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The Confession of Saint Patrick and Letter to Coroticus Mass Market Paperback – February 17, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

From the Inside Flap

The autobiography of one of the most popular saints in history, now available in a new translation.

Beyond being recognized as the patron saint of Ireland (perhaps for having chased some nonexistent snakes off the Emerald Isle), little else is popularly known about Saint Patrick.  And yet, Patrick left behind a unique document, his Confession, which tells us much about both his life and his beliefs.  This autobiography, originally written in the fifth century, and short by modern standards, is nonetheless a work that fascinates with its glimpse into the life of an intriguing man, and inspires with its testament of faith.  Here, in this new edition from internationally acclaimed translator John Skinner, the character of Patrick, his era, and his world vividly come to life.  

Also included in this volume is the only other document known to have been written by Patrick, a letter he wrote to the soldiers of Coroticus--also Christians--who had raided parts of Ireland and taken away prisoners who were then sold into slavery.  This letter is a wonderful demonstration of Patrick's rhetorical fire.  Quite irate, Patrick harangues his fellow Christians, and the results are every bit as autobiographically revealing as the Confession.  

John O'Donohue, author of Anam Cara, provides an insightful foreword that re-creates the unique spirituality of Patrick and of the Irish people, and shows how it applies to our lives today.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Image; 1st edition (February 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385491638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385491631
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By I. Gimlet on September 28, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very short book (81 pages long, 111 if you include the prefaces and the frontispiece, big print, easily fitting in your jacket pocket) and includes Patrick's Lorica -- the hymn known as the Deer's Cry or Faeth Fiada as well as The Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus (basically a public pillory of Coroticus) and St. Patrick's Confession.
If you are interested in buying The Confession because you want a straight-forward account of St. Patrick's life, you should be warned that it will not serve that purpose. If that is what you're looking for, I recommend you buy a biography instead. Given that the literary conventions for autobiographies had yet to be established, this work is much like St. Augustine's Confessions but more laconic and oblique. Apparently, it was written in defense of his character, having been recently defamed by his ecclesiastical competitors in England. As such, I think it would be best approached as an example of St. Patrick's theology. The editor has been very helpful in this regard by noting in the text every instance St. Patrick is quoting from the Bible. I'd estimate, on that basis, that quotes from, allusions to, the Bible account for around 40% of the text. Thus, if you want to understand the work, you probably want to read it with a Bible near so you can follow the thread of St. Patrick's argument/allusion. However, as you might imagine, this adds substantially to the amount of time required to digest the book.
I found A Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus much more accessible, which makes sense given its intended audience - the faithful of Ireland.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mark Burke on June 15, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This charming little book is a great guide for anyone who wants to know the man who is St. Patrick. In this work, O'Donohue doesn't discuss the legends that surround Patrick but translates Patrick's own writings and adds an insightful commentary. The author offers a new examination of Patrick as he suggests that Patrick's hard-to-decipher language is not the result of Patrick's lack of learning, as Patrick and many of his commentators claim, but the result of Patrick's own brilliant mind trying to bring the message of the Gospel to the Celts in their own language. This book will take you directly to the heart of a simple saint who's witness to Christ changed the fate of Ireland and, consequently, the fate of the world.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Simon on September 11, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Containing the only two letters of Patrick to survive (at least in whole). Patrick's letters are certainly not dispassionate surveying of situations and observations but are filled with emotion.

I have a problem with the material around the translation. While the introduction was somewhat informative I felt like the writer was being way too indulgent in simply being rhetorical, I did not appreciate such talk. Also in the Confessions there is invasive commentary given, I say invasive because it is not clearly marked as different from the translated text of the Confessions.

I would still recommend this book though if you can find another edition of these two works (as well as the Irish hymn included) maybe you should consider that one.

A personal note.
Its a shame that Patrick is remembered primarily on a day of drunken stupor and revelry, one can imagine had he been on earth today the fire he would have wrought from his pen at the disgraces often done on Saint Patrick's Day.

Informing oneself about Saint Patrick could give you better subjects to speak of on Saint Patrick's Day than which pub to go to and what beer to drink.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. McEvoy on March 22, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a book I have read a few times now. Each time, I find it stirs me greatly both in thought and the desire for action. I would say that its greatest strength is that if you read it with an open heart and mind, you cannot but help to be stirred by the writings of this simple man who became a great bishop. I find that as I read it I have an ever-increasing desire to have my actions live up to my theology; to see the example of Patrick and strive to live it. I love St. Patrick's Rune or Lorica - Breastplate prayer, though I prefer Madeleine L'Engles' version from her book A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I memorized it years ago and still pray it often, though not as often as I should.

St. Patrick's Rune

"All heaven with its power
and the sun with its brightness and,
and the snow with its whiteness,
and the fire with all the strength it hath-
and lightning with its rapid wrath
and the winds with their swiftness along their path.
And the sea with its deepness,
and the rocks with their steepness
and the earth with its starkness-
all these I place
by God Almighty's help and grace
between myself and
the powers of darkness!"

I have never memorized the longer version found in this book, but really should. This book always reminds me to strive - to strive to listen to God, to strive to follow God and to strive to learn to be better at being.
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