Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Saint Patrick was the father of this nation. Seeing how God had blessed his work, in the humble and simple yet attractive words of "his Confession before he should die," he wrote with the love and tenderness of a father about "the children that he had begotten" in the Christian faith. And ever since, the Irish people have loved and revered him as their father, the father of their nation.
Eoin Mac Neill, 'The Fifteenth Centenary of Saint Patrick, A Suggested Form of Commemoration' in Studies, An Irish Quarterly Review, Volume 13, no. 50 (June, 1924), 180.
Monday, 23 March 2015
Yesterday we looked at the account of Saint Patrick's enforced sojourn on the County Antrim mountain of Slemish by the American writer Paul Gallico. Today we are going to continue with this theme by looking at the same author's account of Saint Patrick's return to Slemish. This episode does not form part of Saint Patrick's own writings but is found in the Lives of the saint by later hagiographers. Modern scholarship doubts its historicity and despite Gallico's confidence that Slemish was 'richer in the presence and tradition of Patrick than almost any other spot in Ireland', some modern scholars are unconvinced that our national patron ever spent time here at all. The question of the geographical extent of Saint Patrick's mission, like so many other aspects of his life and career, remains open.
It was on, in and about Slemish and Skerry that Patrick acquired the practical education that in later years fitted him particularly for his mission to the pagan Irish. For it was here he learned the language, beliefs, customs, politics, laws and organisation. He became acquainted with their culture, characteristics, poetry, government, their strength and their weaknesses, and it was in these formative years that he learned to deal with the Irish.
It was on the approaches to Skerry likewise, and within sight of the Slemish of so many painful as well as sweet memories, that Patrick in later life upon his return to Ireland experienced a deep human tragedy and an affecting rejection, if there is more than the usual single kernel of truth in the legend connected with that return.
It is told that shortly after his landing in Ireland, in the vicinity of Strangford Lough and what is now Downpatrick, the Saint journeyed north to pay a visit to Miliucc, his old master, with a twofold purpose, both of which were characteristic of Patrick. He wished to pay off his debt to Miliucc in money, for Patrick never questioned slavery as an institution or a way of life in his times, and, when he had made his escape, he was well aware that he was robbing his master of a valuable piece of property which he had purchased at full price. It was this price that Patrick would have been eager to restore.
And then he desired to make one who by then must have been an old man his convert and rescue his soul before his death. However hard a lord Miliucc might have been, Patrick felt affection for him. The years that had intervened would have softened the memories of harshness, and left him with the same eagerness and excitement to see this man once again, as we are thrilled and excited over the prospect of returning to our old school after a long absence to hob-nob generously with the stern schoolmaster whom we once feared and perhaps even hated.
But Miliucc, according to the legend, was stubborn, hard-headed and intransigent. For reasons of his own he did not wish to face his former slave now returned as a dignitary of a new religion. It would not have been a guilty conscience, since no one felt guilty about slavery in those time, for there was no place or country in the world where it did not exist. Perhaps he was afraid that Patrick would convert him.
His reaction was drastic. According to the story he shut himself up in his Dun with all his treasure and personal belongings, kindled a fire and immolated himself.
Paul Gallico, The Steadfast Man - A Life of Saint Patrick, (London, 1958), 170-171.
Sunday, 22 March 2015
Mount Slemish, Sliabh Miss, is located in the valley of the Braid in Antrim, in northern Ireland. This was the ancient Ulidia then divided into Dal-riada to the north and Dalaradia to the south, and Mount Miss as it was then called, Sliabh or Slieve being the Gaelic for 'Mount' was in northern Dal-riada...
The fore-hill of Slemish, which, when viewed from the side, is seen to be a part of it, is known as Skerry, and here was located the dun or fortress house of the Pictish chieftain Miliucc, the master to whom Patrick was sold as a slave. Slemish itself rises 1,437 feet from a barren and desolate moor. It is treeless as are all of the mountains of Ireland above a thousand feet. Yet there are green patches to relieve the mottled grey rock that reach almost to the top where from the north the outline of the formation known as Patrick's Chair may be seen. Field-glasses resolve the moving white dots upon these green patches into sheep grazing there, the descendants of the animals that Patrick herded there, perhaps....
