that death was near me. When my brother Succet beheld the wound, he made the sign of Christ's cross over it, so that I was well at once.’ Patrick said this—‘I myself am thy brother, and I am he that healed thee.’ They then gave thanks to God, and go into the wilderness.
Now when Patrick was in the wilderness, he heard the voice of the angel, saying to him, ‘Ready is the ship wherein thou mayest fare to Italy to learn the scriptures.’ Said Patrick, ‘I have not the price (of my ransom) in gold for my lord, and without that he will not allow me (to leave him).’ The angel said to him, ‘Mind thou the herd to-day, and thou wilt see a boar uprooting the earth, and he will bring a mass of gold thereout, and give thou that gold to thy lord for thy head, and fare forth from this land to learn wisdom and piety.’ He watched the boar and found the mass of gold, and gave it for his head to his lord, who consented to let him go, for he was glad at the gold.
Patrick then went on (his) way, and found a ship with her crew of heathen. And he had welcome of them, and they took him with them oversea. His master Míliucc was sorry for letting him leave. He went after him; and overtook him not, and Míliucc loved not the gold thereafter.
Then Patrick on his road was captured in a foray, and he was with them (the reavers) the time of two months. Patrick made prayer, and God delivered him, so that he came safe to his parents. His parents
Then went Patrick to learn wisdom and piety in the south-east of Italy, unto bishop German, and he tarried with him for thirty years, learning the holy scripture, and fulfilling it in humble and lowly wise. And another thirty years was his age when he went to German. Thirty years was he learning, sixty preaching in Ireland.
He bade farewell to German, and German gave him his blessing, and a chief priest went with him to testify of him to Peter's successor as to every grade, to wit, Segetius the priest was his name.
Thereafter Patrick went upon the Tyrrhene sea: it was there he met with the island. He saw the new house and a young married couple therein, and in the door of the house he beheld a withered old hag. ‘Who may the hag be?’ said Patrick, ‘She is a daughter's daughter of mine,’ replied the young man, ‘and her mother is dead of decay.’ ‘What caused that?’ said Patrick. ‘Christ came to us when he was among men,’ said the youth, ‘and we made a feast for him. He blessed our dwelling and ourselves. Now the blessing did not visit our children, and unto us he foretold that thou wouldst come to us, and he left his staff with us to be given to thee.’ ‘I will not take it,’ said Patrick, ‘until he himself gives it to me.’
Therafter he went to a certain chief bishop who conferred episcopal rank upon him. He afterwards fared to Rome, and found honour and reverence from the Romans and from the Abbot whose name was Celestinus.
He it was who had sent a man of his family to Ireland to sow belief and faith among the men of Ireland—Palladius was his name,—with twelve men, to preach to the Gael, for unto Peter's successor belong the bettering of the whole of Europe, and the headship thereof. When Palladius arrived in the province of Leinster, Nathí, son of Garrchu, son of Fothad, son of Echaid Redhand, son of Mesincorb, withstood him and expelled him from thence.
He then fared forth on his road, four and twenty men were his number, and he found a ship in readiness before him on the strand of the sea of Britain. When Patrick came into the boat, a leper was asking him for a place, and there was no empty place therein. So he put out before him (to swim in the sea) the stone altar whereon he used to make offering every day. Sed tamen, God wrought a great miracle here, to wit, the stone went not to the bottom, nor did it stay behind them. But it swam round about the boat until it arrived in Ireland.
Then Patrick saw a dense ring of demons around Ireland, to wit, a six days' journey from it on every side.
When Patrick came to Inver Dea in the territory of Leinster, and to a certain hamlet hard by, he found no welcome in them, and Patrick cursed that rivermouth, wherefore it is barren (of fish) from that to this, and the sea hath come over that land. Nathí, son of Garrchu, was he who denied Patrick.
Patrick afterwards passed over sea to Ulster to seek Míliuc, King of Dalaraide, to preach the name of God, as it was with him he was in servitude at first, that it might be to him he should first preach, and the service to Míliuc's body and to his soul might thus be complete. Howbeit Míliuc came against him with great hosts of heathens, and would not let him land, since Loegaire had ordered the men of Ireland that they should not let Patrick on land: for his soothsayers had foretold to Loegaire, five years before, that Patrick would arrive in Ireland, to wit, Lochra and Lothrach and
And every princedom and every worship and every might that will not be humble to him shall ebb away, and out of his own princedom he shall perfect [his followers] for ever.
