St. Patrick's Confession

“I Patrick, a sinner, the rudest and least of all the faithful, and contemptible to very many, had for my father Calpornius, a deacon, the son of Potitius, a priest, who lived in Bannavem Taberniae, for he had a small property hard by where I was taken prisoner when I was nearly sixteen years of age. I knew not the true God, and I was brought captive to Ireland with so many thousands, as we deserved, for we had forsaken God and not kept His Commandments, and were not obedient to our priests, who had admonished us for our salvation. And the Lord brought down upon us the anger of His Spirit, and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where now my littleness may be seen amongst strangers. And there the Lord showed me my unbelief, that at length I might remember my iniquities, and strengthen my whole heart towards the Lord my God, who looked down upon my humiliation, and had pity upon my youth and ignorance, and kept me, before I knew him, and before I had wisdom, or could distinguish between good and evil, and strengthened and comforted me as a father would his son. …

“In the measure, therefore, of the faith of the Trinity, it behoves me to distinguish without shrinking from danger, and to make known the gift of God, and everlasting consolation, and, without fear, confidently to spread abroad the name of God everywhere, so that after my death I may leave it to my Gallican brethren and to my sons, many thousands of whom I have baptised in the Lord. …

“But after I had come to Ireland I was daily tending sheep, and I prayed frequently during the day, and the love of God, and His faith and fear, increased in me more and more, and the spirit was stirred; so that in a single day I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that I remained in the woods, and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer, in snow, and ice, and rain, and I felt no injury from it, nor was there any slothfulness in me, as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent in me. And there one night I heard a voice, while I slept, saying to me, ‘Thou dost fast well; fasting thou shalt soon go to thy country.’ And again, after a very short time, I heard a response saying to me, ‘Behold, thy ship is ready.’ And the place was not near, but perhaps about two hundred miles distant, and I had never been there, nor did I know any one who lived there.

“Soon after this I fled, and left the man with whom I had been six years, and I came in the strength of the Lord, who directed my way for good; and I feared nothing until I arrived at that ship. And the day on which I came the ship had moved out of her place; and I asked to go and sail with them, but the master was displeased, and replied, angrily, ‘Do not seek to go with us.’ And when I heard this I went from them to go thither where I had lodged, and I began to pray as I went; but before I had ended my prayer I heard one of them calling out loudly after me, ‘Come quickly, for these men are calling you,’ and I returned to them immediately, and they began saying to me:

‘Come, we receive thee in good faith; make such friendship with us as you wish.’

And then that day I refused to eat their food, on account of the fear of God; but I hoped of them, that they would come into the faith of Jesus Christ, for they were Gentiles; and this I obtained from them, and after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days we journeyed through a desert, and their provisions failed, and they suffered greatly from hunger; and one day the master began to say to me:

‘What sayest thou, O Christian? Your God is great and all-powerful; why canst thou not then pray for us, since we are perishing with hunger, and may never see the face of man again?’

And I said plainly to them, ‘Turn ye with faith to the Lord, my God, to whom nothing is impossible, that he may send you food on your way until you have enough, because everywhere there is abundance with Him.’ And lo! a herd of swine appeared on the way before our eyes, and they killed many of them, and they remained there two nights, and they were well recruited, and their dogs’ were filled. After this they gave the greatest thanks to God. They found, moreover, wild honey, and offered me some, and one of them said, ‘It is an idol offering.’ Thank God, after that, I tasted none of it. And that same night Satan tempted me greatly in a way that I shall remember as long as I am in this body. And he fell upon me like a huge rock, and I had no power on my limbs save that it came home into my mind that I should call out Elias, and in that moment I saw the sun rise in the heavens, and while I was calling out Elias with all my might, behold, the splendour of the sun fell upon me, and at once removed the weight from me, and I believe that I was aided by Christ, my Lord, and His spirit was then crying out for me, and I hope it will be thus in the day of trial.

“Some time after I was taken captive, and on the first night I remained with them I heard a divine response saying, ‘You shall be two months with them’; and so it was. On the sixtieth night the Lord delivered me out of their hands, and on the road He provided for us food and fire and dry weather daily until, on the tenth day, we all arrived. As I stated before, we journed 28 days through a desert, and on the night of our arrival we had no provision left.

“And again, after a few years, I was with my relations in Britain, who received me as a son, and earnestly besought me that then, at least, after I had gone through so many tribulations, I would go nowhere from them. And there I saw, in the midst of the night, a man who appeared to come from Ireland, whose name was Victoricus, and he had innumerable letters with him, one of which he gave to me, and I read the commencement of the epistle containing ‘The voice of the Irish,’ and as I read aloud the beginning of the letter, I thought I heard in my mind the voice of those who were near the wood of Foclat, which is near the western sea, and they cried out:

‘We entreat thee, holy youth, to come and walk still amongst us.’

And my heart was greatly touched, so that I could not read any more, and so I awoke. Thanks be to God that, after many years, the Lord hath granted them their desire.”

In his epistle to Coroticus, he says:

“According to the flesh I am of noble birth, my father being a decurion.”

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