It was on the harsh, chill, wind- and rain-swept crest of Slemish that Patrick found the presence, comfort and the love of God, just as it was to the still higher peak of Aigli that he went to communicate with Him.
The mountain has always been man's stairway to God. Stand upon the summit of Mount Canaan between Galilee and the sea at night when the heavens curve downwards and the stars may be touched ... and the feeling of the Presence is unmistakeable.
It was on the slopes of Slemish that God first spoke to Patrick.
Here it was that for six years, from the age of sixteen to twenty-two, Patrick the slave tended the swine of Miliucc in the forests where they fed on acorns or rooted beneath the moss. At other times, he took the sheep to the high pastures atop of Slemish and herded them in wind and weather.
Look upon Slemish today and you can grasp something of the ordeal of a lonely boy snatched from loving and indulgent parents and a life of ease and luxury to the rigours of slavery, exile and abuse. For Slemish is in itself a lonely mountain standing in isolation in the plain like an island rising from the ocean. Its brow caught the brunt of the storms whirling in from the sea, the driving rains and snows, the cold mists and fogs, with not so much as a sapling beneath which to shelter.
It was during these six years and upon this mountain that the character of Patrick was formed. The iron went into his body as the Spirit entered into his soul. Here he acquired the hardy frame and physical endurance that were to see him through his missionary years in Ireland. Here he suffered spiritually and bodily until he could suffer no more, until there was no more that life could do to him that it had not done.
... Here too he came to that faith in God, that belief in His concern for him, and that love for Him, that were to become his guide and support to the end of his days.
You cannot see the place where the infant Patrick first saw the light of day, for no one can point out the spot or name it, and no two scholars agree where it might have been, but when you gaze upon Slemish you are in the presence of the site where Patrick the man and the Apostle of Ireland was born out of the chrysalis of Patrick, the indolent, sinful boy.
... The slopes and vicinity of Slemish, then, are richer in the presence and tradition of Patrick than almost any other spot in Ireland. Yet there is no shrine there, marker or tablet, not even one of those appalling white statues of studied anachronism supposed to represent this remarkable man.
Paul Gallico, The Steadfast Man - A Life of Saint Patrick, (London, 1958), 166-169, 172.
Saturday, 21 March 2015
There are two mountains in Ireland that played an important part in the life of St Patrick, two isolated peaks, strangely and more than coincidentally similar in shape, not connected with any chain, one on the east coast, the other on the west, rising starkly from the plain. They are today exactly as they were when Patrick knew them. On the slopes of one, Mount Slemish, Patrick the boy slave once herded sheep and swine for a master. On the peak of the other, Mount Aigli, now Croagh Patrick, he may well have retired to meditate.
It is a curious feature of both these mountains when approached from the south that each resembles a cone or pyramid, each has a small extension or fore-peak, and each, when one approaches more closely and finds oneself alongside it, changes its aspect to a kind of round, hump-backed mountain, something like an inverted bowl, though Croagh Patrick remains more pointed at the top than Slemish, and is slightly more than a thousand feet higher.
... The Mountains of Miss and Aigli have looked upon the labours of Patrick and, too, upon Patrick himself, the steadfast man.
Paul Gallico, The Steadfast Man - A Life of Saint Patrick, (London, 1958), 165-166, 176.
Friday, 20 March 2015
People may say — " He is almost a myth — who knows anything about him." His birthplace, his grave, are uncertain. Old writers have woven a tissue of doubtful miracles for his fame, and who can say what the real man was.'' " But a man lives on in his own words, and in nothing material is he so immortal as in his letters.
To know Patrick you must read his Confession, and his flaming, righteously angry letter to Coroticus. In the Confession we get the real man beyond any doubt, as we find St. Paul in his own Epistles.
You may be disappointed to find so few of the facts of his life in the Confession, but you find a man's spirit, hurt with the wounds given to him by distrust and harsh criticism from his friends. You find a man very humble about his failures, about his lack of scholarship, yet proud, with head held high, in his vocation and in his conscious honesty of purpose. You find, too, what we might forget in the man of endless business and determined fighting, the man of prayer.
