The "Confessio" of Saint Patrick

Translation by Sir Samuel Ferguson

The passages ending with (A) are from the Armagh Codex; those ending with (B) are from the Bodleian [now Salisbury Cathedral Library MS 223].

(Before A.D. 500)

[The corresponding sections of the Confessio are indicated by "|".]

^ | I, Patrick, sinner, most unlearned of all
The Faithful, and of many most despised,
Had, for my father, Deacon Calphurn, son
Of Presbyter Potitus, of a place
[5] Called Bannow of Tabernia, near whereto
He owned his country dwelling; and 'twas there
I suffered capture, then not full sixteen.

^ I knew not the true God; and, led away
Into captivity, with thousands more,
[10] Was brought to Ireland—fate too well deserved.
For we from God had far withdrawn ourselves;
We kept not His commandments; and our priests,
Who urged salvation on us, heeded not;
And God upon us justly brought the wrath
[15] Of His up-rousing, and dispersed us forth
Amongst the heathen, to the world's far end,
Here, where my Littleness may now be seen
'Mongst strangers; | here, where God set free the sense
Receptive in my heart of unbelief,
[20] That, even late, I should recall my sins,
And turn myself with all my heart to Him,
The Lord, who did regard my Smallness then
With pity for my youth and innocence;
Who, ere I knew Him, had me in His charge;
[25] Yea, ere I knew to choose 'twixt good and ill.
Admonished me and gave me consolation,
As father might a son. | And, therefore, now
I will not hide, nor could I, were it fit
To hide, such boons, such graces, as my Lord
[30] Has deigned me hero in my captivity.

^ And this my poor return; that having attained
The touch and apprehension of my God,
I should with high exalted heart, in face
Of all that lives below all skies, confess |
[35] That other God nor was, nor is, nor shall be.
Save but the Lord, the Father unbegotten,
Without beginning, out of whom proceeds
Every beginning; He who in His hand
Holds all things as aforesaid; and His Son
[40] Our Lord Christ Jesus, who, we do confess,
Was with the Father ere the worlds began;
Begotten of the Father spiritually,
In wise unspeakable, ere aught made was.
By Him were all things made, things visible
[45] And things invisible. He was made Man,
And, conquering death, returned again to heaven.
And God gives Him all power o'er every name
Of things in earth and heaven and things in hell,
That every tongue may own that Jesus Christ
[50] Is Lord and God, in whom we do believe
And wait His coming when He shall be judge
Of living and of dead; who shall repay
To each according to his deeds; and He
It is who pours on us abundantly
[55] The gift and comfort of the Holy Spirit
And certain hope of immortality;
Who makes the well-believing and obedient
Sons of the Father, co-heirs with Himself,
Christ, whom we do confess and do adore,
[60] One God in Trinity of holy name.

^ | Now He Himself has, by His prophet, said:
Call upon Me in tribulation's day,
And I will free, and thou shalt sound My praise.
And said again: To show forth and confess
[65] The works of God is very honourable. |
Therefore, though but ill-taught in many things,
I would my brethren and my friends to know
What kind I am, and that they may behold
The very thought that rises in my soul. |
[70] I not ignore the witness that my Lord
Doth witness by the Psalmist: They that speak
Lies shall ye lose; nor, yet again, The mouth
That lies, shall lose his soul; and our said Lord
Saith in the Gospel thus: The idle word
[75] Men use, for it each soul that lives shall give
Account and reckoning at the Judgment Day. |
So me with fear and trembling it behoves
To dread the doom of liars, in that same day
When none can draw aside or hide himself,
[80] But all must yield account, yea, of the least
Of all their faults before the chair of Christ.

