In this episode, Kurt talks about the real-life St. Patrick and his enduring legacy.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s again nice to be with you here in a wet carpet at the Defenders Media offices. Yes. I arrived here this afternoon and discovered that there’s a water leak and so we have been adapting to that. Thankfully, we’ve solved the problem for the time being so there won’t be any massive water leaks that occur during our production today. Today is St. Patrick’s Day so I want to wish you a happy St. Patrick’s Day and to that end, many people go out and just have a fun time getting drunk. What a way to commemorate St. Patrick. I’m not sure if you have any special things that you do on St. Patrick’s Day, Chris. Do you happen to be Irish?
Chris: I am a little bit Irish on my mother’s side.
Kurt: Everyone’s a little Irish.
Chris: The main heritage on my mother’s side is Irish so I do enjoy a good Irish dance.
Kurt: And a little Irish drink as well.
Chris: I suppose so.
Kurt: Here’s a little Celtic music for us.
Kurt: So, St. Patrick.
Chris: St. Patrick.
Kurt: A lot of people don’t know much about him.
Chris: He was a saint. He was a good guy.
Kurt: He wasn’t a formal canonized saint.
Chris: Was he?
Kurt: There’s a lot to learn and there’s a lot to talk about as well today and I’m going to be sharing some pictures of my pilgrimage to Downpatrick Island on today’s episode.
Chris: Patrick Island.
Kurt: Yeah. Downpatrick.
Chris: Downpatrick Island.
Kurt: That’s a good access. Let me stop the music for the time being. Before we get to that, we have a couple housekeeping items. April 14, the Defenders team is headed out to Hartford, Connecticut where we are talking about apologetics in evangelism and we hope that you’ll be able to join us for that even if you live somewhere in New England or in New York. Is New York part of New England? That’s also a question, or is it on its own? New England is the smaller states. Join us April 14. You can learn more about details about the event at thedefendersconference.com. There will be some great talks on the apostle Paul as an apologist. Ted Wright and I will be talking about cultural apologetics and how we need to integrate doing apologetics in cultural mediums and that itself is a form of evangelism, so not just preach, but we want to reach and so we’ll be talking about that. Other breakout sessions. There will be a talk on reaching the lost in cults, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, using the internet for evangelistic purposes, arguments from natural theology, and archaeology is epic and why you should care. That’s the current line-up. There will be an extended time for panel Q&A so you can pick the brain of a few apologists. It’s really affordable. It’s $20 for the day. It’s going to be a lot of fun there. I’m looking forward to meeting Richard Porter, one of the speakers I haven’t met yet, he’s one of our associates doing work for us over there. Again, if you want to learn more about that event, thedefendersconference.com. Secondly, are you looking to buy a house or sell your house? Then you can defend the faith at the same time. Huh?
Kurt: Defenders Media has partnered with a local realtor who has offered to donate 100% of his commission to Defenders Media. He is licensed in Illinois and Missouri and can handle transactions through referral partners in all other states, so this way even if you’re outside of Illinois or Missouri, we can benefit and we’re talking about thousands of dollars here. When you buy or sell a house, the commission the realtor gets is a few grand each time. If you sell your house and then buy your house, that could be, depending upon what sort of ballpark range you’re talking about, that could be ten grand for Defenders Media, so we’ve got an example here on the website. You can go to defendersmedia.com and click just below that donate button there. Here’s the example. Let’s say that you are buying a home for $250,000. The commission rate is 2.5%. That comes out to $6,250. Do the reverse if you’re selling for the same price. You’re talking over $10,000 for Defenders Media. If you’re buying or selling a home, please use this contact form. Get in touch with us and the realtor that we’ve partnered with, Steve Norton. His kind generous offer cause he likes what we do and it’s a good way for him to be able to donate to us. If you’re considering buying or sell a home, please help us defend the faith. Those generous donations can go a really long way for this ministry. Please consider that and keep us in mind as well. If now is not the right time, you’re not in that season of life. If you’re looking maybe in two years or so, remember us. Remember this opportunity where you could use the realtor we’ve partnered with and he will donate 100% of his commission which is just a huge blessing.
That’s it for housekeeping so back to the Irish music.
Chris: Back to the home state.
Kurt: Yes. Today we are talking about St. Patrick and we did have a guest lined up however yesterday I received an email saying the guest could no longer make it. I thought we could air a rerun episode or we could wing it ourselves. Not quite winging it, I’ve read a little bit on St. Patrick, but by no means am I an expert. Hopefully, I was talking to someone this morning and I said, “Hopefully what I say will be reliably accurate.” I’m not perfect by any means and I think if I can reliably speak to who St. Patrick was, then that will be good enough. A lot of people don’t realize that the writings of St. Patrick survived to this day and now I’m wondering how long this music will go on. It’s a three-hour Celtic music.
