Friday, March 17, 2006

The Feast of Saint Patrick

Writing for the wonderful new blog at First Things, Richard John O'Neuhaus pens the following:
Through the Irish mist of myths of legends, we have a clear enough line on the man (c. 389- c. 461). Born in Britain, the son of a Romano-British official named Calpurnius, Patrick was captured by raiders when he was about sixteen and carried off to pagan Ireland. After six years of herding sheep, he escaped to Gaul, was in due course ordained priest and bishop and sent to Ireland to succeed Paulinus, who had died the year before.

A man of extraordinary faith and energy, he traveled the island from top to bottom, contending against hostile tribal chiefs and Druids. (The latter being a cult into which Rowan Williams was inducted upon becoming Archbishop of Canterbury.) He and the gospel triumphed again and again, often by spectacularly miraculous means. He visited Rome in 442 and 444, and established the primatial see in Armagh.

During his three decades in Ireland, he brought the country into close relationship with the universal Church, enhanced scholarship, encouraged the study of Latin, and laid the foundations of a Catholic Ireland that was for centuries a powerhouse of evangelical zeal reaching out to all the world, and not least of all to the United States. I warmly recommend the reading of his Confessio and the Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. The latter is a lively condemnation of a slaughter perpetrated by raiding Welshmen, who were also Christians. St. Patrick made a strong case against Christians slaughtering Christians, which might seem somewhat obvious, but obviously was not obvious then, and is not now. Witness the world wars of the past century, and the still-simmering hostilities in Northern Ireland.
Peace to you, from your friend at :: O'Whatnext? ::

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