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

Chapter 2


I 20 (19). (1) Now, while they were all eating, the druid Lucet Máel, who had taken part in the conflict on the previous night, was anxious even on that day, now that his colleague had perished, to fight against holy Patrick, and as a start he put a drop (of poison) from his cup into the goblet of Patrick while the others looked on in order to find out what (Patrick) would do. (2) When holy Patrick saw the kind of test to which he was being subjected, he blessed his goblet in the sight of all and the liquor froze like ice; then he turned his goblet upside down, and only the drop which the druid had added fell out. And he blessed the goblet again: the liquor resumed its natural state, and they all were


greatly astonished. (3) And after a short while the druid said: ‘Let us work miracles in this vast plain,’ and Patrick replied, saying: ‘What sort of miracles ?’, and the druid said: ‘Let us bring snow over the land,’ and Patrick said: ‘I do not want to bring about anything against God's will,’ and the druid said: ‘I shall bring it about in the sight of all.’ (4)Then, uttering some spells, he brought snow, reaching up as far as (a man's) belt, over the entire plain, and all saw this and were astonished. And the holy man said: ‘All right, we see this. Remove it now.’ And (the druid) said: ‘Until this hour tomorrow I cannot remove it.’ And the holy man said: ‘You can do evil and cannot do good. Not so I.’ (5) Then he blessed the plain all around, and in no time, without rain or mist or wind, the snow vanished, and the crowds cheered and were greatly astonished and touched in their hearts. (6) And a little later the druid, through the invocation of demons, brought a thick fog over the land as a sign (i.e. miracle), and the people muttered angrily. And the holy man said: ‘Remove the fog;’ but again the other was not able to do so. (7) The holy man, however, prayed, blessed (the place), and the fog was dispelled at once and the sun shone again and all the people cheered and gave thanks. (8) After this contest between the druid and Patrick in the king's presence the king said to them: ‘Cast your books into the water, and he whose books remain unharmed, him we shall adore.’ Patrick answered: ‘I will do so,’ and the druid said: ‘I do not want to undergo a test of water with him; for water is a god of his.’ He had heard, no doubt, that Patrick baptized with water. (9) And the king replied: ‘Agree (to ordeal) by fire.’ And Patrick said: ‘I am ready to do so.’ But the druid did not want to and said: ‘This man worships every second year in turn now water now fire as his god.’ (10) And the holy man said: ‘Not so; but you yourself, and one of the boys in my service together with you shall


go into a divided and closed house, and you shall wear my garment and my boy shall wear yours, and so you two together shall be set on fire and be judged in the presence of the Highest.’ (11) And this plan was accepted, and a house was built for them, half of green wood and half of dry wood, and the druid was placed in the green part of the house and one of holy Patrick's boys, Benineus (= Benignus) by name, wearing the druid's garb, in its dry part; then the house was closed from outside and in the presence of the whole crowd was set on fire. (12) And in that hour it so happened through the prayer of Patrick that the flame of the fire consumed the druid together with the green half of the house, and nothing was left intact except the chasuble of holy Patrick, which the fire did not touch. (13) On the other hand, happy Benineus, and the dry half of the house, experienced what has been said of the three young men: the fire did not even touch him, and brought him neither pain nor discomfort; only the garb of the druid, which he had donned, was burnt in accordance with God's will. (14) And the king's anger was aroused against Patrick because of the death of his druid, and he was on the point of attacking him, wishing to take his life; but God held him back. For at the prayer and the word of Patrick the wrath of God descended upon the impious people, and many of them died. (15) And holy Patrick said to the king: ‘If you do not believe now you shall die at once, for the wrath of God has come down upon your head. ’And the king was in great fear, his heart trembling, and so was his entire city.