^ | Wherefore long time I've had in mind to write,
But up to now abstained me; for I feared
Lest I should fall in censure of men's tongues:
[85] Because I have not read as others have,
Who, excellently versed in civic law 1
And sacred letters, in a like degree,
Have never since their childhood changed their speech,
But rather made it perfecter by use;
[90] Whereas this speech and utterance of mine
Is here transformed into another tongue;
And, by the savour of the style I use,
'Tis easy to be judged how I've been taught2
And trained in diction. As the Wise One saith,
[95] Sense, knowledge, and the doctrine of the truth
Show by the tongue. | But what avails excuse
Beside the fact? when here ye all may judge
The actual way in which, in my old age,
I strive at what, in youth, I never learned.
[100] For then my sins obstructed. I was still,
When captured, but a lad, a beardless boy,
That knew not what to seek or what to shun.
Therefore to-day it shames me to disclose
My ignorance; because I have not learned
[105] With brevity and elegance of speech
To treat deep things, as, how the Spirit moves
The soul's affections and the human mind. |
But were it given me, as it is to some,
I would not long be slow to sing His praise,
[110] Even though to some perchance in this I seem
Presumptuous, with my rude and stammering tongue.
Yet it is written that the stammering tongue.
Shall yet be swift to speak the words of peace.
How much the more, then, lies that charge on us
[115] Who, Christ's Epistles, to the world's far ends
Bear word of His salvation; not, indeed,
Learned words, but words of power writ in our hearts,
Not with pen-ink, but by the Spirit of God.
Yea and again that Spirit testifies
[120] Unlearning also comes from the Most High. |
Wherefore I, chief and first of the unlearned,
God's runaway, untaught, who nothing know
How to provide the morrow, surely know
This, that, before my happy humbling came,
[125] I was as is a stone that, in deep mire,
Lies on the highway : and He came, who can,
And, in His pity, thence did lift me up
And set me on the wall-top. Therefore I
Will now be bold and eager-prompt to pay
[130] The tribute of my praises to the Lord
Who has bestowed His everlasting boons
So great on me as pass the mind of man.

^ | Wherefore all ye who fear the Lord, admire,
Both great and small; and ye, ye great and learned,
[135] Lords of the land, and Rhetoricians,
Hear and enquire, who was it raised me up,
Me, foolish me, from midst of them esteemed
Wise men and law-learned, and in power of speech,
As in all else, prepotent, and inspired
[140] Me, even me, the butt of this world's scorn,
Above the rest, to be what now I am
Here, whilst at least with fear and reverence
Faithful in heart and uncomplainingly
I serve this people, to whom the charity
[145] Of Christ assigns me, for my rest of life,
If I be worthy; that, with humble heart
And truthful lips, I teach it, | in the faith
And measure of the Holy Trinity.

^ Behoves me, therefore, fearless of rebuke
[150] Or danger, that I do set forth the gift
And everlasting consolation
Of God; and fearlessly declare His name
Abroad where'er I be: that also, so,
After my death, I leave, as my bequest 3
[155] Amongst the children of my baptism,
These many thousands. | Not, indeed, that I
Was worthy that my Lord his servant poor
Should so far favor, after all the toils,
The hardships heavy, and the captive years
[160] Borne 'mongst this people;—should bestow such grace
As, till I came to Ireland,4 I nor knew
Nor ever hoped. | But, herding daily here,
And often in the day saying my prayers,
Daily there more and more did grow in me
[165] The fear of God. And holy fear and faith
Increased in me, that in a single day
I've said as many as a hundred prayers,
And in the night scarce fower; so that oft
In woods and on the mountain I've remained,
[170] And risen to prayer before daylight, through snow,
Through frost, through rain, and yet I took no ill,
Nor was there in me then aught slow as now,
For then the Spirit of God within me burned.

^ | And there it was, one night, in sleep, I heard
[175] A voice that said to me : "Thou fastest well
That soon shalt see thy land and home again."
Soon after which, again, I heard the voice,
And this is what it said : "Behold thy ship
Is ready," but the ship lay nowise near,
[180] But nigh two hundred miles off, and where I
Had never been before, and no man knew.
So, thereupon, I turned myself to flight,
Leaving5 the man whom I had served six years;
And by the help of God, who showed me well6
[185] The way to go, nought dreading, found the ship. |
But it, before I came, had left its place
And lay elsewhere. I craved to go on board.
My suit displeased the Master : with harsh speech
He answered me, "Thou shall not come with us."
[190] Which when I heard, I left them there, to reach
My hut wherein I lodged, and as I went
Began to pray. Before my prayer was done,
I heard one of them calling after me,
"Come, for in faith we did receive thee; come,
[195] Make friendship with us in what way thou wilt."
And so, that day, I did make friends with them,
Out of God's fear, and for, besides, I hoped
To hear them yet say, "Come, in faith, of Christ."
For Heathens were they. So I clave to them.