There was the vision and the call, given in his own words: "We beseech thee, holy youth, to come and walk once more amongst us." " And on another night, whether within or beside me I know not, God knoweth, in the clearest words, which I heard but could not understand until the end of the prayer. He spoke out thus: 'He who laid down His life for thee. He it is who speaketh within thee.' And so I awoke full of joy. And once more I saw Him praying in me and He was as it were within my body; and I heard Him over me, that is over the interior man; and there strongly He prayed with groanings. And meanwhile I was astonished and marvelled and considered who it was who prayed within me; but at the end of the prayer He spoke out to the effect that He was the Spirit; and so I awoke and remembered the Apostle saying: 'The Spirit helpeth the infirmities of our prayer. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings which cannot be uttered in words.' "
This is the spirit of the man who spent forty days and nights on Croagh Patrick, striving for the salvation of his chosen country. The old legends of his bargain with the Almighty is like a mist on the mountain. This man in whom the Spirit prayed was a greater than his chroniclers could estimate.
Thursday, 19 March 2015
|A 1936 cigarette card|
...Among the memories of my childhood's home on the Antrim coast, I can recall how often I walked the mountain road, higher and higher, until a well-known spot was reached where the great dome of Slemish began to appear above the other hills. On the other side of the valley of Glenarm was the site of the ancient church of Gleoir, founded by the apostle. That was where my mother's kin belonged. Nearer home, a path along the front of the cliffs that rise above the coast road led to Saint Patrick's Well. It was not right to pass the well without making a votive offering of some part of your belongings; the combined sentiments of reverence and thrift had brought about a uniformity of observance, and the well came to be commonly named the Pin Well. At the foot of Slemish is Baile Luig Phádraig, "the Hamlet of Patrick's Hollow" - there in my early memory lived the last native Irish-speaker in that district, who had the reputation of always saying his prayers in Irish - I think his name was Harry MacLoughin. On the further side of the Braid valley from Slemish is Skerry, Sciridh Phádraig, "Patrick's rocky hill." On the top of this hill there is a ruined church which the saint is recorded to have founded, and surrounded by a burial ground in which some of my kinsfolk had buried their dead from time immemorial. In this burial ground is a rock on which the angel Victor was supposed to have left his footprint - it was pointed out to me more than forty years ago. The legend was known to the author of "Fiacc's Hymn" more than a thousand years ago. He tells how the angel came to Patrick in his captivity: "Victor said to the slave that he should flee from Míliucc across the waves: he set his foot upon the flag, its trace remains, it does not fade."....
Eoin Mac Neill, 'The Fifteenth Centenary of Saint Patrick, A Suggested Form of Commemoration' in Studies, An Irish Quarterly Review, Volume 13, no. 50 (June, 1924), 181-182.
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
A LEGENDARY LIFE OF SAINT PATRICK.
BY JOSEPH DUNN, PH.D.
It was doubtless owing to the motive of connecting the Apostle of Ireland with Armorica that at least three ancient lives of the saint laid the scene of his capture by pirates in Brittany. According to later Breton traditions, St. Patrick was born near Pont-Aven, in the garden land of Brittany, whose fame as the "Millers' town " par excellence has given rise to the couplet
Pont-Aven, ville de renom,
Quatorze moulins, quinze maisons ;
a chapel is dedicated to him at Lannion, at the opposite side of the peninsula, and, according to the popular almanacs, he is invoked for the relief of the dead.
St. Patrick figures as one of the dramatis personae in at least two Breton mystery plays. In the older, the "Life of St. Nonne," mother St. David, which, by the way, is one of the earliest Breton texts extant, dating from the fifteenth century, he plays a strange role. God the Father despatches an angel to Patrick to tell him that, in obedience to a design of Providence, he shall leave the place in which he is and that, in thirty years, David will be born. Patrick demurs to this plan: "What!" he exclaims, "I to fast for some one that will not be born for thirty years, expose myself to dangers in foreign lands and go with bent-down head like a blind man? What does God, the true King of the world, wish? I have always served him as his liege-man the best I could, but, now that he intends to exile me from this land, I will serve him no more." Again the angel is despatched and, on the assurance that he will be made apostle of the island to which he is to be sent and that no harm will happen to him, Patrick gives his consent to go. He then hires a ship and sailors to take him to Ireland to preach there the faith of Christ.
