« НазадПродовжити »
and even some Christian teachers, would probably be found. The native converts would, of course, under such circumstances be few and isolated, and confined to the most frequented parts of the coast, namely, the south and south-east.
3. The mission of Palladius, above referred to, was in all probability originated by the Gallican Church, of which he appears to have been a deacon, and which had on a recent occasion manifested a friendly interest in the spiritual welfare of Britain d. For such an object it was, however, natural that the sanction and cooperation of the Bishop of Rome—the patriarch of the West—should be obtained, and by Pope Celestine, accordingly, the missionary bishop was consecrated and sent forth. But whatever may have been its origin, the project was not destined to be successful. The ancient Irish annals relate that Palladius, having landed in a part of the country generally identified with the neighbourhood of Wicklow, made at first some converts, but that being violently opposed by the heathen prince of the district, he after a short time retired to Britain, and there died .
c In the Paschal controversy, which arose in the seventh century, the Irish claimed to have received their customs from St. John and the Eastern Church. Many other of their peculiarities also appear to indicate an Eastern origin, such as their tonsure, their numerous episcopate, their predilection for islands as sites for their sacred buildings, and for the number seven, &c.
a Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, had been a short time previously sent over to Britain, at the request of the bishops there, to oppose the Pelagians. See Dr. Todd's learned Memoir of St. Patrick, p. 269.
e Palladius appears from some ancient authorities to have likewise borne the (not uncommon) name of Patrick, to which cir
4. He was soon, however, followed by one for whom a more prolonged and successful course was reserved, although, as might be expected, the accounts which have been handed down, whether by writing or tradition, respecting it are in many particulars obscure and inconsistent, and mingled with much that is evidently false and absurd. The most ancient, and by far the most reliable sources of information respecting St. Patrick and his labours are to be found in two Tracts, both professing to have been written by the Saint himself towards the close of his life, and almost universally admitted to possess all the marks of genuineness'. The one, called the “ Confession of St. Patrick," is in the nature of an apology, and gives some account of his early life and ministry. The other, “ The Epistle to Coroticus,” is a remonstrance addressed to a Welsh chieftain of that name, who, although himself a professed Christian, had made a marauding attack on the Christian Irish, and contains likewise several references to the writer and his labours. From these ancient documents we learn that he was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest; that while living with his parents at a place
cumstance is probably to be attributed much of the obscurity and inconsistency which occur in the biographical notices of him and his more famous successor; events properly belonging to one being transferred to the other. Recent investigations, however, have gone far to unravel the tangled skein, and to assign to each his own proper place in history. While, for instance, the Roman commission and the abortive labours in Leinster appear to be unquestionable in the case of the former, there seems no real ground for attributing either to the latter.-(Todd, p. 305, &c.)
* They form, in fact, the basis on which all the subsequent memoirs have been constructed—“the skeleton which the biographers have clothed with miracle and legend.”—(Todd, p. 351.)
called Bonayem Taberniæ (generally supposed to have been in Brittany), he was carried captive from thence at the age of sixteen years by a band of pirates, and sold into slavery in the north-east coast of Hiberio, or Ireland ; that while there employed in tending cattle, and enduring many hardships, he was brought to a sense of his sin and unbelief of heart, and to turn earnestly to the Lord; that having, at the end of six years escaped, and after many perils and adventures, been restored to his parents, he felt constrained in his mind to return to Ireland as a missionary to the still heathen nations there, with whose language and habits he had become acquainted during his captivity; that his friends opposing his design, he was finally confirmed in it by a remarkable vision; that he accordingly came to Ireland, and had laboured successfully for many years at the time when these Epistles were written.
5. It is not a little remarkable that both these Tracts are completely silent as to the source from whence he received his external authority and commission. He speaks of himself as “in charge of the Church in Ireland,” as “appointed Bishop in Ireland," and as being “the instrument by whom the Lord had ordained clergy” there, but he gives no hint as to the quarter from which his own orders were derived. In both Epistles he describes himself as a rude unlearned man, and rests the authority of his mission upon direct revelation from God-a position which, though not inconsistent with the fact of a regular outward consecration to the episcopal office,
& Tradition assigns the immediate place of his bondage to the neighbourhood of the mountain called Sliev Mis, or Slemish, near Ballymena, in the county of Antrim.
by those duly authorized to bestow it, appears altogether irreconcilable with such a formal and ostensible commission as later writers represent him to have received from Pope Celestine.
The few notes of time, moreover, which occur in these writings indicate a date for the commencement of his labours at least six or eight years after the death of that Pontiff, which took place A.D. 432-a result in singular harmony with that arrived at independently from several other ancient and authoritative sources h. In the absence then of any certainty on the subject, it must suffice to say that probability points to some bishop or bishops of the Gallican Church as the source from whence the Apostle of Ireland, when about to enter on the work to which he believed himself inwardly called, derived that external commission without which, in those days, no man dreamt of taking “this honour unto himself;" and to the date A.D. 436—440 as that of the commencement of his missionary labours.
6. It is needless to enter into a detailed account of these labours, or of the success which attended them. In the works already referred to as most probably his own, only general allusions are made to them, while the narratives of his numerous biographers contain so large a mixture of the marvellous and incredible that they are entitled to but little regard. There seems no question however that, during the remainder of a long life, he devoted himself with great zeal and success to the evangelization of his adopted country, journeying to the most distant parts of the island,
h See this point most learnedly and satisfactorily discussed in Todd's “St. Patrick," pp. 391–399.
frequently exposed to imminent danger, preaching before the various kings and chieftains (including Laoghaire the supreme King of Ireland), and, in many instances, prevailing with them and their followers to embrace and be baptized into the Christian faith; founding churches and religious houses, and in particular the cathedral church and monastery of Armagh, and finally ending his days in peace on the 17th of March, and (according to the best authorities) in the year A.D. 493, at the abbey of Sabhal or Saul, not far from Down, at which latter place he is said to have been buried.
To this brief account of St. Patrick's life and ministry, a few observations may be properly added on three several points: his doctrine, his policy as a missionary, and the ecclesiastical system which he established.
7. As to the first, we may gather from the two Tracts already named (the former of which contains something in the nature of a creed or profession of faith) as well as from some other writings, less unan. imously ascribed to him, that he held and taught the doctrines of the Trinity, of the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and of His coming again at the last day to judge all men, and likewise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to make us sons of God and heirs of immortality. He held, moreover, the Holy Scriptures to be the Word of God, and quotes them freely and exclusively as the authority by which all statements of doctrine are to be proved
Such as the Irish Hymn or “Lorica,” (said to have been composed on the occasion of his interview with King Laoghaire at Tara :) and his Canons : Tract. de Tribus Habitaculis, &c.