St. Patrick

Justin McCarthy
Chapter II | Start of Chapter

With the time when Christianity touched the island to take possession of it, what may be regarded as Ireland's authenticated history began. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and is identified with the whole development of the Irish since they became known to the outer world. His name is as much reverenced now by the great mass of the Irish as it was at any time since he first set foot on the soil as the teacher of Christianity. Patrick had seen something of Ireland before he came there to teach and preach. In his early youth he was carried from Gaul to Ireland as a slave, and even in his days of slavery he formed an affection for the country and its population. He made his escape from servitude, and found his way to France and then to Rome. He devoted himself in Rome to teaching the Gospel, and soon became a conspicuous figure among those who were spreading the doctrines of Christianity. But he never forgot the island he had seen as a slave, and his heart was filled with a passionate desire to convert the Irish to Christianity.

Somewhere about the year 430 A.D. St. Patrick went back to Ireland and began his work of conversion at once. The work had been tried already by other Christian teachers, but without much success; and it was left for Patrick to accomplish a complete triumph. There is a genius for moral conversion as well as for warlike conquest, and Patrick possessed it in a supreme degree.