^ [200] We forthwith sailed, | and, in a three days' run,
We took the land; and eight and twenty days
We crossed a desert, after: where our food
Failed, and keen hunger fell upon us all.
Then one day, said the Master thus to me,
[205] "What, Christian, you who say your God is great,
Good, and Almighty, why not pray for us
Who perish hero of hunger, where the face
Of men is hardly seen?" Then I spoke thus
Before them all: "Turn ye your sinful hearts:
[210] Convert you to the Lord my God, to whom
Nought is impossible, that He, this day,
Send you whereof ye yet may eat your fill;
For all things everywhere abound with Him."
God aiding, so it was. Behold, a drove
[215] Of swine came on the road before our eyes.
Many they slew; two nights we tarried there
Well nourished, and our dogs filled full: for they
Were semi-starved, and many left we there
Half dead beside the way. Then praise to God
[220] All gave, and I much honour in their sight
Obtained, and thenceforward, abundantly
Fared we. Wild honey also in the wood
Found they, and offered of it, and one said,
"'Tis sacrificial; taste." I tasted none ;
[225] For which, thank God. | On that same night I lay
Sleeping, when Satan sorely troubled me,
As well I shall remember, for as long
As in this mortal body I shall be.
He fell upon me, as a mighty mass
[230] Of rock might fall, so that in all my limbs
Remained not but so much7 of power as brought
Into my mind the thought to cry, "Helias."
With which word in my mouth, I saw the sun
Rise in the heavens; and while I cried, "Helias,"
[235] With all my might, its radiance fell on me,
And banished all my torpor: and I think
'Twas Christ, my Lord, who gave my cry for help,
And sent His succour. Even so, I hope,
'Twill be hereafter, in the dreadful day
[240] Of my last pressure. And the Gospel says (A),
In that day testifies the Lord Himself,
The Spirit of the Father it is that speaks
Within you (B), not yourselves. | (Whereby) again
I suffered bondage,8 after many years
[245] Continuing till this day, from that first night.
And so remained I in their company,
But heard the same voice I had heard before
Say, "Two full months shalt thou abide with them."
And so it was: for, on the very night
[250] Following the sixtieth day, the Lord me freed
Out of their hands. | He gave us food and fire,
Daily dry weather too, till, at the last,
Upon the tenth day, when we all arrived,—
Days eight and twenty in the desert spent,
[255] As is above said9—there remained to us
No morsel left of food; | and (so),10 once more,
These few years passed, I found myself at home
Amongst the Britons11 with my family,
Who all received me as they might a son,
[260] And earnestly besought me, that at length
After these many perils I had borne,
I never more would leave them.
It was there

In a night vision I beheld a man
Coming as 'twere from Ireland. Victor he.
[265] Innumerable letters bore he: one
He gave to me to read. I read one line,
"The voices of the Irish," so it ran.
And while I read, methought I heard the cry
Of them that by the wood of Focluth dwell,
[270] Beside the Western Ocean, saying thus,
"Come, holy youth, and walk amongst us. Come!'
All with one voice. It touched me to the heart,
And I could read no more; and so awoke—
Thank God at last who, after many years,
[275] Has given to them according to their cry!

^ | And, on another night, I know not, I,
God knows, if 'twas within me or without,
One prayed with words exceeding exquisite
I could not understand, till, at the close,
[280] He spoke in this wise—"He who gave his soul
For thee, is He who speaks." I woke with joy. |
And once I saw Him—praying, as it were
Within me, and I saw myself as though
Within myself, and over me, that is
[285] Over the inner man, I heard Him pray
Strongly with urgent groans, myself the while
Amazed, and wondering who should pray in me,
Till, at the very ending of his prayer,
He showed, a bishop.12 I awoke and called
[290] To memory what His apostle says—
The Spirit helps the weakness of our prayer;
For when we pray, and know not as we ought
What to pray for, the Spirit Himself doth pray
For us with groanings inexpressible
[295] Not to be put in words. And yet again,
The Lord our Advocate doth plead for us (A).

