The Celtic Literature Collective

Life of S. Patrick
Muirchu moccu Machtheni

...he being placed in slavery in Ireland, said, that he was visited by frequent visions, saying to him that the time was at hand, when he should come and preach the Gospel to these savage and barbarous nations; that God had sent him to fish there for men, and it was told him, in a vision, that their sons and daughters at the wood of Foclisia called for him, &c.

In due time, therefore, accompanied by divine assistance, he set out upon his journey, to accomplish that, for which he was before prepared—to preach the Gospel; and Germanus, moved by the Holy Spirit, sent an elder with him, that is, Segitius, that he might have a companion and witness, because he was not as yet ordained by the holy lord Germanus in the pontifical degree.

For it was true that Palladius, archdeacon of Pope Celestine, bishop of the city of Rome, who then held the apostolic chair, the forty-fifth from Saint Peter, the apostle, was ordained and sent to this island; placed under the winter's cold, to convert them, but he forbid him to receive oblations, because no one can receive any land, unless it were given him from heaven. For neither did those rude and savage people readily receive his doctrine, nor did he wish to pass his time in a land, not in his own, but returning hence, to him who sent him, having begun his passage, the first tide, little of his journey being accomplished, he died in the British dominions.

The death of S. Palladius, among the Britons, was soon heard of, for his disciples that is, Augustinus and Benedictus, and the rest, returning, related in Ebmoria the circumstance of his death.

Patrick, and those who were with him, having declined the journey, went to a certain man, an illustrious priest and king, Amathus, living in a neighbouring place. Saint Patrick knowing what events would occur, received there the episcopal degree from Matho, the holy king and bishop, likewise Auxilius, and Iserninus, and others, received inferior degrees on the same day on which Patrick was ordained.

Then, having received the blessings, and every thing being accomplished according to custom, Patrick, having sung, as was becoming and proper, a verse of the following psalm: "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec" the venerable traveller embarked in a vessel prepared for him, in the name of the holy trinity, and reached Britain.

And, avoiding all circuitous paths, he went forward in the straight way, for no sincere one seeks the Lord in vain, with great expedition, and a prosperous wind, he reached our shores.

But in the days, in which those things were done, there was in the before-mentioned countries, a certain great fierce and gentile king, emperor of the barbarians, reigning in Temoria, who was the chief of the Scots, named Loigaire, the son of Neill, the origin of almost all the royal race of this island; he had wise men and magicians, and soothsayers, and enchanters, and inventors of every evil art; who could know and foretel every thing before it should happen, after the manner of gentiles and idolaters; amongst whom, two were eminent above the rest,—their names were Lothroch, which is Lochric, and Lucamael, which is Ronal; and those two, by their magic art, often prophesied that there would be a certain foreign custom introduced, as the custom of the kingdom, with a certain unknown obnoxious doctrine, from far beyond sea, dictated by a few, and received by many:

To be honored by all,
About to overthrow kingdoms,
About to seduce opposing crowds,
About to destroy all their gods,
And about to rule above all others, by
the powers of its art, for all ages.

They declared that this law should be powerful and persuasive, and should surpass in strength and manner of language, the dictates which had frequently been issued previously to the coming of Saint Patrick, for two or three years.

But these are short sentences, which, from the idiom of the language, are not easy to decipher.

He shall prevail by his wooden staff, with a curved perforated head, and enchant from his house, a wicked thing! all his family from his table, from the farther part of his house shall answer him—"let it be done,—let it be done."

Which can be very clearly expressed in our words : when all these things are come to pass, our kingdom, which is gentile, shall not stand, that, which is so powerful, shall vanish, for the worship of idols, shall be every where overturned at the coming of Patrick—for the general faith of Christ shall fill all things.

Of these enough has been said, let us return to our subject.

The voyage of the Saint, therefore, being terminated, and the honored ship of the Saint with its foreign wonderful and living treasures was borne, as if to a favorable port, in the country of the Coolenni, to a haven, which is renowned amongst us, and is called hostitim Dei. It appeared to him, that nothing was better than that, in the first place, he should redeem himself, and from thence proceeding to the left countries, he turned the head of his ship, that he might go to the gentile Milcoin, with whom he was formerly in slavery; and, carrying twice the price of his ransom as well heavenly as earthly, that he might liberate himself from the slavery of him, whom he had before served in captivity, at the farther part of the island; which is called after his name even to this day.

He then proceeded to Brega Conalneas, which is at the extremity of Ulster, even to the farthest strait which is Brene. And they went down in the land to the port of Slain; he and those who were with him in the ship, and they left the boat, and came after a little into the country to rest there.

