HIS parents were Christians and noble. They lived in Britain in what is now Dumbarton, during
the second half of the fourth century. The father, a Roman citizen, Calpurnius by name,
held the rank of decurion; the mother, Conchessa, a good and wise woman, was the sister of
St Martin of Tours.
Though they were rich, Patrick was not brought up in luxury. He lived for the most part on
a farm with his foster parents, who were simple folk of whom he was very fond.
He early began to work those wonders of which he performed a legion in his long life (for
some do say he lived to be one hundred and twenty years old!).
One frosty winter's day, he brought, gathered in his little tunic, a hoard of icicles to
his foster mother, thinking she would take as great pleasure as he in the glittering
things. But she received the offering coldly, saying: "Of what good is what thou hast
brought me, child? Firewood wherewith to warm us had been better."
"Believe that it is in God's power to make icicles flame like firewood," answered Patrick,
and setting the icicles on the fire, he breathed upon them and they blazed like dry twigs.
In those days the Picts and Scots made frequent incursions upon the British land,
harassing the inhabitants of the coasts. In one of these invasions a band of marauders
alighted from ships upon the shore near the farm where Patrick, now a lad of about sixteen
 years, was in company with some of his younger brothers and sisters. The sight of the
warriors filled their beholders with terror. Panic-stricken they fled in all directions,
but they were defenceless and escape was impossible. The pirates rushed upon them with
shouts and, laying violent hands on them, carried them off to their ships, after setting
fire to the plundered homestead.
They sailed away and went to Ireland. There Patrick was sold as a slave to Milcho, King of
Dalaradia, and given the task of tending the swine which fed on acorns in a wood adjoining
the fort of his master. Here, though the change from his former life was bitter, he
acquired that experience of outdoor life which was to be of such service to him later, his
knowledge of the Irish tongue and his love of the rude folk of Ireland, most especially of
their children, for he loved Milcho's children, and they him. There were long hours of
solitude and leisure which he could spend in thought and prayer. Day and night, in sun or
snow, frost or rain, he prayed, and the love of God increased within him, so that lie
acquired the life-long habit of accepting whatever befell him, whether for good or evil,
with his characteristic "Deo gratias!" "Thanks be to God!"
After six years of servitude, the Angel Victor, guardian of Ireland, who had been his
friend, counsellor, and teacher in his bondage, and had helped him in many distresses,
came to him in a dream one night and said: "Soon shalt thou return to thy country, for,
behold, thy ship is ready"; he then told him how to compass his escape, and at the
appointed time Patrick fled, avoiding the pursuit of Milcho's servants.
He travelled on foot to the west coast, about two hundred miles, and there took ship.
After many adventures and months of wandering, he reached home. His parents had died
during his absence, but members of
 his family still remained who made him as welcome as a lost son returned, and entreated
him to remain with them. He would gladly have stayed, but always he seemed to hear the
voices of those whom he had left behind in Ireland calling to him to come back and lead
them out of the captivity of idolatry into the light of the knowledge of Christ.
One night Victor of the Beautiful Countenance appeared to him again in his sleep, holding
out an open letter. He could only read its title, "The Voice of the Irish," for emotion so
overcame him that his eyes were blurred with tears. Then he heard the voice of the
children of Fochlut Wood crying out to him beseechingly: "Return to us, holy youth; come
once more and walk among us!" Victor explained that this was the voice of all the yet
unborn children of Ireland, and Patrick's purpose became fixed to return one day to the
shores of the western sea, when he should have prepared himself with knowledge and
authority to carry salvation to them.
His first step toward this preparation was to go to seek counsel and instruction of his
uncle, St Martin, Bishop of Tours. St Martin had founded a monastery at Marmoutier, and
thither Patrick made his way. As he drew near to his destination, weary with many days'
travel, he lay down to rest in the snow under the bare branches of a blackthorn-tree. When
he awoke in the morning he found himself under a white canopy of full-blown blossoms, the
air was balmy and sweet scented, while the country beyond was still frozen, stark, and
wintry. You may yet see to this day St Patrick's blackthorn tree in blossom in bleak
He was warmly welcomed at Marmoutier, where he commenced a course of training which lasted
until the death of the gentle St Martin, eight years later.
Meat was not allowed at the monastery except if one
 were ill, but it happened one day that Patrick received a piece from a sick brother who
had no wish to eat it. He hid his treat in a jar, for he longed for meat after his long
fast from it. He was awaiting the opportunity to eat it unseen of anyone when he suddenly
came face to face with a strange apparition which had eyes both at the front and at the
back of its head. Patrick asked the creature who and what it might be.