^ | And when13 some certain of my seniors came
Against my toilsome, hard episcopate,
And made impeachment of me for my sins,
[300] In that day truly I was tempted sore
To fall both now and everlastingly.
But the Good Lord, for His name's sake, did spare
His proselyte and pilgrim, so as I
Out of that treading-under came not ill
[305] With stain and shame upon me. I pray God
It be not made occasion to themselves
Of sin. | They found me, after thirty years,14
To charge me with one word I had confessed
Before I was a deacon. In my grief
[310] And pain of mind I to my dearest friend
Told what I in my boyhood, in one day,
Yea, in one hour had done:—because as yet
I had not strength: I know not, Heaven knows,
If, at that time, I yet had fifteen years.—
[315] I had not yet believed the living God
Even from my childhood; but remained in death
And unbelief till sore chastised I was
By hunger, nakedness, and enforced toil |
Daily in Ireland,—for I came not here
[320] Self-sent—until, indeed, I almost sank.
Yet these were rather boons to me, because,
So chastened by the Lord, I now am made
What once was far from me, that I should care
Or labour for the weal of others, I
[325] Who then took no thought even for myself.

^ | On which same day when these my elder ones
Rebuked me (B), in a vision of the night, I saw a script against me,15 and no name
Of honor written, and, the while, I heard
[330] That voice within make answer, "We are here
Ill-styled by name stripped bare of dignity."
It was not ''Thou art here ill-styled," it said,
But " we," as if the Speaker joined himself
Incorporately with me, and the voice
[335] "Were His who once said, Whoso toucheth thee,
Toucheth as 'twere the apple of mine eye. |
Wherefore my thanks I render unto Him
Who in all things hath been my comforter,
That He impeded not my going forth
[340] Whereon I had resolved, nor stayed the work
Which my dear God had taught me I should do;
Nay, rather felt I as from Him new strength
Infused. And so before both God and man
My faith was proved, | wherein I boldly say
[345] My conscience reprehends me in no wise,
Now, nor yet will. I take to witness God
I have not lied relating what I heard
In these communings (A). | But I rather grieve
For him, my dearest friend, that we should need
[350] To hear such answer16 given— my friend of friends
To whom I did confide my very soul—
And certain brethren had advertised me
That he, before that inhibition made,17
In that debate wherein I had not part
[355] Nor moved I it, nor was I then in Britain—
Had in my absence battled bravely for me.
Yea, he with his own mouth had said to me,
"Behold, thou art deemed worthy of the grade
Of Bishop;" though indeed unworthy I.
[360] Whence comes it, then, that he should afterwards,
In presence of them all, both good and bad,
Thus publicly degrade me, and deny
What, unsolicited, of his own will,
He gladly had conceded me before?
[365] But God is over all: | of this enough.

^ No; I must (not) conceal18 the gift of God
Which, in this land of my captivity,
He hath bestowed me, which with earnest quest
I sought for and here found. He me hath saved
[370] From all unrighteousness; and I believe
By reason of the indwelling comity,
And trust in Him which, even to this day
Doth work within me audibly,19 He knows
Were these man's voices. Had they been, belike
[375] Christ's charity had made me hold my peace.

