Tree of Life – Level 1, Lesson 7: Patrick
Many of the legends and sagas which are woven about the lives of religious leaders or founders contribute so much to their glory in the minds of religionists that an attempt to disprove these tales is misconstrued by them as a sacrilegious act. However, this should not be the case, as almost all of the religious leaders, spiritual lights of mankind, have performed actual deeds which are even more to their credit than the imaginative ones. Persons who are not superstitious welcome the true facts about the lives of these spiritual personages.
Patrick was not, as is commonly believed, born on March 17; he did not drive the snakes and frogs out of Ireland. He was not an Irishman, did not believe himself a Saint, his true name was not Patrick, and there is considerable dispute as to whether or not he was a Roman Catholic. He was a Christian first and foremost – that is, he devoted his later life to Christianity – but being free from any sectarianism he never participated in the religious schisms or disputes prevalent at the time. There is no record of his ever visiting the Pope, nor did he attend any monastery. His devotion was toward Christianity as a whole. His true name was Succat. He has another name, Cothrigge, Latinized Patricius, from whence came the Patrick.
The accounts of his life are mainly taken from his own work entitled The Confession, and the biography by Muirchu. He described the conduct and life of his youth as nearly heinous, but his acts are thought to be but peccadilloes.
At sixteen he was captured by wild Irish tribes and made a slave sheepherder. He lived this rugged life for six years, and while in this solitude communed with nature. A voice spoke suddenly to him, one day, saying “Blessed youth, thou art soon to go to thy fatherland.” A sudden transition of mind took place, and he acquired, it is related, a spiritual insight and feeling.
He fled his captors, tramped two hundred miles to a small town, begged passage on a ship with a barbarous crew and was wrecked three days later on the coast of Ireland. The crew, mainly Pagans, walked with Patrick for days across the wild spaces of Ireland without food, jeered him as a Christian, and demanded that his God produce food. He prayed and it is related that a few hours later the company came across a herd of wild swine, upon which they fell and gorged themselves with food.
After this gorging of pork, he had a strange vision of oppression by Satan. There is disagreement as to whether or not this vision was merely a nightmare because of excessive food, or a theophany.
At last, it is recounted, he overcame Satan, and the experience marked his life and set his course.
He took it upon himself to convert the wild tribes of Ireland, the Druids, steeped in nature mysteries, to Christianity. It is claimed that he personally baptized 12,000 people.
The warfare between the Christians and Druids continued for centuries. The Irish people at this period were at the same point of mental and spiritual development as the Jews were at the time of Moses. They were extremely superstitious and resorted to all forms of magical methods. Patrick devoted himself to driving these practices from Ireland.
He was also a lawmaker as was Moses, and was said to have been the author of the famous Brehon laws.
At his death, which is estimated to have been on or about March 17, 461 AD, his body was placed on a wagon to which were chained unbroken bullocks who were permitted to go as they willed. Where they stopped, there he was buried, which is declared today to be a place known as Downpatrick.
For centuries, the Irish custom was to celebrate a man’s death date instead of his birth date. Thus, March 17, celebrated today, is not his birthday, but the day of his death. He was not canonized as a Saint until centuries after his death. His outstanding tribute to the light of the world was the Christianizing of Ireland.
I invoke therefore all these forces:
against every fierce merciless force that may come upon my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of paganism,
against false laws of heresy,
against encompassment of idolatry,
against spells of women and smiths and druids,
against all knowledge that is forbidden the human soul.
Christ for my guardianship today:
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
that there may come to be a multitude of rewards,
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ under me, Christ over me,
Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me,
Christ lying down, Christ in sitting, Christ in rising up,
Christ in the heart of every person who may think of me!
Christ in the mouth of everyone who may speak to me!
Christ in every eye which may look at me!
Christ in every ear which may hear me!
I arise today:
in vast might, invocation of the Trinity,
belief in a Threeness,
confession of Oneness,
meeting in the Creator,
Domini est salus, Domini est salus Christi est salus,
Salus tua, Domine, sit semper nobiscum.”
(Salvation cometh from the Lord, Salvation cometh from Christ,
May thy salvation, O Lord, be always with us.)