In the other mystery play, still inedited and existing in only one manuscript copy dating from something more than a century ago, Patrick is the chief personage. In fact, the title of the play is the "Buez, or Life of St. Patrick, Archbishop of Ireland." Neither the name of the author nor of the copyist of this curious piece is known, but this much is sure, that it was composed by a young clerk, a native of one of the cantons of Treguier, as the dialect in which the play is written makes clear. Although the author had had some education, it was not enough to prevent him from falling into all kinds of errors in history and chronology, in spite of the fact that he had the assistance in its composition, as he himself tells us, of a "Father of the order of St. Francis, a learned man and prudent, and full of wisdom." But, after all, the poor poet is frank enough in confessing that his work is "without study or style."
Like all the Breton mysteries, the "Life of St. Patrick" is in verse, the favorite meter being the French Alexandrine ; but occasionally other meters are employed, and the verses rhyme in pairs. It is not uncommon to find whole phrases repeated in the course of the work, and mere stop-gaps are found on every page. In a word, the style of the piece is as mediocre and as prosaic as most of the Breton works of the same kind. Yet, in spite of all that, it is valuable from the point of view of language, and for the light it throws on the life at the time it was written, for, it may not be out of place to remark, the authors of the Breton mystery plays represent the characters of their dramas as contemporaries, no matter when or where they lived. Consequently, we should be asking too much if we looked for historical truth in these naive productions, whose primary purpose was to edify the audience before whom they were to be given. Therein lay the greatest value of the Breton theatre.
Long after the mystery plays had disappeared from the rest of France, to give way to the comedy and drama, this mediaeval genre lived on in Brittany and afforded the Breton peasantry their best diversion and their only information, even if somewhat distorted, on sacred and profane history. The author of a mystery did not bother himself much, and his auditors bothered themselves even less, about the historicity of the subjects and characters of the play. For this reason he chose, it made no difference whence, the subject, taking care, however, to hit upon one that would draw and hold the people. The author of the "Life of St. Patrick" excuses himself for not having introduced farces and pleasantries into his play, which, he admits, would have delighted the playgoers. And yet, he had not acted niggardly in this respect, one would think, for he metamorphosed the druids or pagan priests of the cruel king of Ireland who persecuted Patrick into devils, who speak big oaths and thump and pummel each other to the great amusement of the audience.
There must have been a great many versions of this legendary life of the Apostle of Ireland, of which the Breton Buez is but one. It will be sufficient to mention here one in French, bearing close resemblances to the play we are discussing, one in Spanish, due to the arch-priest Montalvan, and another in Spanish, based on this last, by the dramatist Calderon de la Barca. There is every reason to believe that the Breton mystery was written to explain the origin of the Purgatory of St. Patrick, and serve as introduction or prelude to one of the numerous plays of that name. There could be no subject that would appeal more to the imagination of the Breton of two hundred years or more ago, as it would to the imagination of the Breton of to-day, than that wonderful Purgatory which enjoyed such popularity towards the close of the Middle Ages, and the marvelous adventures with which the converted soldier, Louis Eunius, met in it.
The four versions mentioned do not agree on all points in what they tell us of the life and works of Patrick. It will be worth while, perhaps, to point out some of the most striking passages in which they agree or disagree, taking the Breton text as the basis.
The first Prologue asks pardon of the audience for the faults and rudeness of the work and the slips of the actors: "Excuse us, I pray, if we make mistakes, and we will pray Jesus to pardon you, too." As was the practice on such occasions, the players and audience kneel and join in singing the Veni Creator, and thereafter, before entering upon the argument of the play, the Prologue pays his respects to the clergy and nobility who are present, requesting their attention : "On you, priests and nobles, depends the attention of all present. Following your good example, they will give us audience and all will remain silent."
Now, says the legend, in that part of Ireland that lies opposite England and is near the sea is a small, sparsely peopled village called Emothor or Emptor. This is Nemthur, where, according to the Old- Irish Hymn by Fiacc of Sletty, one of the oldest Lives of Patrick, Patrick was born. At a time that is not more definitely stated in the legend there lived in that place a knight and, not far away, a lady whose name was Conchese, or Conquesa, who is the Concess of the oldest Irish Lives. Both this young man and woman had made vows of celibacy, but God the Father announced to them through his angel Gabriel that their vows were not pleasing to him, for he had chosen them for each other. The Breton play alone informs us that the knight was at that time sixteen years of age and the lady fourteen. Moreover, his name was Timandre, a name unknown to the other versions. From more reliable sources, however, we know that his name was Calpurnius, that he was a Briton and a Roman citizen, and that his home was at Bannaventa, which was probably in what is now southwest Wales.
