Becoming St. Patrick

Becoming St. Patrick

His Slavery

Snatched from a life of luxury by raiders, Patricius, an adolescent of the Roman-British ruling class, is bundled into one of many boats along with scores of captives. He is bound for a slave-market in Ireland, little more than a collection of petty kingdoms at this point, where a sheep-farming king buys him. Patrick, renamed by his master, is chained to the back of a cart loaded with pigs and his journey to the western edge of the world begins.

Author's Note

Almost every biography written on St. Patrick, from the sixth century to 1962 was unreliable, historian D A Binchy revealed. He'd discovered a foreword written by Muirchu, a 6th century biographer, stating that his ‘Life’ of St. Patrick was based on dubious sources and written to please his king. A second biographer of the period, Tirechan, in his ‘Lives’, wrote that “Coroticus - on hearing Patrick’s letter read out in open court - turned into a fox and ran off, never to be seen again.”

Binchy found that the authors of the main biographies used varied sources but all of them traced back to Muirchu and Tirechan. Since this revelation, historians have kept to the limited though authentic information provided by Patrick himself in his ‘Letter to Coroticus’ and his ‘Confession’.

There are many claims on Patrick’s place of birth, death, the locations of his first and last church, places he travelled, but none of these claims can be verified. Where there are differing opinions amongst historians, I have chosen - for story-telling reasons - but not invented.

I list a few examples:
Year of Patrick’s birth AD 385 -AD 400, I chose AD 385
Place of capture Anywhere on Britain’s west coast, I chose north west
Possible places of his slavery - Slemish, Co. Antrim - Foghill, Co. Mayo, I chose Foghill

It has been necessary to cut a path through often inaccurate, conflicting, and unrealistic dates and timelines to plausibly present Patrick’s lived experience.

For the gaps in recorded knowledge I have imagined, with credibility in mind. Patrick gives us useful information on his outlook and attitudes in his writings, providing a base from which I built his fictional character. However, the setting of fifth century north west Britain, Ireland and Gaul is filled with interest and challenge, which I have used in my endeavour to serve the reader and to do justice to Patrick’s compelling story.

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