On the Life of St. Patrick


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besought him to abide thenceforward always with them. Sed tamen, the angel came to him in his sleep, having many letters in Gaelic, and when he was reading them out he heard a great cry from infants in their mothers’ wombs in the regions of Connaught. Those children were of Caille Fochlad, and this is what they were saying, ‘Veni Sancte Patrici salvos nos facere.’

Then went Patrick to learn wisdom and piety in the south-east of Italy, unto bishop German, and he tarried with him for thirty years, learning the holy scripture, and fulfilling it in humble and lowly wise. And another thirty years was his age when he went to German. Thirty years was he learning, sixty preaching in Ireland.

He bade farewell to German, and German gave him his blessing, and a chief priest went with him to testify of him to Peter’s successor as to every grade, to wit, Segetius the priest was his name.

Thereafter Patrick went upon the Tyrrhene sea: it was there he met with the island. He saw the new house and a young married couple therein, and in the door of the house he beheld a withered old hag. ‘Who may the hag be?’ said Patrick, ‘She is a daughter’s daughter of mine,’ replied the young man, ‘and her mother is dead of decay.’ ‘What caused that?’ said Patrick. ‘Christ came to us when he was among men,’ said the youth, ‘and we made a feast for him. He blessed our dwelling and ourselves. Now the blessing did not visit our children, and unto us he foretold that thou wouldst come to us, and he left his staff with us to be given to thee.’ ‘I will not take it,’ said Patrick, ‘until he himself gives it to me.’

Therafter he went to a certain chief bishop who conferred episcopal rank upon him. He afterwards fared to Rome, and found honour and reverence from the Romans and from the Abbot whose name was Celestinus.

He it was who had sent a man of his family to Ireland to sow belief and faith among the men of Ireland—Palladius was his name,—with twelve men, to preach to the Gael, for unto Peter’s successor belong the bettering of the whole of Europe, and the headship thereof. When Palladius arrived in the province of Leinster, Nathí, son of Garrchu, son of Fothad, son of Echaid Redhand, son of Mesincorb, withstood him and expelled him from thence.


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However he baptized a few there, and founded three churches there, namely, Cellfine, where he left his books, with relics of Paul and Peter, [and 'the House of the Romans' and Domnach Arte] and going eastward, he died in the island of Britain: wherefore then they ordered Patrick as an apostle from them to Ireland, and angels told him to go to Ireland promptly. He said that he would not go, until the Lord should speak unto himself. Thereafter the angel brought him into Armoric Letha, to the city named Capua in Mount Hermon, on the shore of the Tyrrhene sea, and the Lord spake to him at that place, as He had spoken to Moses on Mount Sinai, and told him to come to preach to the Gael, and He gave him the staff of Jesus: wherefore it was according to the will of the synod of Rome and of the angel and of the Lord that Patrick came to Ireland.

He then fared forth on his road, four and twenty men were his number, and he found a ship in readiness before him on the strand of the sea of Britain. When Patrick came into the boat, a leper was asking him for a place, and there was no empty place therein. So he put out before him (to swim in the sea) the stone altar whereon he used to make offering every day. Sed tamen, God wrought a great miracle here, to wit, the stone went not to the bottom, nor did it stay behind them. But it swam round about the boat until it arrived in Ireland.

Then Patrick saw a dense ring of demons around Ireland, to wit, a six days’ journey from it on every side.

When Patrick came to Inver Dea in the territory of Leinster, and to a certain hamlet hard by, he found no welcome in them, and Patrick cursed that rivermouth, wherefore it is barren (of fish) from that to this, and the sea hath come over that land. Nathí, son of Garrchu, was he who denied Patrick.

Patrick afterwards passed over sea to Ulster to seek Míliuc, King of Dalaraide, to preach the name of God, as it was with him he was in servitude at first, that it might be to him he should first preach, and the service to Míliuc’s body and to his soul might thus be complete. Howbeit Míliuc came against him with great hosts of heathens, and would not let him land, since Loegaire had ordered the men of Ireland that they should not let Patrick on land: for his soothsayers had foretold to Loegaire, five years before, that Patrick would arrive in Ireland, to wit, Lochra and Lothrach and


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Luchatmael and Renell were their names, and this is what they used to say—

    1. An Adzehead shall come across stormy (?) sea:His mantle hole-headed, his staff crook-headed:
      His dish in the east of his house:All his people shall answer himAmen, Amen;

And every princedom and every worship and every might that will not be humble to him shall ebb away, and out of his own princedom he shall perfect [his followers] for ever.