"I am a servant of God," it answered, "and with my eyes in front I see the apparent
actions of men, but with the eyes at the back of my head I saw a certain monk concealing a
piece of meat, that he might eat it in secret." Then the apparition vanished.
Patrick fell on his knees, smiting his breast, and entreating to be forgiven. He promised
then and there never in his whole life to eat flesh, which promise he faithfully kept. His
angel Victor came to him then and assured him that he was pardoned; in proof of it he bade
him take the hidden meat and, in the presence of the assembled brotherhood, cast it into
water; when he had done this, publicly confessing his guilt, the meat was suddenly changed
into a quantity of fresh and shining fishes, which sufficed for all the brothers.
After the death of St Martin, Patrick stayed for fourteen years in Auxerre, where St
Germanus was then bishop, and later in the Isle of Lerins, where St Vincent was among his
Ever and always he heard the voices of the children from Fochlut Wood crying: "All we
Irish beseech thee, holy Patrick, to come and free us. Free us from the wrath to come. O
holy youth, come once more and walk among us!"
Finally, when the time was ripe, Victor said: "Go to Ireland, for thou shalt be the
apostle of its people." So Patrick went to Rome to obtain from Pope Celestin sanction for
his mission to Ireland. In Rome he was
 consecrated bishop and, while the consecration was going on, three choirs responded to
each other, the choir of the people of heaven, the choir of the Roman clerics, and the
choir of the children of the wood of Fochlut.
It was on his way to Rome that Patrick received his wonderful staff. As he sailed from
France, he came to an island on which he saw a new house, and in it a newly wedded couple.
But before the house was an old, old, old, old woman.
"Who is she?" asked Patrick.
"She is our great-granddaughter," said the young man, "she is old indeed, but you should
see her mother—she is far older!"
"How is this?" asked Patrick.
"We have been here," explained the young man, "since the days of Christ, who once came and
dwelt with us when He was among men. We made a feast for Him and He blessed us and our
house, but the blessing did not descend to our children. So here we continue, unchanging,
and here we shall be until the Judgment Day. Thy coming has been foretold us, for God saw
that thou shouldst come to preach to the Gael, and Christ left a token with us, a bent
staff to be given thee."
After making all things ready Patrick set sail for Ireland. There also his arrival with
his train had been thrice foretold by the Druids, who knew that his coming should make an
end of idolatry and heathenism. Their prophecy ran thus: "Adzehead will come over an angry
sea, his garment head pierced, his staff head bent, his table to the east of his house,
and all his household will answer, Amen, Amen. Adzeheads will come who will build cities,
consecrate churches, and pinnacled music-houses with conical caps." All of which was easy
to interpret: The adzehead was the tonsured priest, the head-holed garment his chasuble,
the head-bent staff his crozier, his altar was at the east
 end of the church, and the belfries were the conical capped music-houses.
Patrick and his followers landed on the eastern coast of Ireland. They were seen
approaching by a swine-herd who, thinking them robbers, ran to warn his master, Dichu.
Dichu hastened to the spot and set his dog upon the unarmed men who were about to land,
but Patrick, facing, the fierce creature, chanted a verse of the Scriptures: "Deliver not
unto the beasts, O Lord, the souls of them that confess Thee!" At these words the dog
became friendly and lay at Patrick's feet. Dichu, seeing this, seeing also that these men
were no robbers, hastened forward, greeting Patrick with kindness. He listened to the
Saint's words, believed, and was baptized. He also gave him lodging in a barn close by.
This barn was destined to be famous in the story of Ireland, for it was here that Patrick
made his first church and said his first mass. The place was called after it 'The Barn,'
which in Irish is Saball, from which the name was insensibly changed to Saul.
It was here that, preaching to some little children, he stooped and plucked a leaf of
shamrock, to illustrate for them the doctrine of the Trinity, the Three in One, and the
shamrock is to this day the symbol of St Patrick.
At this time Laeghaire was High King of Ireland, and dwelt in a castle on the Hill of
Tara, overlooking the Magh Bregh, the Beautiful Plain. Opposite to it, about ten miles
away, was another hill, the Hill of Slane. Here Patrick proposed to spend the first Easter
Day after his arrival in Ireland.
