". . . whoever is pleased to look at or receive this writing, which Patrick, a sinner, untaught, to be sure, has composed in Ireland . . . this is my Confession before I die."Who was St Patrick? In the modern era his name still carries the aura of legend -- yet the truths of his life remain unknown to most readers. Now, in this new work of biographical reconstruction, Máire B. de Paor brings us as close as possible to the man behind the myth. Through a combination of painstaking research and a close reading of Patrick's two surviving works -- the Confessio and the Epistola, their texts included in full in this edition -- de Paor reveals a man at once poet and pilgrim, artist and apostle. The story of St Patrick, known to many as the patron saint of Ireland, is as complex and mythic as the Irish culture he took as his own. Kidnapped at the age of fifteen, Patrick was smuggled to Ireland in a time of Christian upheaval in Europe. On the rocky coasts of his new home, Patrick adopted the life of a shepherd and the words of his Gaelic companions. At night, however, the Irish hills darkened to reveal the pagan gods and monsters so foreign to Patrick's Christian sensibilities. Patrick prayed for release for six years, only to return to evangelize his pagan captors. Until recently, the modern consensus was that Patrick was a barely literate rustic struggling with a sense of inadequacy in a language he could not master. In her exhaustively researched biography, Máire B. de Paor uncovers the true Patrick as revealed through his two major literary works. Started as a defense against his accusers, Patrick's writings evolved into something more powerful -- a manifestation of the spirit that had gripped him. Set against a backdrop of the Catholic fervor of the fifth century, Patrick's words also reflect a fascinating time in religious history. As a religious figure, and as a captured slave, Patrick was the living embodiment of the conflict between the civilized Roman Catholics and the "dangerous heathen enemies of the Empire." A scholar of exceptional depth and insight, de Paor examines Patrick's written legacy with refreshing vigor and passion and discovers an artist of astonishing literary skill and a man of great spiritual depth.
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In the fifth century, he was brought to Ireland as a slave and eventually became that country's patron saint. In Patrick: The Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland, scholar Máire B. de Paor gathers practically all there is to know about Saint Patrick and offers some ideas about how such a lowly character became such a celebrated one. To contradict the traditional view that Patrick was an unsophisticated, rustic character, de Paor provides close readings of the structure and scriptural allusions of Patrick's writings: the Confessio, similar in many respects to Augustine's Confessions, and the Epistola to Coroticus, the earliest surviving letter containing any record of Irish domestic life. Her analyses suggest that Patrick was a man of great literary ability and ambition. The theme in Patrick's writings that most interests de Paor is "his being an illegal alien on foreign soil, and ... God's fatherly care of him during that pilgrimage for Christ." It is a timeless Irish theme, one that animates all of the best Irish literature and surely underlies many of the most rowdy celebrations of St. Patrick's Day. --Michael Joseph GrossAbout the Author:
Maire B. de Paor, PBVM, is an Irish religious scholar and a Presentation Sister. A native of County Waterford, Ireland, she has degrees from the University College Dublin, Maynooth, and a doctorate from University College Cork. She has published two previous books on Irish history.
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