Synopses & Reviews
". . . whoever is pleased to look at or receive this writing, which Patrick, a sinner, untaught, to be sure, has composed in Ireland . . . this is my Confession before I die."
Who was St Patrick? In the modern era his name still carries the aura of legend -- yet the truths of his life remain unknown to most readers. Now, in this new work of biographical reconstruction, Máire B. de Paor brings us as close as possible to the man behind the myth. Through a combination of painstaking research and a close reading of Patrick's two surviving works -- the Confessio and the Epistola, their texts included in full in this edition -- de Paor reveals a man at once poet and pilgrim, artist and apostle.
The story of St Patrick, known to many as the patron saint of Ireland, is as complex and mythic as the Irish culture he took as his own. Kidnapped at the age of fifteen, Patrick was smuggled to Ireland in a time of Christian upheaval in Europe. On the rocky coasts of his new home, Patrick adopted the life of a shepherd and the words of his Gaelic companions. At night, however, the Irish hills darkened to reveal the pagan gods and monsters so foreign to Patrick's Christian sensibilities. Patrick prayed for release for six years, only to return to evangelize his pagan captors.
Until recently, the modern consensus was that Patrick was a barely literate rustic struggling with a sense of inadequacy in a language he could not master. In her exhaustively researched biography, Máire B. de Paor uncovers the true Patrick as revealed through his two major literary works. Started as a defense against his accusers, Patrick's writings evolved into something more powerful -- a manifestation of the spirit that had gripped him. Set against a backdrop of the Catholic fervor of the fifth century, Patrick's words also reflect a fascinating time in religious history. As a religious figure, and as a captured slave, Patrick was the living embodiment of the conflict between the civilized Roman Catholics and the "dangerous heathen enemies of the Empire."
A scholar of exceptional depth and insight, de Paor examines Patrick's written legacy with refreshing vigor and passion and discovers an artist of astonishing literary skill and a man of great spiritual depth.
The man who came to be known as Patrick was a grand mythic figure and a very real historical person: a slave turned missionary, a passionate pilgrim, and a revered religious writer and teacher. Now for the first time his story--from his youth in Roman Britain to his emergence from slavery in Ireland--is fully reconstructed and recaptured. Maire de Paor examines Patrick's spiritual journey and highly complex personality in the context of 5th century Britain and Ireland, and in light of recent research.
About the Author
Maire B. de Paor, PBVM, is an Irish religious scholar and a Presentation Sister. A native of County Waterford, Ireland, she has degrees from the University College Dublin, Maynooth, and a doctorate from University College Cork. She has published two previous books on Irish history.