Laeghaire had at this very season assembled all his sub-kings and nobles, his bards and
Druids, for the great festival of Beltaine; he had commanded as a part of the ceremony
that bonfires should be lighted in all
 the surrounding country on the night before the festival, but on pain of death none was to
be kindled; in fact, every fire was to be extinguished, until the sacred flame should be
seen shining on Tara's Hill.
What, then, was the astonishment of the people when they saw gleaming on the Hill of Slane
the Paschal Fire which Patrick had caused to be kindled on Easter Even. The glow of it
lighted all the valley—and Tara was as yet in darkness!
In anger Laeghaire called his Druids and bade them send to ask what meant that fire, and
who had been so rash as to light it, breaking his commands. The druids answered: "We see
the flame and know that unless it be stamped out on this very night it will never be
quenched until Doomsday, and that he, moreover, who lighted it, shall become more powerful
than all the kings of Ireland!"
With mounting fury Laeghaire declared that he himself would go and carry death to him who
thus threatened his throne.
A loud clamour then arose from the castle as in haste men donned their armour. Late in the
night many chariots, bearing the King and Queen, and with them their two magicians, Lochru
and Lucat Mael, and all their train of nobles and soldiers, whirled across the plain
lighted by the radiance of the fires, by whose glow the peaceful ceremony of Easter Even,
preceding the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, was being performed by Patrick
and his followers.
Arriving near the place, Laeghaire sent a messenger bidding Patrick appear before him.
Soon Patrick was seen advancing with his clerics, a bright procession with vestments
gleaming in the torchlight.
Here followed argument between King and Saint, but before many words had been spoken
Lochru the druid, interrupting, violently attacked Patrick, his
 creed and his Church. Patrick, in a blaze of indignation, then exclaimed: "O Lord, who
canst do all things, let this ungodly man who blasphemes Thee be lifted up, and let him
forthwith die!" And Lochru, after being snatched up into the air by an invisible force,
was dashed to death upon the stones on which he stood.
The incensed Laeghaire now ordered his men to fall upon Patrick, but the Saint stood
before them unmoved; leaning on his wonderful staff he sang in a clear voice: "Let God
arise, and let His enemies be scattered." And although by this time the sun of Easter Day
had risen in glory, a sudden darkness spread over the sky, and the earth shook. Panic
spread among the King's followers, the horses took fright, galloping wildly in all
directions; men fell upon one another and were slain in the darkness; to the clash and
clangour of arms was added the howling of a wind which dashed men and chariots violently
across the valley. None was left on the scene of distraction but the King, his Queen,
Angas, and one faithful servant. Interceding for her lord, the Queen approached Patrick,
assured him that the King, now convinced of the power of Patrick's God, would kneel to Him
and believe, and Laeghaire bade Patrick come to his castle on the morrow that he might in
the presence of all confess his allegiance. The Saint gladly consented, and on the
following day, with eight of his clerics and the boy Benignus, the first of his disciples
in Ireland, proceeded to Tara. On his way he chanted the hymn which is called St Patrick's
Breastplate. It is also called the Deer's Cry, for Laeghaire caused men to lie in ambush
on Patrick's road to destroy him and his followers, but as these passed God enveloped them
in darkness, so that all that the men in ambush saw was a wild deer and a fawn passing in
 The hymn which Patrick sang is a brave and noble song and it goes something like this:
"I bind myself to-day to a strong strength, to a calling on the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness, with confession of a Oneness in the Creator of the world.
"I bind myself to-day to the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism; to the strength
of His crucifixion with His burial; to the strength of His resurrection with His
"In stability of earth, in steadfastness of rock I bind myself to-day, God's strength to
"God's power to uphold me; God's wisdom to guide me; God's eye to look before me; God's
ear to hear me.
"God's word to speak for me; God's hand to guard me; God's path to lie before me; God's
shield to protect me; God's host to save me;
"Against snares of demons; against the begging of sins; against the asking of nature;
against all my ill-wishers, near me and far from me, alone and in a crowd.
"So I have called on all these strengths to come between me and every fierce and merciless
strength that may come between my body and my soul;
"Against incantations of false prophets; against black laws of heathens; against false
laws of heretics; against craft of idolatry, against spells of women, and smiths and
druids; against every knowledge forbidden to the souls of men;
"Christ for my protection to-day against poison, against burning, against drowning,
against wounding; that a multitude of rewards may come to me.
"Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ under me, Christ
over me, Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me, Christ in lying down, Christ
in sitting; Christ in rising up; Christ in the heart of every one that thinks of me;
Christ in the
 mouth of every one that speaks of me; Christ in every eye that sees me; Christ in every
ear that hears me.
"I bind myself to-day to a strong strength, to a calling upon the Trinity; I believe in a
Threeness with confession of a Oneness in the Creator of the world!"
Meanwhile in the banqueting hall at Tara Laeghaire sat with his assembled nobles
rehearsing the humiliating events of the preceding night. At any moment he expected the
tidings of Patrick's death at the hands of his men in ambush, when suddenly in the midst
of the feast the Saint stood before him. Consternation was painted upon the countenances
of all present, until Lucat Mael, quickly recovering some semblance of composure, under
guise of hospitable greeting, presented to Patrick a goblet of wine into which he had
poured a drop of deadliest poison. But had not the Saint on his road prayed to be
protected from all evil? He made the sign of the Cross over the cup—at which the
poison was separated from the wine, and Patrick, after pouring it out, drank the now
harmless draught in the name of Christ his Lord.
After the banquet Laeghaire commanded that the assembled company should descend to the
Beautiful Plain below, and with the guests disposed at the sides of the King and Queen,
and the King's men drawn up in battle array, all should witness a contest between Patrick
and Lucat Mael.
Nothing loth, Patrick consented. When all was arranged Lucat Mael proposed that they
should vie with each other in working miracles. Through rites and incantations he caused
snow to fall even up to the men's Waists. The multitude wondered and applauded.
In no wise disconcerted, Patrick said: "Now cause the snow to depart."
 "Nay," answered Lucat Mael, "that cannot I do until this time to-morrow."
Patrick, leaning on his wonderful staff, the Staff of Jesus, raising his right hand in
benediction over the plain, in the name of the Holy Trinity, made the snow to vanish.
Then the wizard, working another incantation, called forth darkness to cover the bright
face of the spring day. "Dispel the darkness," said Patrick.
"Nay, but I cannot until this hour to-morrow," confessed the magician again.
Again Patrick blessed the plain, darkness fled, and the sun shone.
Thus they continued; always Lucat Mael was vanquished, until finally the trial by fire was
suggested, and Patrick agreed that a house should be built in which Lucat Mael, clad in
Patrick's own chasuble, should be shut on the one side, and on the other his dear boy
Benignus, clad in the magician's cloak; that fire should be set to the house, and that God
should decide as to the deserts of each.
All this was done, but though Lucat Mael managed that his side of the house should be
built of green wood and the other of wood dry as tinder, yet when the fire was applied the
magician's side of the house was burned to ashes, and he with it, nothing remaining but
Patrick's unscorched chasuble—while nothing would induce the other part of the house
to burn. As to Benignus, although the magician's robe upon him was consumed, he himself
who wore it came forth untouched by the flames.
Maddened by the failure and death of his best magician, Laeghaire now again attempted to
fall upon Patrick and take his life, but Patrick gave him a final warning. "Unless thou
now believest, and that quickly, thou shalt forthwith die, for God's anger will surely
fall upon thee!"
 In a manner of weary desperation, Laeghaire then admitted that he preferred to receive God
rather than death. With his entire court, and thousands more besides, he submitted himself
to baptism and promised to accord his permission and protection to the spreading of the
Christian faith throughout his realm.
"Deo gratias!" cried Patrick.
This was the beginning of the Saint's great work. Year after year he laboured. Year after
year he travelled, preaching and exhorting, founding monasteries and convents, erecting
churches, baptizing thousands and tens of thousands, consecrating priests, ordaining
bishops, and performing countless miracles. All the while he had to fight the good fight
against enemies both bitter and powerful who opposed and tried to thwart him at every
Not men alone had he to fight, but the rigour of the elements and of the seasons; ever he
travelled on and on, climbing mountains, fording streams, crossing interminable bogs;
scorched by the sun and chilled by snow, buffeted by wind and drenched by rain, but always
full of a high courage and deep love. On he journeyed until he had made the sign of the
Cross even upon the face of the entire island, for he spanned it from shore to shore, from
east to west, and then again from north to south, so that all Ireland was won to God, and,
as Victor had instructed him, he had conquered one more realm for Christ.
