Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Muirchú's Life of Patrick (Author: Muirchú maccu Machtheni)


(1) Considering, my Lord Áed, that many have attempted to write this story coherently according to the traditions of their fathers and of those who were ministers of the Word from the beginning, but that the great difficulties which the telling of the story presents, and the conflicting opinions and many doubts voiced by many a person have prevented them from ever arriving at one undisputed sequence of events, (2) I might well say that, like boys making their first appearance in the assembly (to quote a familiar saying of ours), I have taken my little talent — a boy's paddle-boat, as it were — out on this deep and perilous sea of sacred narrative, where waves boldly swell to towering heights among rocky reefs in unknown waters, (a sea) on which so far no boat has ventured except the one of my (spiritual) father Cogitosus. (3) However, far from giving the impression that I want to make something big out of something small, I shall (merely) attempt to set forth, bit by bit and step by step, these few of the numerous deeds of holy Patrick, with little knowledge ‘(of traditional lore)’, on uncertain authority, from an unreliable memory, feebly and in poor style, but with the pious affection of holy love, in obedience to the command of your sanctity and authority. In the name of the king of heaven, the redeemer of this world.

(1) Time, place, and person are demanded. The name of the place is Caesarea of Cappadocia, which was formerly called Masadra. (2) The time is that of Valentinian and Valens, who reigned seventeen years, at the age of the world (of) five thousand one hundred and seventy-five (years). (3) From the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ one reckons 436 years to the obit of Patrick. (4) The person: Basil, (which is) melchus in Hebrew, basilius in Greek, rex in Latin. Basilius, that is, a (petty) king; basilica, that is, a royal dwelling; basilicum, that is, royal; basilium (?), that is, kingdom. (5) And he wrote all his works in the Greek language; the priest Rufinus, master of both languages, who had been brought up in Caesarea although he was a Latin, translated his works into Latin. (6) I have found four names of Patrick in a book in the possession of Ultan, bishop of Connor: Holy Magonus, that is: famous; Succet.. . that is: Patricius 1 Cothirthiacus, because he served four households of druids; and one of them bought him, whose name was Miluch moccu Boin, the druid, and he (Patrick) served him for seven years. (7) Patrick son of (C)alforni(us) had four names: Sochet when he was born, Cothriche when he was a slave, Mauonius when he studied, Patrick when he was consecrated.


  1. Where Patrick came from, and how he was taken captive for the first time
  2. How he sailed with pagans, and of their predicament in an uninhabited country, and how he obtained food from God for himself and the pagans
  3. Of a second captivity, in which he was held by enemies for sixty days
  4. Of his reception by his relatives when they recognized him
  5. Of his age at the time when, desiring to learn wisdom, he set out for the apostolic see
  6. (5) How he found holy Germanus in Gaul and therefore did not go further
  7. (6) Of his age when the angel visited him and bade him come hither again
  8. (7) Of his return from Gaul, and of the consecration of Palladius, and of the latter's death soon afterwards
  9. (8) How, after the death of Palladius, he was consecrated by bishop Amathorex
  10. (9) Of the pagan king residing at Tara when holy Patrick came to bring baptism
  11. (10) Of his first journey in this island, to buy himself free from Miliucc before snatching others from the devil
  12. (11) Of the death of Miliucc, and what Patrick said about Miliucc's offspring
  13. (15) How Patrick was visited by an angel every week
  14. (12)Of the counsel of holy Patrick, when the celebration of the first Easter was discussed
  15. (13 )How Easter was celebrated in this island for the first time
  16. (14) Of the pagan feast held at Tara on the same night on which holy Patrick celebrated Easter
  17. (15) How king Loiguire went out from Tara to meet Patrick on Easter night
  18. (16) How Patrick was summoned to the presence of the king, andhow Ere son of Daig believed, and of the death of the druid in that night
  19. (17) How the king and his companions got angry with Patrick, and how the punishment of God descended on them, and how Patrick was transformed before the eyes of the pagans
  20. (18) How Patrick arrived at Tara on Easter Day, and how Dubthach moccu Lugir believed
  21. (19) Of Patrick's conflict with the druid on that day, and of his miraculous deeds
  22. (20) Of the conversion of king Loíguire, and what Patrick said concerning his kingdom after him

  23. p.67

  24. (21) Of holy Patrick's teaching, baptism, and miracles after the example of Christ
  25. = B II 4 (22) Of Macc Cuill and his conversion at Patrick's word
  26. = B II 6 The story of Daire and his horse, and his offering of Armagh to Patrick
  27. = B II 5 (23) Of the pagans working on Sunday against Patrick's command
  28. (25) Of a fertile piece of land turned into a marsh at Patrick's word
  29. = B II I (26) Of the death of the Saxon maiden Moneisen
  30. = B II 3 (27)That holy Patrick saw the heavens open and (beheld the Son of God and His angels
  31. (28) = B II 2 Of holy Patrick's stand against Coirthech, king of Ail

These few details concerning the tradition of holy Patrick and his miracles Muirchu moccu Machtheni has written at the request of Áed bishop of the see of Sléibte.