- An Adzehead shall come across stormy (?) sea:
His mantle hole-headed, his staff crook-headed:
His dish in the east of his house:
All his people shall answer himAmen, Amen;
Patrick went afterwards in his boat to Inverslany, and there came against him Díchu son of Trechem, and he set against him a fierce hound which he had. Sed tamen Patrick made the sign of the cross of the Lord against it, and he chanted the prophetic verse, ‘ne tradas, Domine, bestiis animas confitentium tibi’, and the hound stopt in that place and was unable to stir. Then Díchu bared his brand, and went to kill Patrick. Patrick made the sign of Christ's cross against him, so that he could not stir either foot or hand. Thereafter Díchu repented and knelt before Patrick and gave him his full will, and Díchu believed in one God, and he and great hosts along with him were baptized, and he gave that land (whereon he was converted) to God and to Patrick. In that place Patrick built a church which is called Saball Patraic to-day, and he foretold to Díchu that it would be there he should go to heaven. And he gave a great blessing to Díchu and to his children, ut dixit Patricius then—
- God's blessing on Díchu who granted me the Barn.
He shall have therefor the holy, all pure ... habitation.
God's blessing on Díchu, who forgives (?) blood:
No children or race of his shall be a lasting law in hell.
Patrick afterwards went to teach Míliuc as he had (before) proceeded. When Míliuc heard that Patrick was on his way to him, he closed his house upon himself and upon all his wealth, and he set fire to himself in it so that he was burnt with all his goods, in order that he might not believe in Patrick. Patrick, seeing the fire, stopt and he said—
And when Patrick had uttered these words he returned right-handwise by the same road again into the land of Ulster until he reached Mag Inis (and came) to Díchu, son of Trichem, and there he staid for a long time.
- The man who had resolved (?) upon this
That he might not believe in me and in the Lord
And his soul shall be in hell for ever.
Patrick went afterwards to Saball southward, and preached to Ross, son of Trichem. It was he that dwelt at Derlus to the south of Dún Lethglasse. A small town is there to-day whose name is Brechtain, the place wherein is Bishop Loairn.
As Patrick was (going) along his way he saw the tender youth herding swine, Mochoa was his name. Patrick preached to him, and baptized and tonsured him and gave him a gospel and a reliquary, and at another time he gave him a crozier which had been sent to them from God, its head falling in Patrick's bosom and its foot in Mochoa's bosom. This is the Eittech of Mochoa of Noendruim; and he ordered a shaven pig (to be given) every year to Patrick, and it is still given.
Patrick bade farewell to Díchu, and proceeds to Tara to speak unto Loegaire. [He sailed] along the sea to Mag Breg, [and stopped in Inver Colptha,] and he found great welcome in that place from a certain gentleman who both believed in him with all his people and was baptized, wherefore with him he (Patrick) left his boat.
A little boy was in the house gave love to Patrick, and took hold of his leg as he was going into the chariot, and his family bestow him on Patrick, and Patrick takes him with him, and this is Benén, Patrick's gillie.
It was then a certain impious wizard named Mantais reviled Patrick. Patrick is enraged with him, and he makes a thrust of Jesus' crozier at him, and he fell before the hosts, and the earth swallowed him, whence is [the saying] noconuil amáin Mántais.
Patrick went thereafter to Ferta Fer Feicc. Fire is kindled by him at that place on the eve of Easter. Loegaire is enraged when he sees the fire. For that was a prohibition of Tara which the Gael had, and no one would dare kindle a fire in Ireland on that day until
Tunc dixit rex: ‘it shall not be so, but we will go to him and kill him.’ The king arises with his host to see Patrick and kill him; but they did not arrive before the end of night. When the king drew nigh his wizards said to him ‘go not thou to him,’ said they, ‘that it may not be a token of honour to him. But let him come to thee and let none rise up before him.’ Thus was it done. When Patrick saw the horses and the chariots, he then sang this verse: ‘Hi in curribus et hi in equis, nos autem in nomine domini Dei nostri magni.’ But, when Patrick came in to the assembly, only the son of Deg rose up before him, that is Bishop Erc, who is (venerated) at Slane.