What wonders he performed by the might of that sign of the Cross of Christ he so loved! It
is said he signed himself with it more than a hundred times daily and nightly. He traced
it upon the waters—they were turned from foul to pure; he traced it in the
air—demons fled and evil men were made powerless; he drew
 it on the ground—it opened and swallowed up magicians and their false gods; he drew
it upon the sick—they were healed; upon the dead and they revived. With it, it is
said that he drove all snakes and poisonous reptiles from Irish soil. In truth, all
insidious heresies and heathenish rites and superstitions he did stamp out and drive from
And ever his love for the land and the children of Ireland grew and deepened in his heart;
with it also grew his determination to open wide for his flock the Gates of Heaven.
Now, it was Patrick's custom to spend the Lenten season in solitude, devoting his days and
nights to intercession for the souls of those whom he had come to save. It happened one
year that he spent his forty days of fasting and of prayer on the summit of the
mountain—or, as the Irish called it, the Rick—of Cruaghan, looming on the
shores of the Western Sea. Ceaselessly he prayed and kept his vigil, until, toward the end
of Lent, he was assailed by the powers of darkness in the shape of huge black birds, so
numberless that they filled the earth and the air. Mercilessly they attacked him, and
vainly Patrick tried to exorcise them with chants and psalms. They continued to torment
him until in desperation he rang his holy bell, and ended by hurling it into their midst.
Only then did they vanish, leaving Patrick exhausted, weeping so that his cowl was
drenched with tears.
Then came Victor, accompanied by a flock of snow-white birds, singing heavenly songs to
console him. Victor dried the Saint's tears (and his hood), and promised for his comfort
that he should save by the prayers he had prayed as many souls as would fill the space as
far as his eyes could reach to seaward.
But Patrick was not to be easily satisfied, and there
 ensued a spirited dialogue between the Angel and the Saint, as humorous and endearing as
any comedy scene.
Somewhat cheered and revived by the Angel's promise, Patrick answered with a keen eye to
striking a good bargain for his people.
"I have watched long and wept much. My eyes are dim and cannot now see far to seaward."
The Angel Victor: "Then shalt thou save as many souls as would fill the space
as far as thou canst see to landward also."
Saint Patrick (with innocent surprise): "And is that all? Does God grant me
nothing further for all I have suffered?"
The A. V. (soothingly): "Thou shalt save on every Saturday till Doomsday
seven souls from the pains of Hell."
St P.: "Let also my twelve men who have laboured so faithfully with me be
The A. V. (with a glad finality): "Thou shalt have them—and now get
thee gone from the Rick!"
St P. (petulantly, if such a term may be used with reference to a holy
Saint): "I will not get me gone, for I have been sorely tormented, and even greater
favours do I crave. Shall nothing further be given me?"
The A. V. (comfortably): "Yea, twelve souls shalt thou save from Hell's
torments every Saturday and seven on Thursdays. And now get thee gone from the Rick"
St P. (encouraged by his success): "I will not get me gone, for I have been
sore tormented, until I am blessed."
The A. V. (indulgently): "What further, then, wouldst thou demand?"
St P.: "That no pagan should dwell in Ireland, by consent or by force, as long as I
abide in Heaven."
The Angel Victor: "Thou shalt have this."
 St P.: "Does God grant me nothing further?"
The A. V.: "Yea—every man who shall sing thy hymn shall not suffer pain or
St P. (tentatively): "The hymn is long—"
The A. V. (hastily): "Well, then, whoever shall sing it from 'Christus Ilium'
to the end, whoever shall give anything in thy name, whoever shall do penance in Ireland,
his soul shall not go to Hell. And now wilt thou get thee gone from the Rick!"
St P. (beginning to thoroughly enjoy this haggling): "I will not, for I have
been sore tormented—is there naught else?"
The A. V. (patiently): "Yea, for every hair in thy chasuble shalt thou bring
a man out of torment on the Judgment Day!"
St. P. (scornfully): "Nay—any Saint could do that—I will not take
The A. V. (meekly): "What, then, wilt thou take?"
St P. (with emphasis): "Not one—but seven souls for every hair in my
The A. V. (eagerly): "This shalt thou have. And now get thee gone from the
St P. (emboldened by the flash of a sudden dazzling vision): "I will not get
The A. V. (at the end of all patience): "Then shalt thou be taken by force!"
St P. (now strong in a mighty determination): "I will not get me gone until I
am blessed, save only if the High King of Heaven were to bid me begone!"
The A. V. (with sudden relenting): "What more wouldst thou have?"
