Today is the feast of Saint Patrick, today we celebrate his sainthood, and the ascendance to heaven of a British man, of Roman heritage, who lived sometime in the fourth and fifth centuries of the Common Era.
Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he was not Irish at all, he was a Roman of the Patrician class, he was from a family of rank, and privilege.
Patrick (Patricius) is credited with converting the people of Erin to faith in the Universal Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, in so doing he separated the Celtic people from their Gaelic traditions, and subordinated them to Catholic Church in Rome.
It is no wonder that he was named a saint for this, Patricius. He won with the Word what could not be accomplished by going to war.
It should be noted that Saint Patrick has never been canonized, or even beatified by any Pope.
Therefore he is not officially a Saint of the Catholic Church, but he is recognized in the annals of the Saints of the Church of England.
There is some irony for you.
History tells us that Patrick was a humble man, a rare quality for those of rank. History also tells us that he proofed the plan of spreading the faith by converting chieftains first, he was a politician of great skill. Every missionary who followed him, emulated his method.
He spread the faith, he established churches and he earned the rank of Apostle, by popular acclamation..
History tells us that his mother was a relative of Saint Martin of Tours, the patron Saint of Soldiers, Saint Martin of the Sword whose biography was written by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and is in fact a work of pure fiction.
Saint Martin never lived, but his story gave license for Christians to become soldiers, to serve in the army, and as such it brought the Roman legions into the fold.
He is said to have had “heroic piety,” praying day and night, in the mountains and the woods, through storms of snow and ice and rain, he should be the patron saint of post men if this were true, but then again…all hagiographies are lies.
His story tells us that he spent six years as a captive and servant to a Celtic Chieftain and Druid named Milchu in Dalriada, where he mastered the language of the common folk and learned all of their stories.
However, it is more likely that he fled his home to wander abroad in order to escape the duties that were expected of him as the son of a nobleman. Such departures were so common that it was referred to as the “flight of the curiales,” he was a boy running from their responsibilities.
Rather than being taken captive it is more likely that he paid for asylum in Milchu’s house, and paid for the services of teachers to help him learn the language.
The Druids were great teachers and oral historians that much is true.
The story of his escape (if it was in fact an escape from servitude), and subsequent journey were of his own account. He cast the entire experience in dramatic, even biblical terms, both to cover up his crimes of abnegation and to acquire fame.
It is said that he escaped from Milchu and fled to the mainland of Europe, entered the priesthood and became a missionary. On his return to Ireland however, the first place he went was to his former home in Dalriada. Where, after some period of conflict with his former captor (or patron) and the affectation of some miracles on Patrick’s part, Milchu immolated himself to make way for upstart. He threw himself on a fire after burning the collected scrolls and mysteries of his people, Milchu offered himself as a human sacrifice at the foundation of the church in Ireland.
That’s how Patrick wrote it.
In reality the whole episode was more like the ritual destruction of the Celtic people in favor of the ascending Romano-British invaders.
On Easter Sunday, 433 a conflict of will ensued, the historians mythologized it as a battle of divine forces likening the contest between the Roman Saint Patrick and the CelticArch-Druid, Lochru, to the contest between Moses and the Egyptians, or Elijah and priest of Baal. This contest ended with Saint Patrick magically hurling Lochru into the air, and breaking him to pieces on a sharp rock.
It was another ritual murder at the foundation of the Celtic Church, another human sacrifice to be sure.
On a side note, while speaking of his vaunted magic powers, this same Saint Patrick was said to have been able to raise the dead.
It should be noted the Columbanus, who was the most significant representative of the Irish Catholic Church after the Dark Ages, who lived and wrote and sent missionaries from Ireland to Continental Europe, building Churches and founding religious communities, he makes no mention of Saint Patrick at all in his writing, and asserts that the Church in Ireland was founded by a man named Palladius.
Be mindful when you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day!
The entire legend of Saint Patrick could be a myth designed to subordinate the Irish heart to a British noble of Roman descent, and a fictitious one at that.