The Breton Buez differs further from all the other versions in calling the maiden Mari Jana. She, says the Breton poet, was sister of St. Germain (of Auxerre), but the others have it that she was sister of St. Martin of Tours. In any case, they agree in affirming that she was of French blood, and Calderon contents himself with informing us that Patrick, for he it is who was afterwards their son, was born
De un caballero irlandes
Y de una dama francesa.
The proposals of marriage of Timandre and Mari Jana are carried out with much formality in the presence of the young lady and her brother, the count. Timandre is supported by his adviser, the vicar, who does most of the parleying for his client. The next scene takes place in the church. The vicar asks the names of the young couple :
" My name is Timandre, at your service ; in that name I was baptized into the faith and into the Church. "
"And mine," answered his betrothed, "is Mari Jana, also at your service."
The Vicar: "Well, Timandre, are you willing to take this Mari Jana who is here present ?"
" And you, Mari Jana, do you also promise to take for your husband Sir Timandre ?"
The vicar then addresses them a short homily on the meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony, and, at the conclusion of the ceremony, the entire company go to the wedding feast.
In general, the Breton author is better informed and more precise than the other writers I have quoted. It was five years, he tells us, before the prayers of this virtuous couple were answered; "a thing," he adds, "of rare occurrence in that land." The visitation of the angels at the birth of the child, and the scene of his baptism, take up considerable time in the action of the play, for the questions of the priest and the responses of the page and governess, who act as sponsors, are given in full, just as those of the priest and the child's parents on the occasion of their marriage. At the command of the angel Gabriel, the name Patrick is given to the boy. One might suppose, from the silence of the Breton author on the subject, that Patrick was the only child of this marriage; but we learn from the other accounts that he had three sisters (or even five, according to a note in the Franciscan copy of Fiacc's Hymn in Honour of St. Patrick) namely: Lupina, Ligrina, and Dorche - the two last are called Tygridia and Dorchea by Montalvan of whom the first mentioned remained single, but the others married, and the second had twenty-three children, nephews of Patrick.
These popular versions agree in saying that Patrick's parents ended their days in a cloister; and the Breton author, presumably to flatter some local community and without regard to the violent wrenching of the chronology, says that Timandre entered the order of St. Francis and that the mother of Patrick became a religious of the order of St. Clare. They had left the boy, a mere child, in the care and guardianship of the count, his mother's brother, says the Breton author; but, say the others, it was to a lady, who according to the French version was his aunt, to whom he was entrusted. In any case, he was afterwards put to school with the faithful vicar, who, for a certain stipend, engaged to teach him reading, writing, and the catechism, the boy having expressed his preference for learning rather than for a martial career. He was only a lad of six when he performed miracles: he restored sight to the eyes of a man who had been blind from birth ; and he could not have been much older, ten, eleven, or twelve years of age, according to the French version and Montalvan, when, by his prayers, he caused a deluge, which had come from the melted snow and threathened to destroy all the land, to subside.
Meanwhile the devils have heard of the miraculous deeds of the child, and of the spread of the faith which he preaches, and, filled with alarm, they convene a council. As these scenes of deviltry are those in which the Breton playwrights and actors made their master-stroke, and as the one before us is typical of the class, it will, perhaps, be well to translate word for word a portion of it. We can imagine the mirth of the spectators when some well-known local figure was held up to ridicule. Lucifer summons the princes of hell "to stretch their legs," and calls upon each to give an account of himself. "It's a long time," he cries, "since any one has come to the fire," and he gnashes his teeth with rage.
Beelzebub speaks : "Prince, here's a draper I've brought down. I pretended to be a simpleton and he gave false measure. He measured his laces and ribbons too short and then sold them at twice what they were worth."
Asteroth speaks : " I've trapped an inn-keeper that kept false accounts. He stole from his customers when their bellies were full, put water in the wine and vinegar, sold for eighteen sous an article worth fifteen, gave nine or ten eggs for a dozen, and charged five sous for an omelet fried in a sauce of watery cider and dishwater."