Then came one of the wizards, to wit, Lochru, fiercely and angrily against Patrick, and reviled the Christian faith. Tunc sanctus Patricius dixit: ‘O my Lord, it is Thou that canst do all things: in Thy power they are: it is Thou that sentest us hither. Let this impious one, who is blaspheming Thy name, now destroyed in the presence of all.’
Swifter than speech, at Patrick's word, demons raised the wizard into the air, and they let him go (down) against the earth, and his head struck against a stone, and dust and ashes were made of him in the presence of all, and trembling and intolerable dread seized the hosts that were there.
Loegaire was enraged with Patrick, and went to kill him. When Patrick perceived the attack of the heathen upon him, he then said, with a mighty voice, ‘Exsurgat Deus et dissipentur inimici ejus.’ Came a great earthquake and thunder there, and a wind, and scattered the chariots and the horse afar on every side, so that they came even to Bríg Graide and Sliab Moenuirnn, and they were all slaughtering each other through Patrick's curse, and there were left along with the king but four persons only in that place, to wit, himself and his wife and two of his priests.
When terror seized the queen she went to Patrick and said to him, ‘O righteous one and O mighty one, kill not the king, for he shall submit to thee, and give thee thine own will.’ The king came and gave his will to Patrick by word of mouth, but gave it not from his heart; and he told Patrick to go after him to Tara that he might give him his will before the men of Ireland. That,
Thereafter went Patrick (and his train of) eight, together with a gillie Benén, past all the ambushes, in the shape of eight deer and behind them one fawn with a white bird on its shoulder, that is, Benén with Patrick's book-satchel on his back; and thereafter he went into Tara, the doors being shut, to the middle of the palace. The king was then feasting with the kings of Ireland around him at this festival, for that was the Feast of Tara.
No one rose up before Patrick at Tara except the king's poet, Dubthach Macculugair, and he believed and was baptized, and Patrick gave him a blessing.
Patrick is then called to the king's couch that he might eat food, and Patrick refused not that. The wizard Lucatmael put a drop of poison into Patrick's cruse, and gave it into Patrick's hand: but Patrick blessed the cruse and inverted the vessel, and the poison fell thereout, and not even a little of the ale fell. And Patrick afterwards drank the ale.
Then said the king to his gillie Crunnmael, ‘Go out on the causeway of Tara, and lay thee down thereon and let them rub dough mixed with blood about thy head, and let them say that thou fellest upon the stones and that thou diedst, and I will tell the cleric to come to bring thee life, and though he tell thee to rise, arise not.’ Thus was it done. When Patrick saw the body, God made manifest to him that guile was practised on him, wherefore he said—
It is certain that Crunnmael was not healed by Patrick's word, and from that time forth he arose not.
- O my Crunnmael, O my bald youth, O my hero,
Though thou attainedst one thing, though thou hast not attained, thou hast not arisen,
Though thou hast fallen, though thou hast not fallen upon the stones—a final deed
Thou thou attainedst one thing, though thou hast not attained, thou art not healed.
Thereafter the hosts fared forth out of Tara. Then said the wizard, ‘Let us work miracles together that we may know which of us is the stronger.’ ‘So be it done,’ said Patrick. Then
The wizard invoked demons, and over the plain he brought darkness that could be felt, and trembling and terror seized every one. Dixit Patricius: ‘Take away the darkness si potes.’ The wizard replied, ‘I cannot till the same time to-morrow.’ Patrick blessed the plain and the darkness at once depart, and the sun shone forth ... All who were there gave thanks to God and to Patrick.
Tunc dixit rex, ‘Put your books into water, and him of you whose books escape we will adore.’ ‘I am ready for that,’ saith Patrick. Said the wizard, ‘a god of water this man adores, and I will not submit to the ordeal of water.’ That was the grace of Baptism which he had perceived with Patrick.
Said the king, ‘Put your books into the fire.’ ‘I am ready for that,’ saith Patrick. ‘I will not do thus,’, saith the wizard, ‘for this man adores a god of fire every two years,’ that is, it was the grace of the Holy Ghost he perceived with Patrick. Then another counsel was taken, that is, to build a house in that hour—the half thereof fresh and the other withered, and to put the wizard into the fresh half with Patrick's raiment about him, (and) to place Patrick's gillie, Benén, into the withered half, with the wizard's tunic about him.
