Death of St. Patrick

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

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The saint's labours were now drawing to a close, and the time of eternal rest was at hand. He retired to his favourite retreat at Saull, and there probably wrote his Confessio. [6] It is said that he wished to die in the ecclesiastical metropolis of Ireland, and for this purpose, when he felt his end approaching, desired to be conveyed thither; but even as he was on his journey an angel appeared to him, and desired him to return to Saull. Here he breathed his last, on Wednesday, the 17th of March, in the year of our Lord 492. The holy viaticum and last anointing were administered to him by St. Tussach.[7]

The saint's age at the time of his death, as also the length of his mission in Ireland, has been put at a much longer period by some authors, but modern research and correction of chronology have all but verified the statement given above.

The intelligence of the death of St. Patrick spread rapidly through the country; prelates and priests flocked from all parts to honour the mortal remains of their glorious father. As each arrived at Saull, he proceeded to offer the adorable sacrifice according to his rank. At night the plain resounded with the chanting of psalms; and the darkness was banished by the light of such innumerable torches, that it seemed even as if day had hastened to dawn brightly on the beloved remains. St. Fiacc, in his often-quoted Hymn, compares it to the long day caused by the standing of the sun at the command of Joshua, when he fought against the Gabaonites.

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[6] Confessio.—This most remarkable and interesting document will be translated and noticed at length in the Life of St. Patrick, which we are now preparing for the press.

[7] St. Tussach.—All this Dr. Todd omits. The Four Masters enter the obituary of St. Patrick under the year 457. It is obvious that some uncertainty must exist in the chronology of this early period.


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