Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Great Irish Saint

Shortly after the Roman legions had left Britain, and during one of their first raids over the wall of Severus, the Picts carried off into captivity a boy named Patrick, who was then about sixteen years of age. He was the son of a deacon, and was busy ploughing when the marauders fell upon him.

The Picts, after taking young Patrick back to their mountain homes, conveyed him over the Irish Sea to Ireland, where they sold him into slavery. For six years Patrick was obliged to watch his master's sheep on the hillside, and during that time he often prayed that he might escape.

Finally his prayers were answered, and after hiding for some time among the reeds by the shore, Patrick boarded one of the vessels which came to trade along the coast. From there he probably went to France, then to a monastery near the Mediterranean, and then to Rome.

He studied hard to become a priest; and when he was ordained, he went back to Britain, where his kinsmen were glad to see him. While there, Patrick was troubled by dreams and visions. It seemed to him as if the people in Ireland, or Hibernia, as it was called in the days of the Romans, were stretching out their hands to him, and begging him to come over to them.

At times he fancied that he heard the Irish saying, "We pray thee, holy youth, to come and henceforth walk among us." The result was that Patrick, either by the pope's orders, or of his own free will, finally made his way back to the country whence he *had escaped as a slave.

With a few followers, he landed on the Irish coast. Thence he made his way on foot to Meath, where a pagan Irish king was holding a great festival. It was the custom, at that time, that no fire should be lighted until the king had given the signal by kindling his. But Patrick, not knowing this, and stopping to keep Easter on the hill of Slane, made a bright fire there.

When its light was seen, the Irish king sent a messenger to Patrick, bidding him come and explain how he dared to light his fire before the king. An old writer tells us that Patrick immediately set out with the messenger, but that, as he went along, many prodigies took place. First, darkness fell upon the earth; then the ground shook beneath their feet; and when some of the Irish magicians would fain have stopped Patrick, they were seized by invisible hands and tossed up in the air.

When Patrick appeared before the angry king, he began to preach to him; and such was this missionary's eloquence that he converted not only the ruler, but the whole clan. Journeying about from place to place, Patrick is said to have converted all Ireland, to have baptized more than twenty thousand converts with his own hand, and to have founded more than three hundred churches.

As Patrick lived so long ago, and as no record was kept of his life, many things are told about him which most people do not now believe to be true. Stories are told of his driving all the snakes out of Ireland into the sea, and of his working many other miracles.

The only thing we are sure of is that he converted the Irish and founded churches and monasteries in the island. In the monasteries he established schools, which were visited by students from all parts of the world. These men became missionaries, preached in Scotland, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and were so enthusiastic and so earnest that they did a great deal of good.

Thus the schools founded by Patrick, the first Bishop of Ireland," were the foremost in Europe for about three centuries. The man who founded them is now called Saint Patrick, and he is considered the patron saint of the island where he was, in turn, slave, priest, and saint. His birthday, celebrated on the 17th of March, is one of the greatest festivals in Ireland.