And they found living there the swine herds of a certain naturally good man, although a gentile, whose name was Dichu, where now is what is called the barn of Patrick. But the swine-herd, thinking that they were thieves and robbers, ran off and told it to his lord Dichu.

He brought him against them, and being ignorant, he proposed in his heart to slay them, but seeing the face of Saint Patrick, the lord changed his thoughts to good, and Patrick preached the faith to him, and he believed, and the Saint remained there with him a few days. But he wished to go quickly to visit the before-mentioned man Milcoin, and carry to him his ransom, as well as to convert him to the faith of Christ. Having left his ship there at Dicoin, he began to direct his way to the regions of the Picts, until he reached the mountain Mis, from which mountain, a long time before, when he was there in slavery, with hasty progress he saw the angel Victoricius ascend to heaven in his sight, leaving his footstep pressed on the rock of the mountain.

But Milcoin, hearing that his slave was come to visit him, to introduce, as if by force, a custom which he did not wish, in the end of his life; that he should not be subject to his slave, and that he should not rule over him, at the instigation of the devil, he burned himself and his house, which he formerly inhabited, with fire—the king was burned, together with all his substance collected around him.

Saint Patrick standing in the above-mentioned place, at the side of the before-named mountain Mis, where formerly the cross appeared for a sign, and met his sight, in that very place, he beheld the funeral pile of the king in flames.

Astonished, therefore, at this spectacle, he remained two or three hours without uttering a word, sighing, groaning, and weeping, and uttering these words: "I know not, God knows, this king, who destroyed himself with fire, would not believe in the end of his life, and would not obey the eternal God; I know not, but God knows, no one of his sons shall reign as king upon the throne of his kingdom from generation to generation, and his seed shall be slaves for ever."

And uttering these words, and fortifying himself with the sign of the cross, he quickly bent his way to the country of the Ultonians, by the same way, and again came to the plain of Mis to Dichu, and remained there many days going through the whole plain round about, and esteemed and loved them, for the faith began to increase there.

But Easter approached in which was the first passover celebrated to God, in this Egypt of our island—it was celebrated as formerly in Genesera. They found that a great council was to be held by the gentiles, to whom God had sent him at the same time, and that they were to celebrate the mysteries of their religion; whereupon it appeared to Saint Patrick who was divinely inspired, that this great solemnity of the Lord, which was, the head of all solemnities, should be celebrated in the very great plain, where was the chief seat of empire of those nations, and of all gentile customs, and of idolatry; that the cause of Christ could not be advanced more than that this unconquerable wedge, should be driven into the head of all idolatry, that it might not any farther have the power to rise against the faith of Christ, and so it was accomplished by the faith of St. Patrick and by his hands.

Having, therefore, pushed down the ship to the sea; and that good man, Dichu, having dismissed them in perfect faith, and peace, leaving the plain of Iniss to the right hand, submitting all things to the fulness of their office, which were not unsuitable, they were borne to the left, happily and prosperously to the port of Colpdi. And, leaving their vessel there, they proceeded on foot to the before-mentioned great plain, until at length, towards evening, they reached Ferti, of the men of Feec, which, as stories tell, there belonged to Fodoremus; that is the servant of Fcccol Ferchertni, who was one of the nine magicians, the prophets of Bregg, and there having pitched his tent, Saint Patrick performed the necessary vows of Easter, and sacrifice of praise to the most high God, with all devotion, in conjunction with his followers, according to the words of the prophet.

It happened in that year, that the gentiles were about celebrating an idolatrous solemnity, accompanied with many incantations, and some magical inventions, and other idolatrous superstitions; their kings being collected, also their satraps, with their chief leaders, and the principal among the people, and magi, and enchanters, and soothsayers, and the inventors of all arts, and gifts, doctors, as they are called, to Loigaire, in Temoria, as their Babylon, as formerly to king Nebochodonossor, on the same night in which Saint Patrick was celebrating Easter, they were employed in their heathen festival.

There was also a certain custom amongst them—and they were enjoined by an edict, that, whoever, throughout the whole country, far or near, should on that night light a fire, before it was done in the king's house, that is in the Palace of Temoria, that soul should be cut off from his people.

Saint Patrick, therefore, celebrating the holy Easter, lighted a divine and blessed fire very bright, which shining, in the night, was seen by almost all the inhabitants of the plain.