Chris: It probably will go on for three hours.
Kurt: Yes. Amazing.
Chris: At least. We could have that during the entire show if we wanted to.
Kurt: We could. Maybe I’ll lower it a little bit here. I can hear it a little bit in my headphones. Okay. Two writings of St. Patrick survive and one is called the Confessio or Confession and the other then is a letter that he wrote to someone. Who was that someone? We will get to that momentarily, but first I guess I should try my best to give a biography of who he was.
Chris: Yes. So why is St. Patrick a saint? If he wasn’t actually canonized, who is he a saint to?
Kurt: A lot of Irish people view him as important because of the missionary work he did in Ireland.
Chris: Did he create
Ireland with his hands?
Kurt: No, but some people have believed that he drove out all of the snakes.
Chris: He drove out all of the snakes.
Kurt: Yes. This is part of the lore or mythology to the life of St. Patrick and reasonable evidence suggests that there just weren’t snakes to begin with there in Ireland. You might say that’s because he drove them all out.
Chris: Obviously, or turned them into potatoes.
Kurt: Okay. a lot of people don’t know his bio. Let me go through it briefly and I’m sure I’ll come back to items here and there. The exact birthplace of Patrick is unknown. Some people believe that he was born in Wales. Others that I have been reading, especially recently, believe that he was born in Scotland between Glasgow and a town called Dumbarton, which is actually a town that I’ve been to, lo and behold. Cool little castle there. He was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest so he was raised in a Christian home, but when was this, what was it like? He lived in the 5th century. We don’t know the exact dates, but the best ballpark range put it at the second half of the 5th century was when he did his mission work, possibly early 6th century. Mid to late 400’s and early 500’s. You might call him a Romano-Britain. He lived in the Roman Empire. Like I said, he was the son of a Christian deacon and the grandson of a priest and so he was raised with good doctrine, good teaching. He had a good Christian education, but for him, it never manifested in his life. It never, the Christian faith was something that never was a lifestyle for him. When he was about 15 or 16 years old, there were some Irish raiders that came and sieged his town and they took away slaves. He was one of those slaves.
The raiders took him over to Ireland where he was sold into slavery and he was working for a local king and he was a shepherd for about six years and it was his time as a shepherd that he really began to recognize the creator for who He was and during this time, he would pray he says, hundreds of time a day, and hundreds of times at night. This is what he writes in his confession. He really began his relationship with the Lord at that time and his childhood faith grew and blossomed into a rich, vibrant, Christian faith, but here he was in slavery in Ireland. What happens next? He had a dream. He had multiple dreams actually that an angel was telling him to go to the coast and there a ship is waiting for him. He lived about 200 miles from the coast and so eventually the time came when he ran away. He fled his enslavement and, lo and behold, there at a port town, there was a ship. Was the ship waiting for him? It depends on how you view divine providence. Nevertheless, they were traders, and I don’t mean people unloyal. I mean people who traded things, traded goods.
Chris: Yeah. Trader Joe.
Kurt: Yeah. Exactly.
Chris; Great guy.
Kurt: There were traders on a ship there and he requested to come aboard, and they weren’t sure if he was a runaway slave, so they denied his request. He went back to the hut where he was staying and he started to pray and as he was praying, there was a knock on the hut, and at that point then, he was invited to come on to the ship. There’s one legend has it that there were hounds on the ship and that St. Patrick was able to calm them and after he left, when he first requested, the dogs started barking and barking and they wouldn’t stop barking until he came back on the ship so that’s why, whether that’s truth or lore, mythology, I don’t know. What happened then? So for three days, St. Patrick traveled on the ship and it is believed that he went through either Spain or France, likely, my best guess is southwestern France. He describes the type of terrain that they went through for a period of time. They traveled through a deserted plain and there were lots of wars that had gone on in this area. For a time there, they eventually ran out of food, the traders and Patrick, and what happened then, and this is part of his history, so this is not lore. This is according to his recollection and his confession. He mentions how the traders came up to him and he wanted to be a good Christian witness to them. That was his intention the whole time. They came up to him and said, “I thought you were Christian. Why don’t you pray for your God to provide food for us.” Patrick goes and prays and that night there was a horde of pigs, wild pigs, wild boars, that showed up and so the traders killed the pigs and they had food for days and so they were able to feed themselves and the dogs and they were all happy and some of them had become very weak and so having the pigs really was in a sense a miracle, according to Patrick’s recollection. At this point in his life, there’s some mystery. We don’t know what happened exactly. We know at some point, he returns back to his family and how long this period was between his escaping even from the traders, there had been a short instance where he had been re-enslaved by some people for 60 days and then he was able to escape again so how long that time of freedom was after that to when he went back to see his family, we don’t know exactly. I think the best guesses are a few years. I had even read some sources that thought 30 years and I’m not sure that makes sense. I think the best guess is three years before he goes back to his family. They welcome him like a lost son. He had been stolen away when he was 15 or 16 years old and here he is now, you’d think if he had been an enslaved shepherd for six years of his life at that point, he’d be about 22 years old and then you think too, the time it takes to travel then and go off to the continent of Europe, how old was he when he returned home? I think my best guess is like late 20’s.