Then came to Patrick three striplings, who were kept in hostageship with Loegaire. They weep unto Patrick. Patrick asked, ‘What is that, my sons?’ ‘In the chief city of the Gael a prince's truth,’ say they, ‘hath to-day been broken.’ ‘Where is this?’ saith Patrick. ‘The house which is abuilding for the wizard and thy gillie, in this wise is it abuilding: half thereof fresh and half withered; the fresh half for the wizard and the withered for thy gillie.’
Patrick put his finger on the right cheek of each of those boys, and on his left palm he put a tear (which had trickled) over the right cheek of each boy; and he breathed on the tears, and made thereof three gems. ‘Swallow,’ saith Patrick, ‘the gems.’ ‘We will swallow (them),’, say they. ‘Good, now,’, saith Patrick:
It was done as the striplings had said; and fire was put into the house, and the fresh half is burnt with the wizard therein, and Patrick's raiment which was about him was not burnt, nor the gillie, but the wizard's tunic which was about him was burnt.
The king grows terrible (?) at the killing of the wizard, and he proceeds to kill Patrick. But God's anger came against the impious folk, so that a multitude of them (twelve thousand) perished.
Terror then seized Loegaire, and he knelt to Patrick, and believed in God with (his) lips only, and not with a pure heart. All the rest, moreover, believe and were baptized.
Patrick said to Loegaire, ‘Since thou hast believed in God, length of life shall be given to thee in the kingdom, but in guerdon of thy disobedience aforetime, and because thou hast not received the baptism with desire, though thou believedst with thy lips, Hell shalt thou have, and from thy race till Doom there shall be neither sovranty nor chieftainship.’
But the queen besought Patrick not to curse the child that was in her womb, namely Lugaid, son of Loegaire. Patrick said: ‘I will not curse him till he opposes me.’ Now Lugaid took the realm of Ireland; and thereafter he came to Achad farcha and there he said, ‘is not that the church of the cleric who said there would never be a king nor crownprince of our seed?’ Swifter than speech a bolt of fire was hurled against him and killed him. Wherefore thence is called Achad farcha in Ui Cremthainne.
Patrick then goes to the Assembly of Telltown, to the sons of Niall. Maine believed in him, and he was afterwards baptized. But Coirpre, son of Niall, opposed him, and the name which Patrick gave him was Inimicus Dei, and Patrick said that his children would serve his brother's children for ever; and that neither kings nor bishops nor wise men should spring from him, and that his land would be small, and the issue was so.
But Conall (i.e. Cremthann), son of Niall, believed, and was baptized, and gave the place where he was to Patrick, and a church was built there which is named Domnach Patraic, and Patrick gave him a blessing, and measured out a rampart in
Then three of Ui Meith Mendait Tire stole (and ate) one of the two goats that used to carry water for Patrick, and came to swear a lie. It bleated from the bellies of the three. ‘My debroth’ said Patrick, ‘the goat himself hides not the stead wherein he is.’
He afterwards went to the men of Bregia and mightily preached the word of God unto them, and baptized and blessed them.
He visited the Ford of Hurdles (Dublin) and found great welcome there, and Patrick said that there would be rank and primacy in that place, even as shall be still fulfilled.
Patrick went a round of the Leinstermen, and preacheth the word of God to them, and baptized and blessed them; and the sons of Dunlaing with mighty hosts believed in the Lord and in Patrick, and they gave him his will, wherefore they have the kingship thence for ever.
Drichú was king of Ui Garrchon before Patrick, and a daughter of Loeguire, son of Niall, he had to wife. He rejecteth Patrick at Rath Inbir for Loeguire's sake, but Cillíne welcomed him and killed his only cow for Patrick and gave him a cup which had been bestowed upon him in the king's house. Then Patrick said to the cooking woman—
- O woman, cherish thy child!
A great boar cometh of a pigling
From a spark groweth a flame.
Thy child shall be alive, shall be safe.
- The corn
That is best of earth's plants
Is Marcan, son of Cillíne:
he will be the best of the Ui Garrchon.