Therefore, it happened, that it was seen from Temoria, and, when they beheld it, they were all astonished, and the seniors and elders being called to the king, declared that they were ignorant of who had done this; but the magi said, "O king, live for ever! the fire which we see, and which is lighted up this night, before it was lighted in your palace of Temoria, unless it should be put out on the same night on which it was lighted, it will never be extinguished for all eternity; and moreover, all our accustomed fires will be put out, and he, who lighted it, coming to this kingdom, on the night in which the fire takes place, shall overcome you and us all, and shall seduce all the men of your kingdom, and all other kingdoms shall fall to him, and he shall fill all places, and shall rule for all generations."

King Loigaire, having heard those predictions, was greatly disturbed, (as was Herod formerly) and all the state of Temoria with him—and answering, he said, "it shall not be so; but we will now go, that we may see the issue of the affair, and we will take into custody and slay those persons committing such enormities in our kingdom."

Taking with him thrice nine chariots, according to the tradition of the gods, and the two magicians, prepared for conflict, that is to say, Lucetmail and Locru, in the end of the night, Loigaire set out from Temoria to Ferti, of the men of Feec. The faces of the men, and of the horses, were turned, according to what was pointed out to them, to the left.

And, as they went along, the magi said to the king, "Oh! king, you shall not go to the place in which the fire is, lest, perhaps, you may hereafter adore him who lighted the fire, but you shall remain abroad; but he shall be called to you, that he may adore you, and you shall rule over him, and we will converse with him by turns even in your sight, and O king, you shall prove us." And the king answering, said, "you have counselled well, I will do as you have suggested."

And they came to the appointed place, and descended from their chariots and horses, they did not enter into the circuit of the inflamed place, but stopped near.

And Saint Patrick was called to the king, near the place where the fire was; and the magicians said to their own party:—"Let us not rise up at his approach, for whoever shall rise up at his coming shall believe in him, and afterwards shall adore him; finally, Saint Patrick rising, and perceiving many chariots and their horses, he sung this verse of the psalm, not inapplicably, with his lips and in his heart—"Some ride in chariots, and some on horses, but we will proceed in the name of our God."

And he went towards them and they did not rise at his approach, but one alone, instigated by God, who would not obey the orders of the magicians, that is Erce, the son of Dego, (whose reliques are now adored in the city, which is called Slane) he rose up, and Patrick blessed him, and he believed in the eternal God.

As they commenced discoursing alternately, the magician, Locru, was bold in the presence of the Saint, daring to detract from the Catholic faith, with boisterous words, but Saint Patrick glancing at him uttering such expressions, as Peter did formerly at Simon, with power and great boldness exclaiming to the Lord, he said, "O Lord! who art almighty, and by whose power all things consist, and ye who sent me hither, let this impious wretch who blasphemes thy name, be lifted forth, and let him quickly die." And having said this, the magician was lifted up to the sky, and again cast down and his brains dashed out against a stone, and he died in their sight, and the gentiles feared.

And the king, and his followers, being enraged against Patrick, hereupon desired to kill him, and said, "lay hands on this wretch who is destroying us." Then, Saint Patrick seeing the impious gentiles about rushing upon him, he rose up and with a clear voice said, "Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered, and let them who hate him flee before him;" and instantly darkness ensued, and a dreadful commotion, and the impious wretches attacked each other, the one rushing upon the other, and there arose a great earthquake, and they collected their chariots, and drove them with force, and they rushed precipitately themselves in their chariots and their horses through the plain, until at length a few of them escaped, half-dead, to the mountain Monduirn, and there were prostrated, of the men of this country, before the king, by the curse of Patrick, forty-nine men. The king himself, however, remained, he and his wife and two others of the Scots, and greatly feared.

And the queen coming to Patrick, said to him, "O just and powerful man, destroy not the king—for the king will come and bend his knee, and will adore thy Lord." And the king came, impelled by fear, and bent his knee before the Saint, and set himself to worship him whom he was unwilling to honor, and when they separated a little distance, the king stepping forward, called Saint Patrick, with feigned words, wishing to slay him. But Saint Patrick knowing the thoughts of the wicked king, having blessed his followers, in the name of Jesus Christ, came with eight men and a boy to the king. The king seeing them approach, his eyes failed him, but the gentiles saw those eight persons going like stags with a fawn, as if to the desert, and king Loigaire sad, fearful, and disgraced, escaping with a few followers arrived late at Temoria.