What does he do after this? Does he stay? Is he at peace? He’s not. He’s not at peace. Here, he felt the call of the Lord to go back to Ireland, to go back to the people that had enslaved him for so many years and to share the gospel with them. It’s here that he goes back to Ireland, he is officially the bishop of Ireland and so during those mysterious years, I think we can figure out who ordained him and how he was prepared to be a missionary to the people of Ireland. His ministry was very successful. He converted many people. He converted chieftains of the land. They gave him money. They gave him goods. He built churches. He built so many churches he was like the best church planter in Ireland that ever lived. A lot of people think that he was the first person to go to Ireland and that’s mistaken.
Chris: The first person in what?
Kurt: First Christian. I’m sorry.
Chris: First Christian.
Kurt: My apologies. The first Christian to go to Ireland to spread the good news, and that’s mistaken according to the writings of one Prosper of Aquitaine, who ended up working for the Pope, but during his time when he lived in Massilia, Prosper wrote in 431 AD that there was to be the first bishop to the Scots, that is, to the Irish then, who believed in Christ and this person, his name was Palladius. Palladius was the first bishop to Ireland. Now, two things here. First, in 431, there is officially the first bishop to Ireland. The church did not ordain people to be a bishop unless there were first already churches to be served. Okay? You don’t send a bishop into unChristianized territories back then. What that means is before 431 AD there were already Christian in Ireland. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have sent a bishop. This means that St. Patrick, who comes a little later, was piggybacking upon that work of the first bishop. It’s observed that Palladius’s work was a failure basically, unsuccessful. What that might look like, I haven’t explored myself, but nevertheless what this does tell us is there is a Christian community, there are Christian churches already in Ireland that need to be served and Patrick is going to go and serve them, but he’s not the first. That’s a misconception that a lot of people have about St. Patrick’s ministry.
Secondly, some Christians over the years began to confuse Palladius with Patrick. There isn’t good enough reason to conflate those two figures in history. Where did Patrick get ordained? Some believe that one called Germanus ordained him in a French town that I’m not going to pronounce because I just have too much trouble pronouncing those French names, but in Roman Gaul, and this is why this is important. Roman Gaul, now we’re getting into some of my territory, scholars believe, they would view it as what scholars might say plausible. It might not be more likely true than not, but nevertheless, there are a number of hints that really help us think it’s a good chance this was the case. What was that case? That St. Patrick himself spent time at the monastery at the Island of Lorens which is home to the famous Vincent of Lorens who wrote the Commonitorium, and so, it is believed, by a number of writers, I’ve got manuscripts that I’ve been reading, articles in preparation, and years ago I read this book called St. Patrick and His Gallic Friends, and some of these works are ancient, I mean ancient relatively speaking, 1800’s. Some of them, the lives of St. Patrick go to the 7th century and the lives are a form of what we would call hagiography or idealized biography you might call it where the line between history and fiction is blurred in forms of hagiography. There’s a good chance St. Patrick was educated at Lorens and spent time there and learned about the monastic life there as well, because it was in Massilia, remember this is where Prosper lived, where John Cassian founded two monasteries, one for men, one for women, and so there’s a good chance that this is where Patrick learned about the monastic life, which is something that he brought to the people of Ireland and the monastic communities grew and grew and grew. There are a number of different monastic communities. One of my favorites is in Glendalough, Ireland. Some would say Glendalock. It’s a beautiful place there. I don’t have pictures of that today. After the break, I’ll share some pictures on my journey to Downpatrick, huge statue of St. Patrick. It’s really neat. I’m trying to think if I’ve covered all the aspects briefly to his biography, but it was perhaps during that mystery period remember where he was with the traders, and we don’t know exactly where, but I think the best guess is I think southwestern France. After he had escaped those 60 days of slavery, his second enslavement, there’s a good chance that he went and learned of the monastic life, and he eventually he met up with Germanus who ordained him to be the bishop to Ireland, which is a title that he takes himself. Here, given who he was, this is not something he just makes up. This is something that he was, presented to do.
