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Posted August 28, 2013
short but recommended biography of Patrick
Many people think of “Saint Patrick” only as the name of a holiday that gives them leave to drink lots and lots of beer and maybe parade around publicly in green underwear. However, I doubt that the individual for whom the day is named would approve of such behavior. Patrick (Latin Patricius) was a fifth century Roman-British Christian missionary to Ireland. He was born in the latter part of the fourth century, possibly around A.D. 387, at Bonavem Taberniae, an unknown location in Roman Britain. His father Calpurnius was a Roman civil magistrate in Britain and also a deacon in the church. His grandfather Potitus was a minister. His mother Conchessa taught him to pray, but he apparently did not become a Christian while living at home.
At the age of sixteen, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders while working on his father’s farm near the seaside and taken to Ireland to be a slave around A.D. 405. During his six years of slavery among the pagan Celts, he decided to give his life to Christ. After his escape, it is believed that he spent some years in Europe, mostly in Gaul (France), studying at various monasteries. Eventually, he returned to his family in Britain but decided to become a missionary and go back to Ireland. He was eventually sent around A.D. 431 to replace Palladius who is believed to have been martyred. During the next thirty years or so he founded 300 churches and baptized 120,000 believers. Following his death on Mar. 17, 461, although some sources give it as late as 493, he was said to have “found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.” It is always good to read about the lives of those who made their decisions in life as a result of their firm faith in God.
Of course, many legends have grown up about Patrick. While referring to those legends in this book, our friend, author Bill Federer, lifts the shroud of myth from St. Patrick and covers in detail his true life story. There are chapters on his captivity, conversion, years in Europe, calling, trials, faith, and legacy. The text of the book is sprinkled with pictures to illustrate the culture, landscape, and people of Patrick’s birthplace in Roman Britain and his mission field in Ireland. An appendix includes the two historically confirmed writings of St. Patrick, “The Confession of Patrick” and the “Letter to Coroticus,” along with “Patrick’s Breastplate,” which is a hymn attributed to Patrick, and an article “The Code of St. Patric” about how he helped codify the law of Ireland. There are also a bibliography and copious endnotes to document this biography. While non-denominational, New Testament Christians don’t refer to religious heroes by the title “Saint,” we understand that many in the world do. Though short, this book is recommended to anyone who has an interest in the history of Patrick and Ireland.