But on the following day, that is on the day of Easter, as the kings and princes and magicians were with Loigaire, (for that was a very great feast day amongst them) while they were eating and drinking wine, in the palace of Temoria—some were conversing, and others reflecting on those things which were done, Saint Patrick, with only two (or five) men, proceeded to contend and argue concerning the holy faith in Temoria, before all the people, with closed doors, according to that which is written of Christ. He then coming into the supper-room of Temoria, no one of them all rose up at his coming except one alone, that is Dubthach Macculugil, a very great poet, with whom there was at that time a certain youthful poet, named Feec, who afterwards became a celebrated bishop, whose reliques are adored in Sleibti. This Dubthach alone, as I have said, of all the people, rose up in honor of Saint Patrick, and the Saint blessed him—and he first believed on that day, and it was counted to him for righteousness.

Saint Patrick, on being seen, was invited by the gentiles to eat, that they might prove him in future transactions, but he, knowing what was about to happen, did not refuse to partake.

Whilst they were all at supper, Lucetmail, the magician, who was in the night conflict, as well as in that which took place on that day, was anxious, on account of the death of his associate, to contend against Saint Patrick, and commenced in this manner, whilst some were looking, he poured from his vessel into the cup of Patrick, to see what he would do.

And Saint Patrick, seeing the object of this probation, in presence of all, blessed the cup, and the liquor became like ice, and the vessel being turned, that alone fell out which the magician had put into it, and he again blessed the cup, and the liquor was restored to its natural state, and they all wondered.

And after a little while, the magician said, "Let us perform signs in this very great plain." Patrick, answering, said, "What signs?" And the magician said, "Let us bring down snow upon the earth." And Patrick replied, "I am loath to act contrary to the will of God," but the magician said, "I will bring it down." Then, in presence of them all, he commenced his magical incantations, and brought down snow upon the whole plain of Ferenn; and they all saw it, and were astonished. And the Saint said, "Behold! discontinue that which we now see." And he said, "Before this hour to-morrow I cannot discontinue it;" and the Saint said, "You have power to do evil, but not good—it is not so with me;" Then, blessing the whole circuit of the plain, the snow immediately vanished without rain, clouds, or wind. The crowd shouted and wondered in their hearts—and after a little, having invoked the demons, the magician brought down very thick darkness upon the earth. And they all murmured. The Saint said, "Dispel the darkness." But he likewise failed in this; but the Saint praying, blessed it, and suddenly the darkness vanished and the sun shone, and they all shouted, and gave thanks.

All these things were done in sight of the king, between the magician and Patrick, and the king said, "Cast your books into the water, and him whose books shall pass this trial, we will adore." Patrick answered, "I will do so." But the magician said, "I will not submit to the trial by water with that man, for his god certainly possesses power over the water."—For he heard of Patrick's baptizing with water, and the king answering said : "Permit the trial to take place by fire." And Patrick said, "I am ready." And the magician unwilling, said, "This man alternately, in each successive year, adores water and fire." And the Saint said, "Not so, but you yourself, with one of my boys, shall go into a separate and closed house, and your vestment shall be on him, and mine on you; and thus, at the same time, the house shall be set on fire." And this counsel was approved, and there was a house built for them, half of which was made of green materials, and the other half was formed of dry; and the magician entered into that part of the house which was green, and one of the boys of Saint Patrick, Bineus by name, with the magic vest, was shut up in the other part of the house, which was then set on fire at the outside before the whole crowd, and it came to pass, while Patrick prayed, that the flame encompassed the magician with his green half of the house, while the part of Saint Patrick remained untouched, the fire did not assail it. But the fortunate Bineus, on the contrary, was untouched in his dry half of the house, according to what was said of the three children, "the fire did not touch him, neither was he made sad," and the apartment of the magician was burned without injury to his part of the house, not without the permission of God. The king was greatly indignant against Patrick, on account of the death of his magician, and he almost had rushed upon him, desiring to slay him, but God prevented him, for at the intercession of Patrick, and at his entreaty the wrath of God descended on his head, and the king greatly feared, and his heart was alarmed, and all the state with him.

The elders, therefore, and all his senate, being assembled—king Loigaire, said to them, "It is better that I should believe than die;"—and the council being entered into, according to their advice, he believed on that day, and was converted to the everlasting God of Israel. Thereupon many others also believed, and Saint Patrick said to the king, "Because cause you have resisted my doctrine, and have been a scandal to me, although the days of your reign may be prolonged, nevertheless, there shall be no king of your seed for ever."

But Saint Patrick, according to the command of the Lord Jesus, baptized those nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and having set out from Temoria, he preached, the Lord assisting him, and confirming his sayings, with many miracles.

