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St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography Paperback – March 1, 2005
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Ireland's patron saint has long been shrouded in legend, but the true story of St. Patrick is far more inspiring than the myths. In St. Patrick of Ireland, Philip Freeman brings the historic Patrick and his world vividly to life. Patrick speaks in his own voice in two remarkable letters he wrote about himself and his beliefs, new translations of which are included here and which are still astonishing for their passion and eloquence.
Born late in the fourth century to an aristocratic British family, Patrick's life was changed forever when he was abducted and taken to Ireland just before his sixteenth birthday. He spent six grueling years there as a slave, but the ordeal turned him from an atheist into a true believer. After a vision in which God told him he would go home, Patrick escaped captivity and, following a perilous journey, returned safely to Britain to the amazement of his family. But even more amazing to them was his announcement that he intended to go back to Ireland to spend the rest of his life ministering to the people who had once enslaved him.
Set against the turbulent backdrop of the British Isles during the last years of the Roman Empire, St. Patrick of Ireland brilliantly brings to life the real Patrick, shorn of legend, a man whose deep spiritual conviction and devotion helped to transform a country.
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I don't claim any expertise on the matter, but one point of contention: It's odd that in quoting St. Patrick's beliefs from his "Confessions," (pp.77-78) Freeman references the Apostles' Creed. It would seem much more relevant to point to the revised Nicene Creed from 381 AD, the structure of which Patrick closely follows.
This book was not so much a biography…as it was a historical accounting of the church, that happened to lean on the story of St. Patrick (really only his letters and what the man himself wrote of his life).
My one criticism of this work is that it was wrought with speculation. Well the author doesn't excellent job unpacking the details that are known of Patrick's life…he consistently filled in historical details with his own speculations about what Patrick, his family, and others may have been thinking throughout the book. It was highly distracting, in an otherwise well-written book.
That said… I rated it four stars for a reason. It was a well-composed work, easy to read, and chock-full of accurate historical data verified by multiple sources. Definitely worth your time as a student of history. Further…the translations of St. Patrick's letters in the back of the book, are worth the price of admission alone.
I assume it to be accurate overall and perhaps there is just a few mistake like the one I noticed.