Chris: So he was bishop for the entire country.
Kurt: Remember back then.
Chris: What was Ireland’s status then? Was it a territory of England?
Kurt: No. You’re talking….
Chris: Was it even called Ireland? What was it then?
Kurt: That’s right. What was it called? It might have been, I’m not sure what the title, but 5th century.
Chris: So it’s just the northern, that island over there.
Kurt: Yeah. The pagans over there.
Chris: Go to there.
Kurt; What was it called? 5th century Ireland.
Chris: Look it up.
Kurt: I will look it up. In the meantime….
Chris: Was it part of, you said he was Irish, but he was called, a Scot. Is that correct?
Kurt: Right. He wasn’t a native to Ireland. Some people think he was born in Wales. Others believe he was born in what we would call Scotland. Whether it was Wales or Scotland, the point is he lived close enough to the coast if he lived in Wales or the spot where some scholars believed he lived in Scotland, that these Irish raiders would come and steal people into slavery.
Chris: And he was one of those people.
Kurt: And he ended up being one of those people being taken away. So if that were to happen, you have to think, what’s the distance between Ireland and what today we would call Britain and you’ve got to live within the distance here, if I’m doing this on camera quickly, between the ship that would go back and forth across the Irish Sea. Yes. Again, he was stolen away when he was 15 or 16, six years a slave, a shepherd, and that’s where he really flourished in his relationship with the Lord and his heart began to grow for the people of Ireland. Through a series of events he found himself coming back to Ireland, back to the people that had enslaved him to preach the gospel, and boy, did he preach it.
Chris: So it’s very possible that he helped convert even some of his captors from years earlier.
Kurt: Yeah. Possibly, That’s a good segue to his letter, we’ve got two surviving documents. His confession and a letter to the soldiers of, let’s see here, I want to make sure I’m pronouncing this correctly, Coroticus. Okay. Let me talk about the letter to the soldiers of Coroticus. In fact, maybe I’ll read the whole letter before we head to a break.
Kurt: It’s twenty short paragraphs, but a lot of people just don’t know that his writings survived, and this is an actual letter that Patrick wrote, and so what was happening here, the reason why he wrote to this letter to the soldiers of Coroticus is that some of his newly baptized converts had been killed and enslaved. There was a raid upon a town.
Chris: Not necessarily in that order.
Kurt: Correct. So, he was writing to say “What are you doing?” Because Coroticus was a self-proclaimed Christians and here Coroticus’s soldiers were doing unChristian things. I’m going to read for you now, these twenty short paragraphs. St. Patrick’s letter to the soldiers of Coroticus.
I declare that I, Patrick, – an unlearned sinner indeed – have been established a bishop in Ireland. I hold quite certainly that what I am, I have accepted from God. I live as an alien among non-Roman peoples, an exile on account of the love of God – he is my witness that this is so. It is not that I would choose to let anything so blunt and harsh come from my mouth, but I am driven by the zeal for God. And the truth of Christ stimulates me, for love of neighbours and children: for these, I have given up my homeland and my parents, and my very life to death, if I am worthy of that. I live for my God, to teach these peoples, even if I am despised by some.
With my own hand I have written and put together these words to be given and handed on and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus. I cannot say that they are my fellow-citizens, nor fellow-citizens of the saints of Rome, but fellow-citizens of demons, because of their evil works. By their hostile ways they live in death, allies of the apostate Scots and Picts. They are blood-stained: blood-stained with the blood of innocent Christians, whose numbers I have given birth to in God and confirmed in Christ.
The newly baptised and anointed were dressed in white robes; the anointing was still to be seen clearly on their foreheads when they were cruelly slain and sacrificed by the sword of the ones I referred to above. On the day after that, I sent a letter by a holy priest (whom I had taught from infancy), with clerics, to ask that they return to us some of the booty or of the baptised prisoners they had captured. They scoffed at them.
So I don’t know which is the cause of the greatest grief for me: whether those who were slain, or those who were captured, or those whom the devil so deeply ensnared. They will face the eternal pains of Gehenna equally with the devil; because whoever commits sin is rightly called a slave and a son of the devil.