Satan, to whom had been entrusted the surveillance of Ireland, reports : "There is a brat there who does more harm than a dozen of us. So I advise you to send some one else, if you wish, but I shan't go there again." The upshot of the wrangle is that Asteroth proposes that some one seize Patrick and denounce him to the emperor, and Beelzebub volunteers to undertake the task, disguised as a labourer.
The French version is the only one of the four that gives details of the well-known story of the capture of Patrick by pirates. The Breton simply mentions that Patrick was only eight years old at the time ; but the French legend, which is nearer the facts in the case, has it that he was sixteen, and that his capture happened in this way : Patrick was walking along the seashore with a few companions, reciting the psalms, when he was taken prisoner and brought to the far end of the island, where he was sold to a prince of that land. This was the "Emperor" before whom Beelzebub led and accused Patrick ; but, because of the boy's tender age, he was punished by being sent away to a solitary place to watch his master's sheep, which are substituted for the herds of swine of the native versions.
Then follows a droll scene in the Breton Buez. Patrick is in the wilderness in prayer. God the Father sends the angel Victor to comfort him. But Victor, who, of course, is unknown to Patrick, first tries his patience : "Good-day, young shepherd ;what is new? You are quite lost to the world in this lonely place. Have done with your melancholy; enjoy yourself. I have cards; let us play a game and dance the steps I have learned at the academy."
Patrick protests that he knows no games, and, besides he has no money.
" What sort of a man are you, anyway ?" exclaims Victor.
" A man lively and gay is worth the woods full of such bigots. Come, without ceremony, let us make ourselves at ease. Let us dance a little without more ado."
Finally, since Patrick does not yield to the temptation, the angel makes himself known.
The germ of the story of the conversion of the two daughters of the High King Loegaire by Patrick, Ethne the White and Fedelm the Red, is well known even in some of the earliest accounts of the saint's life, but the Breton dramatist has taken the mere mention of the princesses in its source and made a story of his own out of their meeting with Patrick. The older sister accosts Patrick: "Good day, shepherd. Come here. Tell me, are you content in this place? Two young ladies have come to see you, having heard that you are beautiful."
Patrick makes a move to escape their advances. "Listen," he says,"I am not used to talk to young ladies. That belongs to people like you, not to a poor unfortunate so poorly dressed as I am."
He even loses his temper: "It would be better for you to go home and not have them looking for you for dinner. Hurry to your soup."
As might be expected, the young ladies are greatly mortified at having their charms and blandishments so ruthlessly rebuffed, and they threaten to report him to their father. But, it is hardly necessary to add, they are finally converted to the doctrine professed by Patrick.
The following scene represents the emperor asleep. An angel stands at his right side, at his left stands Lucifer, who says :"Courage, courage, my son. Have no fear in the world. I will protect you when you are oppressed."
The Angel: "What, do you believe in the idols?"
Asteroth :"It's a great pity if he doesn't believe in them, old imbecile."
The Angel: "Alas, whoever does not believe will be lost."
The Devil: "You lie in your face. In this way they will be saved."
The Angel : "It will be a misfortune if they believe in them."
Asteroth :" Away from here, or I will close your beak, For he is ours, have no doubt in the world."
Patrick's life with the cruel emperor has become so unendurable that the angel buys his release for 20,000 crowns, and the second act concludes with another scene of devilry.
Lucifer :" Good- day, companions, I've come back to see you. Don't be surprised if I'm late, for, without exaggeration, I've been traveling all over the parishes of the diocese of Treguier. Well,
Asteroth, have you succeeded in putting Patrick under your law?"
Asteroth: "All the devils together are no match for him. I have tried hard enough to tempt him "
"The deuce. You're a fine fellow, when a little chap causes you such embarrassment. If I were at his heels, I'd have him in the net "
Asteroth : " All the nets in the whole of hell are not enough, I tell you, old stinkard, to catch a man who is in the grace of God. You fool yourself, if you think so."
Lucifer: "What, wretch! I'll teach you to speak hereafter in more proper terms. There, take that on your side, old heedless ingrate. One like you doesn't earn his bread."