There was a certain man in the country of the Ulothori, in the time of Patrick, Macuil Macugreccoe, a man who was very impious, cruel, and tyrannous, like a cyclops—depraved in thought, and also in words—

Malignant in action,
Bitter in spirit,
Angry in disposition,
Abandoned in body,
Cruel in mind,
A gentile in his life,
Void of conscience,

sinking into such a depth of impiety, that on a certain day, in a rough mountainous height, sitting in the place of Hindruim Maccuechach, cuechach, he daily exercised his tyranny, committing the most impious cruelties, and slaying his guests on their journey, with abandoned wickedness.

Seeing Saint Patrick, shining with the clear light of faith, and glittering with the glorious diadem of his heavenly father, unshaken in his doctrine, and confidently walking in a favourable part of the road, he thought to slay him, saying to his attendants—"Behold this seducer and perverter of men comes, whose custom it is to practise deceits, to entrap many men, and to seduce them—let us go, therefore, and tempt him, and let us know if that God has any power in whom he boasts."

And, thus tempting the holy man, they placed one of themselves under a blanket, and feigning him to be dead, in order to prove the Saint by this kind of deception. At the approach of Saint Patrick and his disciples, they were exercising these subtilties and uttering prayers, and practising witchcraft and incantations—the gentiles said to him—"Behold one of us is now sick, approach, therefore, and perform some incantations of your sect over him, if perchance he may be healed."

Saint Patrick knowing all their stratagems and deceits, with constancy and intrepidity, said, "It were no wonder if he had been sick." His companions uncovering the face of him, pretending sickness, saw him dead. The gentiles wondering, and astonished at so great a miracle, said one to another, "Truly, this man is of God, we have done evil in tempting him."

But Saint Patrick, having turned to Maccuil, says, "Why did you wish to tempt me?" the cruel tyrant answered, "I am grieved at what I have done, whatever you command me, that I will do, and I now deliver myself into the power of your supreme God, whom you preach." The Saint said, "Believe, therefore, in my God, the Lord Jesus, and confess your sins, and be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And he was converted in that hour, and believed in the eternal God, and moreover, was baptized. And now Maccuil added this, saying, "I confess to you, my holy Lord Patrick, that I proposed to slay you; judge, therefore, how much I owe for so great a crime." And Patrick said, "I cannot judge—but God will judge."

"Do you, therefore, depart now, unarmed, to the sea, and pass over quickly from this country of Ireland, taking nothing with you of your substance, except a common small coat, with which you may be able to cover your body, eating nothing and drinking nothing of the produce of this island, having a mark of your sin on your head; and when you reach the sea, bind your feet together with an iron fetter, and cast the key of it into the sea, and embark in a boat, of one hide, without rudder, or oar, and wherever the wind and tide shall carry you, be prepared to remain, and to whatever land providence shall carry you, live there, and obey the divine commands."

And Maccuil said, "I will do so, as you have said, but concerning the dead man, what shall we do?" and Patrick said, "He shall live, and shall rise again without pain;" and Patrick called him to life in that hour, and he revived quite sound.

And Maccuil departed thence very speedily to the sea, at the right of the plain of Inis, his confidence being unshaken, he bound himself on the shore, casting the key into the sea, according to what was commanded him, and then he embarked in a little boat, and the north wind arose, and bore him to the south, and cast him on the island of Evonia, and he found there two men, very wonderful in faith and doctrine, who first taught the word of God and baptism in Evonia.

And the men of this island were converted, by their doctrine to the Catholic faith, whose names are Conindri and Rumili. But these two seeing a man of the same habit, wondered and pitied him, and lifted him out of the sea, the spiritual fathers received him with joy; he, therefore, after finding himself in a region believing in God, conformed himself soul and body to their guidance, and spent the residue of his life with those two holy bishops, until he was appointed their successor in the bishopric.

This is Maccuel Dimane, bishop aud prelate of Ardd Huimnonit.

On another occasion Saint Patrick, resting on the Sabbath, by the sea, near a salt-pit, which is toward the northern side of the country, try, no great distance from the hill heard an intemperate sound of the gentiles labouring on the Lord's day, making a rath, and having called them, Patrick forbid them labour on the Lord's day; but they did not attend to the words of the Saint, nay more, laughing, they mocked him; and Saint Patrick said, "Mudebroth, although you have laboured, what you have completed shall not profit you;" on the following night a great wind arising, disturbed the sea, and the tempest destroyed all the labours of the gentiles, according to the words of the Saint.

