SATURDAY READING: The Confession Of Saint Patrick

The Confession Of Saint Patrick

Part One

I, Patrick, a sinner, very rustic,
and the least of all the faithful,
and very contemptible in the estimation of most men,
had as father a certain man called Calpornius, a deacon,
son of Potitus, a presbyter,
who was in the town Bannaventa Berniae,
for he had a little villa nearby,
where I conceded capture.
In years I was then almost sixteen.
For I was ignorant of the true God,
and I was led to Ireland in captivity
with so many thousands of men according to our deserts, because we withdrew from God,
and we did not keep watch over his precepts,
and we were not obedient to our priests,
who kept admonishing our salvation,
and the Lord led down over us the wrath of his anger
and dispersed us among many gentiles even as far as the furthest part of land,
where now my insignificance is seen to be among members of a strange race.
And there the Lord opened the consciousness of my unbelief
so that, perhaps, late, I might remember my delicts,
and that I might turn with a whole heart to the Lord my God,
who turned his gaze round on my lowliness
and took pity on my adolescence and ignorance
and kept watch over me before I knew him
and before I was wise or distinguished between good and bad,
and he fortified me
and consoled as a father consoles a son.

Whence moreover I cannot be silent,
nor assuredly is it expedient,
about such great benefits
and such great grace,
which the Lord has deigned to supply to me
in the land of my captivity,
because this is our reward
as after rebuke and acknowledgement of God
to exalt and confess his marvels
before every nation
which is under every heaven.
Because there is not another God,
nor ever was before nor will be after these times,
besides God the unbegotten Father
without beginning,
from whom is all beginning,
holding all things,
as we have learned,
and his son Jesus Christ,
whom with the Father, to be sure,
we bear witness always to have existed
before the origin of the age,
spiritually begotten with the Father in a way that cannot be narrated,
before all beginning,
and through him have all things been made, visible and invisible,
made man,
when death had been utterly conquered, received in the heavens with the Father.
And he has given to him all power over every name
of beings celestial
and terrestrial
and of the lower regions,
and every tongue should confess to him
that Jesus Christ is Lord and God,
whom we believe,
and we look hopefully for his advent, soon to be,
the judge of the living and the dead,
who will give back to each according to his own deeds,
and he has poured out abundantly among us the Holy Spirit,
a gift and pledge of immortality,
who makes those believing and obeying
that they may be sons of God and fellow heirs of Christ,
whom we confess and adore,
one God in a Trinity of sacred name.

For he himself has said through the prophet,
Call on me in the day of your tribulation
and I will free you
and you will magnify me.
And again he affirms,
to reveal and confess, moreover, the works of God
is a thing that confers honor.
Nevertheless even if I am imperfect in many respects,
I prefer for my brothers and relatives to know my quality,
that they may see through to the vow of my soul.

I am not ignorant of the testimony of my Lord,
who in the psalm testifies,
you will lose those who speak a lie.
And again he affirms,
the mouth which lies murders the soul.
And the same Lord in the Gospel affirms
the idle word which men will have spoken,
they will give back for it an account on the day of judgment.
Whence, moreover, I ought vehemently
with fear and trembling to fear this sentence
on that day where no man will have
been able to withdraw or hide himself,
but we are all entirely bound to give back an account,
even of the least sins,
before the tribunal of the Lord Christ.

On which account formerly I thought about writing,
but even until now I hesitated,
for I feared lest I should fall onto the tongue of men,
because I did not learn just as the others also,
who most excellently, consequently, drank in laws and sacred letters,
both in equal measure,
and never changed their styles of speech from infancy,
but rather added always toward perfection.
For our speech and spoken language was translated into a strange tongue,
as it can easily be proved from the savor of my writing
how I was instructed and brought out from an uncultivated state in styles of speech,
because it affirms, Through the tongue will the the wise man be recognized,
also consciousness and knowledge and teaching of the truth.
But with respect to the truth what does an excuse profit,
particularly with obstinacy,
since now in my old age I seek
what in my youth I did not establish,
because my sins stood in the way that I should confirm
what I had read through before?
But who believes me even if I shall have said what I mentioned before?

As an adolescent, more precisely, as an almost wordless boy,
I conceded capture
before I knew what I ought to seek
or what to avoid.
Whence therefore today I blush for shame
and vehemently thoroughly fear
to strip naked my unlearnedness,
because I cannot unfold in speech to those learned in conciseness
as, however, my spirit and mind longs,
and the emotion of my consciousness suggests.
But if, consequently, it had been given to me just as also to others,
even so I would not be silent on account of what should be handed back from to to God.
And if by chance it seems to certain men that I put myself forward in this,
with my lack of knowledge and my rather slow tongue,
but even so it is, however, written,
Stammering tongues will swiftly learn to speak peace.
How much more ought we to seek, we who are, he affirms,
The letter of Christ for salvation as far as the furthest part of land,
and if not learned, yet valid and very vigorous,
written in your hearts
not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God,
and again the Spirit testifies
even rustic work created by the Most High.
Whence I, the extreme rustic,
a refugee, untaught, doubtless,
who do not know how to look forward into the future,
but that I do know most certainly, that indeed before I was humbled
I was like a stone that lies in deep mud,
and he who is powerful came
and in his pity he raised me up
and assuredly to be sure lifted me upward
and placed me on the highest wall
and therefore I ought forcefully to shout out
for something that should be handed back to the Lord also
for his benefits so great here and for eternity,
which benefits the mind of men cannot estimate.
Whence, moreover, be astonished, consequently,
you great and small who fear God,
and you, lords, clever rhetoricians,
here therefore and examine
who roused me up, a fool, from the midst of those
who seem to be wise and learned by experience in law
and powerful in speech and in everything
and inspired me, assuredly, beyond the others of this execrable world
if I should be such – if only moreover I were –
that with fear and reverence
and without complaint I should proceed faithfully to that gentile people
to which the charity of Christ translated me
and granted me during my life, if I will have been worthy,
that at last with humility and truthfully I might serve them.
According to the measure, consequently, of the faith of the Trinity it is fitting to distinguish,
without blame of danger
to make known the gift of God
and his eternal consolation,
without fear
in faithworthy fashion to expound everywhere the name of God,
in order even after my death to leave behind a legacy to my brothers and sons
whom I have baptized in the Lord, so many thousands of men.

And I was not worthy nor such
that the Lord should allow this to his little servant,
after troubles and such great burdens,
after captivity,
after many years among that gentile people,
that he should grant such great grace to me,
which I never at any time in my youth hoped for nor thought about.

4 Comments on SATURDAY READING: The Confession Of Saint Patrick

  1. Really appreciate your connection to those who’ve gone before us, and still have something to say about the spiritual journey and love for Jesus. This was my small attempt with a portion of what is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate – a regular prayer I enjoy:


  2. Thomas Dinely, an English traveller in Ireland in 1681, remarked that “the Irish of all stations and condicõns were crosses in their hatts, some of pins, some of green ribbon.”


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