Patrick went afterwards in his boat to Inverslany, and there came against him Díchu son of Trechem, and he set against him a fierce hound which he had. Sed tamen Patrick made the sign of the cross of the Lord against it, and he chanted the prophetic verse, ‘ne tradas, Domine, bestiis animas confitentium tibi’, and the hound stopt in that place and was unable to stir. Then Díchu bared his brand, and went to kill Patrick. Patrick made the sign of Christ’s cross against him, so that he could not stir either foot or hand. Thereafter Díchu repented and knelt before Patrick and gave him his full will, and Díchu believed in one God, and he and great hosts along with him were baptized, and he gave that land (whereon he was converted) to God and to Patrick. In that place Patrick built a church which is called Saball Patraic to-day, and he foretold to Díchu that it would be there he should go to heaven. And he gave a great blessing to Díchu and to his children, ut dixit Patricius then—

    1. God’s blessing on Díchu who granted me the Barn.
      He shall have therefor the holy, all pure … habitation.God’s blessing on Díchu, who forgives (?) blood:No children or race of his shall be a lasting law in hell.

Patrick afterwards went to teach Míliuc as he had (before) proceeded. When Míliuc heard that Patrick was on his way to him, he closed his house upon himself and upon all his wealth, and he set fire to himself in it so that he was burnt with all his goods, in order that he might not believe in Patrick. Patrick, seeing the fire, stopt and he said—

    1. The man who had resolved (?) upon thisThat he might not believe in me and in the Lord

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      Nor kingdom or chieftainship shall be from him till Doom,

      And his soul shall be in hell for ever.

And when Patrick had uttered these words he returned right-handwise by the same road again into the land of Ulster until he reached Mag Inis (and came) to Díchu, son of Trichem, and there he staid for a long time.

Patrick went afterwards to Saball southward, and preached to Ross, son of Trichem. It was he that dwelt at Derlus to the south of Dún Lethglasse. A small town is there to-day whose name is Brechtain, the place wherein is Bishop Loairn.

As Patrick was (going) along his way he saw the tender youth herding swine, Mochoa was his name. Patrick preached to him, and baptized and tonsured him and gave him a gospel and a reliquary, and at another time he gave him a crozier which had been sent to them from God, its head falling in Patrick’s bosom and its foot in Mochoa’s bosom. This is the Eittech of Mochoa of Noendruim; and he ordered a shaven pig (to be given) every year to Patrick, and it is still given.

Patrick bade farewell to Díchu, and proceeds to Tara to speak unto Loegaire. [He sailed] along the sea to Mag Breg, [and stopped in Inver Colptha,] and he found great welcome in that place from a certain gentleman who both believed in him with all his people and was baptized, wherefore with him he (Patrick) left his boat.

A little boy was in the house gave love to Patrick, and took hold of his leg as he was going into the chariot, and his family bestow him on Patrick, and Patrick takes him with him, and this is Benén, Patrick’s gillie.

It was then a certain impious wizard named Mantais reviled Patrick. Patrick is enraged with him, and he makes a thrust of Jesus’ crozier at him, and he fell before the hosts, and the earth swallowed him, whence is [the saying] noconuil amáin Mántais.

Patrick went thereafter to Ferta Fer Feicc. Fire is kindled by him at that place on the eve of Easter. Loegaire is enraged when he sees the fire. For that was a prohibition of Tara which the Gael had, and no one would dare kindle a fire in Ireland on that day until


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it had been kindled first at Tara at the solemnity. And the wizards said: ‘unless that fire be quenched before this night, he whose fire it is shall have the kingdom of Ireland for ever.’