There was a certain man, rich and honorable in the eastern country, whose name was Daire, him Patrick asked to give him some place to exercise their religion.

And the rich man said to the Saint, "What place do you require?" "I ask you," said the Saint, "To give me that high spot of ground which is called Dorsum Salicis, and I will construct there a place for the purpose." But he was unwilling to give the Saint that high part, but he gave him another place, in a lower situation, where now is Fertie of the martyrs, near Armagh, and Saint Patrick dwelt there with his followers.

And after a short time a horseman of Daire's came, leading a horse, belonging to Daire, to feed in a grassy place. (Christi annorum) The bringing down of the horse into his place offended Patrick, and he said, "Daire has acted foolishly in sending brutish animals to disturb this holy place which he gave to God."

But the horseman, as if deaf, did not hear him, and as if dumb, not opening his mouth, spoke not, but having let out his horse there, for that night, departed.

On the following day, in the morning, the horseman coming to see the horse, found him dead, and he returned sad, and said to his lord—"Behold! the Christian has slain your horse, for the disturbance of his place offended him." And Daire said, "He also, shall be now slain, go and kill him." And as they were going, instantly death seized upon Daire—and his wife said—"The Christian is the cause of this, let some one go quickly, and let his blessings be brought to us, and he shall be safe. And let them who went out to kill him be prevented and recalled."

And the two men went out to slay him, who said to the Christian, concealing from him what had happened: "Behold! Daire is sick, let something be brought to him from you, if perchance it may have the power to cure him."

But Saint Patrick, knowing what had happened, said, "Certainly." And he blessed water, and gave it to them, saying, "Go, sprinkle your horse with this water, and carry him with you;" and they did so, and the horse revived, and they carried him with them—and Daire was also restored by the sprinkling of holy water.

And Daire came after this, that he might honour Saint Patrick, carrying with him a wonderful brazen foreign vessel, containing three measures, and Daire said to the Saint, "Take this brazen vessel with you;" and Saint Patrick said, "grassichum." And Daire returned home and said, "This is a foolish fellow, who said nothing good, except grassichum" Then Daire sent again for the wonderful brazen vessel containing three measures, and said to his servants, "Go, carry back to us our brazen vessel." And they departed, and said to Patrick, "We will carry back the brazen vessel." And Saint Patrick again replied, grassichum, "carry it off." And they bore it away. And Daire questioned his companions, saying, "What did the Christian say, have you not brought back the brazen vessel?" And they answered, "He said, grassichum." And Daire answered, "He says grassichum, when I give—and grassichum, when I take away."—They carried again to him the brazen vessel—and Daire came himself and carried the brazen vessel to Patrick, saying to him, "Take your brazen vessel with you, for you are a constant and immoveable man; and moreover, that part of the land, which you formerly requested,! now give you, as much as I have, and dwell there;" that is the city, which is now called Armagh. And they both departed, Saint Patrick and Daire, that they might consider the wonderful offerings, and the pleasing gift, and to ascend that height of ground. They found a deer, with her little fawn, lying in the place where is now an altar of the church of Armagh, and the associates of Patrick rashly wished to slay the fawn, but the Saint was unwilling, and did not permit it; but the Saint himself, holding the fawn, carried it on his shoulders, and the deer following him, even like a most attached sheep, until at length he let down the fawn in another wood, situated at the northern side of Armagh, where those persons skilled in such matters say, that some signs of his virtue remain even to this day.

There was a certain man, very severe and covetous, living in the plain of Inis. Those acquainted with the matter say, that he incurred the scandal of folly and avarice, by one day taking away two of Patrick's draft oxen, after his holy labour in the cultivation of his own field; while the oxen were resting and feeding themselves, he with force and violence, and in the very presence of Patrick himself, took them. Angry with him, Saint Patrick said, with a curse—"Mudebrod, you have acted ill, never shall your field profit you, nor shall it nurture your seed for ever—it shall now become useless." Arid it so came to pass, for an inundation of the sea, very violent, coming on the same day, inundated and covered the entire field, and the before fruitful ground, according to the words of his prophecy, was converted into a salt-marsh, from the malice of the inhabitants—and it has remained in that sandy and unfruitful state, from the day on which Saint Patrick cursed it, even to the present day.

[Here ends the first and begins the second Book.]

Of the diligence of Patrick in prayer.

Of the dead man speaking to him.

Of the illumination of Sunday night, so that the horses were found.

Of what the angel forbid to do, lest he should be exterminated.

Of the burning bush in which the angel was.

