Saint Patrick, The Apostle Of Ireland -- By: William H. Bates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:249 (Jan 1906)
Article: Saint Patrick, The Apostle Of Ireland
Author: William H. Bates


Saint Patrick, The Apostle Of Ireland

Rev. William H. Bates

A little over fifteen hundred years ago, or about the year 372, a boy by the name of Succat first saw the light. By some he is said to have been horn at Boulogne-sur-Mer, in France; by others, at Bonavem, a place in the estuary of the river Clyde in Scotland. If birthplace determine nationality, then we would say he was Gaul or Celt, or, in later phrase, French or Scotch, according as he was born in the one place or the other. The very large predominance of opinion is in favor of Scotland as his birthplace.

His father, who bore the Latinized name of Calpurnius, was an elder or deacon in the church, and also a decurio, or magistrate, in the place where he lived. His grandfather was one Potitus, a priest,—a married priest, presumably, for the celibacy of the clergy was not an enforced law of the church until the time of Pope Gregory VII., some seven hundred years later. His mother is said to have been a godly and devoted woman by the name of Conchessa, and sister to Martin. Bishop of Tours in France. With such parentage, he must have had careful religious training. But with the wayward ness characteristic of too many youth, he did not seem to profit by it.

Those were wild times. Great Britain was largely a heathen country, for the Christianity that had been taught there by the Roman conquerors had been well-nigh crushed out by the

Saxon invasion. In now and then a home, like Succat’s, it remained. One day, when the boy was about fifteen years old, a band of pirates landed at Bona vein and, in ravaging the country, found the boy upon his father’s farm, carried him away captive to Ireland, and sold him as a slave to an Irish chieftain. He was sent into the fields to attend flocks and herds, and for six years he endured the cruel hardships of slavery. Here, like the prodigal, lie came to himself. Amid his hitter experiences, memory recalled the tender religious teachings of his home. God was watching over the lad. Long afterwards, when he wrote a story of his life in what are called his “Confessions,” he says: “I was sixteen years old, and did not know the true God. But in a strange land, the Lord brought me to a sense of my unbelief; so that, although late, I minded me of my sins, and turned with my whole heart to the Lord my God. He looked down on my loneliness, and had pity on my youth and ignorance. Lie preserved me ere I knew him; and he protected and comforted me as a father does his son.”

Though of an enthusiastic temperament, he was after his conversion much given to prayer and meditation. Lie had visions and dreams. Towards the c...

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