The Lindisfarne Gospels  BM Cotton Nero D IV
 fol. 209v.,  ca. 715

ST. PATRICK, (prob.c.390-c.460), “Apostle of the Irish”. Patrick was born in Britain and brought up as a Christian. At the age of 16 he was captured by Irish pirates and spent six years as a herdsman in Co. Mayo. He turned earnestly to God and received a Divine message that he was to escape. He made his way to a port, persuaded some sailors to give him passage to Britain, and joined his family, a changed man.

He underwent training for the Christian ministry, probably in Britain not Gaul. He was sent from Britain as “bishop in Ireland” (his own phrase); he spent the rest of his life there, evangelizing, conciliating local chieftains, ordaining clergy, and constituting monks and nuns. He probably set up his episcopal see at Armagh. One of his letters has survived. He also wrote a moving accorunt of his spiritual pilgrimage, called his Confession. It is unlikely that the Breastplate or any of the collections of canons akributed to St. Patrick are his.




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