^ | Therefore unwearied thanks I render Him
Who kept me faithful in temptation's hour,
That I to-day should live to offer up
Myself a living sacrifice to Him,
[380] My Saviour, my Preserver. Well may I
Say, Lord, what am I, or my calling what
That with such favor, with such aid divine
Thou hast environed and uplifted me,
As daily I amongst the Gentiles rise
[385] Higher and higher, whilst I glorify
Thy name where'er I be. Whate'er befalls
Happy or wretched, good or ill, the same
I deem; and equally for it thank Thee
With thanks perpetual for that Thou hast shown
[390] Him the most sure indubitable One,
In whom I may believe for ever; Him
Who will for ever hear me. So, too, I,
In these last days, though ignorant, may dare
Address me to a work so holy-good,
[395] So wondrous, as may even make parity
'Twixt me and them, who, He himself foretold
Should bear His joyful message, witnessing
Him to all people, ere the world should end.
And we do witness here, the Gospel now
[400] Is preached so far as no man is beyond (B). |
'Twere long, in whole or part, to tell my toils,
Or how the Almighty One did oft release
Me from enslavement; and from perils twelve,
Wherein my life was ventured; and from snares,
[405] The which I cannot put in words. 'Twere ill
Too much to tax my reader where I have
The Author's self within, who all things knows,
Even before they happen, as He knows
Me, his poor pupil. And for that it is
[410] The voice divine doth oft admonish me: |
Whence came this wisdom to me who had none,
Nor knew the number of my days nor Him?
Whence came this knowledge and this heart's delight
In this His gift so great, so salutary,
[415] That, for its sake, I well contented left
Country and kin? | And many were the gifts
They offered me with yearning and with tears.
And certain of my seniors, too, made known
Their disapproval;20 but with the help of God
[420] In no way did I yield them my consent:—
Not mine the grace; but God it was in me,
Who conquered through me and withstood them all,
That I might come to preach His Gospel here
To the Hibernian people, that I here
[425] Should suffer the contempts of unbelievers
Should hear derision of my embassage,
And many persecutions, even to chains,
Endure; nay, even my own patrician grade
Forfeit for others' good. And if I be
[430] But worthy to do somewhat for His name,
Ready I am, this hour, with all my heart,
To yield Him service, even to my death, |
Who this grace does me that, through means of me,
Much people is re-born to God, confirmed,
[435] And clerks ordained for their instruction,
New coming to the faith from earth's far ends,
And gathered to the Lord, even as, of old,
He promised by His prophet, They shall come
From outmost ends of earth; and also says,
[440] Our fathers gut them idols, and therein
Had nothing profitable;and again
This also: I have set thee as a light
To light the Gentile, that thou shouldst make safe
Even to the ends of earth. | And here I wait
[445] To see fulfilled His words, who ne'er deceived,
As promised in the Gospel,—They shall come
From east and west, and sit down side by side
With Abraham and with Isaac and with Jacob.
Even so do we believe from all the world
[450] The faithful come. | Behoves it, therefore, we
Fish well and diligently, as the Spirit says,
Come after Me that I may make of you
Fishers of men; and, by His prophet, again,
Behold, offishermen and hunters keen
[455] I send a multitude; so saith the Lord.
Et caetera.21 Whereby it much behoves
We spread our nets in such wise as a shoal
And multitude be taken; and that clerks
Be everywhere at hand who may baptize
[460] The hastening crowd, even as our good Lord saith
In His evangel, Going, therefore, forth,
Teach ye all nations, and the same baptize
In name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Teaching them to observe what things soe'er
[465] I have commanded; and, lo, I myself
Am with you till the final consummation
Of all things; and again says, Going forth
Into the whole world, preach ye my evangel
To every creature living. Who believes
[470] And is baptized, is safe. Who not believes,
He shall be damned22 (A). And He again says thus:
The gospel of my kingdom shall be preached
To the whole world; and witness shall be made
To all the nations, and then comes the end.
[475] Likewise our Lord doth by His prophet say,
Lo, in the latter days, thus saith the Lord,
I shall pour forth my Spirit on all flesh.
Your sons and daughters they shall prophesy,
Your youths see visions, and old men dream dreams.
[480] And on your servants and your handmaidens
In these days shall I pour my Spirit, and they
Shall prophesy. And also Hosee says,
Her will I call my people who was not
My people, and on her will pity take
[485] On whom I took not pity; and in the place
Wherein 'twas said no people of mine are ye,
There shall they yet be called the sons of God (B).

^ | Whence now the Irish, who, in former days,
Had but their idols and their rites unclean,
[490] Nor aught knew of the Lord, have late become
The Lord's own people. And the sons of Scots
And daughters of their kings, now sons of God
Are counted, and vowed handmaidens of Christ (A).
| And one bless'd Scotic lady nobly born,
[495] A most fair person whom myself baptized,
Came, soon thereafter, making her report
Of intimation by a messenger
Sent her from God with His admonishment
That virgin she should live and nearer Him.
[500] In six days after,—thank the Lord for it,—
With excellent observance she assumed
The grade desired of all Christ's handmaidens:
Not at their parents' bidding. They from them
Suffer reproach and persecution,
[505] Yet, notwithstanding, still the number grows
Of those of our kind daily born to us
I know not, I, how many they are, besides
Widows and women continent; of whom
They chiefly suffer who, in bondage held,
[510] Bear threats and terrors: yet they persevere,
And God to many of them grants the grace
That, if but in a little, earnestly
They follow His example. | Whence it comes
Should I now care to leave them, going forth
[515] It may be into Britain,23 sure 'twere sweet
To see one's country and one's kin again:
Or farther yet proceeding, even to Gaul,
To see the brethren, and the faces see
Of my Lord's saints, God knows I were right glad,
[520] But in the Spirit am bound: and He declares
I were God's recreant did I leave them so.
Moreover, truth it is, I would not lose
The fruit of all my labour well begun.
Yet 'tis not I determine, but my Lord,
[525] He who commanded I should hither come,
That here I should fulfil my rest of days
In serving them: | and so methinks I shall:
Albeit but little trust I in myself,
Clad in this body of death, for he is strong
[530] Who daily struggles to subvert my faith,
And turn me from the unfeigned chastity
I'll keep, God helping, till my days do end.
The flesh indeed still draws us down to death,
And snares of lawless pleasure; and I know
[535] In part the reason why I cannot live
The perfect life His other faithful souls
Achieve; but to my good Lord I avow
I blush not at His searching of my heart;
For since I first did know Him in my youth,
[540] His love and fear have ever grown in me,
And I, He helping, still have kept the faith.