Tunc dixit rex: ‘it shall not be so, but we will go to him and kill him.’ The king arises with his host to see Patrick and kill him; but they did not arrive before the end of night. When the king drew nigh his wizards said to him ‘go not thou to him,’ said they, ‘that it may not be a token of honour to him. But let him come to thee and let none rise up before him.’ Thus was it done. When Patrick saw the horses and the chariots, he then sang this verse: ‘Hi in curribus et hi in equis, nos autem in nomine domini Dei nostri magni.’ But, when Patrick came in to the assembly, only the son of Deg rose up before him, that is Bishop Erc, who is (venerated) at Slane.

Then came one of the wizards, to wit, Lochru, fiercely and angrily against Patrick, and reviled the Christian faith. Tunc sanctus Patricius dixit: ‘O my Lord, it is Thou that canst do all things: in Thy power they are: it is Thou that sentest us hither. Let this impious one, who is blaspheming Thy name, now destroyed in the presence of all.’

Swifter than speech, at Patrick’s word, demons raised the wizard into the air, and they let him go (down) against the earth, and his head struck against a stone, and dust and ashes were made of him in the presence of all, and trembling and intolerable dread seized the hosts that were there.

Loegaire was enraged with Patrick, and went to kill him. When Patrick perceived the attack of the heathen upon him, he then said, with a mighty voice, ‘Exsurgat Deus et dissipentur inimici ejus.’ Came a great earthquake and thunder there, and a wind, and scattered the chariots and the horse afar on every side, so that they came even to Bríg Graide and Sliab Moenuirnn, and they were all slaughtering each other through Patrick’s curse, and there were left along with the king but four persons only in that place, to wit, himself and his wife and two of his priests.

When terror seized the queen she went to Patrick and said to him, ‘O righteous one and O mighty one, kill not the king, for he shall submit to thee, and give thee thine own will.’ The king came and gave his will to Patrick by word of mouth, but gave it not from his heart; and he told Patrick to go after him to Tara that he might give him his will before the men of Ireland. That,


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however, was not what he had in mind, but to kill Patrick, for he left ambushes before him on every road from that to Tara.

Thereafter went Patrick (and his train of) eight, together with a gillie Benén, past all the ambushes, in the shape of eight deer and behind them one fawn with a white bird on its shoulder, that is, Benén with Patrick’s book-satchel on his back; and thereafter he went into Tara, the doors being shut, to the middle of the palace. The king was then feasting with the kings of Ireland around him at this festival, for that was the Feast of Tara.

No one rose up before Patrick at Tara except the king’s poet, Dubthach Macculugair, and he believed and was baptized, and Patrick gave him a blessing.

Patrick is then called to the king’s couch that he might eat food, and Patrick refused not that. The wizard Lucatmael put a drop of poison into Patrick’s cruse, and gave it into Patrick’s hand: but Patrick blessed the cruse and inverted the vessel, and the poison fell thereout, and not even a little of the ale fell. And Patrick afterwards drank the ale.

Then said the king to his gillie Crunnmael, ‘Go out on the causeway of Tara, and lay thee down thereon and let them rub dough mixed with blood about thy head, and let them say that thou fellest upon the stones and that thou diedst, and I will tell the cleric to come to bring thee life, and though he tell thee to rise, arise not.’ Thus was it done. When Patrick saw the body, God made manifest to him that guile was practised on him, wherefore he said—

    1. O my Crunnmael, O my bald youth, O my hero,Though thou attainedst one thing, though thou hast not attained, thou hast not arisen,Though thou hast fallen, though thou hast not fallen upon the stones—a final deedThou thou attainedst one thing, though thou hast not attained, thou art not healed.

It is certain that Crunnmael was not healed by Patrick’s word, and from that time forth he arose not.

Thereafter the hosts fared forth out of Tara. Then said the wizard, ‘Let us work miracles together that we may know which of us is the stronger.’ ‘So be it done,’ said Patrick. Then


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the wizard brought snow over the plain till it reached men’s shoulders. Dixit Patricius to him, ‘Put it away now if thou canst.’ Dixit magus: ‘I cannot till the same time to-morrow.’ ‘By my debroth’ (that is, ‘by my God of judgement,’), saith Patrick, ‘it is in evil thy power lieth, and nowise in good.’ Patrick blessed the plain, and the snow melted at once.

