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Introduction

St Patrick

Years ago I came across a mention that St Patrick had written an autobiography in his old age that had survived to the present and was almost certainly genuine. I was astonished not to have heard about it before. How amazing to have a first hand account of his conversion of Ireland, even if, as seemed likely, it had been corrupted to some extent over the ages.

I was imagining a whole book of course, being rather an optimist by nature. When I finally came across a copy on the internet it was something of a disappointment, being only about eight pages long. And then most of what little there is is taken up with the sweet man examining his conscience for traces of pride in his achievements. Beyond a few bare details of his adventures he assumes his readers know all about the main events in his career and is mostly at pains to explain his actions from a moral and theological stance.

So, very frustrating, especially when at one point he says 'Now, it would be tedious to give a detailed account of all my labours or even a part of them . . . for I do not want to bore my readers'. No, Pat, it would not have been tedious or boring at all! We wouldn't have minded a few hundred pages more. Who better to tell us what life was really like in Ireland then?

However, once one gets over the initial disappointment, what we do have is wonderful and you can see why the pagan Irish took him to their hearts.


CONFESSION OF ST PATRICK


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