Of the four prayers of Patrick.

Of the day of his death, and of the time of his life, for thirty years.

Of the limits which he placed on the night.

Of the darkness dissipated for twelve nights.

Of the vigils of the first night, which the angels kept near the body of Patrick.

Of the directions of the angel respecting his funeral.

Of the fire breaking forth out of his tomb.

Of the sea arising a second time, that there should not be war for his body.

Of the happy bringing off of the people.

But if any one should faithlessly wish to deny that the night was prolonged to them, and that the night was not perceptible over the whole province, for the short space in which the mourning for Patrick took place—let him hear and diligently consider in what manner the sun-dial of Achaz, was affected in the time of the Prophet Ezekiel, which may demonstrate the truth of what is here recited of Patrick.


The psalms and hymns, and the revelations of John, and the spiritual canticles in scriptures, he daily sung, whether at home or proceeding on a journey, also with the sign of the cross at every hour of the day and night, crossing himself an hundred times, and at all the crosses which he saw, descending from his chariot for the purpose of prayer, he alighted there. Proceeding also on a certain day, he passed by a cross which was by the way-side, without seeing it: but the charioteer saw it. When they had arrived at the inn whither they proceeded, and when they began to pray before meat, "I say," said the charioteer, "I saw a cross placed near the road by which we came." And Patrick having left the inn, by the same road by which he came, proceeding to the cross, he prayed, and there he saw a sepulchre, and asked the buried man in his tomb, by what death he had departed, and in what faith faith he had lived; and the dead man answered, "I lived a gentile, and was buried here."

A certain woman, living in another province, had a son who died, who was long separated from her, and was buried in her absence; but, after some days, the mother, grieving for her lost son, by an unforeseen mistake, thinking the tomb of the gentile man to be the grave of her son, placed the cross, not beside him, but near the gentile; and on this account St. Patrick said, he did not see the cross, because it was the place for burial of the gentiles; and greater virtue arose from this, that the dead man should speak, and he who died in the faith of Christ should be known, and accordingly he caused the position of the cross to be altered in testimony of him who died in the true faith.

Patrick would not depart from any place on any Sunday, in honour of the day; but it was his custom, to rest from the evening of the Lord's night even to the morning of Monday, remaining all night in the plain, heavy with rain, and beaten by the tempest. But when the heavy rain committed devastations over the whole country in the place where the holy bishop was spending the night, he remained dry, as if under a shell, and in a fleece, as Gideon. His charioteer once told him that his horses were lost, he bewailed them as if they were his beloved friends—for he sought them through the darkness, not having light to guide him; the piety of the holy father Patrick was excited, and he thus addressed the weeping charioteer:—"God is a ready helper in difficulties and in opportunities, he will afford his assistance, and you shall find the horses for which you are grieved." Whereupon, he elevated and extended his hand, the five fingers whereof exhibiting a luminous appearance, enlightened the objects around, and by the light of his extended hand, the charioteer found the horses which he had lost, and which occasioned his lamentation; but this miracle the charioteer concealed until the death of Patrick.

After so many miracles, which have been written elsewhere, and which the world, with faithful mouth, celebrated, the day of his death approaching, an angel came to him, and spoke to him concerning it. Therefore, he desired to go to Armagh, for he preferred it above all lands. He then commanded, that many men should come to him, and convey him whither he wished to go, and, with his companions, he began to enter on his journey towards Armagh, to the wished-for land; but, by the way-side a certain bush was on fire, but was not consumed, as formerly appeared to Moses in a bush. Victor was the angel who was often accustomed to visit Patrick, but he sent another angel to forbid Patrick from proceeding whither he desired to go, who said to him, "Wherefore do you set out without the advice of Victor—why did Victor call you to him, and why did you disobey him?" and, as it was commanded him, he stopped, and asked what he ought to do; the angel answered, and said, "Return to the place from whence you came, that is Sabul, and the four prayers which you made, are accomplished for you."

First prayer—That your ordination should take place in Armagh.

Second prayer—That whoever should sing a hymn which was composed by you, on the day of departure from the body, you shall judge it as repentance of his sins.

Third prayer—That the posterity of Dichon, who kindly received you, should experience mercy and not perish.

Fourth prayer—That all the Irish on the day of judgment shall be judged by you, as it was said to the apostles, "And sitting on thrones, ye shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel," and as the apostles are to judge Israel, so shall you judge the Scots.

