The man we know today as St. Patrick was born in Britain in the late 300s, about the time that the Roman Empire was constricting and Britain was being abandoned. He was born into a landowning if not noble or upper class family living in northwestern Britain, not far from Hadrian’s Wall. We know he had a sister. And we know that when he was 16, raiders swooped in and carried him and others off, eventually selling him into slavery in what is now Ireland.
Only two of his writings have survived. One is the Epistle to Coroticus, written to a British chieftain and his subjects, seeking the release of Christians they had captured. The other is his Confessions, which explain, in his own words, how God favored him and used him to accomplish God’s work. We have a biography said to be written by one of Patrick’s converts, but created some 200 years after Patrick. Other than those documents, we have a wealth of myth and legend about the saint, some of which may be true and some not (Patrick himself makes no mention of driving the makes out of Ireland).
Wyatt North Publishing prints a whole series of short works on both Catholic and Protestant subjects, including Mother Teresa, St. Anthony, Pope Francis, C.S. Lewis, the life and times of Jesus, and other subjects. In a succinct publication, St. Patrick: His Life and Prayers separates what we know and what we don’t know about the saint. But it’s not necessarily “scientific” to dismiss the myths and legends; some of them are likely to founded in some fact or facts, while others are likely to have been derived from an oral storytelling tradition.
This volume by Wyatt North also includes three of St. Patrick’s prayers, “The Prayer for the Faithful,” “The Prayer for God’s Protection and Christ’s Presence,” and the “Lorica of St. Patrick,” a kind of adoration to begin each day.
St. Patrick is an easy-to-read, short summary introducing us to the saint, his life, and what he accomplished.
Top photograph: A stained glass panel of St. Patrick at Christ the Light Cathedral, Oakland, California.