For this reason, let every God-fearing person know that those people are alien to me and to Christ my God, for whom I am an ambassador: father-slayers, brother-slayers, they are savage wolves devouring the people of God as they would bread for food. It is just as it is said: ‘The wicked have routed your law, O Lord’ – the very law which in recent times he so graciously planted in Ireland and, with God’s help, has taken root.
I am not forcing myself in where I have no right to act. I have a part with those whom God called and destined to preach the gospel, even in persecutions which are no small matter, to the very ends of the earth. This is despite the malice of the Enemy through the tyranny of Coroticus, who respects neither God, nor his priests whom God chose and granted the divine and sublime power that whatever they would bind upon earth would be bound also in the heavens.
Therefore I ask most of all that all the holy and humble of heart should not fawn on such people, nor even share food or drink with them, nor accept their alms, until such time as they make satisfaction to God in severe penance and shedding of tears, and until they set free the men-servants of God and the baptised women servants of Christ, for whom he died and was crucified.
The Most High does not accept the gifts of evildoers. The one who offers a sacrifice taken from what belongs to the poor is like one who sacrifices a child in the very sight of the child’s father. Riches, says Scripture, which a person gathers unjustly, will be vomited out of that person’s stomach. The angel of death will drag such a one away, to be crushed by the anger of dragons. Such a one will the tongue of a serpent slay, and the fire which cannot be extinguished will consume. And Scripture also says: ‘Woe to those who fill themselves with what does not belong to them’. And: ‘What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and yet suffer the loss of his or her soul?’
It would take a long time to discuss or refer one by one, and to gather from the whole law all that is stated about such greed. Avarice is a deadly crime. Do not covet your neighbour’s goods. Do not kill. The murderer can have no part with Christ. Whoever hates a brother is guilty of homicide. Also: Whoever does not love a brother remains in death. How much more guilty is the one who stained his hands in the blood of the children of God, who God only lately acquired in the most distant parts of the earth through the encouragement of one as unimportant as I am!
Surely it was not without God, or simply out of human motives, that I came to Ireland! Who was it who drove me to it? I am so bound by the Spirit that I no longer see my own kindred. Is it just from myself that comes the holy mercy in how I act towards that people who at one time took me captive and slaughtered the men and women servants in my father’s home? In my human nature I was born free, in that I was born of a decurion father. But I sold out my noble state for the sake of others – and I am not ashamed of that, nor do I repent of it. Now, in Christ, I am a slave of a foreign people, for the sake of the indescribable glory of eternal life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If my own people do not recognise me, still no prophet is honoured in his own country. Could it be that we are not of the one sheepfold, nor that we have the one God as our Father? As Scripture says: ‘Whoever is not with me is against me’; and ‘whoever does not gather with me, scatters’. But it is not right that one destroys while another builds. I do not seek what is mine: it is not my own grace, but God who put this concern in my heart, that I would be one of the hunters or fishers whom God at one time foretold would be here in the final days.
They watch me with malice. What am I to do, Lord? I am greatly despised. See – your sheep around me are mangled and preyed upon, and this by the thieves I mentioned before, at the bidding of the evil-minded Coroticus. He is far from the love of God, who betrays Christians into the hands of Scots and Picts. Greedy wolves have devoured the flock of the Lord, which was flourishing in Ireland under the very best of care – I just can’t count the number of sons of Scots and daughters of kings who are now monks and virgins of Christ. So the injuries done to good people will not please you – even in the very depths it will not please.
Kurt: We’ve got to take a break here, when we return from the break I want to finish reading the letter of St. Patrick to the soldiers of Coroticus. We’ll also talk a little bit more about his views on things, how he viewed himself very much as a humble man, a sinner. I’ll be sharing images of my travels to Downpatrick island, and we also have a very fun clip by Lutheran Satire to play towards the end of the program on St. Patrick’s bad analogies which are, of course, mythological, and an origin of lore if you will. If you’ll stick with us, we’ve got a good second half coming up here and if you have any questions about St. Patrick, I’d be happy to answer as best I can what questions you might have and we’ll talk about some misconceptions about him as well, so stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. Today, we are talking about St. Patrick, his life and his legacy and in the first half of the program, I provided a brief sketch of his biography from what we can gather, chiefly from his own writings, his two writings, his confessions and his letter to the soldiers of Coroticus. There are also some hagiographical works that survive after the 7th century, so a couple centuries after hie lives, which there are some embellishments and such. I want to get some of those embellishments and some of those myths and when they first occurred, but before we get to that, I want to finish reading the complete letter that Patrick wrote, his letter to the soldiers of Coroticus. These were soldiers that killed Christians, that plundered them, and that took some of them into slavery. Patrick is not only requesting that they be set free, but that Coroticus do the right thing, but if he does not then Christians should have nothing to do with them. I continue now in paragraph 13.
