Saint Patrick Loved the Bible

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Saint PatrickSaint Patrick is not an officially canonized saint by the Catholic church, his birth name was Maewyn Succat (or Sucat), and he wasn’t originally from Ireland.

He was born at the end of the 4th century in what is now Dumbarton, Scotland (northwest of Glasgow). By his own admission, he ignored Christianity until he was kidnapped when he was 16 years old and taken with thousands of others as a slave to Ireland where he prayed in bondage and servitude for six years. He escaped, returned home, and—motivated by his deep Christian faith—returned as a missionary to Ireland in his mid-40s, successfully converting many pagans in his journeys throughout the country.

According to Jacob J. Prahlow in his paper, The Scriptures of Saint Patrick, while the medieval 5th century of Saint Patrick’s day saw “a lack of single-volume complete Bibles,” there existed “two different Latin Bible translations, the Vetus Latina and Jerome’s Vulgate, which were often mixed in medieval manuscripts. Amid this context, Patrick demonstrates a remarkably dynamic scriptural consciousness, through which he relies on the biblical text as the source of his structure, arguments, and as the foundation (coordinated with revelatory experiences of God) of his theology. Vital to this process are the Gospels, Pauline Epistles, and Psalter, though Patrick employed and had access to many of the writings in the Christian canon.”

Following are examples of Patrick’s dependence on the Bible (click the links to read the Scriptures in both English and Latin on Bible Gateway), excerpted from his Confesio:

For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.

He himself said through the prophet: ‘Call upon me in the day of’ trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’ And again: ‘It is right to reveal and publish abroad the works of God.’

I am not ignorant of what is said of my Lord in the Psalm: ‘You destroy those who speak a lie.’ And again: ‘A lying mouth deals death to the soul.’ And likewise the Lord says in the Gospel: ‘On the day of judgment men shall render account for every idle word they utter.

So it is that I should mightily fear, with terror and trembling, this judgment on the day when no one shall be able to steal away or hide, but each and all shall render account for even our smallest sins before the judgment seat of Christ the Lord.

Thus I give untiring thanks to God who kept me faithful in the day of my temptation, so that today I may confidently offer my soul as a living sacrifice for Christ my Lord; who am I, Lord? or, rather, what is my calling? that you appeared to me in so great a divine quality, so that today among the barbarians I might constantly exalt and magnify your name in whatever place I should be, and not only in good fortune, but even in affliction? So that whatever befalls me, be it good or bad, I should accept it equally, and give thanks always to God who revealed to me that I might trust in him, implicitly and forever, and who will encourage me so that, ignorant, and in the last days, I may dare to undertake so devout and so wonderful a work; so that I might imitate one of those whom, once, long ago, the Lord already pre-ordained to be heralds of his gospel to witness to all peoples to the ends of the earth. So are we seeing, and so it is fulfilled; behold, we are witnesses because the gospel has been preached as far as the places beyond which no man lives.

So for that reason one should, in fact, fish well and diligently, just as the Lord foretells and teaches, saying, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,’ and, again, through the prophets: ‘“Behold, I am sending forth many fishers and hunters,” says the Lord,’ et cetera. So it behoved us to spread our nets, that a vast multitude and throng might be caught for God, and so there might be clergy everywhere who baptized and exhorted a needy and desirous people. Just as the Lord says in the Gospel, admonishing and instructing: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of time.’ And again he says: ‘Go forth into the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be condemned.’

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