Patrick afterwards went into Ossory and founded churches and church-buildings there, and said there would be noble laymen and clerics of the men of Ossory, and that no province would prevail against them as long as they should obey Patrick.
Patrick afterwards bade farewell to the men of Ossory at Belach Gabrain, and he left with them Martin, an elder, and a party of his people where Martharthech is at this day in Mag Raigne.
Patrick passed afterwards by Belach Gabrain into the province of Munster, and preached to the territories and to the churches, so that they believed and were baptized, and he blessed them. And with them he left priests instructing (them) and practising piety.
When he reached Mag Femin, he was received by Oengus, son of Natfraech, King of Munster. Oengus made him great welcome and brought him to his house to Cashel. Patrick preached to him. The hinder end of the crozier went through his foot, and wounded it greatly. Patrick said, ‘Why didst thou not protect thyself?’ ‘Methought,’ saith Oengus, ‘that it was a rite of religion.’ Said Patrick, ‘Blood shall not be shed in this place from to-day till Doom, and of all those that shall succeed thee but one king shall be slain.’
Oengus is baptized with great hosts along with him. Patrick blessed Oengus upon Lia Cathraige (Cathraige's stone), whereon the kings were appointed to office at Cashel.
Patrick blessed the Eoganacht and went to Ormond. Patrick preached to them and baptized them, and left with them blessing and prosperity. He goes the rounds of all the Munstermen, and preached to them and baptized them and blessed them, and leaves churches and clerics with them. Patrick bade them farewell and gave them a fervent blessing, ut dixit -
- God's blessing on Munster, men, children, women.
Blessing on the land which gives them fruit,
Blessing on each wealth which is brought forth on their marches
Without any need (?) of help. God's blessing on Munster.
- Blessing on their peaks, on their bare flagstones,
Blessing on their glens, blessing on their ridges,
On slopes, on plains, on mountains, on peaks!
Thereafter Patrick came to Armagh at the angel's word, and he arrived at Rath Daire, the fort of Daire, a wealthy, venerable man, who was in Oriors, to wit, Daire, son of Findchad, son of Eogan, son of Niallan. He gave a site for a high church to Patrick in the stead where the Ferta is to-day.
When the building of the close was finished, and its grass grew greatly, Daire's gillie brought his good horse into the close to the grassplot (?) This vexed Patrick greatly, and the gillie came on the morrow in the morning, and found his horse dead in the close. The gillie went away sorrowfully, and told Daire that his horse was killed by the cleric. Daire ordered the cleric himself to be killed for it, Daire died anon at that word. Said Daire's wife, ‘The cause of this death is the wrong which he wrought against the cleric. Go quickly and give him his will.’ The messengers went to Patrick, and they told him what had happened therein. Patrick sained water and puts it over the horse and over the man, and both arise from death.
Said Daire to twain of his people, ‘Take my caldron of copper to the cleric.’ Patrick said when the caldron had come to him, ‘Gratzacham,’ that is, Deo gratias ago. Daire asked of his servants what the cleric had said. ‘Gratzacham,’ say the servants. ‘That is a good price for a copper caldron!’ saith Daire, ‘go ye and bring it back from him.’ The caldron is brought back from Patrick. ‘Gratzacham,’ saith Patrick. Daire asked of the servants what Patrick said at the taking away of the caldron from him. ‘The same gratzacham,’ say they. ‘The word is a good one with him,’ saith Daire, ‘the gratzacham on taking it from him and the gratzacham in giving it to him.’
Daire himself went with his caldron, and gave Patrick his will, bestowing on him the stead wherein Armagh is at this day (now Ard Sailech had been its name till then), and Daire afterwards went round the land.
On the night thereafter Patrick beheld in a vision Victor, an angel, coming to him with Ireland's elders along with him, and they marked out the city in his presence, and the place of the temple and of the kitchen and of the guest-house, and he went right-hand-wise round the rampart, and Patrick behind him with his bachaill Ísu—Jesu's crozier—in his hand, and Ireland's elders chanting around him.
Patrick afterwards built the city in the same wise as it had appeared to him. And the angel said to him: ‘Abundant
Overmany to recount and declare are all the wonders and miracles which Patrick wrought around Armagh.