^ | Let him who will, then, laugh: let him who will,
Scoff. I shall not keep silence, nor conceal
The signs and marvels ministered to me
[545] Of God, who knoweth all things many years
Before they are; yea, from before all time. |
Wherefore ought I unintermittingly
Give thanks to Him that He did so indulge
My ignorance and sloth, not once but oft;
[550] And not as with an object of just wrath
Dealt with me, but as with His yoke-fellow.
Though slow I was to learn the part enjoined,
And by the Spirit shown; who pitied me
'Mongst thousand thousands other; for He saw
[555] That I was willing-ready, but knew not
In what way to bear witness : for they all24
Opposed my mission, and, behind my back,
Did prate and say, "This one, forsooth, would put
His life in jeopardy 'mongst enemies,
[560] Who of the Lord know nothing," not as though
They spoke in malice: but, indeed, because
My wish did not commend itself to them,
By reason, I confess, of my defect
In learning. And I did not recognise
[565] At once the grace that then was in me—grace
Now efficacious as it then had been,
Had I been as I ought.
| Thus simply, then,

Brethren and fellow servants in the Lord
Who have believed with me, I've told to you
[570] How it has come to pass that, for the sake
Of strengthening and confirming you in faith,
I have preached, and still do, hoping we all
May yet rise higher. That be my reward!
Because the wise son is his father's glory. |
[575] You know, and God knows, what way from my youth
I have conversed amongst you, in the faith
Of truthfulness and singleness of heart:
That to the people I do dwell amongst
I have declared the: faith, and so do still.
[580] God knows that I no man of them in aught
Have circumvened, nor, for the sake of Him
And of His Church, will ever; nor provoke
In them, or anyone, uncharity,
Whereby the name of God may be blasphemed
[585] In me, for it is written, Wo to him
By whom the name of God shall be blasphemed. |
And, unlearned though I be in skill of words,
Yet have I striven in some poor sort to serve
My Christian brethren and Christ's handmaidens,
[590] And pious women who of their free will
Did oft bestow me gifts, and on mine altar
Cast of their jewels, which I still returned,
Though thereby they were grieved: and, for the hope
Of life eternal, have so led my life,
[595] Here with them, so on guard, as none may find
In any tittle of my ministry
Cause of offence, nor let my smallest act
Afford occasion to the infidel
To sully or diminish my good fame.

^ | [600] Think ye, where I such thousands have baptized,
I took from any of them, in recompense,
But half a scruple. Tell me when, or where?
I will return it. Yea, where God ordained
Through my weak ministry these many Clerks,
[605] Gratis I gave them orders. If I asked
Of any to the value but of my shoe,
Tell me : I will repay it you and more. |
'Twas rather I who spent my worldly wealth
On you, amongst you, whereso'er I went,
[610] In your behalf, through perils manifold,
So far as no man was beyond, nor there
Had ever come who might give baptism,
Ordain a clergy, or confirm the flock.
God aiding, I did, with most willing mind
[615] And diligent affection to your weal,
Defray it all. | Sometimes I fee'd the kings,
In that I fee'd their sons who gave convoy
To guard us all from capture. In one day
They sought, indeed, to slay me; but my time
[620] Was not yet come. But all the goods they found
Upon us they bore off, and me myself
Kept bound with iron, till, the fourteenth day.
The Lord did lose me from their power; and all
Our goods were given us back, for the Lord's sake,
[625] And sake of our conductors. | You yourselves
Have knowledge what gratuities I spent
On them that did administer the law
Throughout the regions I most visited.
I think not less than fee of fifteen men
[630] I did disburse amongst them, all, that you
Slight me enjoy, and I again in you
Have manifold enjoyment in the Lord.
Nor grudge I it, nor count it yet enough.
Lo, I still spend, and still will further spend,
[635] Happy if He, who can, shall yet allow
That for your sakes I even may spend my soul (B), |
I call to witness God I do not He,
Nor write as seeking opportunity
Of lucre or of flattery or reward
[640] Of praise. That honour is enough for me
Which is not seen, but in the heart believed (A).