The different versions do not agree as to what happened to Patrick on the journey to France, which followed his release from the tyrant in Ireland. Some of them say it was St. Martin at Tours, others that it was St. Germain at Auxerre whom he visited, and by whom he was ordained to the priesthood.
Having expressed a desire to visit "the house of Monsieur St. Peter," he set out for Rome. On the way, he was inspired to visit a hermit named Justus who, says the French version, lived on an island in the Tyrrhenian sea, by which we know from reliable documents that the island of Lerins is meant, or, according to the Breton mystery, in the heart of a great forest which we may suppose was on the Alps or Apennines.
When Patrick came up to the hermitage he called to the hermit: "Holy father, open your door to me, I pray you, for the night has come and I do not know where to go."
"Who is it wishes to enter?" asked the hermit. "I cannot give lodging in any way."
"I am a priest on my way to Rome, and I pray you to support me this night."
" Tell me your name, and we will see. If you are that Patrick, surely I will take you in."
For it had been revealed to Justus that Patrick would pass that way, and he had received from heaven a sceptre or crosier which he was to deliver to Patrick on his coming. One form of this story dates from as early as the ninth century.
By confusion with his predecessor, Palladius, Patrick is said to have arrived in Rome in the pontificate of Celestine I., who conferred upon him the benefice and archbishopric of Ireland.
The Breton mystery brings us to the Eternal City, where we find Patrick conversing with the Pontiff and the cardinals. On his return home, Patrick crosses France and again visits his uncle, who provides him with "chalice, missal, and ornaments," for, as he says, in the land to which Patrick is about to go there are no furnishings.
Patrick, the legend continues, landed on the coast of Leinster, where he remained some time, and then embarked for Ulster in the northern part of the island, where Leogarius, who is the Loegaire of Irish history, reigned. Now this king, whom the Breton mystery calls Garius, had planned, at the instigation of the devils, to destroy the apostle, and at the suggestion of Beelzebub, he sent his chief prince to the church where Patrick was saying Mass, with a pistol in his hand to shoot him ; but, as he is about to fire, a thunderbolt hurls him to the ground. This incident is also a reworking of one of Patrick's adventures with the Druids told of in some of the early accounts of his life, how the chief Druid tried to kill Patrick, but the saint raised his hand and cursed him, and he fell dead, burned up before the eyes of all. From here on, event follows event in quick succession. St. Brigit, who, by the way, is associated with Patrick only in the more recent lives, appears and announces to Patrick the secrets which God has to reveal to him. A stage direction follows: Here a light will be made in the sky. One of the inhabitants of Ireland cries out: "Look, look, in the air, a great light full of brightness. I dare not venture ; I will wait no longer to understand it. I am going to call people. I find here a miracle." (Recalls at the door): "James, James. Come out quickly. I am greatly perplexed at what I see. Look, in the air is a light like a triumphant sun."
James in turn calls another : "William, come, my friend. We are in fear here. There is a burning torch in the air above our house." They fall on their knees. Brigit explains that it is a sign of the joys prepared for Patrick in heaven.
God descends, a crosier in his hand, and leads Patrick to the mouth of a cavern which serves as entrance to the miraculous Purgatory. God promises Patrick that he will suffer no torment at the hour of death, for He will come promptly with his angels to receive him.
Patrick speaks to the bystanders: "My vicar-general, and you my people, the time has come that has been fixed to pay tribute to Jesus, my Saviour. All that receive life must sometime die. It is not the fear of death that is my greatest regret. My greatest sorrow is to leave behind the Irish. I have always remembered them in my prayers, and in my sacrifices I prayed for them. This much has been accomplished : I have obtained from Jesus, our Messias, a new Purgatory, created in my name, and, because of me, it has been privileged : Whoever passes twenty-four hours within it will efface whatever offences he has committed in this world. Yonder it is, near the valley. Come with me, we will visit it together."
A host of angels appear in the air singing Gloria in excelsis Deo. Patrick, from within the Purgatory, addresses his farewell to the pains and torments of the world, and the mystery concludes with another scene of diablerie. Lucifer and Beelzebub had promised Satan, when we saw them last, that they would act diligently on their mission, and not come back emptyhanded. And now we find them condoling with each other, for they have got no game, and they are afraid they will be struck and beaten. A happy thought occurs to Beelzebub :" There is no chance of success in this land. Come, let us go to Toulouse to get Louis Ennius. I saw him less than a week ago living riotiously and quarrelsome and cuddling the pretty girls. Come, we shan't have any trouble in taking him."