Who among the holy people would not be horrified to take pleasure or to enjoy a banquet with such people? They have filled their homes with what they stole from dead Christians; they live on what they plundered. These wretched people don’t realise that they offer deadly poison as food to their friends and children. It is just like Eve, who did not understand that it was really death that she offered her man. This is how it is with those who do evil: they work for death as an everlasting punishment.
The Christians of Roman Gaul have the custom of sending holy and chosen men to the Franks and to other pagan peoples with so many thousands in money to buy back the baptised who have been taken prisoner. You, on the other hand, kill them, and sell them to foreign peoples who have no knowledge of God. You hand over the members of Christ as it were to a brothel. What hope have you in God? Who approves of what you do, or who ever speaks words of praise? God will be the judge, for it is written: ‘Not only the doers of evil, but also those who go along with it, are to be condemned’.
I do not know what to say, or how I can say any more, about the children of God who are dead, whom the sword has touched so cruelly. All I can do is what is written: ‘Weep with those who weep’; and again: ‘If one member suffers pain, let all the members suffer the pain with it’. This is why the church mourns and weeps for its sons and daughters whom the sword has not yet slain, but who were taken away and exported to far distant lands, where grave sin openly flourishes without shame, where freeborn people have been sold off, Christians reduced to slavery: slaves particularly of the lowest and worst of the apostate Picts.
That is why I will cry aloud with sadness and grief: O my fairest and most loving brothers and sisters whom I begot without number in Christ, what am I to do for you? I am not worthy to come to the aid either of God or of human beings. The evil of evil people has prevailed over us. We have been made as if we were complete outsiders. Can it be they do not believe that we have received one and the same Baptism, or that we have one and the same God as father. For them, it is a disgrace that we are from Ireland. Remember what Scripture says: ‘Do you not have the one God? Then why have you each abandoned your neighbour?’
That is why I grieve for you; I grieve for you who are so very dear to me. And yet I rejoice within myself: I have not worked for nothing; my wanderings have not been in vain. This unspeakably horrifying crime has been carried out. But, thanks to God, you who are baptised believers have moved on from this world to paradise. I see you clearly: you have begun your journey to where there is no night, nor sorrow, nor death, any more. Rather, you leap for joy, like calves set free from chains, and you tread down the wicked, and they will be like ashes under your feet.
And so, you will reign with apostles and prophets and martyrs. You will take possession of an eternal kingdom, as he (Christ) testifies in these words: ‘They will come from the east and from the west, and they will recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens. Left outside are dogs and sorcerers and murderers; with the lying perjurers, their lot is in the pool of eternal fire’. It is not without cause that the apostle says: ‘If it is the case that a just person can be saved only with difficulty, where will the sinner and the irreverent transgressor of the law find himself?
So where will Coroticus and his villainous rebels against Christ find themselves – those who divide out defenceless baptised women as prizes, all for the sake of a miserable temporal kingdom, which will pass away in a moment of time. Just as cloud of smoke is blown away by the wind, that is how deceitful sinners will perish from the face of the Lord. The just, however, will banquet in great constancy with Christ. They will judge nations, and will rule over evil kings for all ages. Amen.
I bear witness before God and his angels that it will be as he made it known to one of my inexperience. These are not my own words which I have put before you in Latin; they are the words of God, and of the apostles and prophets, who have never lied. ‘Anyone who believes will be saved; anyone who does not believe will be condemned’ – God has spoken.
I ask insistently whatever servant of God is courageous enough to be a bearer of these messages, that it in no way be withdrawn or hidden from any person. Quite the opposite – let it be read before all the people, especially in the presence of Coroticus himself. If this takes place, God may inspire them to come back to their right senses before God. However late it may be, may they repent of acting so wrongly, the murder of the brethren of the Lord, and set free the baptised women prisoners whom they previously seized. So may they deserve to live for God, and be made whole here and in eternity. Peace to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Kurt: That is St. Patrick’s letter to the soldiers of Coroticus and if you’ve never heard it before or never read it before, now you have. That’s why I think it’s very important for us to recognize how important his ministry work was because some of his works still survive. His Confession, I want to encourage you to go and read. He starts off very simply, “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers.” This is really how he viewed himself. He didn’t view himself as a saint, but as sinner, one who is quite human, and he admits to his shortcomings in life and in fact, there was one situation where one of his shortcomings was a point of dispute whether he should be a bishop. He really had a low view of himself, but nevertheless thought it so important to go reach the people of Ireland with the gospel.
