Who am I, Lord, that you should appear to me and call me, so that today among the barbarians I might constantly and everywhere exalt and magnify your name, not only in good fortune, but even in affliction? Whatever befalls me, be it good or bad, I accept it equally, giving thanks always to God who revealed to me that I might trust in him forever. God will encourage me so that, even though ignorant and in my last days, I may still dare to undertake so wonderful a work. I am one whom the Lord ordained to be a herald of his Gospel, to witness to all peoples to the ends of the earth.
It would be tedious to describe in detail all my labors one by one. I will just tell briefly how the most holy God frequently delivered me from slavery, from trials with which my soul was threatened, from the traps men set for me, and from things I am not able to put into words. I have God as my witness… From whence came to me this wisdom which was not my own, I who had knowledge of God? Whence came the great gift of knowing and loving God, even though it would mean I should lose homeland and family?
We should fish well and diligently, just as the Lord teaches, saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We spread our nets so that a vast multitude might be caught for God, and so there might be clergy everywhere who baptize and exhort a needy and desirous people. Just as the Lord says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of time…” In Hosea God says: “Those who are not my people I will call my people, and those not beloved I will call my beloved.” So, now in Ireland, where they never had any knowledge of God but, always, until now, cherished idols and unclean things, they have become a people of the Lord, and are called children of God.
So it is that even if I would want to go back to Britain, (and most willingly was I prepared to go to my homeland and kinsfolk… God knows how strongly I desired this); I am bound by the Spirit, who witnessed to me that if I did so he would mark me out as guilty. Not only that, but I fear to waste the labor that I began; and not I, but Christ the Lord, who commanded me to come to be with them for the rest of my life. It is the Lord’s will that I stay, and he will shield me from every evil, so that I may not sin before him.
Thus, I should give thanks unceasingly to God who frequently forgave my folly and my negligence, for I did not easily assent to what had been revealed to me. The Lord took pity on me thousands of times. He saw within me that I was prepared, but that I was ignorant of what to do because many were trying to prevent this mission. They were talking among themselves behind my back, saying, “Why is this fellow throwing himself into danger among enemies who know not God?” They spoke not from malice, but from having no liking for the work… As for the heathen among whom I live, I have always shown them trust. God knows I did not cheat any one of them, nor even consider it, for the sake of God and his Church, lest I anger them and bring about persecution for all of us, and lest the Lord’s name be blasphemed because of me.
Moreover, I spent myself for you so that you would receive me. I went about among you and everywhere for your sake, in danger, even as far as the outermost regions beyond which no one lived, and where no one had ever gone before, to baptize, to ordain clergy, and to confirm people. Conscientiously and gladly I did all this work by God’s power for your salvation. One time when traveling, I and my companions were seized, and on that day they most avidly desired to kill me. But my time had not yet come. They plundered everything they found on us and fettered me in irons. On the fourteenth day the Lord freed me from their power…
I call on God as my witness upon my soul that I am not lying; nor would I write to you for it to be an occasion for flattery or hoping for honor from any one of you. Sufficient is the honor which is not yet seen, but in which the heart has confidence. He who made the promise is faithful… I know most certainly that poverty and failure suit me better than wealth and delight, as Christ himself was poor for our sake… I expect I could any day be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises. But I fear nothing because of the promises of heaven, for I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God who reigns everywhere. As the prophet says: ‘Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.’ I commend my soul to God who is faithful and for whom I perform my mission in obscurity… Therefore, I pray that God never separate me from his people whom he has won in this most remote land. I pray that God gives me perseverance, and that he will allow me to be a faithful witness for his sake right up to the time of my passing…
I entreat those who believe in and fear God; if you read this document composed by the obviously unlearned sinner Patrick in Ireland, that you do not ever ascribe to me and my ignorance anything that I achieved that was pleasing to God, but accept and truly believe that it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.
Celtic Cross, Ireland
Matthew 28:18-20 — Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Mark 1:16-18 — As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
I bind to myself today to:
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
–From St. Patricks’s Breastplate, attributed to St. Patrick in The Book of Armagh (9th century)