A Brief History of St. Patrick

by Monk Preston

Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (with white Celtic cross on a green shield).

Photo: "Skellig Michael" Copyright Irish Tourist Board.

 Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."

St. Patrick was born 387-390 A.D.  He was enslaved by Irish raiders at age 16 (403-406 A.D.).  He escaped Ireland six years later and returned to Britain at age 22. (409-412 A.D.)  He left home to train for the priesthood in the monasteries of Lerins and Auxerre, both located in Gaul (France).  

At this period there were very few monasteries in western Europe, it  was still a relatively new movement there.  Martin of Tours had only recently founded the very first monastery in Gaul at Liguge in 361 A.D.

St. Patrick's dates were somewhat fluid, and seemingly impossible to fit together.  Most agree that he studied at Lerins monastery, but Auxerre monastery also claimed him.  Like trying to solve a puzzle, I spent about three days to see if there was any possibility of reconciling all of the known information in a chronology, and finally came up with the following tentative solution:

A Possible Timeline that fits all of the known dates (including the founding dates of Lerins and Auxerre Monasteries):   

  Born 390; Enslaved 406; Escaped and returned to Britain 412; In France at Lerins monastery (founded 410) from 412 to 422 (10 years; or a later start date if he remained in Britain longer); at Auxerre monastery (founded 422) from 422 to 432 (10 years).

Returned to Ireland as a missionary Bishop around age 42, about 432 A.D.  Died on March 17, 461-464 A.D.

     St. Patrick became a Christian while a slave in Ireland.  He later received monastic training before returning to Ireland as a missionary (ca. 400 A.D.).  Celtic Christianity was a monastic-based church that may have allowed married monks.  It was held in high regard both in eremitic (individual hemitage) and cenobitic (community monastery) monasticism.

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Photo: Monk Preston and The Prayer Foundation's actual Logo shield.   Monk Preston _______________