The wizard invoked demons, and over the plain he brought darkness that could be felt, and trembling and terror seized every one. Dixit Patricius: ‘Take away the darkness si potes.’ The wizard replied, ‘I cannot till the same time to-morrow.’ Patrick blessed the plain and the darkness at once depart, and the sun shone forth … All who were there gave thanks to God and to Patrick.

Tunc dixit rex, ‘Put your books into water, and him of you whose books escape we will adore.’ ‘I am ready for that,’ saith Patrick. Said the wizard, ‘a god of water this man adores, and I will not submit to the ordeal of water.’ That was the grace of Baptism which he had perceived with Patrick.

Said the king, ‘Put your books into the fire.’ ‘I am ready for that,’ saith Patrick. ‘I will not do thus,’, saith the wizard, ‘for this man adores a god of fire every two years,’ that is, it was the grace of the Holy Ghost he perceived with Patrick. Then another counsel was taken, that is, to build a house in that hour—the half thereof fresh and the other withered, and to put the wizard into the fresh half with Patrick’s raiment about him, (and) to place Patrick’s gillie, Benén, into the withered half, with the wizard’s tunic about him.

Then came to Patrick three striplings, who were kept in hostageship with Loegaire. They weep unto Patrick. Patrick asked, ‘What is that, my sons?’ ‘In the chief city of the Gael a prince’s truth,’ say they, ‘hath to-day been broken.’ ‘Where is this?’ saith Patrick. ‘The house which is abuilding for the wizard and thy gillie, in this wise is it abuilding: half thereof fresh and half withered; the fresh half for the wizard and the withered for thy gillie.’

Patrick put his finger on the right cheek of each of those boys, and on his left palm he put a tear (which had trickled) over the right cheek of each boy; and he breathed on the tears, and made thereof three gems. ‘Swallow,’ saith Patrick, ‘the gems.’ ‘We will swallow (them),’, say they. ‘Good, now,’, saith Patrick:


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‘three noble venerable gems shall be born of you, that is Colomb Cille, and Comgall of Bennchor, and Finden of Magbile.’

It was done as the striplings had said; and fire was put into the house, and the fresh half is burnt with the wizard therein, and Patrick’s raiment which was about him was not burnt, nor the gillie, but the wizard’s tunic which was about him was burnt.

The king grows terrible (?) at the killing of the wizard, and he proceeds to kill Patrick. But God’s anger came against the impious folk, so that a multitude of them (twelve thousand) perished.

Terror then seized Loegaire, and he knelt to Patrick, and believed in God with (his) lips only, and not with a pure heart. All the rest, moreover, believe and were baptized.

Patrick said to Loegaire, ‘Since thou hast believed in God, length of life shall be given to thee in the kingdom, but in guerdon of thy disobedience aforetime, and because thou hast not received the baptism with desire, though thou believedst with thy lips, Hell shalt thou have, and from thy race till Doom there shall be neither sovranty nor chieftainship.’

But the queen besought Patrick not to curse the child that was in her womb, namely Lugaid, son of Loegaire. Patrick said: ‘I will not curse him till he opposes me.’ Now Lugaid took the realm of Ireland; and thereafter he came to Achad farcha and there he said, ‘is not that the church of the cleric who said there would never be a king nor crownprince of our seed?’ Swifter than speech a bolt of fire was hurled against him and killed him. Wherefore thence is called Achad farcha in Ui Cremthainne.

Patrick then goes to the Assembly of Telltown, to the sons of Niall. Maine believed in him, and he was afterwards baptized. But Coirpre, son of Niall, opposed him, and the name which Patrick gave him was Inimicus Dei, and Patrick said that his children would serve his brother’s children for ever; and that neither kings nor bishops nor wise men should spring from him, and that his land would be small, and the issue was so.

But Conall (i.e. Cremthann), son of Niall, believed, and was baptized, and gave the place where he was to Patrick, and a church was built there which is named Domnach Patraic, and Patrick gave him a blessing, and measured out a rampart in