St P. (gathering himself for a most unheard-of bold request, slowly, and with
solemn, ringing emphasis): "On the great Day of Judgment, when shall be reared the twelve
thrones on God's mountain, and the four rivers of fire shall flow round it, and the three
 shall meet upon it, the people of Heaven and of Earth and of Hell, on that day, let
me—let Patrick, be judge over the people of Ireland!"
The A. V. (aghast at such matchless daring, opening to their widest his
sapphire eyes fringed with sable lashes, utters in a breathless whisper): "Nay, surely,
such a favour can never be granted!"
St P. (soaring on the wings of his inspired audacity): "But unless it be
granted never to the day of doom shall I leave this Rick, and furthermore when I die here
will I leave a guardian."
In dismay Victor flew away to Heaven.
And Patrick all day stood praying and offering up his whole heart to God.
At night Victor again stood beside him, but Patrick, looking not at him, asked: "What
answer gives the Maker of all Worlds to my humble petition?"
"Thy prayer is answered," said Victor, simply. "When the end is come thou shalt judge thy
people in righteousness. Kneel, therefore, now, and bless thy land of Erin."
Patrick meekly knelt and blessed his land, saying: "Praise be to God who hears a sinner's
Then with a sigh of sweetest satisfaction and a deep twinkle in his eye: "Now, therefore,
will I get me down from the Rick!"
So, when Patrick had journeyed and laboured for many years and had become an aged man, he
longed to find rest for his last years in one spot where he might remain until he should
It was then he came to the stronghold of a chieftain called Daire. Of him he asked a place
at the top of a certain hill, whereon to build a church.
Daire refused to give him room on the crest of the
 hill, as that would overlook his own fort, but he granted him a space on the level ground
Here Patrick for the time being made his cell and built a church.
One day, some of Daire's horses browsed upon Patrick's consecrated ground. For this
desecration Patrick caused the death of the horses. Hearing of this Daire ordered his men
to attack Patrick and drive him and his followers away. They were about to do so when
Daire was seized with a sudden violent illness. In alarm his wife sent to Patrick, begging
him to send her some holy water with which to heal her husband. Patrick complied and, as
he gave it to the messengers, charged them sprinkle some of it also upon the dead horses,
who were brought back to life, even as Daire was healed. (It would have been inconceivable
that Patrick should let those good Irish horses remain dead!)
In thanks for this, then, Daire sent Patrick as a present a most splendid copper cauldron
which he had received from overseas. It was a princely gift, and when the messengers had
returned from presenting it, it was only natural that Daire should question them,
inquiring whether the Saint had seemed properly impressed with its beauty and value, as
also with Daire's own generosity.
"What said the holy man when he received the cauldron?"
"He did but say, 'Gratzacham,' "said the messengers, repeating as far as they could
remember Patrick's expression "Gratias agamus Domino"—"Let us give thanks to the
"Indeed, then, but that is small thanks for a gift so fine," said Daire. "Do ye return now
and bid him straightway give me back my cauldron!"
"What said he when ye did take it away?" asked Daire of his messengers upon their return.
 "He did say 'Gratzacham' even as before," said the servants.
"Now, that must be a good word of his," said Daire. "'Gratzacham' he said when he did
take, and 'Gratzacham' when it was taken from him. And for that good word do ye go back
and return the cauldron to him."
Nor was this all, for, impressed by the Saint's equanimity, by his courage and firmness of
character, his meekness, his constancy, and by his invariable and unfailing thanks to God
under good fortune and ill, Daire bestowed upon him the much-desired site for his church
on the summit of the hill. There it was that Patrick established his own church, the
glorious church of Armagh, where he remained until near the end of his clays.
There he would fain have laid him down after his long life of labour. It happened,
however, that as his hour drew near he was at Saul. Feeling his end close upon him he
started to travel back to Armagh; but Victor met him on the road and said: "Go
back—go back—not at Armagh is it God's will that thou shouldst die. Go back to
Saul, for at Dichu's Barn where thou didst say thy first Mass on Irish soil shalt thou
"Deo Gratias," said Patrick, bowing as ever to the will of God.
There indeed he breathed his last, and for twelve days and nights attending watching
angels made the air so bright that no candle needed to be burned beside him.
Where he was buried is not certain, though it is supposed he lies with Columbcille and
Bridget at Downe, and it may be so. But wherever he rests he will doubtless arise on the
Great Day of Judgment, and, as it was promised him, be judge over the people of Ireland,
for he of all understood them, and if we understand we love, and if we love we shall deal
justly according to the heart of God.
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