Thereafter Patrick went to Rome for the third time, and he brought relics of Paul and Peter and Stephen and Lawrence and many martyrs besides, and reliquaries and books and a sheet with Christ's blood thereon, and they were laid up here by Patrick in Paul and Peter's shrine.
Thereafter Patrick gat him into the wilderness, that is, to Cruachan Oigle, after the manner of Moses and Elias and Christ, and for forty days and forty nights he fasted in that place, having four stones about him and a stone under him, even as Moses fasted on Mount Sinai when the Law was delivered unto him. For they, Moses and Patrick, were alike in many ways. One hundred and twenty years was the age of them both. Each was a leader of people: forty nights on mountains they fasted, and the burial-places of both are uncertain.
Now when [the solemn festival of] Easter was at hand, the mountain was filled against him with devils in the shapes of black birds. Patrick sings psalms of cursing against them, and he weeps and strikes his bell, until a gap broke in it, ut dixit Patricius -
- I fear go to the round (?) Rick:
bands without piety (are) against me,
Fear has seized me for a time,
ten hundred heads (are) contending with me.
The devils flee at once upon the sea, as far as eye can reach, and drown themselves in that place, and no devil visited the land of Ireland from that time to the end of seven days and seven months and seven years.
Then there came a great host of angels in the shapes of white birds, and they sang noble music to the Lord to comfort Patrick. Some say that it is an equal number he will take with him to heaven.
Then the angel Victor said to him, ‘Go to thy people for the solemn festival of Easter.’ Patrick said, ‘Since I was tormented,
Patrick struck his bell, so that all the men of Ireland, both living and dead, heard it. Thereafter he blessed the men of Ireland from the Rick, and he orders seven of his household (who are still) alive to guard the men of Ireland, to wit, a man at Cruachan Aigle, and a man at Benn Gulbain, and a man in Sliab Bethad, and a man in Sliab Cua, and the married pair at Cluain Iraird and Domangort of Sliab Slangai.
He went from the Rick thereafter, and celebrated Easter at Achad Fobair.
Patrick and Brigit along with him went to Essruaid, and he was minded to erect a church and a holy dwelling there at a place wherein to-day is Disert Patraic. Cairbre, son of Niall, rejected him, and he sent two of his people to cast him forth, Carbaic and Cuangus (were) their names. ‘What thou hast done is not good,’ said Patrick; ‘hadst thou permitted me to settle here, my city, with its [river of] Essruaid through the middle thereof, would have been a second Rome of Latium with its Tiber flowing through it and thy descendants would have been (my) successors therein.’ But Coirpre refused that. Now Patrick blessed Conall, son
Saith Brigit -
- A man-child shall be born of his family:
He will be a sage, a prophet, a poet.
Dear the luminary, pure, bright,
Who will never utter falsehood.
- Man-child of Ethne, the white-sided,
He is bright, he is a blossoming (?)
Colomb Cille, fair without blemish,
It was not oversoon to perceive him.
Now after that Patrick blessed Conall, son of Niall, and he foretold that sovranty over Ireland (would descend) from him, and also noble laics and clerics, and he left a blessing on his people and on his rivermouths, and he afterwards came into Tyrone, and there Patrick and Sechnall promised a reward to Muiredach, son of Eogan, if he would prevail on his father to believe in God. ‘What reward?’ saith Muiredach. ‘Kingship shall be from thee for ever,’ saith Sechnall. ‘Thus will I do,’ saith Muiredach; and thus it was done, and Eogan believed in God and in Patrick.
Patrick fared thence to Ailech of the Kings, and he blessed it, and left his flagstone there, and foretold that the kingship and supremacy of Ireland would be out of Ailech, and he left blessing of valour upon Eogan and his sons, saying to them—
- A blessing on the territories
I give from Belach Ratha:
There shall be of Eogan's race
pilgrims till Doomsday;
- So long as plain shall be under crops,
victory of battle shall be with their men:
The head of the host of men of Fál (be) to their place:
power (?) to them over every hearth:
- The race of Eogan, son of Niall,
sain, O fair Brigit!
Provided they do good
a king [will be] of them for ever.
- The blessing of us both
upon Eogan, son of Niall,
Upon every one who shall be born of him
provided they be wholly at our will.