Chris: Definitely given a lot of Paul undercurrents from his writings. It sounds a lot like the way Paul wrote and the things he valued a lot just from hearing.
Kurt: Yeah. And he’s quoting Scripture on numerous occasions. That’s for sure. It’s interesting, he offers repentance. He says, “Please set these people free. Repent from your ways” and basically if not, this is what’s going to happen. That is very Pauline I think to do that. There are a few things I want to attend to before today’s program ends. We’re already going longer than I thought. I guess I probably thought I could read longer, but thank you to those that have stuck with us and I hope that my reading of his letter was beneficial to you. If you’re interested to read it yourself, I’ll provide the link at our website. Go to Veracityhill.com, click on the episode, and there will be some links about St. Patrick.
A lot of people associate the shamrock with St. Patrick. Why? Part of folklore is that he used the shamrock to convey an analogy of the Trinity. Three leaves, one stem. One God, three persons. One essence, three persons. The problem is is that we don’t have evidence that he ever did such a thing and, in fact, the first image of Patrick holding a shamrock can be dated to 1674 on a half-penny coin which was minted in Dublin, so that’s really the first imagery that we have of the shamrock with St. Patrick. I see Chris is loading up some images there. Yeah. There we go. That’s sort of the first myth to deal with. I know earlier we talked about the snakes, there’s another myth associated with St. Patrick about him driving out the snakes from Ireland. That simply is not the case. There’s no evidence actually for that. A few other things about St. Patrick, a couple of myths. One myth has it that, I should say a folklore, that he was traveling back to Ireland and he was taking with him a large tablet and for one reason or another, the tablet had to be thrown over and so St. Patrick jumped in the sea with it and he floated on the water on this stone tablet all the way to Ireland. Some people revered his work. You might think he’s kind of like our Paul Bunyan, American folklore, as to how some viewed him.
Okay. Images of my travels to Downpatrick, my pilgramage if you will. Three years ago, Michaela and I along with our daughter, our firstborn, went to Ireland, Northern Ireland, and explored on a little vacation and so I made it a point to go to Downpatrick and if I can load up my own images here so I can follow along with the images Chris is posting here. The first image we have here is of his gravemarker, St. Patrick’s gravemarker. Here, it says after coming to Ireland in 432 A.D., St. Patrick traveled extensively passing on the message of Christianity. In the period following his death the Hill of Down came to be regarded as his traditional burial place. This is the traditional burial place. Whether it is in fact the case where Patrick is buried is up for debate because it was so long ago and we didn’t have as extensive and meticulous of historical records, we can’t know for certain, but this is a place of his traditional burial and so there is a marker here, if Chris goes to the next image, we’ve got here of St. Patrick’s grave. It’s considered, it says here a large memorial stone here was placed and, Chris, if you go to the large stone people can see, actually two later, this is a large stone, huge stone, that was placed on top. Why? Why was it placed on top? Tourists would come and would take with them a scoop of the soil over which St. Patrick is believed to have been buried and so what happened was, we wanted to make sure Patrick rested in peace, so the people of the town had this big boulder placed there to make sure that the soil wouldn’t become so eroded that it would get down to the grave.
Let’s move along to the museum if we go forward. Yes. This is a museum, this is the St. Patrick Center in Downpatrick. It’s a beautiful museum. If you ever make it there, I want to encourage you to go there. Great exhibits. They’ve got a movie there. Chris, you can go to the next image so people can see the outside there. That’s what it looks like from across the building, across the street, and so in Downpatrick, Ireland. Moving along, this is a magnificent view upon a tall hill and what is located on this tall hill? Well, it is a massive statue to Patrick and I mean massive. You’ll see how massive momentarily here. This is me right before him and there’s some Latin for you. I won’t translate that. I won’t be able to translate on the fly anyway. I’m not fluent, but moving along here, you can see there I am. I walked up that huge hill and it takes awhile. Michaela can confirm this, that it does take awhile, but you see me there with the large statue in the background and to the next image there. It’s really a beautiful memorial to Patrick. Because Ireland, well, Northern Ireland isn’t so much, it’s very Protestant, but there was, what I recall here, there was a statue of Mary so at some point in the history there was something like that built.