The vulgar versions of the life of St. Patrick reckon that he lived to the age of 120 or even 130 or 132 years. According to the equally unsubstantiated statements of the French version we are considering here, and the Spanish of Montalvan, he was 113 years of age when he died. His burial place was the city of Dun, or Dunio as the word stands in Montalvan, which represents the historical Dun Lethglasse, which contests with Saul the honor of containing the bones of the Irish apostle. The true year of his death was 461, on the 17th of March. The legendary accounts disagree with this, and also with each other. The French version offers the 20th of April, in the year 463; Montalvan the 16th of that month, in the year 493, and in the pontificate of Pope Felix. These and other attempts at synchronizing are overlooked by the Breton poet. It was sufficient for him to have produced a preface to and an explanation of that other play which, in his eye, was of greater importance, and to the performance of which he invites his audience to return on the morrow.
I cannot bring this short analysis of the " Buez or Life of St. Patrick" to a better close than by giving a translation of the Epilogue which followed it. It offers considerable information concerning the spectators, the author, and the actors, and the obstacles and encouragement which they might expect to meet with in the course of the play. The Epilogue was the capital piece of a mystery and was technically known as the bouquet. It must be remembered that these dramas were given on a temporary stage in the open air and that it required several days to play one mystery entire. As the reciter of the Epilogue, who was always the best actor of the troupe, declaimed in flowery terms, the assistants passed among the audience taking up the collection with which to defray the expenses of the production.
Good people, generous people, people of every noble quality, your favourable attention towards us to-day puts us under deep obligations, if we had the capacity, to thank you from the centre of our hearts.
But, good people, relying on the patience which you have continued to show to-day in our favour, I make bold to thank you, so far as I am able, on the part of the actors.
Monsieur the pastor and all the priests have favoured us in every way, and, in recompense, I thank them and the joy of Paradise I wish them.
Then the nobles, the people of quality, who have shown us every civility, in return we pray for them and I wish them the glory of Paradise.
Next, the young clerics and the people of the pen, as well as the citizens, I thank, and in turn I wish them, too, the glory of Paradise.
Besides, the heiresses, as many as are present, I thank warmheartedly for having shown us perfect attention, and I ask for them joy in heaven.
I thank you from my heart, young people, and I wish you a thousand good fortunes, the wealth of the world, many children, and the happiness of Paradise afterwards.
And I ask excuse of all, and once more I invite you all to come to-morrow, if it be your pleasure. I hope that there will be three times as many as there are to-day.
If we have displeased anybody to-day, we promise to satisfy you to-morrow. We will spend our time and will take every pains that we may be able to satisfy every one.
I do not doubt that there will be some hanger-on who, on the way home or while eating his bowl full, will find a thorn to attach to each of us ; I see mine already dragging behind me.
But those that are wise and well-intentioned will let them have their say and invite them, if they know their business, to come to morrow and to give a lesson.
The mystery which you will see is that of Louis Ennius, which we will play, by the grace of Jesus, with the best persons who are able to give it. Then, come all in bands, let no one remain at home.
Now, I have another thing to ask of you: Let every one bring, without fail, a six-real piece; fifteen-sous piece, rolls of farthings, and four-sous pieces will not be refused.
It is to help pay for our supper. And you, company, if you wish to join us in drinking a drop, we will do it most willingly before we leave.
Finally, company, this is your duty. But, those who may not have a sou, come just the same and we will strive, all of us, to do our part and satisfy you before you leave for home.
O glorious St. Patrick, you who are in heaven, be our advocate now before God. With true heart, I make our request and that of all who have come to hear us.
Our end and our design and inclination is to imitate you in every way, in order that, by your example, we may overcome sin and be victorious over our enemies.
Glorious St. Patrick, crowned with glory, cause us to imitate your life in this world, that, having followed your example, we may share in the glory and the joy.
In this way I began, in this way I end. I pray you, company, excuse us. To-morrow, by the grace of God, we promise to do better. I am, with true heart, your faithful servant.