Thereafter Patrick fared into the province of Ulster to Maginis, and there Patrick met a ruthless man who was spoiling and killing the congregation—MacCuill was his name, ut dixit to his people ‘This is Adzehead, let us go and make an attack upon him, to see if perchance his god will help him.’ They afterwards brought one of their people upon a bier, as though he were dead, to be raised from death by Patrick. Garván was the name of that man. ‘Heal for us,’ they say ‘this man of our family.’ Ut dixit Patricius—
- Garván's mantle
Shall be upon a dead man's body,
But this, besides, I will make known to you
It is Garván that shall be under it.
Then his people put the mantle off Garván's face and thus they found him, dead. So the heathen believed and were baptized, and Garván was raised to life from death by Patrick's word.
What God wrought of wonders and miracles for the holy Patrick are over-many to recount or declare; for there were sixty books and seven written of them, and still they are not all (set forth).
Now Patrick hath been likened to the patriarchs—for first, (he was) a true pilgrim, like Abraham; meek, forgiving, like Moses; a psalmist of God's praise was he like David son of Jesse; studious of wisdom, like Solomon,; a chosen vessel to proclaim the truth, like apostle Paul; a man full of the grace and loving-kindness of the Holy Ghost, like John son of Zebedee; a lion in strength and courage to bring the impious and wicked of the world to faith and belief; a serpent in cunning and prudence for observing every attack; a dove, mild and gentle in heart's desire and perfect word and righteous deed; a laborious servant to the Creator as to piety and humility, and instruction in every goodness, as many relate.
Now, this was the rule of his piety, to wit, he used to sing all the psalms with their hymms and canticles and apocalypse, and other prayers every day. He used to baptize, to preach, and to celebrate the hours according to their due order: he used to offer Christ's Body and his Blood. He used to make the sign of the cross over his face a hundred times from one (canonical) hour to another. In the first watch of the night he used to sing a hundred psalms and make two hundred genuflexions. In
Now when Patrick came to the ending days, while he was at Saball in Mag-inis in the province of Ulster, he sets out on the road to Armagh that he might die therein. He sees the brake blazing before him, and the fire was not burning the brake, and Victor an angel (was) speaking to him thereout, ut dixit to him—
Then Patrick said—
- Thou shalt not go to Armagh,
for thou promisedst
To Trechem's sons
that with them thy resurrection would be.
- If here be my resurrection,
Armagh will be my church:
My freedom is not in my own power,
it is the common bondage.
- Armagh I used to love:
a dear thorpe, a dear hill,
A fort which my soul haunteth.
Emain of the heroes shall be waste.
that is, ‘Thy grace, and thy dignity, and thy primacy (will be) in Armagh’ said the angel, ‘though thy resurrection will be here.’
- Since thy resurrection is here,
thou shalt have what is better-
All Ireland from top to bottom,
Armagh thy church.
Thereafter Patrick sent (forth) his spirit, and he received communion and sacrifice from Bishop Tassach's hand, after gaining victory and triumph over the world and the Devil and vices. And he sent his spirit to the Lord, for whom he had done service and warfare on earth.
A great host of heaven's angels came with a great light to attend him, wherefore it was they that waked the body on that night. And Ireland's elders heard the quiring of the angels on that night. Ireland's elders came for twelve nights with psalms and hymns, and the light and the angelic odour failed them not, but abode in the whole land to a year's end.
There grew up a great strife between the men of Oriel and the men of Ulster about the body, and an arm of sea arose
Patrick was buried, with honour and veneration, with daily wonders and miracles, in Dunlethglasse.
And though great is his honour still among men, his honour will be still greater at the meeting of Doom, where he will be like every chief apostle, passing judgement on the men of Ireland unto whom he preached. It is there he will shine forth like the sun in the union of saints and holy virgins of the world; in union of patriarchs and prophets; in the union of apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ, Son of living God; in the union of the Manhood of Jesus Christ son of God; in the union which is nobler than every (other) union; in the union of the holy, noble, venerable Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
I implore God's mercy through Patrick's intercession! May we all attain to that union, may we deserve it, may we dwell there in saecula saeculorum! Amen!
Background details and bibliographic information
compiled by Ruth Murphy
Funded by University College, Cork and Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
College Road, Cork, Ireland (2000)
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