Moving along, we have this sign. It says “Church of Ireland: St. Patrick’s memorial church in the town of Saul. On the site of this church, St. Patrick built the first Christian church in Ireland. 432 AD is the date they give. It’s the most ancient ecclesiastical site in the land, the cradle of Irish Christianity, and here is the church, in fact. Some images I took from inside the church which was open. Very beautiful church. There’s the outside. Very simple. That is not the exact structure itself. That is not 1,500 years old, but this is the site where the first church was. Patrick planted many churches throughout Ireland and so his effect, his legacy, extends throughout the land in Ireland. He was a great preacher and was able to live in a pagan world, a pagan society, in many ways, a barbaric society, really barbaric society. We’re talking about the land of the druids, the sorts of magic that he dealt with. It’s quite fascinating. Perhaps as I was reading the letter to the soldiers of Coroticus, you may have picked up on how barbaric this was for some people to simply come and steal and that this was status quo. This is what some people did. That’s what they did with him. Raiders came and took him and he went into slavery for six years. It was rough times back then and for someone like himself to go to Ireland, back to that land, it’s like going behind enemy lines. Right? You’d be relatively safe in the Roman Empire, relatively, but nevertheless, he decided to risk it, to risk the wealth of his family, which he mentioned in the letter, and it’s quite admirable for him to do that, to leave safety for the sake of the gospel, and he talks about that in the letter as well.
A few more things here before we go. The prayer of St. Patrick or what’s called the Lorica. I won’t read through the whole thing here, but this is, I want to read the most popular segment of his prayer here. This is called the Lorica and perhaps you’ve heard this before where St. Patrick prayed,
“Christ with me. Christ before me. Christ behind me. Christ in me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ when I lie down. Christ when I sit down. Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me. Christ in the eye that sees me. Christ in the ear that hears me. That’s probably his most famous segment from that prayer and again, I’ll provide a link at our website so you can read the Lorica of St. Patrick.
We do have some real video footage here of St. Patrick back in the 5th century and he’s talking to, I think, some twin brothers, right, Chris? We’re gonna play here this three-minute clip on the bad analogies of St. Patrick.
Kurt: I really like that last part. Let’s all get drunk and vomit in the Chicago River. That is fascinating that Lutheran Satire mentions the Chicago River because the Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and really the traditions that have come forth from St. Patrick’s ministry are quite distant from who he was, which is a shame, so I want to encourage you on this St. Patrick’s Day to go and read his extant works, his surviving works. You can read the letter that he wrote to the soldiers of Coroticus, or perhaps more famously, his confession here, where you can learn about his life, and I find it fascinating for me, given my interest in studying the monastery at Lorens, and specifically Vincent, that perhaps, it’s the case that there was overlap between them, between Vincent and St. Patrick. It’s kind of cool, a cool connection, in the history of Christian historical figures and in Christian theology, and it makes sense I think as well with regard to the view of human nature because Celtic theology is very similar to what Vincent and John Cassian believed so it’s intriguing to me and I hope to explore to that further someday soon.
So that does it for the program today. I hope that this has been a different experience for you. That you have learned some actual facts about St. Patrick. He was a real person. He was not the first Christian to go to Ireland, but he was a bishop of the people of Ireland and his ministry was very very successful. There are a number of myths that have been created to commemorate or idealize his legacy and so recognizing where some of those stories, where that line is between history and fiction, is a little difficult to convey, to discover, but what we can know of him, we can read from his very own writings and so I will put some links at the website for you to check out so you can see here, wow. This guy. He actually wrote something and it survives to this day.
If you have questions about St. Patrick I’d be happy to take those in the future and answer them on future episodes, but in the meantime, that does it for the program today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons, those are folks that just chip in a couple of bucks a month, or if you’re looking to buy a house, partner with our local realtor here who’s going to donate his whole commission, and so please do get in touch with us there. Nevertheless, please consider supporting this ministry. If it is of value to you, we would love to get your support, whether it’s $10 or $20 a month. If everyone chips in, that will go a long way to continuing this program and for helping to have a broader reach on the web as well.
I’m also grateful for the partnerships that we have with our sponsors. Defenders Media. Consult Kevin. The Sky Floor. Rethinking Hell. The Illinois Family Institute. Evolution 2.0. Fox Restoration, and Non-Profit Megaphone. I want to thank our technical producer today, Chris, for the hard work he did there going through those images of my pilgrimage to Downpatrick, Ireland, and I last, but not least, want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.