HERE FOLLOWETH THE LIFE OF S. PATRICK
William Caxton's life of St. Patrick, based on the Golden Legend and material from other sources (see Sr. Mary Jeremy). This "reader's version" of the text provides section headings, paragraph breaks, and explanatory glosses.
S Patrick was born in Britain, which is called England, and was
at Rome and there flourished in virtues; and after departed out of the parts of Italy, where he had long dwelled, and came home into his country in Wales named Pendyac, and entered into a fair and joyous country called the valley Rosine. To whom the angel of God appeared and said: O Patrick, this
episcopal seat, diocese
bishopric God hath not provided to thee, but unto one not yet born, but shall thirty years hereafter be born, and so he left that country and sailed over into Ireland. And as Higden saith in Polycronicon the fourth book, the twenty-fourth chapter, that S. Patrick's father was named Caprum, which was a priest and a deacon's son which was called Fodum. And S. Patrick's mother was named Conchessa, Martin's sister of France. In his baptism he was named Sucate, and S. Germain called him Magonius, and Celestinus the pope named him Patrick. That is as much to say as father of the citizens.
HE PREACHES BEFORE A KING; THE SNAKESS. Patrick on a day as he preached a sermon of the patience and sufferance of the passion of our Lord Jesu Christ to the king of the country, he leaned upon his crook or cross, and it happed by adventure that he set the end of the crook, or his staff, upon the king's foot, and pierced his foot with the pike, which was sharp beneath. The king had supposed that S. Patrick had done it wittingly, knowingly, on purpose for to move him the sooner to patience and to the faith of God, but when S. Patrick perceived it he was much abashed, embarrassed, discomfited and by his prayers he healed the king. And furthermore he impetred beseeched, prayed for and gat got grace of our Lord that no venomous beast might live in all the country, and yet unto this day is no venomous beast in all Ireland.
THE STOLEN SHEEPAfter it happed on a time that a man of that country stole a sheep, which belonged to his neighbour, whereupon S. Patrick admonested admonished, warned the people that whomsoever had taken it should deliver it again within seven days. When all the people were assembled within the church, and the man which had stolen it made no semblant to render ne nor deliver again back this sheep, then S. Patrick commanded, by the virtue of God, that the sheep should bleat and cry in the belly of him that had eaten it, and so happed it that, in the presence of all the people, the sheep cried and bleated in the belly of him that had stolen it. And the man that was culpable repented him of his trespass, and the others from then forthon kept them from stealing of sheep from any other man.
WORSHIP OF THE CROSSAlso S. Patrick was wont accustomed for to worship and do reverence unto all the crosses devoutly that he might see, but on a time tofore the sepulchre of a paynim pagan stood a fair cross, which he passed and went forth by as he had not seen it, and he was demanded of asked by his fellows why he saw not that cross. And then he prayed to God he said for to know whose it was, and he said he heard a voice under the earth saying: Thou sawest it not because I am a paynim that am buried here, and am unworthy that the sign of the cross should stand there, wherefore he made the sign of the cross to be taken thence.
St. patrick's purgatoryOn a time as S. Patrick preached in Ireland the faith of Jesu Christ, and did but little profit by his predication, for he could not convert the evil, rude and wild people, he prayed to our Lord Jesu Christ that he would show them some sign openly, fearful and ghastful, dreadful, ghastly by which they might be converted and be repentant of their sins. Then, by the commandment of God, S. Patrick made in the earth a great circle with his staff, and anon the earth after the quantity of the circle opened and there appeared a great pit and a deep, and S. Patrick by the revelation of God understood that there was a place of purgatory, in to which whomsoever entered therein he should never have other penance ne feel none other pain, and there was showed to him that many should enter which should never return ne come again. And they that should return should abide but from one morn to another, and no more, and many entered that came not again.
As touching this pit or hole which is named S. Patrick's purgatory, some hold opinion that the second Patrick, which was an abbot and no bishop, that God showed to him this place of purgatory; but certainly such a place there is in Ireland wherein many men have been, and yet daily go in and come again, and some have had there marvellous visions and seen grisly and horrible pains, of whom there be books made as of Tundale and others.
his death and legacyThen this holy man S. Patrick, the bishop, lived till he was one hundred and twenty-two years old, and was the first that was bishop in Ireland, and died in Aurelius Ambrose's time that was king of Britain. In his time was the Abbot Columba, otherwise named Colinkillus, and S. Bride whom S. Patrick professed consecrated as a nun and veiled, and she over-lived him forty years. All these three holy saints were buried in Ulster, in the city of Dunence, as it were in a cave with three chambers. Their bodies were found at the first coming of King John, King Harry the second's son, into Ireland. Upon whose tombs these verses following were written: Hic jacent in Duno qui tumulo tumulantur in uno, Brigida, Patricius atque Columba plus, which is for to say in English: In Duno these three be buried all in one sepulchre: Bride, Patrick, and Columba the mild.
Men say that this holy bishop, S. Patrick, did three great things. One is that he drove with his staff all the venomous beasts out of Ireland. The second, that he had grant of our Lord God that none Irish man shall abide the coming of Antichrist. The third wonder is read of his purgatory, which is more referred to the less S. Patrick, the Abbot. And this holy abbot, because he found the people of that land rebel, he went out of Ireland and came in to England in the Abbey of Glastonbury, where he died on a S. Bartholomew's day. He flourished about the year of our Lord eight hundred and fifty, and the holy bishop died the year of our Lord four hundred and ninety in the one hundred and twentysecond year of his age, to whom pray we that he pray for us.
VORAGINE'S ETYMOLOGY FOR THE NAME PATRICK
This text was taken from the Internet Medieval Source Book. E-text © by Paul Halsall. Annotations, formatting, and added rubrics by Richard Stracke. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the sources. No permission is granted for commercial use.