^ But He who promised never lies (B). | I see
Myself, in this my generation,
Beyond degree exalted by my Lord,
[645] Unworthy though I am, nor such as He
Might deign so favour. For I surely know
That poverty and plainness fit me more
Than luxury and riches. Christ our Lord
Was also poor for us. I poorer still,
[650] For should I crave for wealth, I have it not.
Nor judge I now myself: for daily now
I look to find my death by violence,
Or, captive, to be sold to slavery,
Or some such end: (A) but none of these I fear,
[655] Having assurance of His promises,
For I have cast me in the hands of God
Who governs all things, and his prophet saith,
Cast thou thy lurden on the Lord, and He
Will aid thee. | Yes, I do commend my soul
[660] To my most faithful God whose embassage
I here discharge, howe'er unworthily.
For He respects not persons, but did choose
Me to this office, that, amongst the crowd
Of His ambassadors, I might be least. |
[665] What shall I render back to Him for all
His benefits conferred on me? What say
Or promise to Him when I plainly see
I nothing have unless He gives it me,
Yea, though I search the heart and reins. Enough,
[670] More than enough I count it, well content,
If He but give me that I drink His cup
As granted other claimants of His love; |
But never, never let me lose the flock
He pastures by me in earth's outland here!
[675] God grant me that! And that I persevere
In faithful witness to my journey's end.
| And if, for His sake, I have ought of good
Accomplished, for His love, I pray Him grant
That with His captives and His proselytes,
[680] Even for His name's sake I may shed my blood,
Be it without my dues of burial,
Yea, though this wretched body and these limbs
Be torn asunder by devouring dogs,
Wild beasts, or fowls of heaven. I surely know
[685] Did this befall me, I should so enrich
My soul with my poor body; and I know
Clad in our bodies we shall all arise
In that day, in the brightness of the sun,
To wit, in glory of Lord Jesus Christ,
[690] Our dear Redeemer, rise as sons of God,
And co-heirs with Himself, conformable
To His own image as it then shall be.

^ | For this sun, which we see, doth daily rise
At God's commandment; but God so ordains
[695] It shall not always rise, nor shall its light
Endure for ever. It shall fade, and they
That worship it shall perish: but, for us
We do believe and worship the true Sun,
Christ, which shall never perish, nor shall He
[700] Who doth His will, but shall endure for ever,
As Christ Himself, who, in the heaven of heavens,
Reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost
Now and for everlastingly—Amen. |
Again and yet again I iterate
[705] My brief words of Confession, and declare
In truth, and in uplifting of the heart,
Before my God and His most holy angels,
That other object never did I look to
In coming back25 again amongst this people,
[710] From whom so hardly I escaped before,
Save but the Evangel and His promises (B).

^ | And now beseech all them that do believe
And fear the Lord, whoe'er they be shall deign
Look on this writing or receive the same
[715] Which sinner Patrick, I, the much-unlearned,
Have writ in Ireland, that no man may say
My Ignorance it was dictated aught,
If any aught of good be therein seen
Such as may pleasure God, but rather deem
[720] For certain that it doth proceed from Him.
And this is my Confession e'er I die (A).


