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New Eyes to see the Marvels in our own Time and Place

A Feature Review of

The World of St. Patrick

Philip Freeman

Hardback: Oxford University Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Alden Lee Bass

 

“I am Patrick, a sinner and a very ignorant man.” With these words Patrick begins both of his surviving works, which do much to make strange this saint we think we know so well. In the first place, Patrick was not Irish as all, but British; as a child he was dragged to Emerald Isle against his will by a band of pirates, and he spent the years of his early manhood enslaved there. He was also an atheist during those early years, despite the fact that his family had been leaders in the British Church for several generations. When he as 22 years old and still a slave, he received a heavenly vision outlining a plan for escape, which he followed, eventually ending up back home in Roman Britain. Patrick did not immediately return to Ireland, but traveled around Europe several years before returning to the land of his captivity. Once there, he never turned back, and with the help of a few friends Patrick is said to have converted most of the island to Christianity by the close of the fifth century.

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