"Return, therefore, as I say to you, and dying you shall enter upon the path of your fathers." Which was accomplished on the sixteenth day of the calends of April, having attained the age of one hundred and twenty, as is celebrated every year over the whole of Ireland, and kept sacred. Because on the day of his death there was no night, and for twelve days in that province in which his obsequies were performed, night did not appear, and did not embrace the earth with dusky wings; nor was the paleness of night great; nor was there obscurity requiring the illumination of the stars.

And the people of Ulster said, that even to the end of the whole year in which he departed, never was such darkness at night ae then; which is doubtful, whether it ought to be declared, as proceeding from merit in the man. But the hour of his death approaching, he received the sacrament from Tassach the bishop, that as the angel Victor said to him, he might receive the passport to eternal life.

On the first night of his obsequies, angels kept watch over his body, with all kinds of vigils and psalms. Whatever men came to keep vigils on that first night, were overcome by sleep; the angels praying and singing psalms, guarded the body.

But when the angels departed into heaven, they sent a most delightful odour as if of honey, and of sweet fragrance, as of wine, so that it filled the place, as is mentioned in the benediction of the blessed patriarch Jacob, "Behold! the odour of my son, is like that of a plenteous field, which the Lord has blessed."

But when the angel came to him, he gave him advice as to his burial, "Let two untamed oxen be allowed to proceed wherever they wish, and where they shall rest, let a church be founded there in honour of your body." And as the angel said, the unsteady steers were chosen, and a cart of steady weight was placed upon their shoulders, on which they carried the sacred body, and in the place which is called Clocher, at the east of Findubrec, they selected the oxen from among the cattle of Conail, and they departed, the son of God guiding them to Dun leth glaisse, where Patrick was buried. And he said to him, "Let not the remains of your body be brought back out of the earth, and let a cubit of earth be placed above your body;" which was done according to the command of God, and was manifested in after times, for when the church was building over his body, the men who were digging the foundation, perceived fire to break out from the grave, and retiring, they fled with fear from the flame.

On account of the remains of Saint Patrick at the time of his death, a dire contention and war arose between the descendants of Niell, and those of the eastern parts on one side, those who formerly were friends and neighbours, soon became the direst enemies. Even to the strait which is called Collum Bovis, blood was shed on account of St. Patrick, and the mercy of God interposed the sea, shaking and swelling ing with waves, and the hollow summits of the billows broke sometimes against the coast and promontories, and sometimes, with curled surge, rushed through the yellow vallies to the place of contest, as if to restrain the fury of the enraged nations; and thus the fierceness of the sea arose and prevented the battle of the combatants. But afterwards, Patrick being buried, and the tumult of the sea abated, those from the eastern parts, and against them Ulta and the descendants of Neill, fiercely rush to the combat, and emulously prepared and armed themselves for war, at the place of the holy body, and broke forth as if impelled headlong by a happy deception, thinking that they should find the two oxen and the cart, and also recover the body of the Saint.—In a body, they proceeded, and with great preparation and array, even to the river Cabcenna, and the body appeared not unto them, for it was not possible that their peace should be made by such and so holy a body, unless it had been so ordained by the will of God. These signs of the times were shewn, that an innumerable host of souls should be turned from destruction and death, unto salvation, by a happy deception, as the blinded Assyrians of old would have perished but for the holy prophet Elisha, by whom, under divine providence, they were led into Samaria; and this deception also was made the means of producing concord among the people.

Again the hour of prayer came round; the angel, on every seventh day, was in the habit of coming; and, as a man speaks with a man, Patrick enjoyed along the road the conversation of the angel. He was taken captive in the 13th year of his age, and was in bondage for six years; and thirty times did the angel come to him, and did he enjoy conference with the angel prior to his departure to the Latins from Scotia. He prayed one hundred times in the day, and one hundred times in the night. Sometimes while tending the swine, he lost them; and the angel, coming to him, pointed out the swine. Sometimes, also, the angel talked much to him; and when he had spoken to him, placing his foot, left its impression on the rock on the mountain Mis, he ascended before him, and the print is visible there even to this day. In that place he communed with him thirty times; and the prayers of the faithful in this place would obtain the happiest results.

Finit Amen.

Patrick carried with him to Sinnin, 50 bells, 60 vessels, 50 cups, altars, books of the law, and books of the gospel, and left them in new places.

Patrick was baptized in his sixth year—taken captive in his twentieth—served in slavery twelve years—studied forty years—taught sixty-one. His entire age was one hundred and eleven years.

Betham, William. Irish Antiquarian Researches. Vol. 2. Dublin: William Curry, Jun. and Co., 1827. p 305-345