1"Excellently versed in Civic law:" Qui optime itaque jure et sacras literas utroque pari modo combiberunt, with the annotation in margin Incertus liber hic.^
2"How I've been taught:" Sicut facile potest probari ex aliue [ex salivâ] scripturae meae qualiter sum ego in sermonibus instructus atque eruditus, would be nearer the drift of the original if expressed:
"'Tis easy to be judged what kind of school
I've been brought up in."
Sum ego = ta me, in the Irish.^
3"Bequest:" Ex agallias: the word divided so between end of one line and beginning of another. Exagalliae—DU CANGE. ^
4"'Till I came to Ireland:" quod ego in iuuentute mea nunquam speraui neque cogitaui sed postquam in hiberione deueneram: where sed, as in line 231, post, seems to be used in the sense of the Irish acht=nisi. ^
5"Leaving the man:" intermisi hominem. "I separated from the man," as if the thought expressed in this singular use of intermitto had been conceived in some form of the Irish etar-scairim, that is, inter-separo. ^
6"Well," ad bonum, as in the Irish go maith. ^
7"But so much:" et nihil membrorum praeualens sed unde mihi uenit in spiritum ut heliam uocarem. Sed=acht=nisi, as in page. ^
8"Again I suffered bondage:" sicut in euangelio inquit dominus non uos estis (A), qui loquimini sed spiritus patris uestri qui loquitur in uobis et iterum post annos (B) multos adhuc capturam dedi ea nocte prima (A). A passage of great obscurity, here brought into the apparent sequence of the narrative by the introduced "whereby." The subject, too long to discuss in a note, is examined in [Ferguson, On the Patrician Documents] par. xxix., post.^
9"As is above said:" nocte illa sexagessima liberauit me dominus de manibus eorum etiam in itinere praeuidit nobis cibum et ignem et siccitatem cotidie donec x. decimo die peruenimus omnes sicut superius insinuaui xx. et viii. disertum iter fecimus et ea nocte qua peruenimus, &c. To whichever antecedent the words of reference sicut superius insinuaui relate, it is evident that the twenty-eight days in the desert were part of one continuous journey ( [Ferguson, On the Patrician Documents] post, xxx.), commencing at the Irish shore, and ending at Patrick's home in Brittanis. The discrepancy in numbers is, no doubt, due to errors of transcription.^
10"So," introduced as " whereby," above.^
11"Amongst the Britons:" in Britannis as in the Irish gloss on Fiacc, in bretnaib.^
12"He showed, a bishop:" Sic effitiatus est ut sit episcopus. It might be conjectured to be mistranscription for sic effatus est ut sis episcopus; but the internal presence of the great bishop of souls seems more consistent with the context.^
13"And when:" Et quando temptatus sum ab aliquantis senioribus meis qui uenerunt … contra laboriosum episcopatum meum. When? Where? Whence did the seniors come? and was the episcopate prospective or subsisting? The answers to these questions depend in great measure on the terminus a quo from which the thirty years, next mentioned, are to he computed.^
14"After thirty years:" Post annos triginta invenerunt me. If the terminus a quo be referred to the commission of the fault, inuenerunt must bo read as in the sense of moral detection, which is difficult. If read as in the ordinary sense of finding out topically, the terminus should apparently be referred to Patrick's departure on this Irish mission. But see post, l. 419.^
15"I saw a script against me:" vidi in vissu noctis scriptum erat contra facem meam sine honore et inter haec audiui responsum dicentem male audiuimus [scripto contra] faciem designati nudato nomine. A most difficult passage, not helped by the corresponding Bodleian text. Contra faciem is perhaps the Irish in aghaid "adversum :" and, in that sense, the passage may be made to bear the meaning it has in the version, by introducing the two words in brackets, but otherwise seems hopelessly obscure. For male audio, in the sense given, see the examples in Facciolati, " audio."^
16"Hear such answer:" Cur hoc meruimus audire tale responsum, referring apparently to "we are here ill-styled," supra.^
17"Before that inhibition:" ante defensionem illam.^
18"I must (not) conceal:" Sed tamen debeo abscondere: nonomitted in text ?^
19"Audibly," audienter.^
20"Their disapproval." If this be the same opposition of the seniors above related (l. 297), and again in more general terms referred to, post (l. 556-60), it should be deemed to have preceded Patrick's mission, whatever difficulty that construction might entail in interpreting inuenerunt.^
21"Et caetera:" Probably an indication of abridgment ( [Ferguson, On the Patrician Documents] iv. supra).^
22The words "reliqua sunt exempla" here occur in the Armagh Codex, left untranslated, as being probably the language of the scribe, indicating abridgment from a fuller text.^
23"Going forth; it may be into Britain, &c.:" ut pergens in britanniis et libentissime paratus eram quasi ad patriam et parentes non id solum sed usque gallias usitare fratres et ut uiderem faciem sanctorum dominl mei. In some of the MSS. the words are fratres meos.^
24"They all;" See ante l.419.^
25"In coming back: " Ut unquam redderem [redirem] agentem [ad gentem] illam; Unde autem prius uix euaseram. A good example of the corrupt state of the Bodleian text.^

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